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Old 25-07-2010, 15:45   #1
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Starting in the Right Direction ?

The idea of cruising and spend a lot more time getting to know other cultures has bitten me. I am looking at 3 to 5 yrs before I would see about setting sail. But have some questions that I believe will be answered here.

Background, born and raised in the high country of eastern oregon chasing cows and killing trees. spent time in the army jumping out of planes, walking a lot and getting shot at (retired now). I have degrees in civil and mechanical engineering with high levels of electrical and chemical background. very little sailing experience, but some ocean experience. Still in eastern oregon and have to stay here for the time being, money!

from what I have learned here and some reading my plan of attack should go something like

1) read every book and all internet info I can, knowledge takes time to acquire and need to start before I go to a class?

2) learn a foreign language and a basic of 1 or 2 others? which ones?

3) take a sailing class or 12 if needed, I can be a slow learner, I am a cowboy.

4) if still interested, buy small boat and practice till i know what I am doing.

5) go to the end of the Columbia turn left or maybe right I dont know.

if there is any thing I have left out, especially on what I should be doing now let me know.


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Old 25-07-2010, 15:58   #2
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Classes are great. They get you over the hurdles and hopefully reduce the potential for real issues later. However, it is very difficult to retain anything from class without #4 to reinforce it regularly.

- Sailing knowledge does scale up, starting small never hurt anyone and has helped everyone.
- There is no substitute for doing. Its the difference between watching someone drive and driving.
- Look for a boat with at a main and a jib and one with a spinnaker is an extra plus. You can literally practice everything on a scale that is easier understand. A Flying Scot or go for a nice trailerable. Something that does not put the house at risk if you hate doing this (yes - some people find they hate sailing after trying it for a while - but that is just crazy talk)

And have fun - or why bother?


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Old 25-07-2010, 16:14   #3
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1) read every book and all internet info I can, knowledge takes time to acquire and need to start before I go to a class?
There is a lot out there and it's all good but it take context to toss the noise from the meat.

2) learn a foreign language and a basic of 1 or 2 others? which ones?
Spanish seems the most common and easiest to learn. That is a general rule. When in Norway it won't help. Learning to smile is the one requirement and cuts through a lot of problems.

3) take a sailing class or 12 if needed, I can be a slow learner, I am a cowboy.
I'm a strong proponent of sailing classes. ASA or US Sail have them any place there is water. It just gets you thinking and talking correctly. It cuts through a lot of the things you read but never really get. Do it soon and don't wait to the end. Even a basic sailing class starts to change your way of thinking. It's more about how you think than what you know or don't know.

4) if still interested, buy small boat and practice till i know what I am doing.
Doing is better than reading. You'll learn a lot on a small lake. It should all be fun or it probably won't be later on. Not all dreams transfer to reality.

5) go to the end of the Columbia turn left or maybe right I don't know.
Jumping off the edge of the world has it's appeal but preparation leads to success in anything in the real world. You can prepare starting today. You can fail anytime with far less effort.

if there is any thing I have left out, especially on what I should be doing now let me know
I really think it's more about getting your head right and the preparation you do before that matters. You need to shake out a lot really bad ideas as well as find better new ideas. I doubt you can be a better person when you leave than you are now but you could be better prepared. Having something to do with being on the water just can't be a bad idea starting tomorrow. Some of your past may prove valuable but it's a case where it won't be obvious at first. It is in that period where you might need to be more lucky than good.

Read a lot, do a lot, and think about a lot of things. There is at least a large component that is all about you and not the boat. Jumping on a boat just separates you from the familiar. You might feel lost and be prone to the radical idea that you really know it all. If you want to roll the dice then at least stack the deck in your favor. You can be forgiven a few blunders but it's not a high percentage victory. Doing the right thing because you know how has even more satisfaction.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 25-07-2010, 16:31   #4
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None of your items are necessary. It's far easier than most people think. A certain part of the cruising culture, a good bit of it here on CF, intentionally or not, might give you the feeling that cruising is difficult. That cruising requires much knowledge, many gizmos, years of preparation.

Books? A few reference books: cooking, which fish to eat, first aid...
Language? You luck out. English and a smile is all you need. Coincidently, essentials of a local language can be learned....locally.
Classes? Ugh. Not for me.
Sailing a small boat is really fun, so you might as well do this.
Columbia and then a turn? Not necessarily. Might be smarter to fly to San Diego or Mexico and start from there.
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Old 25-07-2010, 16:42   #5
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Hey Cowboy,
Did you read a book or take lessons to ride a horse.. Same thing except you can learn a boat better than you can a horse..
Befor you get into the sailing culture to much, take a sailing adventure, like "SunSail" and see if the water is what you want..
Many people have dumped thousands into a sailboat and gear only to find out they didnt like sailing and the idea of spending ones life, even for part, aboard a small object bouncing around the open ocean isnt much of a reality..
Go Sailing...........
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Old 25-07-2010, 17:51   #6
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You could crew on offshore passages and learn the fastest. Jumping right in as you would breaking a bronc might not turn out so well offshore where you need to know a certain level about many things ( how to know which direction to go) ( how to fix the boat) ( how to avoid catastrophe), etc. Schools are great, seminars are good, but it's all talk.

Going out on the ocean with people who (supposedly) know what they are doing is the fastest and best way to gain essential knowledge. A sincere, humble attitude and a strong work ethic will probably get you recommended to other captains who often need help with crew. If you're a drunk, druggie, a**hole or less than fully committed to success of the voyage, You will have trouble.

If you have to work to live but have time off in the winter, it's a good time to crew as much happens at the end of the year when hurricane season is over. Delivery skippers go out often during the less desirable sailing weather to deliver boats beating against wind and weather. This is also a good thing for neophytes to experience to determine if they really want this as a lifestyle. (As a general rule, I prefer not to sail to weather at the start of a voyage and will often wait for a window of opportunity)

Many times you have to put up with eccentricities and delays when wanting to crew. Alot of this stuff cannot be done on a schedule,skippers are superstitious (or afraid).

Keep learning all you can and continue to read. make yourself more valuable and you will achieve your goal.
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Old 26-07-2010, 11:54   #7
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Thank you all for your advise. It sounds like my general direction and plan are about right, there is NO way I can get away from here for more than part of a day for a yr or a little more. Never did read a book on a horse but i couldn't talk when I was first on one and was roping cows before I could read. I figure even if I don't like the sailing part I could go on a power boat, but sail would be my first choice. theory is about all I will have a chance to get for a little bit but trying to start in the right direction. any knowledge, even theory is better than none.

Never jumped on a bronc to break them, worst way to break a horse. thats for rodeos and guys with little d**k disease.
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Old 26-07-2010, 14:08   #8
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G'Day Cowboy,

OK, you're stuck out there away from the ocean for a year or more... are there any lakes or decent size rivers within driving range from your home base? If so, I'd suggest that you tell your boss (or whoever it is that says you can't get away) that your Grannie died, then drive to the nearest watery place and quick, buy a small sailing dinghy... say about 12-15 feet. Doesn't really matter what design, but better if it has both a main and a jib. Bring it home, stick it in the lake and start "breaking" it. In the past, before there were packaged classes for everything, that's how most folks started learning to sail. Shouldn't have to spend much more than a grand, and when you are ready to leave, these things are fairly easy to sell onwards.

This, coupled with your books, will get you started on the slippery path to becoming a sailor and a cruiser. Later, you may or may not feel that some formal classes will help you, but having the dinghy experience (besides being lots of fun) will make acquiring the knowledge from the classes easier and more likely to stick with you.

How do I know that this can work?? Guess...


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Manly, Qld, Oz (having left San Francisco in 1986...)

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s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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