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Old 17-03-2013, 15:13   #1
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Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Bluewater sailing... how much experience & knowledge is enough?

I know there is no 'right answer', but I'm very interested in the discussion.

Jack the 35yr old electrician quits his job, buys a boat in St Marteen, and sets off with his wife on the journey of a lifetime - through the Panama canal and island hopping to New Zealand!
He has little experience, but plans to spend a few months sailing the Caribbean, learning along the way, and to take on an experienced crew member for the first 3000nm of the journey.

Jill is a salty sea dog... She is a professional ocean skipper with more qualifications than Davy Jones, she's has done countless ocean crossings and also lost count of the number of times she's heaved to. Jill is setting off on the same journey - solo. "Time for some relaxation" she says.

Jack and Jill are both posters here, and both are regularly encouraged and/or advised.


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?


Bluewater sailing...
...how much experience & knowledge is enough?
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Old 17-03-2013, 15:18   #2
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I think its like asking how thick of a wetsuit you need for a dive... All depends on how fat you are.
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Old 17-03-2013, 15:26   #3
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

At a minimum...you need to read weather forecasts and interpret them...you need to be able to read charts, plot courses and navigate them...you need to know how to sail, anchor your boat, know its strength and its limitations...you need to be able to fix (jerry-rig) almost anything mechanical that breaks down...and finally, you need to know your health limitations and how would you resolve a medical emergency...now, a word about your budget... (If you ask how much, you can't...) Mauritz
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Old 17-03-2013, 15:29   #4
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

That is the 64,000 dollar question. It really does differ by temperament, some lesser prepared individuals fare just fine, while extensively researched, trained people are complete disasters. I know of one individual who trained and studied up for 10 years before stepping off the dock on his voyage, and his only comment on the experience was that he didn't have any accidents. I would say depends. I started out way under experienced and grew into it okay, others don't fare so well. I look back and shake my head wondering how I survived at all. The difference between now and then, for one I have the confidence to tangle with about any sea going problem that may arise, I never let ignorance stop me, I do ask questions of the wiser heads than I, and with the advent of the internet there is a prodigious amount of information out there, that wasn't previously available. I also read a lot about different areas of vessel maintenance, I have found that, I am far more reliable to do the work than some person who has no vested interest in a proper repair to my vessel. The actual mechanics of sailing and vessel handling is just physics. Action and reaction, learning to anticipate that is one of the challenges.
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Old 17-03-2013, 15:29   #5
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pirate Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

As much or little as it takes to find your Centre...
Its not the miles and/or the storms... if one is not at peace in ones own self Jack'll never get to where Jill is.
Sailing/voyaging is a state of mind.. some 'get it'.. most never do..
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Old 17-03-2013, 15:31   #6
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

It depends upon many things--some people never graduate from the foolish idiot stage, while others have a knack for figuring things out quickly. My own belief is to start coastal cruising, maybe throw in a few overnighters, learn to handle your boat in all the tricky stuff around the coasts, and bluewater skills pretty much take care of themselves after a couple of years. It's almost always the coastal bits that will get you in trouble, unless you ignore seasons and weather reports, and coastal sailing will soon teach you not to do that. And, as you frequently see on here, it is the maintenance and repairs that wreck many dreams, much more so than the actual boating. I have met many cruisers giving it up because they are just sick of fixing stuff all the time, and it doesn't matter if you buy new or used.
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Old 17-03-2013, 15:46   #7
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Wow you guys are fast... and nicely constructive given then wide scope. Thx
Keep it coming...

Its interesting to see my biggest concern highlighted already... I can sail, read charts, plot, read weather, and think ahead, I have coastal and ocean miles under my belt, but I lack one core competency... the handyman gene.
My wife worries about being in a storm... I worry about being unable to fix the broken bits in the calm.
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Old 17-03-2013, 16:19   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wannabe-007 View Post
Wow you guys are fast... and nicely constructive given then wide scope. Thx
Keep it coming...

Its interesting to see my biggest concern highlighted already... I can sail, read charts, plot, read weather, and think ahead, I have coastal and ocean miles under my belt, but I lack one core competency... the handyman gene.
My wife worries about being in a storm... I worry about being unable to fix the broken bits in the calm.
Everyone's wife worries about storms, as for being a handyman, well lets say , necessity is the mother of invention.

Don't overthink it, I agree with boatman, its a state of mind. The sea is not out to get you. Its just there!

Dave
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Old 17-03-2013, 16:26   #9
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wannabe-007 View Post
Wow you guys are fast... and nicely constructive given then wide scope. Thx
Keep it coming...

Its interesting to see my biggest concern highlighted already... I can sail, read charts, plot, read weather, and think ahead, I have coastal and ocean miles under my belt, but I lack one core competency... the handyman gene.
My wife worries about being in a storm... I worry about being unable to fix the broken bits in the calm.
Perhaps aim for a reasonably new vessel...and then log plenty of coastal miles, including overnights, to give all the gear a reasonable testing, hopefully in that process both familiarising yourself and probing any areas for upgrade before you set out for weeks of blue water?

Common sense works surprisingly well for maintenance and repairs, although as the expression goes 'Common sense is not all that common'...

We wish you fair winds and following seas wherever you're cruising takes you...
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Old 17-03-2013, 16:40   #10
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

"My wife worries about being in a storm... I worry about being unable to fix the broken bits in the calm."

Put your wife through a trade apprenticeship in marine fitting and turning: it'll occupy her mind so she doesn't worry about the storms. <broad grin>

Perhaps it would work to go for a boat with the minimum of fancy gear. And make a habit of doing without key convenience items (esp. engines) whenever possible so it's not a biggie when they're off the menu...
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Old 17-03-2013, 18:19   #11
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Lifestyle change has a lot to do with it.
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Old 18-03-2013, 00:00   #12
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

water sailing">blue water sailing is imho a hell of a lot easier and less stressfull than coastal sailing you only have to avoid ships and find your destination the stressfull bit is finding the hole in the reef to get in.i think you know when you are ready when you can leave port and you feel confident and happy not stressed with a churning gut.knowledge only comes with experience as you are in nz you cant go offshore with out cat 1 when your boat is up to that you should feel really confident things do break but if you dont thrash the boat a lot of the time they wont enjoy your sailing
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Old 18-03-2013, 00:31   #13
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Sometimes a bit of naivety can be a good thing. Our first offshore passage was in the Southern Ocean and our second was across Bass Strait. If we had thought too long and hard about it we would probably never have left the dock! Of course that's not to underplay the importance of a well found boat and the basics of seamanship, navigation and boat handling, but as they say, if you want to be a sailor you have to go to sea!
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Old 18-03-2013, 00:42   #14
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

I agree bluewater sailing can be a lot less stressful than coastal... but if water ingress exceeds water egress in the middle of the pacific, there's nowhere to go, nobody to help, and you'll starve in your life raft.

Of course, money can solve a lot of issues... you can buy a brand new gunboat, and hire an engineer to sit around and fix stuff, but most of us are somewhat constrained in that area.

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?
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Old 18-03-2013, 01:06   #15
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Re: Bluewater sailing - how much knowledge & experience is enough?

Regarding the handyman stuff. Best thing to do is practice. Before leaving, tear your engine apart and put it back together (at the dock). The same is true for everything else. Tear it apart and put it back together.

Re your wife and storms. Start pulling down some gif files over a longish stretch of open pacific. Dicuss these with you wife. Aftera while she'll understand hiw to read the and also understand that storms are (mostly) avoidable with todays weather forecasting.

Finally take a few weekend runs without going into port.

By now the both of you are probably ready. Go for a sail a few times when it is blowing a gale, she will understand that the boat will survive

Good sailing
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