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Old 20-01-2013, 15:36   #1
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sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

I am pretty new to sailing. I bought my first sailboat last year. I have been sailing on lake superior a few times. Next summer i plan on sailing the lake alot as i don't work in the summer. Next winter i want to buy a boat in Florida and sail the Caribbean. How will i know if im ready for this? What type of boat should i be looking for that is best for a beginner sailor in the Caribbean. I want to stay under 20000 dollars. There will hopefully be one more person in my crew but i doubt they will have any more experience than i do as i know noone who is a sailor. Any help with my concerns would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your info,

Dan
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Old 20-01-2013, 15:42   #2
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

There's a lot of info on the forum already from beginners asking for advice. Do your research in what you want to get out of sailing/traveling and how that works with where you want to go.

What kind of sailboat did you get last year?

What kind of things are you looking for in your next boat? When you figure the answer to this one, research different boats that have those features to see what could work for you.

Welcome to CF and good luck in your search for the next one.
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Old 20-01-2013, 15:49   #3
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

Welcome aboard! Find a 30-35 ft monohul sailboat, with a 5 ft or less keel and less than 10 years old. Take some hands-on seamanship classes that include bare-boat chartering. Charter a few times, a boat with the above features. Finding a crew, will be the easiest part. Knowing that you can single handle a boat, without reference to the horizon and in inclement weather should be your priority. If you're going to spend $20K on a boat, you'd better have another $10K in the bank, for emergencies. Good luck! Mauritz
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Old 20-01-2013, 15:51   #4
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

I got a 76 luger. It is a twenty seven ft. Boat with an eight ft beam and a swing keel. Its an ok boat but i just don't think it is strong enough for he ocean and its a little smaller than i would like to live in for three or four months. Low head room for someone who is over six ft. Also i would like a boat with an inboard motor i think?
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Old 20-01-2013, 16:09   #5
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

I got a 27' boat. It's big enough to live aboard if needed, small enough to go anywhere and built strong. I'm 6'5" so I know what it's like looking for headroom. I can not stand up straight in my boat except in the compainion way, with the hatch open but that doesn't bother me at all.

Good luck finding what works for you.
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Old 20-01-2013, 16:15   #6
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

Sailing the Caribbean is pretty vague since it is a big place. You might start by getting a boat in Florida and learning about it and you there . Also good because you have lots of marine stores when needed as you realize that you need something. Once you feel comfortable there and feel the boat is ready head to the Bahamas for the winter season. Beautiful sailing, the only downside is you can get some pretty crappy weather as cold fronts go through. After a season there head back to Florida where you can assess how it went. Do you have the right boat? If it is the right boat, what changes additions do you want to make? Think about where you want to go next and how to get there. Any destinations such as eastern Caribbean are a much bigger challenge than what you have done so far. You can decide if you are ready for that.

Let us know what boat you have. It might be suitable for this first stage (might not too!). You don't need 30 to 35 feet, it doesn't have to be less than 10 years. We had a Vega 27 rafted to us in South Africa that was older than the Swedish crew onboard and they had had a very enjoyable cruise of something like 30,000 miles. Be careful of Internet advice, including mine, find out what experience the people have had. Even if they seem experienced, they are different people than you.

BTW I am not saying you need a Vega, although they are often used by small-budget, typically younger, cruisers. There are lots of inexpensive, rugged boats in the 26 to 35 foot range that will do the trick.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:40   #7
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

My boat i mentioned is a 76 luger. From what i have read on it it is a "kit boat". I know very little about boat construction but the fiberglass hull looks to be pretty thin on my boat. I was thinking about sailing it down the rivers to the gulf and to Florida to see if it could make that and maybe trade it in for another boat. The size is ok for me as i don't plan on spending alto of time in the boat other than sailing to my destination and sleeping at night but I've talked to some people who have said that a boat this size is not as easy to sail as one in the mid thirty ft range on the ocean. Yet others say no big deal with the size. I like the idea of a boat that is trailerable as i could spend more time down south and not have to sail it back to minnesota.
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Old 20-01-2013, 18:17   #8
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pirate Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

You wont know your ready until you've got your first night at sea, out of sight of land out of the way...
As to a boat... 30 to 33ft-ish.. Morgan, Seafarer.... there's a big choice... I've been told the Bombay Clipper has great accomodation and is a great sailer... in the end though its down to you and your heart.. doubt your head'll come into it...
Its tough getting to Antigua... into the wind stuff... but after that its all down hill..
Give it a go.. even if its only as far as the Bahama's.. its worth a punt...
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Old 20-01-2013, 18:39   #9
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

sailing on lake Superior makes the carribean a piece of cake, when hurricane season comes, go to Iowa
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Old 20-01-2013, 19:33   #10
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

The "best" boat for your plans will be one you can find in the best overall condition possible. Exact model / make / year secondary - as will be layout. Boats is all about compromises. At your budget I would be looking in the 28 to 33 foot range - some of those will have more living room inside than others, despite being the shorter!

Given you sound like you don't want a year or 2 of fixing the boat before casting off then given your budget you need to buy something pretty much good to go (they all will need a bit of work or upgrades anyway - yer just don't want a 2 year list of things!, even if they are all indvidually not rocket science......and on your budget certainly not the bills either!).

A squillion similar threads on CF (so well worth a search here) - if you click on the Cruising Equipment list link in my sig you discover the collected wisdom of CF on the subject - not gospel, but a decent effort. The good news is that you won't need (or want) "everything"! You will also see that "everything" also adds up!, even S/h. My advice is therefore buy a boat with as much of the stuff you want already onboard and just accept that each boat won't have everything you want - for that their is E-bay etc. or new........

When will you be ready? Well, by the time you go will be able to handle a boat ok (and also sail!) - so well ahead of many.........Lake sailing has own challenges to the sea, if you can deal with one you can deal with the other - as long as you understand they are different and are prepared to learn.

The likely biggie missing from your lake CV will be navigation (seperate from simply following a chartplotter / GPS, albeit that a useful tool to have). Could do a course or some self study (a book or 2 / online). Also some understanding of weather and what it's like in your intended area (including the seasons)........after that just be aware that still on your learning curve and act conservatively accordingly and likely you will be ok - or at least know when you are not ok! (in practice by then you will have a good handle on the things you are short on knowing - then up to you WTF you do about them! but lots can be learnt and / practiced (to get comfortable with)as you go along, indeed the doing does often provide the best learning).

I would also suggest sticking with this forum - lots to learn here, for sailors of all levels of knowledge (with boats always something new to learn!).
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Old 20-01-2013, 19:39   #11
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

i'm with ainia. do some coastal sailing in florida/keys, then go to the bahamas. coming from the great lakes you'll think you died and went to heaven. you'll get lot's of good experience and a taste of 'going foreign'. and you're not too far away from the good old usa if you need to come back quickly for some reason.

as far as boats go, you can probably find something like a pearson 30, endeavour 32, alberg 30, tartan 30, or lots of other suitable boats for under 15k, with a diesel of course.

learn to sail on what you've got, save your money, sell the luger, and come on down....
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Old 20-01-2013, 19:50   #12
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

Also have a read of this thread:-

Attempted Trip to Bermuda

Lots of good advice that is relevant, partly a what to do - and partly a what not to! (fella was starting on less knowledge than OP - but is still going!)
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Old 20-01-2013, 20:22   #13
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

A lot of boats are 'trailerable,' some require a tow vehicle that will cost more than the boat, however. I'd plan on making it a one way trip and sell the boat in the south when done. Better yet, buy a boat in the south and extend your cruising time by a month or more.

You'll need some kind of self steering. I prefer a windvane especially on a smaller boat with less means to generate electrons. If you can find a boat already set up, the more the better. Failing that, look for used vanes on eBay or Craig's List. Should be able to find a Monitor for less than $2,000 that will work on a boat larger than 27' or so. Pendulum Servo systems work better with a tiller, btw.

Practically any boat will get you around the Carribean. As far as livability, wouldn't want to go in less than 26'. Just not enough room and storage in something smaller. There have been some really good buys in boats around 30'. Age of boat is immaterial. A 10 year old boat that is all original is probably the worst as almost all systems will be nearing the end of their reliable life. The FRP boats of the 60s-early 70s are often more stoutly built, have fewer osmosis problems and will have been upgraded as well as being cheapest to buy.

You can probably get by with a tablet for navigation. A depth sounder would be nice. For communication, a handheld VHF with an Epirb for when the feces hits the fan. Roller furling headsails are nice but I've done 1,000s miles without it.

As far as experience, take the inexpensive courses offered by the Power Squadron or the CG Auxillary, read as much as you can and then go out on the water with your current boat. Take the boat out in all conditions and don't hide from bad weather, within reason. Once you're comfortable with the boat, plan some sails to unfamiliar areas and some overnight sailing.
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Old 20-01-2013, 20:48   #14
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

Thanks ti all of you for the information. I really enjoy this site. I've been reading stuff on here all winter. Just today decided to sign up and ask questions. Im wondering if anyone might have any suggestions on some sailing books i might find to read while all the water is frozen up here. Want to get as such knowledge as possible. Learn all his sailor lingo etc.
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Old 20-01-2013, 21:08   #15
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Re: sailing the Caribbean with little sailing experience

danscotttrudel, As a long time, limited area (Puerto Rico / USVI / BVI) Caribbean sailor, I can tell you that it is a great place to get your feet wet, so to speak. Minimal tides (less than a foot, usually) / Minimal currents (except in narrow passages) / Moderate steady wind (10-20 knots) / No fog, but occasional mild thunderstorms / Line of sight navigation, for the most part / Good in water visibility with Poleroid sunglasses / All in all a great place to hone your basic sailing skills and to prepare you for some of the more advanced stuff. Best of luck!
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