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Old 30-09-2014, 15:24   #1
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Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

I am planning on buy a 1981 22' Cape Dory and sailing it from Miami to the Bahamas where it shall live. I have very little sailing experience and am purchasing this boat as a beginner learn to sail vessel. The problem is crossing the gulf stream is intimidating for someone with little experience.

What is the best course of action to get my boat home safely without killing myself?
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Old 30-09-2014, 15:30   #2
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

I think it's important to get to now a boat well before taking it cruising. Crossing the gulf stream is largely a matter of waiting for the right weather. In the winter, when cold fronts are common, it can be a long wait.

I've spend one night in 35 knots (not predicted) close hauled puking my guts out all night, and have had crossing where it was flat and easy. I much prefer to wait for the flat and easy.
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Old 30-09-2014, 15:49   #3
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

Get some reading on crossing the stream. Sail the boat so you are comfortable reefing again and again before you leave.
I think the general consensus is to cross the stream when the wind goes from NE to E and then south and around. The Noreaster blows against the stream causing rough water. I think the wind goes south every couple weeks generally. So find a good weather info site and go by that.
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Old 30-09-2014, 16:22   #4
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

Come up with a couple of young, strong, experienced sailors (at least one of whom has made the crossing). Fix anything that is dicey on your rig, sails, etc. Wait for the right weather. Have a nice sail across with the two experienced people aboard. Enjoy some cocktails when you get there.
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Old 30-09-2014, 16:30   #5
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

That's an ocean-worthy design. If it's in good shape, experienced sailors will be able to cross in any decent weather. In November and December you may have to wait a week or two or three to get a good window. And you can cross with a buddy-boat to increase your safety margin.
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Old 30-09-2014, 18:40   #6
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

What are some things to look for and to bring along to make sure she is ready before I buy it and to make sure she is ready for a gulf crossing.

Here's a picture for anyone unfamiliar with the boat.

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Old 30-09-2014, 19:32   #7
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

Call around to the marinas- You might find others crossing around the same time which would be a nice way to get started. I know power boats go in groups and I would think sailors would as well.
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Old 30-09-2014, 19:53   #8
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

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Originally Posted by moodyreve View Post
What are some things to look for and to bring along to make sure she is ready before I buy it and to make sure she is ready for a gulf crossing.
What you need for a gulf stream crossing:
1.An experienced skipper
2. Have an experienced skipper go through the boat beforehand. Replace and repair all things he is uncomfortable with.
3. Someone like boaty would be ideal: An experienced skipper that likes small sailboats.
4. A good port to take her too.
5. 1-2 days of favorable winds.
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Old 30-09-2014, 20:08   #9
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

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Originally Posted by moodyreve View Post
What are some things to look for and to bring along to make sure she is ready before I buy it and to make sure she is ready for a gulf crossing.

Here's a picture for anyone unfamiliar with the boat.

So you're buying a CD 22 or a 27 like the pic. the 27 has an inboard diesel and a much more capable boat.
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Old 01-10-2014, 13:48   #10
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

Don't be scared off; even in the winter, most of the time you will have a pleasant crossing.
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Old 01-10-2014, 14:22   #11
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

A friend of ours crossed in a Compac 16 -- 4 times. He was drunk most of the time, too (he was a recovering alcoholic when we knew him, but said this was just a higher recommendation for the boat). The boat is fine. But make sure it's in good condition, esp the rig.

You should get as much experience in the boat as possible. Both in protected waters and out in open waters. Make sure you know how to heave to. Then make sure you understand the crossing and the behavior of the stream.

Good luck!
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:15   #12
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

So I have not purchased the boat yet and I am still planning this expedition. My question now is whether or not 22 Cape Dory is the specific boat for my needs. Would a 22 Catalina be a more capable boat for crossing the gulf? Would it be more comfortable in bahamian waters with it's retractable fin keel opposed to the deeper full keel of the Dory. However in my opinion the Cape Dory is a beautiful boat, and the Catalina 22 is pretty ugly. So basically I am having buyers indecision. What are your opinions.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:56   #13
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

Given these two choices, I'd go with the CD. They're better built and sail better. A centerboard can break, I speak from experience, then you can't pull it up.

But, I'd take a Catalina in good shape over a CD in bad shape. Just go out and look at a ton of boats. How about a CD 25?


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Old 02-10-2014, 07:17   #14
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

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Originally Posted by jangann View Post
Given these two choices, I'd go with the CD. They're better built and sail better. A centerboard can break, I speak from experience, then you can't pull it up.

But, I'd take a Catalina in good shape over a CD in bad shape. Just go out and look at a ton of boats. How about a CD 25?


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I would second this recommendation. All things being equal I would take the Cape Dory over the Catalina but a pristine Catalina would be better than a beat up, wore out Cape Dory.

Regarding draft, I believe the CD 22 is only 3' which should be fine for Bahamas cruising unless you're trying to get in areas more suited for a dinghy than a sailboat.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:29   #15
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Re: Buying a 22' Cape Dory and crossing the Gulf

If you have no experience with boats and cruising then here's what I would do to prepare for the trip.

1. Check everything involved in keeping the water on the outside of the boat.

- All through hulls and seacocks. These will be on things like cooling water to the engine, sink drains, cockpit drains, toilets.
- All hoses that go to fittings below the water. Check both ends of these hoses, not just the one on the seacock.

2. Check all the systems that make the boat go.

- Have someone experienced check all the standing riggings (the wires that hold up the mast) to make sure it is in good condition.
- Same for the sails. Do they have life left in them or is the fabric rotted and about to go.
- Same for the running rigging (all the ropes and such that hoist the sails and trim the sails).
- Check engine.

3. As has been mentioned, the crossing itself is easy as long as you check the weather carefully.

4. How's your basic navigation and boat handling skill? If in doubt, bring a friend that has more experience.
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