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Old 18-03-2013, 01:09   #16
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

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Originally Posted by Wannabe-007 View Post
When things go horribly wrong, skippers are crucified for being ill prepared and/or inexperienced. It then begs the question... just how prepared and how experienced is enough?
Too true but if even the most experienced skipper out there stuffs up, then he will still be criticised. Here's what I'm doing and I rate myself as a beginner with only moderate experience. I've been sailing for 6-7 years doing inshore and some coastal sailing. I have been pasted a couple of times because I was too optimistic with the weather forecasts (i.e. I believed them) but that is actually part of my experience. He is what I see the wise old men doing. They have the experience to know how to handle the rough stuff (they've been caught too) and are now patient enough waiting for ideal weather windows that they don't need to use their heavy weather skills anymore. So go and get pasted a few times, I think that how we all get some experience.
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Old 18-03-2013, 01:33   #17
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

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I wonder what you think. I know the variables are many, but lets see where the lines are... when does one get to cross from inexperienced foolish idiot with a boat, and get to be a suitably prepared and responsible skipper?
Even the best prepared and experienced among us (and I don't include myself in that group) stuff up.

Sometimes I'm absolutely horrified at how what could be regarded as a totally sensible decision (with the benefit of hindsight) can be so heavily criticized.

For mine it's not the ability to never stuff up that's important. It's the ability to come through a disaster in one piece that's important.
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Old 18-03-2013, 02:32   #18
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

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For mine it's not the ability to never stuff up that's important. It's the ability to come through a disaster in one piece that's important.
Well said Boracay
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Old 18-03-2013, 03:09   #19
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

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Bluewater sailing...
...how much experience & knowledge is enough?
The sailing is the easy bit .

water sailing">Blue water sailing is mostly about maintenance and quickly developing a deep subconscious ability to instinctively not to break bits of your boat.


Anyway, the only way to get experience is to go and do it on your own, to do that you need to jump. Possibly learning that "answers" can lead to disappointment when the world behaves differently.
Keep an open mind, keep learning and don't listen to anyone on the internet
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Old 18-03-2013, 05:53   #20
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

If you feel like doing it, and YOU feel you are ready, then that is it. Someone will always tell you that you need more of something. Someone will always tell you that you are being stupid and ignorant. If you make it, someone will always tell you that you were lucky, and if you don't, lots will tell you,"I told you so"

Coops.
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Old 18-03-2013, 06:36   #21
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Ill third or fourth the handy man bit, you really do have to be able to improvise more than anything else, once you have the basics a big ocean crossing is much the same as any other sailing just longer much longer, but they do pass quicker than you think once you get into the routine of them.
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Old 18-03-2013, 19:30   #22
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Interesting...
The thread that finally motivated me to ask this question has just been closed. It was about a boat that was sailing a few days behind me on the way from Tonga to NZ. They got caught out, and to cut a long story short, set off the EPIRB and had to be rescued, and abandoned their vessel.
The skipper has been crucified by the community at large, and described as lacking the prerequisite knowledge and experience to be where he was... However, he would have passed all of the tests for knowledge and experience.
I suppose this just backs up the comments that a skipper will be critiqued on his decisions more than his experience, and these things only count insomuch as they should lead to better decision making.

I didn't (dont) want to divert this topic to discussing that particular incident. I didn't really want to focus on my own situation either - its a generic question, and I wondered if we could come up with a few generic answers.
Here's my own set of generic answers, partly gleaned from this thread, and partly from my own head... It seems I'm a lot more conservative than most.
(initially a prioritized list, but then I got a bit distracted and waffled)

[1] - You must be able to fix or jury rig the critcal stuff when it breaks. (Fix a leak, repair or replace a pump, fix some basic enginey stuff, get access to fresh water if pump dies).

[2] - You should be able to jury rig or fix most breakdowns... particularly running rigging. Ideally, also things like toilets, fridge, water pump...

[3] - Know how to plan - source & interpret weather info, source & interpret local charts, source and utilise VHF (and ideally SSB) channels, basic time & fuel calculations, plan watches, manage customs arrivals & departures.

[4] - Must know how to handle your vessel in heavy weather - should have actual experience with deploying drogue and/or sea anchor, heaving to, heavy sea passage making, usage of harness/tethers... must have actual experience reefing and know when this is required.

[5] - Must know how to handle your vessel in normal conditions. Must have experience in anchoring, berthing, tying up at dock/s, tender management, etc. Must have understanding of rules of the sea including basic understanding (and/or reference cards) for night time sailing.

[6] - Must have basic first aid skills on board (either you or crew member).

[7] - Must be comfortable with the journey ahead. Let your own conscience be your guide. This is clearly not enough in isolation (you dont know what you dont know), but combined with a sensible approach, your own level of comfort and confidence with journeying seaward will tell you if you are ready to cast off.

[8] Know your boat. I guess it means you need to know what your boat can handle? This is easier to say than to do, but you can at least test and guess where some of the boundaries are without breaking things.
...or does it mean, know where everything is, and how to access it all (and fix it all).

[9] Must know how to deal with emergencies - know exactly how to use flares, EPIRB, and make a distress call over vhf/ssb. Know how to deploy and enter the life raft (or dinghy if thats all you have)


How does that look?
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Old 18-03-2013, 19:54   #23
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Hmmm - being able to improvise alternative methods, as well as gear, seems to me possibly worth adding to your list:

This covers having experimented with and gained some insights ahead of time into such things as steering without a rudder when time doesn't permit fitting an alternative, navigating without electrics, anchoring (or even just hoisting the main) without a motor, surveying the depths of a river entrance you don't have a reliable chart for ....

And I sometimes think the most important thing of all is to cultivate the strength of character to make decisions to do what is safe rather than what is easy, even if that means serious hardship: things like striving to get a decent offing (distance offshore) in cases where that's the safer option than running for shelter; turning back even if it means a brutally hard slog when you discover you're running into possible danger; taking down a sail when you first spot a small tear, even though circumstances mean it's not convenient or pleasant; hanking on a stormsail so plan B is ready to go even though you're exhausted from plan A; heaving to or anchoring in an open roadstead rather than making an entry at night if there's uncertainty or doubt, even though you or someone you care about is desperate to get into quiet waters ....

Situations like this come up quite often, and modern living does little to equip us for the discomfort or delay which might be attached to taking the safer option.
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Old 18-03-2013, 20:26   #24
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

As others have said there are some folks that are just naturals, they learn quickly and have a good mind. Its actually not about being smart as I have been exposed to lots of smart people that have been sailing for years and years and still need to be reminded of the basics.
The more interesting part is getting the wife involved and bought in because to me thats the real test. I think its more about the person, how mentally strong they are and how confident they are. In my experience women tend to eye up the situation for risk...as a group women are not known as great risk takers. (I know some do but most don't like risk) If you as the skipper really are confident and have your act together then it really improves the odds that your wife will feel more confident and won't be afraid to learn. Personally I'd send them to a sailing school,the enviorment for learning is much better and they will make a friend or two and enjoy the experience. When your wife graduates there is a good chance that she will want to be an equal partner in the adventure. Keep in mind though that of all the people that dream and plan to sail offshore only a very few actually end up doing it and thats OK. Cruising in Mexico or the Caribbean can be a hell of a lot of fun and you don't have to cross oceans to get there(Unless your from Europe)
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Old 18-03-2013, 20:35   #25
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

On my first offshore sailing adventure, I was lucky cus we had NO fancy equipment! None, as in no thing!! We had a hand operated bilge pump and a couple of buckets! One for our head and one for everything else !! No radio, no GPS, no puter just a few extra jugs of water, and some really bad back packer dry food ! If we had not caught a few fish and got a bunch of flying fish our food would have been the pit's! We had a sextant and enough basic know how to use it to find Longitudes, so we sailed the wind jammar, square rigged style of navagation! find a line that gos to where ya want to go and travel along it till it's Land Ho! just 2 of us on a wooden folkboat! Now to day it seems to be if ya don't have everything made by man to go on a boat ya can't leave sight of land !! I sorta think the sailors more important the the stuff he has aboard his boat!! Way back when there were lots of sailors like us out there! Living on mostly less money then some folks spend on a dinner out !! Most anyone CAN go offshore sailing ! With the weather systems that are out there now makes offshore sailing a lot less worrysome then back when you had to be your own weather man !! Just sayin, you will never get anywhere sitting at the dock !!
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Old 18-03-2013, 22:13   #26
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Wannabe. there are a few things I might add to your MUST KNOW list. Must know how to function on the boat when your electrics fail. Do you have kerosene lamps and have you ever used them? Is your toilet electric, and is there some way to pump it without power? Do you have a rebuild kit for it? Do you have foot or hand pumps for the water supply? If you have a gas stove with the normal electric solenoid, do you have the fittings to replace the solenoid and be able to cook? Do you have a windvane so that you are not a slave to the helm when all the electrons die? Do you have a cheap backup portable GPS and paper charts for when your fancy chart plotter blinks its last message? Do you have your flare gun loaded with a white flare, since without power, you wont have running lights or ASI?------ A few non electronic related issues. Do you have tapered soft wooden plugs at or near each of your thru hulls? Do you have a large manual bilge pump that can be worked from the helm? Do you know how to clean the strum box? I think it would be a good training exercise for all potential cruisers to go spend a weekend at anchor with the battery switch turned off, and see how things work. It might be a very romantic weekend or show you what your boat is missing in terms of the basics. You dont need to have a simplistic boat to cruise but you need simple back ups for when things go wrong.___Again, this is just my opinion._____Grant.
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Old 18-03-2013, 22:34   #27
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

I wonder how often a person who does not have enough knowledge and experience would be drawn to blue water sailing.

It's a long, slow, lonely trip. Why does one undertake such a trip? To get to the other side? No, that doesn't make sense.

My sense is that with some rare exceptions, the person who has the desire to cross an ocean probably already has the knowledge and experience required to accomplish it.

Jack the Island Hopper isn't really a "blue water" guy - not the way I think of it. He's a green-water coastal cruiser, making his way from one Pina Colada bar to the next.

Jill is at home on the sea. She goes to sea as easily as you and I go to the supermarket. It's like a walk in the park for her. You are just as likely to get killed crossing the street as she is to be lost at sea.
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Old 18-03-2013, 22:55   #28
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Oh, Jill is much safer at sea than on any road.
Jack however, despite his desire and sense of adventure, lacks, imho, the requisite knowledge & experience. Its good that he's a sparky - I should have made him an IT guy... he is gonna have over 4,000nm of very blue green-water sailing before he gets to his first Pina Colada, so I hope he learns a few things before he goes!
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Old 18-03-2013, 23:13   #29
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Are Jack and Jill on the same boat?
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Old 18-03-2013, 23:26   #30
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

lol - no! uh oh, did I forget to mention that.... (checks OP)...
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Jill is setting off on the same journey - solo.
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