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Old 31-01-2010, 15:44   #1
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When Ignorance Is Bliss?

There is a thread here where people have posted about the changing world of cruisers today. With the affordability and availability of marine electronics “finding your way” has never been easier.
I cruised several years back with a few bare basic electronic devises such as a depth sounder and VHF relying on paper charts and recently “yuppie style.”
Basically, we went with what we could afford, but what is most important we went!
We cast off without a whole lot of experience but managed to fumble along learning from our mistakes. I can tell you “ yuppie style” offers more opportunities for frustration than bare bones cruising.
No amount of reading or equipment knowledge would have completely absolved us from the aggravation or fear we encountered when “things went wrong”.
I am looking to hear stories from others who cast off the lines without a whole lot of experience.
Here's my story.
In May 1989 I was asked out on a date sailing and I was hooked!
I learned how to sail, day sailing in the protected waters of the Pacific North West- Gulf Islands on a 26 foot Columbia.
In September as the weather was starting to cool my friend asked me if I wanted to sail in Mexico. “Way cool, I said lets go! In 3 months we worked on the boat, making it water tight, beefed up the stays, bulkheads and installed a wind vane. During this time we poured over books about sailing…you know the ones. We had a trailer modified to fit our keel and towed our boat Islay behind a 1973 International truck ( what a gem). From Vancouver all the way to San Felipe Mexico at the head of the Sea of Cortez. We had no idea how we were going to launch the boat but we knew there were big tides so we would just pick a day and let nature do its work. As luck would have it a 1946 army truck was able to help us with the task which was a nerve wracking success. After 3 months a non stop preparation we were in the water.
We were cruising in Mexico! –But something was missing- there were no Cruisers you read about in the magazines? WE were alone!
Somehow we missed the information about the cold prevailing Chubasco winds – lucky for us we were sailing down wind. We learned how to surf and broach!
About a month later we met up with some cruisers and were introduced to the
” cruising family” and world of potluck sundowners. No life quite like it. We loved it, but had to leave it behind after 6 months because we ran out of peso’s. We pulled our boat out in La Paz took her on the Ferry to Topolobampo and drove home, leaving the Baja Bash behind. On the long drive home we drew up a 5 year plan to return back into the life-style in 5 years

Our 5 year plan was nixed with kids and mortgages. We sold our boat 2 years later and took a 16 year leave of sailing.
To make a long story short we took the plunge again a few years back by buying an abandoned boat in El Salvador. Not the smartest move but we did it. ( it was what we thought we afford)
We got this boat ready to sail in about 8 months – installing things along the way and never really did stop installing, fixing, and learning about our boat.
The last couple of years we have met seasoned sailors and several who spent years and years getting ready only to pack it in after a year of cruising. For this reason I am not a big advocate of sell up and sail idea.
I have also met far too many people who have spent years and years planning and have not left the dock because they feel that they are not ready. Like having children are we ever ready? Most of the people we met along the way were shocked to learn how we got there.
We took off in a short time because we only had a window of opportunity to do so as a family with teenagers including one who was in the beginning stages of making "bad choices"
We all learned as we went and the girls showed no fear of learning how to sail. With no auto helm we all took a share in handling the boat in all sorts of weather. We learned by the school of hard knocks and by asking a lot of questions. It’s a good thing my husband is a whiz at electronics and generally a Mr Fixit and I am a master of improvisation.
I am interested in hearing about other people who like us through caution into the wind and just cast off?
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Old 31-01-2010, 16:59   #2
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Hi Jovietal... great post... lotta truth in what you say, I've known a few of the "We were setting of this year but..." brigade.
Personally I'm a wing and a prayer type...
Bought an old Hurley 22 with 5hp Honda O/B in Plymouth, Oct 08... Sailed it round to the EXE and spent 3 weeks fitting a solar panel, single line head furling gear and a coupla other odds n sods before setting of across the Biscay... took 3 weeks non stop to get into Viviero, Nth Spain coz of strong gales and sea's up to 9 metres... in fact in the couple of days b4 I hit port 11 fishermen were lost in my area of three boats... They do call it Costa del Morte and tho' lovely in summer it is a lethal part of the Biscay just N/E of Finisterre....
Was storm bound for 3 weeks b4 sneaking round to La Corunna then another week b4 the next window to run round the Cape and down to Portugal...
Did more or less the same thing again last June in a Coribbee 21, 4hp Evinrude O/B circa late 70's....
Both boats were built in the 70's and I doubt anyone else would have done it... except fellow graduates from the "Cuckoo's Nest".... lol
You can always find more reasons not to 'GO' than to go....
One of the most used cop-outs is "I've got Responsibilities".....


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Old 31-01-2010, 18:21   #3
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Great story..

Well...I might end up one of those you speak of one can never tell what life will trough at you...but I have 3 girls that i want to put through collage just as badly as i want to sail so there it is..

I have 7 years yet to go to accomplish that...it is what it is...we all have our reasons for what we do...Our goal is different then allot of you cruisers in the first place...in that my wife and I have no desire to sell all and go...we like our stuff and a bit of Terra Firma to call home...We plan on starting out with a 6 mo on and 6 mo off the boat lifestyle and see how that goes for a few years...if it goes buy too quickly then we can possibly try and figure out how to afford 9 and 3 or something like that.

I will never have a so called retirement income as I am self employed but I can make good coin in a short time if there is work to be had..this of course will change every year with the economy and what not so it will be what it is.

As far as the need to be so knowledgeable that you are a walking encyclopedia everything nautical I could not agree more that that is an over emphasis often times on this and most all forums...A good dose of common sense will out perform knowledge 8 out of 10 time in my life experiences if the one with the common sense also has some self temperance and not just bravado.... and some stick-to-itiveness to see something through thick or thin...

I seem to hear about just as many so called experienced sailors needing plucked from the sea as neophytes. ..Im a go for it kind of guy ..always have been...I bought a plane and taught myself how to fly years before I paid for my first lesson to become legal...taking off and landing on short bush strips in Alaska...Our need to protect society I think has curbed allot of seat of your pants learning...some of that is a good change some of it sadly is not.

I would not mind crossing an Ocean with someone else for the first time but if my timing says go and their's doesn't so be it...as they say nothing to fear but fear itself.

I will be amongst the first ones to tell young newbies to get some experience and a sound boat before tackling an Ocean crossing...but I will also be the very first to tell them just buy a 20' boat and go out in the bay and learn to sail it..it ain't rocket science..you don't "need" lessons...if you don't want them...I haven't had one yet ...and I seem to go out and get back in.

In the end its a personal decision as to what your prepared to handle out there without hitting the mommy button..Just don't put others at risk whom you have buffaloed into thinking your some hot shot sailor when your not yet...that's my only real rule...its OK to drowned yourself learning on your own but know one else...
FWIW..I never took anyone flying with me till I had 150 hrs logged in the bush ...by then I was putting the plane where I wanted when I wanted landing spot on in less then 300' and taking off in less then 600...had weathered many storms with seat of the pants navigation like they use to do it..hanging your head out the side windows and watching your altimeter and compass...and some wicked crosswind landings...It was all good and a cherished life experience...Sailing is no different.

So go for it..life is short...and ignorance can be bliss..
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Old 31-01-2010, 19:01   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jovietal View Post
<snip> I have also met far too many people who have spent years and years planning and have not left the dock because they feel that they are not ready. <snip>

We all learned as we went and the girls showed no fear of learning how to sail. With no auto helm we all took a share in handling the boat in all sorts of weather. We learned by the school of hard knocks and by asking a lot of questions. It’s a good thing my husband is a whiz at electronics and generally a Mr Fixit and I am a master of improvisation.
I am interested in hearing about other people who like us through caution into the wind and just cast off?
There are people who let "perfect" be the enemy of "good enough". President Lincoln fired General McClellan because he was endlessly perfecting his battle plan and simply refused to move on the Confederate postions to the south.

It's tough to find a balance between recklesness and preparation-paranoia. I struggle with this myself. On one hand, I want to get out and sail, but I also don't want to endanger those who sail with me, or who may have to come out and rescue me.

That being said, I've kind of done things your way. No GPS, no auto-helm, no slick furling systems, just charts, the COLREGS book, the "Practical Navigator", a VHF and a cell phone for last ditch comms. I read everything I can get my hands on and pester everyone here for information.

I took my teen girls out on a winter's day, made a few mistakes, gave myself about 10 minutes of excitement but otherwise, a great time and a fantastic lesson. My girls were a real asset and I think they have the makings of good sailors.

I caught a little hell when I told my story. There are people who definitely don't agree with your (our?) method.
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