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Old 24-09-2015, 15:29   #1
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Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

Hi, long time lurker here, first post...

I've been daysailing in the SF bay area for about a decade, but haven't been able to arrange my life for cruising. However, the wife and I have decided to quit our jobs in July 2016. We would like to fly somewhere, buy a sailboat and cruise roughly August through December. I've been researching a bit where to go through reading these forums as well as some guidebooks, but was wondering if I could solicit some opinions.

First, about us:
- currently own a Cal 29, which we plan to sell
- Plan to budget about 60 to 70k for the boat purchase (hoping to get a good portion of that back by selling the boat at the end of the cruise)
- extensive day sailing experience in the SF bay
- only limited offshore experience, only off California coast (but enough to know it is enjoyable)
- early 30s
- Wife is not a fan of overnight sailing yet, would be willing to do a few longer stretches between waypoints, but in general we're looking for mostly daysails between anchorages
- not necessarily looking for the lowest budget cruising locations, although we certainly don't mind saving money by going somewhere cheaper.

The window we're looking at is of course hurricane season, so that would seem to limit the more prudent choices of location. So far my top locations include:

- Southern Caribbean (ABC islands, trinidad are obvious choices, but would you add in Cartagena and San Blas islands to this? The islands in Venezuela I think might be above my risk threshhold wrt pirates, from what I've been reading)
- Sea of Cortez

What other locations would you recommend looking into, that might be a good location to step up our sailing experience for our first cruise? Also, any places specifically that might be good to buy/sell the boat? I would plan on going through a broker for simplicity.

My hope is to buy a boat that is nearly "turn key" and hopefully only need to spend at most 2 weeks provisioning it. Is this realistic with the right budget?

Is my boat budget realistic if we're looking for something 35 to 45 feet, middle of the road in creature comforts?

I welcome any comments, thanks!
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Old 24-09-2015, 17:21   #2
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

I have been pricing boats in Panama, there are some bargains to be found. Panama is generally a nice place for Americans; same currency, many folk (not counting thousands of U.S. and Canadian tourists and expats) speak English. Good provisioning, good prices, good (although personally haven't got to this stage myself yet) cruising (I'm told.) While vigilance is needed, security concerns are fewer than many other places. I'd steer far from Venezuela, and I'm personally skeptical of Colombia (friend was kidnapped and ransomed there, unrelated to cruising). No hurricanes, but it isn't the dry season in Panama during the months you are considering either. If Panama isn't enough to hold your interest, Costa Rica is a nice place too (on land anyway, my cruising experience is likewise limited).

Price wise your budget seems reasonable for a used monohull in decent shape. Is 35 to 45 not way more boat than two people need though?

It seems to me boats sell at a time of their choosing, not the owner's.

Hope it helps. Fair winds!.
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Old 24-09-2015, 21:02   #3
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

It may not sound glamorous but try the Chesapeake. Its a GREAT cruising ground in a safe body of water surrounded by history plus lots of places to "get away from it all".

Go into Annapolis, buy a boat, sail around the chesapeake for the summer and in the fall start heading south on the ICW. When you get to wherever you end up in florida put the boat up for sale.
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Old 25-09-2015, 06:03   #4
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, jrau.
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Old 25-09-2015, 06:16   #5
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

I strongly suggest you charter for at least a two week period and see how it goes!
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Old 25-09-2015, 07:12   #6
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

Forget Colombia and even Panama.. go straight to BVI.. be careful! a lot of used boat was used for charter.. but it's a good starting point specially because during December prices are low.. good luck!
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Old 25-09-2015, 08:00   #7
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

Read my post sept 20 General Sailing Forum August California Cruising. There is a lot top do from Santa Barbara to San Diego and historically the weather has been good though they say El Nino may bring more rain this winter.

Peter Beale
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Old 25-09-2015, 08:15   #8
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

It is hurricane season from June through the end of October. Have you considered buying a boat in the Prince Edward Island, Canada, area, sailing and exploring up there until October, then heading via the Atlantic for Chesapeake Bay, and then in November heading down the east coast to Florida and the islands?

It's hot as hades in Florida in August and September, so I prefer to go where it is cool in the dog days of summer. We plan to spend next summer on the Great Lakes. If we like it, we will decide to either pilot the boat back to Florida, or possibly winterize it in anticipation of returning for the following summer.
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Old 25-09-2015, 09:22   #9
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markusik View Post
It seems to me boats sell at a time of their choosing, not the owner's.
Ha, too true!


Quote:
Originally Posted by peterbeale View Post
Read my post sept 20 General Sailing Forum August California Cruising. There is a lot top do from Santa Barbara to San Diego and historically the weather has been good though they say El Nino may bring more rain this winter.

Peter Beale
Thanks for the idea. I should have mentioned we plan to make a few trips to the islands out of L.A. area. I've done two trips out there in the past and really enjoyed them.


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It is hurricane season from June through the end of October. Have you considered buying a boat in the Prince Edward Island, Canada, area, sailing and exploring up there until October, then heading via the Atlantic for Chesapeake Bay, and then in November heading down the east coast to Florida and the islands?
I hadn't considered that, that is an interesting idea, thanks!
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Old 25-09-2015, 09:48   #10
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

First choice: Virgins and Eastern Caribbean. Second choice Abacos/Bahamas. The weather is better in the Eastern Caribbean. I don't recommend Trinidad and Tobago as a cruising ground. Tobago is lovely, but a long way from Grenada. The Grenadines are super fun. The French islands are wonderful. The Spanish, US, and British Virgins are a good place for beginners. Have fun.
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Old 25-09-2015, 10:30   #11
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

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First choice: Virgins and Eastern Caribbean. Second choice Abacos/Bahamas. The weather is better in the Eastern Caribbean. I don't recommend Trinidad and Tobago as a cruising ground. Tobago is lovely, but a long way from Grenada. The Grenadines are super fun. The French islands are wonderful. The Spanish, US, and British Virgins are a good place for beginners. Have fun.
You recommend those areas even during the later summer months?
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Old 25-09-2015, 10:49   #12
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

The problem is you are smack in the middle of hurricane season. Add to this that you have to learn how to keep up to speed on weather constantly... and it worries me a bit. With all the adjustments to coping with living aboard, getting to know a new-to-you boat etc... it's a concern.
The other issue is outfitting/repairing/updating a boat in a place you are not familiar with.
The Bahamas and or Caribe fit's your situation well, but I would look to do it more Jan-February thru June or something like that. Few overnighters required on the Thorny Path south from Florida.
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Old 25-09-2015, 11:24   #13
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

You might consider starting in the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands then,after spending a couple months there, work your way down the coast, ending up in southern California or even Mexico. The San Juans are great in August and September and are good places to get your feet wet so to speak.
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Old 25-09-2015, 11:34   #14
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

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You might consider starting in the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands then,after spending a couple months there, work your way down the coast, ending up in southern California or even Mexico. The San Juans are great in August and September and are good places to get your feet wet so to speak.
Thanks, I had toyed with the idea of the San Juans. Good to know it is a good place to build up some more experience.
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Old 25-09-2015, 11:43   #15
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Re: Beginner Cruising Location for August Through Dec?

Agree with Chesapeake as your cruising area. Aug is hot but still ok. Sept-Nov is best sailing season. Bottom is mud, so no reefs to encounter. Anchoring is easy. This is a great (and safe) location to hone your skills. Either sell the boat in the Bay, or take ICW to Florida and sell it there...but be prepared for a delayed sale. It may be possible to do a long term charter. Lots of boats spend too much time at the dock. Start looking now. Make Caribbean your destination AFTER you build your skills and confirm your enthusiasm. Btw, $60-70k would buy a decent J-105 ... Good for Ches Bay and easier to sell, I'd u decide to buy. Good luck!
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