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Old 04-09-2007, 11:26   #1
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Newbie in the med

First off, hi to all on the forum. I've been reading for some time but this is my first post. I'm looking for some advice and anything you could throw my way would be useful and appreciated.

Our situation is similar to that of some other would-be/newbie cruisers, but with some important twists.

Basically, my wife and I are in a situation where we can pack up everything and take off traveling for a few years and cruising seems the perfect way to go about it. That said, neither of us have much knowledge of boats, although we do enjoy being on the ocean. I've sailed a couple of times in the Mediterranean with friends in the past and I used to clean yachts for a charter company in Mallorca as a teenager - but that's about the most contact we've had (so effectively none at all ).

The plan, mad as it may sound, is something like this. We plan to take a month of weekend sailing classes at a local school here in Portugal (where we live) and then do ASA's courses through to bareboat charter while on vacation in Mexico early next year.

My only concern here is that although the ASA courses will evidently teach us something, are the certificates they hand out useful in Europe? Do people regularly get asked for some sort of proof of competence in European ports? (I'm British, my wife is Czech-American)

The reason I ask is that we would then aim to acquire a 30 foot or so boat in Mallorca (I have family there) in early 2009, fit it out and, starting with some small trips to build up experience, begin cruising the Mediterranean.

I am assuming that the Med in summer is probably a reasonably good place to learn for the less experienced sailor, given that it is a relatively calm body of water without (versus the Caribbean) hurricanes to worry about.

With more experience we would then look to go farther afield.

Thanks in advance for any help or guidance as to the feasibility of these plans.

Magellan

P.S. sorry for the long post
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Old 04-09-2007, 11:59   #2
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Welcome to the Forum, F.Magellan . . .

Given your age, Magellan, you're sounding quite chipper! I think you're much too modest, though, about your sailing experience - I remember reading about you while still in elementary school - and you must make a bundle from the company that's using your name!

Seriously, though, it's good to see you're giving the idea of cruising a lot of thought. I wonder, though, if you might not want to back up a bit and take a few small steps first. Why not see if you can locate a friend with a boat who can take you out sailing on a less than ideal day? It may well be that one or both of you isn't as thrilled by the experience as you presently think you will be.

Finding out the sailing/cruising lifestyle isn't what your imaginations have sketched it out to be may be disappointing, but wouldn't it be better to find that out before you go to such elaborate extremes to get yourselves "educated?" By the same token, if you both love it and can't wait to get started, isn't that a better basis for pursuing your cruising dreams?

Best of luck to you both, whatever you finally decide.

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Old 04-09-2007, 13:24   #3
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For some, the most important aspect is acclimation to the motion of the water, when it comes to sailing and boating in general. If you take the advise to go out in rough water to test it out, you might find you or your wife end up not likely the experience.

I learned, when taking motorcycle lessons, that the body learns even when you are not performing the action. For example, in motorcycle lessons, you spend an amount of time driving around cones to learn slow speed manoeuvring. When I did it on the first Saturday, I truly sucked; but on the second Saturday, I was just fine. The instructor said this was normal as the body learned, even though it was away from the action.

The same with the ocean. I have done a great deal of sailing but all of it about 25 years ago. When I boat my boat about 2 years ago, the first thing I noticed was the feeling of vertigo when I walked on the pier for the first time. I remember thinking: "oh crap, if I'm feeling the motion already and I'm not on the boat; I'm in real trouble." I was in the Canadian Navy and I learned that the body does adapt to the motion of the sea, sometimes the worse being when you come back onto land and the land won't stop bouncing around.

I find for me that after I have been on the water fifteen to twenty five times, my body has adapted; now I don't notice the pier action at all when I go to my boat. Two days ago I was out in weather that was quite choppy and I was motoring (main in for repair); two years ago I would have been definitely feeling the action of the water as I stood below by the companion way (it was raining, let the newbies stand in the rain thinking it is great).

So take your lessons, but somehow get on the water a lot, the both of you. It doesn't have to be anything profound, even sitting on a boat tied up and barbecuing counts.

My wife gets sea sick easily so she was nervous when I got the boat. I have taken baby steps with her. We started out with barbeque's on the boat at the pier, not going any where. Then some trips on dead calm, flat seas over to Bowen Island. Then I stepped up the boating trips to "small chop" conditions, etc. Remember the bodies learns even though you are away from water; just like in the motorcycle lessons I took.

So if you go out in some rough weather, you will probably be much sicker than if you had thirty "trips" on the water under your belt. If you and your wife can volunteer to crew on some races (not all guys are testosterone driven, some just race to be out there) to get use to sailing and being on the water, this would be ideal.

So early on you not only want to get your skills necessary, but your sea legs as well.

Good luck.
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Old 06-09-2007, 03:41   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. I know, with a nic like mine I shouldn't be looking for advice but its been a couple of centuries since I was at sea...

I agree that it's important to get out in bad weather and we're hoping (in fact pretty confident about it) that we'll get some of that off Portugal in October (we're in the north).

As to getting our sea legs, we've both spent time at sea in the past (my wife has done livaboards as a dive master), so I don't think that will be too much of a problem.

What I'm most interested in finding out is whether the Med is a good place to build up experience vs the Carib or elsewhere? (Boats certainly seem more expensive in Europe)

And how often cruisers get asked in European ports for some form of qualification (an ICC for example) and whether US certificates from ASA will suffice. Has anyone had any experience in that regard, or would we be better to do the UK's RYA courses instead?

Thank again for the help
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Old 06-09-2007, 06:35   #5
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As an American, I cruised the Med from East to West in 2004-07, and was never asked for a certificate of competence.
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:30   #6
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Outside of being asked for a Yachmaster photocopy by fax for the purposes of securing a charter yacht (47 footer), I've never been asked for competency certs (in the Balearics) either. I believe the situation may be different on the southern French coast though . . .
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Old 06-09-2007, 12:25   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FerdinandMagellan View Post
What I'm most interested in finding out is whether the Med is a good place to build up experience vs the Carib or elsewhere? (Boats certainly seem more expensive in Europe)
If the Med is where you'll be starting from, then I would say it's ideal! And if you'll be starting from the Caribbean, then that's perfect! In other words, start where you are, and go from there.

Boats not only seem more expensive in Europe, they are more expensive there. But keep in mind that that is a function of comparative Forex rates. So if you can come to America, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America - just about anywhere where the local currency is "down" relative to the Euro - you will find that your money goes much, much further.

That applies to the expense of cruising, as well. The fee for a European slip or mooring is also greater than the same thing almost anywhere else you choose to go. Ship repair, provisioning, everything will be more expensive in Europe because of the Euro's strength relative to other, weaker, currencies.

If you do choose to spend your boat-bucks in the US, for example, you may find that it's other Europeans you're competing against for a well-found vessel.

Best of luck to you in future, Magellan, as you pursue the life aquatic.

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Old 06-09-2007, 19:13   #8
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Nothing beats time on water. Get the classes done - that's important - then get a boat and get on the water. Don't know if 30 foot will serve you long term but it's a great size to start with, especially coastal cruising.

There is a lot ot be said for cruising in areas you know. Culturally you have a handle on things, languages may be easier and you might have a better idea of what is or is not a "rip off."

There is an alternative, especially if you are already retired. And that is to find a cheap place to live and learn. South East Asia is good for that. Many countries with low cost of living. However, not a lot of boats to choose from - smaller market. And not as many "internationally" recognized certification classes.

Where to buy the boat? Boat prices ae influenced primarily by quality of the boat. but they are also influenced by supply and demand and exchange rates can confound the issue. Buying a cheaper boat in the US for example, where there is a huge supply may be cheaper but getting it to Mallorca could be a major cost.

So like everything it's complicated. Make a plan, get started and have fun!
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:20   #9
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if the boat you sail is under 41ft-you do not need a comp certificate. you are rerquired by law to have the following : LOG BOOK, PASSPORT, INSURANCE, NAV LIGHTS, VHF, LIFE RAFT and FLARES
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