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Old 30-09-2015, 12:55   #1
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An introduction, and request for advice!

Hello, all!

I am a 29 year old new to the world of sailing, and have fallen in love with it. I've taken a few basic classes, and now after some months I can confidently sail a 16ft monohull on my own.

I'd like some advice from everyone here regarding my plans. Basically, I'd like to know if they're insane/naive, or doable. For reasons that aren't important, I've decided to start my life anew. My "dream" would be to live aboard my own boat, hopefully also manage to work in related fields and eventually(no rush here) cruise. I currently have 21.000 saved up. I know that isn't much at all, and that I need to be careful how I spend it.

After searching for sailing schools in Europe, and considering spending about half of my money on a "Fast Track Yachtmaster" RYA course in the hopes I might be able to get a job in the industry, I've become wary of doing it since most schools seem to be a bit shady, in that they promise a lot but reviews don't seem to be consistent with that.

That led me to think about just buying an old, cheap boat, 10k or 11k at the most, and learn boat repair by actually doing it. Then hopefully being able to use the skills acquired to actually make money before my other 10k ends, or at least trade them for sailing in other people's boats in order to get more experience. I'd be living aboard in the marina, of course.

This pretty much sums up my current situation and plans. Thank you for reading, and for helping out. I look forward to seeing what you all think about it

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Old 30-09-2015, 13:29   #2
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Aloha Joi,

When I lived at the Ala Wai boat harbor in Waikiki Hawaii, I met several young men in a similar situation as you describe. What they had was usually a liveaboard or caretaking slip in the harbor, which put them in the center of an active hub of criusers and sailors from all over the world. With the yacht clubs and shipyards close at hand, the ability to network (hang out) with amazing people is great for inspiration, and finding undreamed of opportunities. Go to where the sailors and cruisers are.


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Old 30-09-2015, 13:48   #3
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Welcome to CruisersForum, joidevivre.

With your budget, you can buy and refit a sailing yacht in the 9m / 30 feet range. On old, cheap boats, the sails are frequently shot, the bedding too and the engine in need of serious overhaul.

Before committing your money to a big project, I suggest you sail on other people's boats, to see what kind of sailing you prefer. With that, you would get some experience, too.

From your username, I guess you are French. I am, too. If you are interested, PM me and we will discuss my sailing program for autumn and winter.

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Old 01-10-2015, 04:31   #4
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, joidevivre.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 01-10-2015, 08:52   #5
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Hi; just a few observations:

At the moment there seems to be a large number of end of season bargains in the UK; good cruising boats which were almost 20,000ukp, now marked down to little more than 10,000ukp; it's a very good time to be a buyer!

As to the experience bit, I would recommend a theory course over the winter; I did a RYA evening course run by the local authority many years ago, and, on the recommendation of the course tutor, was offered a navigator's berth on an offshore race at Easter.

Don't overlook the possibility of picking up experience crewing for a racing boat; as a youngish fit person, you're likely to have many offers of a day's race (assuming you're easy going and don't question the skipper). The local yacht club or sailing club is likely to have a club race series. Living near a yachting centre on the east coast of England, I became quite expert as the spinnaker man, and could sail every weekend during the summer.

Even though I have never had any intention of racing myself, I learned quite a lot about different types of boat; how easy they are to handle, how likely to broach, how sensitive to weight distribution, etc., and all without cost!
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Old 01-10-2015, 09:09   #6
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Hi Joi, I think people missed your question regarding working in the yachting industry. If you want to do that in the Med/ Europe then for sure you would need formal qualifications. Most yachts are asking for Yachtmaster qualification even for deckhand nowadays, plus various other qualifications. Look on facebook for yachting agencies eg in Antibes (Antibes Yacht Crew) South of France, and they will let you know what qualifications you need. If you take Yachtmaster in the Mediterranean, it will be endorsed as non tidal therefore not valid for tidal waters. Good luck.
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Old 01-10-2015, 09:38   #7
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Originally Posted by Hydra View Post
Welcome to CruisersForum, joidevivre.

With your budget, you can buy and refit a sailing yacht in the 9m / 30 feet range. On old, cheap boats, the sails are frequently shot, the bedding too and the engine in need of serious overhaul.
When you are done, you can sell for a nice profit. Then do it again.

Remember, the way to make money this way is to buy low, sell high.
Step one: Buy low.

If the boat needs work, its very hard to sell. Get a good price to start and your profit is more certain. There are plenty of old boats for sale out there.

Also, you can increase the value of a boat by changing its location. Thats a fun way to profit.
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Old 01-10-2015, 10:13   #8
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Hi joidevivre and welcome to the forum

If sailing is truly your dream and passion then no need to pay someone to teach you, teach yourself.

I assume you have free lending libraries available in your area? Go and check out and read every book they have on boats, boating, sailing, boat repair, maintenance and anything else even vaguely boat related. At first most of it might not make a lot of sense but will start to fall into place when you get on a boat and can put it into practice.

Then as suggested, find a way to sail with another sailor. Racers are frequently looking for extra crew and for many owners you won't need experience to start. Your first jobs would be mainly supplying muscle power to crank winch handles and handle lines. As you gain experience you will get to do more interesting jobs on the crew.

Next, go back and reread the books and a lot of things you didn't understand at first will now make sense.

Go back and sail some more then study some more. Then when you're ready, buy a boat and go sailing on your own.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:09   #9
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Thank you very much for all the helpful and friendly replies!

I am glad to find such a welcoming community online. Hopefully as soon as I take the "leap", which should be around January, I will be welcomed in the real world just as well as here.

From what everyone said, I feel I could be on the right path. I've been doing as much solo sailing in the borrowed 16 footer as I can, and have begun to read a lot mainly about sailing and repairs. I purchased Don Casey's books which seem to be a quite frequent suggestion, and I am enjoying them so far.

I guess I will just do it and see where life takes me. Who knows where I may end up, right? In any case I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience.

Looking forward to chatting more with you all!

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Old 01-10-2015, 11:59   #10
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

I have noticed that some people love to sail, some people love to work on boats and some people fall somewhere in between. If you want to sail, go sailing. If you want to spend your life working on boats, work on boats. Sailors seem to barely have time to to keep their boats up. Boat workers seem to rarely go sailing. I think buying an old boat for 10K in your situation would be a big mistake. You will devote at least a couple of years of your life and all, or most, of your money to it. In the end you will have done very little sailing and will be lucky if you make any money on the deal.

Consider getting a job (or volunteering) to work on boats to see what that is like. Volunteer as crew in your free time until you are good enough to get paid. I have known folks who helped with maintenance in exchange for sailing privileges. Hang around boats and boat people. If it is the right thing for you, the opportunities will appear. Hold your money for now. When the comes to spend it, you will know.

You are wise to get input about your plans. Do the same thing when you fall in love with a boat.
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Old 01-10-2015, 14:21   #11
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

Welcome to Cruisers Forum, joidevivre!

I think you have a good plan and you've already started well by taking some lessons and learning to sail on a smaller boat.

I would somewhat separate your living/sailing situation from your working situation. Don't quit your day job yet. As you say, I think you want to buy a boat and live on it and fix it up. Do this while you keep your normal job.

As you live aboard and work on a boat, you'll meet lots of boating people. You can get to know them, ask about their jobs and how they got into it and network. Then you'll know what you're getting into if you want to work on boats (either as crew or in a boat yard).

I would normally recommend that a first boat be in the 22' to 27' range. They're inexpensive and easy to handle and maintain.

In your situation, though, you might want to find a 30-32' boat to live on. Most 27' boats are a bit tight and 32' isn't too much to handle.

Be very wary of a boat that needs too much work. It will cost far more to get it up to spec than buying a decent boat that's just a bit rough around the edges. Be especially skeptical of free boats. There's no such thing!

A couple other posters have mentioned crewing on racing boats as a great way to gain some free experience and build your boating network. I just published an article today on exactly that topic.
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Old 01-10-2015, 15:33   #12
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Re: An introduction, and request for advice!

There is a man from the UK who has a site called "" and he has some European boats shown there that are supposed to be good (Albin Vegas are well known but I don't recognize some of the others.) You might have a look at his site. Yes get a good cheap deal, but get it on a good boat! In other words, a boat that is a diamond in the rough. There was a thread here by a man who found a Cape Dory that had been beat up and needed a lot of work, but a boat like that is worth it. Sadly, there are some boats that are just not worth it.

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