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Old 31-07-2008, 11:25   #1
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Need All The Advice I Can Get

Afternoon folks,

I'll get right down to it. A couple of friends and I have decided that its about time for a break from the working world. The plan is to buy a boat in the Southeast US/Caribbean in the early spring of next year and sail it liesurely to the west coast of the US/Canada over the course of six months or so, being sure to get out of the Caribbean by the time hurricane season is in full force.

Current issues:
1. We have no boat
2. We have very little (and some of us, zero) experience

Now clearly those are too big obsticles to overcome (but its not impossible...) So, where is the best place to start when planning an ambitious adventure in sailing these waters? What certifications are necessary for cruisin in the Caribbean and up the Pacific Coast? What size/type of boat is best (thinking/looking for a good boat with 3 cabins in the 37-43 foot range; trying to keep costs around the $200k level, give or take a bit. A couple of the guys are quite tall so maybe a deck salon would be good)? Any makes/models you would highly recommend for such a journey (or avoid)? Any "must have" features that we should look for? Any advice on where the best place to buy is?

Clearly there is no subsitute for experience when planning a fun, safe trip so any advice on best places to take courses/get time on the water near London would also be helpful.

Look forward to hearing your reponses.

Beam winds, ~~~~~_/)
Jeff
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Old 31-07-2008, 12:43   #2
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$200K will be able to fulfill your needs. I would start taking lessons immediatly, and then begin renting boats. Get all the experience you can before you purchase, and sail away. Even get experience in SNOTTY WEATHER! You are going to sooner, or later, and maybe quite a bit sail in snotty weather. It's just part of the deal.......BEST WISHES in your search...........
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Old 31-07-2008, 12:57   #3
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Get a copy of Beth Leondard's cruising book:
Amazon.com: The Voyager's Handbook: Beth A. Leonard: Books
Lots of good info and comparisons in here.

Take a look at the boat list here:
http://www.mahina.com/cruise.html#boatstoconsider

Most importantly, get some experience. There are always deliveries looking for crew. You will learn a hell of lot doing these offshore deliveries. Many times you can get on with limited experience. A current example:
http://ssca.org/DiscBoard/viewtopic....618&highlight=

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Old 31-07-2008, 13:16   #4
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Getting the whole group out on the water is clearly a big requirement. It sure would be nice if you had a while to practice before you headed off. Heading down through the Caribbean just before hurricane season is maybe the easiest time as long as you don't take too long. Spending a month before that down south day sailing and training isn't a bad idea either. You'll need to learn your boat what ever it turns out to be. They all are different and getting comfortable is part of it as well as shaking everything down.

In the mean time some formal training is the short cut to a faster start. US Sail and ASA schools are everywhere. Everybody needs to know this stuff since you need everyone helping to keep it fun as well as safe. Learning not to be in a hurry is a tough act if you try to bite this all off quick at the end. It's the one lesson that can kill you if you fail to learn about not being in a hurry.
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Old 31-07-2008, 13:25   #5
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Give yourself more time than you have budgeted for yourself. You will need more time to gain the experience necessary to be safe and almost as important, to determine the type of boat that is best suited to you.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." ...Lao Tzu
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Old 31-07-2008, 13:35   #6
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Welcome,

First of all, Yes - you can do this. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Having said that, I echo what some others have said:

1. Time

a. If the goal is to set sail in the early spring of 2009, you need to start preparing now. Read (everything you can), take lessons and otherwise find a way to spend time on the water and check out boats. You don’t need any certifications, but you do need the knowledge they represent. Sailing and navigation are really quite easy, but you need to practice.

b. 6 months sounds like a lot, but you are contemplating sailing thousands of miles through some places that are definitely worth spending some time in - a year would be much better.

c. If you don’t buy your boat until the early spring, you will not be sailing her until late spring or summer, even if she is in excellent condition. All boats, even new ones, need repairs, replacements, maintenance, upgrades, etc. You need to get a boat sooner and start refitting before early spring, if that’s when you intend to leave; and this is pretty much true even if the boat you buy has been successfully cruised by someone else for years - they’re not you.

d. Given your time parameters, I would recommend buying a boat that is already in the Caribbean. Once you start out, relax and be extremely flexible about time and destination. Schedules and timetables can kill you because they can put you at sea when you shouldn’t be. You’ll already be in paradise so, why hurry? If you don’t make it to Canada, so what? That’s not a failure; it just means you stopped to smell the roses and stayed safe.

2. Boat

a. They are many 37-43 footers that would be suitable for this kind of sailing (island hopping/coastal sailing). Beneteaus are the most popular charter boat in the Caribbean so, they’re clearly acceptable for those waters, but there are many others. I don’t know much about the Pacific Northwest.

b. If by 3 cabins you mean 3 private staterooms, forget it. Even when you find that in a boat of this size, one or more of them will wind up being devoted to storage when 3 guys provision a boat for extended cruising. Someone is going to be bunking in the salon - take turns.
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Old 31-07-2008, 13:41   #7
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Stand in a cold shower fully clothed while tearing up $100.00 bills for a couple of hrs and see if you still like sailing ;-) :-)

I wonder, is this a short term Sailing expedition? or are you looking at long term? If short, I wonder if it is better for you to charter. Fly to a lovely destination and charter a yacht(sailboat) and have some fun. It would be cheaper and less scary for the less experienced of your members. The destinations could be several as well, like Hawaii, Pacific Islands, Tawain, Carribean, Turkey and many other stunning places.
On the other hand, if a couple I know (nup not saying the name;-)) can sail the world with no clue about about sailing and even less about half the gear on their boat and arrive home again safely, then I see no reason why you can't do it.
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Old 31-07-2008, 14:03   #8
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Haha, thanks to all for the quick replies.

A couple of things to point it:

1. Did a great trip up in the San Juan Islands in mid December a couple of winters ago; 5 inches of snow on deck, rain/sleet all day, generally rough seas and severe gale winds gusting to storm at times...if I liked sailing while facing those winds and those seas and those temperatures while buryin the rail with rain pelting my face then I think we'll find a way to enjoy cruisin in the Caribbean (minus any hurricanes...) !

2. Six months is more of a general guidline for now (have to make the girlfriends believe we might actually come back at some point); if the winds are good and the sea life suits all then I don't see us stopping...how could we? But the serious plan would be to stick around the Caribbean for a good few months, getting to know the boat and refining our skills before attempting the Pacific Coast. We will be in no big hurry. All that waits at the other end is another job...which is exactly what we are running away from!

3. As far as the boat goes, does anyone know of a good broker in the South Florida and/or Caribbean area? I think its best to find someone you can trust who can get to know your needs and then actively seek out boats that fit that criteria. And how robust does the boat need to be in order to make it up the Pacific Coast (i.e. are typical "coastal cruisers" like Jeanneaus, Benetaus, Hunters, etc. able to safely make that journey or would a moresturdy passage-making cruiser be necessary)?

Thanks again for all the help.
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:49   #9
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Sounds like a plan!

Depending on where you are planning to bring the boat (frankly, it sounds like Redmond is your destination), you may want to reconsider some of your details.

The Caribbean to the west end of the Gulf of Mexico sounds great. From there, though, it gets less pleasant and more expensive quickly. The cheapest and best way to get your boat to Puget Sound is to pull in to Texas and have it loaded on a truck and shipped, while you fly home. There is an extra benefit to this plan: you can stay in the Carib an extra few weeks/months.

But if you really want to push on, with a possible open-ended life ahead of you, then your best route is through Panama and on to Hawai'i. The reason is that the best route to Puget Sound is still out to Hawai'i, north over the Pacific high, and in to Cape Flattery. Of course, if everyone loves it as far as Hawai'i...
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Old 01-08-2008, 13:36   #10
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You've already recieved some good advice but a quick calc on the sailing route your intending on taking is that you will need to cover 6000 nm made good. This means that you would have to do considerably more than that when going upwind. For simplicity sake lets say that it is 600 nm FL to PNW. 1000 miles a month is 33.3 miles per day or 5.55 hours per day at 6 knots. Does not include any time for breakdowns, exploring, badweather, fun. Can you break the trip down in to smaller passages over a longer time frame. Say three months to get used to the boat. Then maybe three months from Carib to Panama then 3 more from panama to Mex then Three months from Mex to San Deigo and then work your way up the coast. I think your idea is a good one and the amount of money is more than adequate but the time frame will make it a rush check this off the list kind of thing rather than a pelasant trip. Just my two sense worth. I also think that some of that money should be spent on chartering in some of the places that you want to visit.
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Old 01-08-2008, 16:11   #11
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Pitch in and get a couple of sailing dinghy's, or sunfish and start sailing and competing w/ each other. Nothing teaches faster than being dump by a small boat and nothing reacts faster to changes in the wind than a small boat. You'll lean how to sail, what to watch, how to trim and when things will happen that can get you wet.
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:31   #12
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Update

Alright, so here we are, a couple of months later, and we are half way through on RYA skipper course with two more weekends on the water coming up. We've read a bunch of books on sailing and navigation and are now trying to put everything into practice on the water. We even got a nice little force 8 gale with pounding waves and driving rain to get us a little wet behind the ears (and jackets and pants...). So far so good, but clearly there is a lot more knowledge to be gained and nautical miles to be sailed before we set foot (or sail, or whatever) in the caribbean.

However, as I mentioned in the first post, this is a very real plan and we need to start making more preparations, specifically as regards to finding a boat to buy. We been trying to get on as many boats as we can here in England and have been checking out as many as possible, but it seems most logical for us to buy the boat already in the caribbean or else somewhere in the Southeast US/Florida. Just saves the hassle/time of having to either take it across ourselves (with experienced help, obviously) or shipping it. The only problem is that we are not in the caribbean now and wont really have a chance to get down, at least for any extended time, until late winter/early spring.

So the basic question is, what is the best way to go about finding a boat given these restrictions? I guess the two options are:

1. find a boat once we've shed the jobs and are ready to sail. main problem with this is that i don't think you can just snap your fingers and find your boat, as well as the fact that once we find it we will obviously need to spend time getting to know it and getting any repairs carried out that may be necessary. this will take up a lot of time and with hurricane season approaching...

2. take a long-weekend and fly down to south florida or somewher else in the carib to take a look at boats sometime this winter. problem with this is that it costs a lot of time and money to get down there, plus it relies on finding something in a very limited amount of time.

Does anyone have any suggestions for best way to go about locating the best boats to buy (aside from yachtworld)? Any locations in florida/carib that tend to have a high concentration of boats for sale? Any good brokers that anyone has dealt with in the past who they can recommend for a job like this? Having a list and narrowing down to those possible prior to arrival would be key.

Thanks in advance for the help. Can't wait to quit this job and get out on the water...
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:47   #13
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You need to define what boat will be good for you, and as always everything is a compromise. The sites with boats for sale have pics of the boat. A list of goodies on the boat, and of course prices. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH is what it takes, and only you as a group can do that.

Once you know what kind of boat will suit you. Then you will have a variety of boats to choose from. I looked in Thailand, and the Caribbean through the internet. I narrowed it down to my current cat, and a Hans Christensen Christina. My first choice being the cat. I flew to St. Maarten, and took a test sail. Flew home a couple of days later, and made my offer. A deal was struck, but if it hadn't been. I would have flown to Thailand the following week.........BEST WISHES in figuring it out. It isn't always easy to do that...................i2f
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:00   #14
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MarkJ bought a Bene 393 and is sailing it back to Oz. He bought it after researching on the internet.

I think I would take a shot at an ex charter Beneteau in the 40 foot range. It should make the passage from Florida to California and coming off charter it will be in a "known" condition.
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:21   #15
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It sounds like you are about to complete the training in about the perfect situation. You learned a whole lot that you didn't think you could ever get to know and you now come to the conclusion that you understand all the rest of the things that you really don't know. You now understand why you need all the skills you only have started them yet need to work on them. If you had a great time with the training then you are probably in about perfect shape for the next part. The part about learning a great deal is only getting warmed up. Keep it fun and don't be in a hurry. Those two suggestions could save you life and ensure you have a really fun time. It is all supposed to be fun!

I think your first thought is quite correct. A new boat or old boat you'll know every thing you hate about it after as you step away and head off. You'll be in places where you can't easily change or fix the things wrong with it and you won't be fully comfortable with it either.

It takes time to work out issues with boats and first boats maybe a little bit longer. Hopefully you bring all the good habits from training along but you start all over again. There was the other boat but now it's about this boat. I think you need that time to get ready to shove off.

Traveling to purchase a boat is expensive as well as recommissioning it in a far away place without local knowledge of the facilities and the people that might help you. You'll need to be able to stage the boat some place so you can be sure of it enough to move it some place else. That takes more than a few weekends. We had 2 weekends before we brought our current boat home. It was not enough time and that was after having a first boat and sailed the areas were were going to sail coming home. After the first day we had gale force winds the whole way back. We had the skills to handle the trip but unfamiliarity with all the details of the boat caused some electrical issues we could not sort out on the water. You can know about a lot of things but the tiny details of what is where and connected to what takes time to master.

I really think it takes a few months to shake down a boat new to you. First brand new boats take far longer since warranty work takes 10 times longer to complete and you find more than one item but not all at the same time.

If you are going some place far away to buy a boat plan on spending a longer time doing shorter range trips from there to find out all the things you hate, things that are broke, and things you really should have added in the first place. Learn where to fit all your stuff and how to do the basics all over again with training to do things as efficiently as possible on this boat. Make the boat comfortable to be on by making it all very familiar. Learn every system and assemble all the maintenance items you will need.

I would seriously consider boats close to where you are before going afar. It adds a lot of cost and creates logistical issues with time. In the end you go through the same process of examining and surveying a boat no matter where you get as well as getting familiar with it. It just takes longer than you think.
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