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Old 06-12-2011, 14:19   #1
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How Old Is 'Too Old' to Sail ?

Hello-
First time poster, but have been "cruising" your forum for answers to many questions!!

I live in Buffalo, very close to the canal systems to access the Atlantic. Like many others, I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a sailboat large enough to to live in the Caribbean from Nov-May, and sail back to Buffalo when the snow melts and the canals re-open.

As someone who owns a canoe (no sailboat experience), how old can one be and still be an effective sailor, and enjoy this type of sailing before becoming a danger to one's self, crew of 1 (spouse) and other boaters?

I realize there are exceptions (90+ seniors), but what is a realistic age to give up sailing? Also, I'm referring to a less than $150,000.00 vessel (new or used), with limited extras, money being a factor to play into the question.

Thanks,

Roy
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:23   #2
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

If you are able you are in shape go for it age isn't a major factor as health is.. you can get help, with crew or electric winches etc
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:26   #3
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

I moved aboard yesterday, I turn 64 in June. My knee has been replaced, my back is crap, my hips are shot. But I will do it till I can't. Then I'll sit at the dock.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:28   #4
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

Welcome to the forum.

A lot depends on the boat. There are ways to cheat on age, such as self-tacking jibs, roller-furling mains, electric halyard winches, et cetera. There are a few things you can't really cheat on, such as the ability to keep balance.

It's a tough question. You'll find go-for-it folks on this site that will cheer you on even after you've lost a leg, your eyesight, your pension and your mast.

At some point we all become dangers to ourselves. Where does acceptable risk become unacceptable?

I can only hope I'll know when I get there.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:34   #5
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

Roy,
First, let me say welcome aboard.
Your question: How old is too old? This is a question you will have to answer for yourself. I will suggest you gain some sailing experience. Go to a sailing school; Do a chartered cruise with a captain where you can have hands on. Something of this nature will give you an idea of what you will be doing physically on a sailboat. Plus if you can charter in the islands this winter it will give you a break from the northern weather. FWIW I am in my early 60's and trying to get our boat ready for extended cruising next fall.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:47   #6
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

It's all about health. From my Bahamas cruising I know or have known quite a few out there in their seventies, but every year one or two of them quits. Always it's health. I would say seventies seems the limit for many. However I know a lot more in their late fifties and early sixties that quit for reasons other than health.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:55   #7
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

I got rescued by the Port Stephens Marine Rescue,
The Pilot driving the boat was 83. 6 people on board, none were under 60.
I asked where all the young people were,
Answer. Out drinking beer, we cant get young people to do this work. Their all volunteers by the way.
So how old is too old, Depends totally on the individual. and how healthy you are.
I personally am waiting till I am 70 so I can go snow skiing for free.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:57   #8
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

This is probably an upper limit...
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:59   #9
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

The owners of my boat, who purchased her new, were about 75 when they decided cruising on a sailboat was a bit much for them. Three years later, they still take their month long cruise every summer--on a trawler, though!

I have always thought cruising the Erie Canal might be something I would like to do; two summers ago friends took their sailboat up the Hudson had the mast unstepped, cruised the Erie Canal, had it stepped in Buffalo, sailed for a few days and reversed course. They loved it, but it is crossed off the bucket list and they won't be doing it again--it is not a fast passage, but definitely "do-able."

Just remember you have the logistics of stepping/unstepping the mast.

BTW, they're on their way to Belize!

Oh, and he's 71, she's 66.

Marshall
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:00   #10
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by semperdg View Post
Hello-
First time poster, but have been "cruising" your forum for answers to many questions!!

I live in Buffalo, very close to the canal systems to access the Atlantic. Like many others, I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a sailboat large enough to to live in the Caribbean from Nov-May, and sail back to Buffalo when the snow melts and the canals re-open.

As someone who owns a canoe (no sailboat experience), how old can one be and still be an effective sailor, and enjoy this type of sailing before becoming a danger to one's self, crew of 1 (spouse) and other boaters?

I realize there are exceptions (90+ seniors), but what is a realistic age to give up sailing? Also, I'm referring to a less than $150,000.00 vessel (new or used), with limited extras, money being a factor to play into the question.

Thanks,

Roy
Hummm... To quote Eric Hiscock:

Quote:
"I shall sail until they have to pry my sheet and tiller out of my cold dead hands."
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:04   #11
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

When you are sincerely and monumentally dead, cruising is over for you. Until then, you keep on trucking.
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:08   #12
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Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

You are too old for whatever activity when you say "I am too old for this". Me at 68 know I am to old to drink all night in a disco (probably because I have more sense now), I am too old to look after babies for more than a few hours at a time, but I am not to old to sail, to swim, to scuba and really enjoy life. I am not too old to walk 10 K's a day even though I have a torn tendon at the moment.

I never ask if I am too old, I just do it until I have to quit.

So get out and do it and make sure you health can take it.
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:19   #13
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I know of a man who is an excellent sailor and in great health who is 82 and still going strong. I have watched him run rings around people 25 years his junior. He says sailing keeps him young.

Like everyone else says its health more than how many trips you have taken around the sun. Even if the Caribbean is too much the Keys or Bahamas are much easier targets. Taking the ditch (intercostal waterway) risk is reduced but it takes longer. For a trip you could also do part of the Great Loop as you got some experience. Of I'm not dead I'll be sailing somehow. :-) SC
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:25   #14
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pirate Re: How old is "TOO OLD" to sail?

When you no longer say..... "Wow...!! Look... Dolphins...."
You've lost the plot... and your soul has shriveled....
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:31   #15
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I'm 71 and I captain for a friend who is 80 on his 46' sailboat.
He only needs me because he has diminished sight.
I plan on sailing another 10 years and then deciding if I want to continue.
Just crossed the Gulf of Mexico with a young man of 62.
It beat the heck out of us but that would be the same for anyone.
I do get stiff (arthritis) and have to be careful.
My boat is a Beneteau 361 and I sail it a lot on Galveston Bay and occasionally offshore alone and with my wife.
I don't think my experience is uncommon at all.
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