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Old 31-01-2016, 20:52   #1
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Newbie seeking advice

Hello, first off I would like to introduce myself. My name is Clayton, I am 18 and in the US Navy. I leave for basic in a few days as a PACT-AN. I have never sailed, but have always had the dream. My dad was Army so I have lived in quite a few places, a lot of them on water and have a love for the oceans like I would imagine many of you guys/girls do.

I plan on taking sailing lessons throughout my Navy career when I can. As I will be in the military, my budget for a boat will be very minimum. I am planning on doing this trip when I get out (4-8 years) and before college. I would love to do it as long as possible and can fund my trip. I have found two possible boats that I seem to be seeing for sale very cheap often. One is the Pearson 35' and the other is the Tartan 34c. My question is which boat would be best suited for Caribbean travel? I would most likely leave from Florida and hopefully work my way throughout the Carribean as far as I can go. Which boat is "better" suited for rougher water? What are the pros and cons? I appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

I hope this is in the right place!
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Old 31-01-2016, 21:05   #2
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Hi Roosters97 and welcome to the forum.

Either one of those boats would be just fine for Caribbean cruising. If you are looking at two specific boats and not just those models in general I would choose the one in the best condition and the best price. Just be aware, anytime you're buying an older boat you need to do a very careful inspection and get a good survey.

Before you buy, learn as much as you can about boats, especially older boats and the potential problems. There are some excellent books and articles on buying an older boat. Also, ask a lot of questions on this forum.
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Old 31-01-2016, 22:34   #3
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Hello Clayton and welcome to the forum. My family was all Navy...except for me. I was the first to join the Army. They still seemed proud and never banished me. You strike me as a smart young man. You're thinking ahead and planning for the future. You're asking advice from people who have gone down your path before you. So let me address two subjects: sailing and your military service.

Sailing: like most men new to the sport, your question involves equipment--namely, which boat to buy. I'll answer that question, but first may I say that's putting the cart before the horse. Your goal (as far as sailing) should be to educate yourself so you can make good decisions when your time to buy comes. First, learn to sail. In the Navy, you will probably have access to instruction and small boats. Please read The Sports Illustrated Book of Small Boat Sailing. It is short, concise, and covers all the basics of how to sail a small boat. How a boat sails, the points of sailing, sail trim, tacking, jibing, sailing upwind and down, in other words, how to sail the boat! When you have developed skill at this you will be ahead of 95% of the "sailors" in your harbor. You will never regret grounding yourself well in the basics.

Now, to answer your initial question about the choice of boat. You are thinking of too much boat. A 35' boat is for a forty year old man who has either accumulated significant capital or has a skill which allows him to earn money along the way as he cruises. Dentists, accountants, carpenters. There is much more financial burden to boat ownership than the initial purchase price. First, no 35 footer that falls within your budget will be ready to sail offshore. Expect to spend 1x, 2x, even 3x the purchase price to equip her for the task at hand. And the cheaper the original price, the higher the multiple. Next is the ongoing maintenance. It increases (geometrically, I think) with the size of boat. Boats are sized by the pound, not by length. A young single man wants a 5,000-7,500 lb. boat. The key to success for you, my friend, is to think small. Small, but perfect.

The next book you will want to read is Trekka Round The World by John Guzzwell, a legend in the world of sailing. You should also go to the Atom Sailing website (also on YouTube). As Lin and Larry Pardy (also legends) said, "Go simple, go small, go now!" Truer words were never spoken. Good boats for you to consider are the Contessa 26, the IF boat, and the Album Vega, though there are many others. If you are married at the end of your enlistment perhaps something a little larger, a Triton or an Alberg 30. If you can afford her, a Contessa 32.

But those decisions are a long way off. If I may be permitted to advise you on military experience: join the most elite unit for which you can qualify. Trust me, you will be much happier and much more well-paid as a fighter pilot or Seal or frogman than you will be as an E-2 chipping paint on a carrier. The military always has its eye out for smart, enthusiastic recruits. They want you to succeed: they are eager for you to move ahead. Whatever your inclination, whatever your strength, electronics, commo, engineering, warfare, seize every opportunity they offer.

Last bit of advice: save every penny you can. A big part of life is the accumulation of capital (if you're unsure of what exactly capital is, send me a personal message). At a minimum you should have a Roth IRA, and probably other retirement accounts too. Put in the maximum amount permitted by law. If you have to work at a civilian job for a year or two after your enlistment is up, so be it. I promise you, you will not regret it.

Good luck and let us know how you are doing.

Paul
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Old 31-01-2016, 23:11   #4
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

A lot of good advice there. Both boats are very good what you are thinking of. I might lean toward the Tartan 34c myself because I am a fan of the designers and I like quarter berths. But those boats are so similar it would really depend on what kind of shape the boats are in. Now I think Paul makes a valid point. You don't need to go that big to have a great boat. When I was quite a young person I started off with a Columbia 24 and it was great little boat, roomy enough for me and sea-worthy, and not expensive to buy or maintain. Also, I think one you don't hear much of, but if you could find a Columbia 26 MK1, that could be an excellent choice too. There are MANY good choices out there! Check out the website atomvoyages.com for some interesting tips too.
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Old 01-02-2016, 04:28   #5
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Clayton.
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Old 01-02-2016, 05:35   #6
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Hi Clayton,

I've taken a sabbatical from teaching and like you I'm going to be buying a boat and setting sail. If you're in Florida, I recently took sailing lessons from water sailing">Blue Water Sailing School out of Ft. Lauderdale and I HIGHLY recommend it. Specifically, if Capt. Wayne is available, he was knowledgeable, informative, had great sailing stories, and caught a beautiful tuna when we hit the Gulf Stream that went from the ocean to the plate with soy and wasabi in a matter of minutes!

Good luck!

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Old 01-02-2016, 06:19   #7
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

I started sailing as a child on a Hunter 32. Thought I knew how to sail. Then, when I went through college and Med school, had no time to sail. I was given a 15 foot Chrysler Mutineer, trailer sailor. I sailed her for 5 years. I was able to sail anytime I wanted both across Barnegat and Chesapeake bay, as well as any afternoon in the local large lake. I would also take her with us on vacations. I learned more about wind and sea states as well as sail handling on her than my other boat. Also, there was no cost associated with keeping her. I had a small tohatsu 3.5 hp outboard for axillary power.

My opinion.....get a trailer sailboat and learn to sail on that. When you are done with your military commitment, then move up to a bigger boat. There are numerous trailer sailboats that will give you a cabin and small galley with a head, etc., so you can take extended trips, but the upkeep costs will be minimal. Count on 10% of the purchase price per year for maintenance costs on a "big boat". I currently own a Hunter legend 37.5, circa1990.

Most importantly, thank you for your service to our country.

Ben

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Old 01-02-2016, 07:29   #8
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Wow, what a wealth of information! Thank you all for the responses! Paul, I will look into those books ASAP, knowledge is power. Also you all make very good points about smaller boats! I will broaden (shorten) my horizon for the boats and check out those smaller models! As for the suggestion for getting a trailer boat and starting that is a great idea. A good friend of mine is big into sailing and has invited me to come with him whenever I can for a good lesson so I hope I can take him up on that offer. Again thank you all!
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:33   #9
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by roosters97 View Post
Wow, what a wealth of information! Thank you all for the responses! Paul, I will look into those books ASAP, knowledge is power. Also you all make very good points about smaller boats! I will broaden (shorten) my horizon for the boats and check out those smaller models! As for the suggestion for getting a trailer boat and starting that is a great idea. A good friend of mine is big into sailing and has invited me to come with him whenever I can for a good lesson so I hope I can take him up on that offer. Again thank you all!
Good plan. Sail as much as you can. No substitute for time on a boat. Go out with your friend. Get a small trailer sailor. Small boats are a great way to learn sail handling. The same principals apply to bigger boats but on smaller boats you get a much better feel for what's going on and how your actions effect the boat.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:38   #10
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

I agree that either boat is good with the Tartan a very slight edge downhill.
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Old 01-02-2016, 15:01   #11
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Clayton, the suggestion of a boat now on which to learn and later, a different boat on which to cruise is a good one. The boat I suggest is a Laser. Every 18 year old should have a Laser. There are a hundred reasons, but I will list only a few: The Laser is a fast, thrilling machine. The first time you turn downwind in a blow and she leaps forward seemingly out of the water...well, the surprise and joyous delight are like one's first orgasm. I still recall both moments all these decades later. Lasers are affordable. My sister just picked up one for $50. She's a little rough (the boat, I mean) but it's all there. A very nice one can be had for $1,500. Even less if you are patient or fortunate. You need no crew. This is a great advantage, day sailing, practicing, or racing. You need no trailer. When I was young I could pick up my Laser off the beach, put her on my shoulder and walk to my van, and load the boat onto the vehicle's roof unassisted. The benefit is that you can go sailing anywhere, any time, all by yourself. A Laser is safe. Between races at heavy air regattas (my favorite) I would capsize my boat--turtled--and sit on the upturned bottom to rest. At the five minute gun I'd hop on the rail, stomp on the board as it came up, clamber aboard, and it was off to the races! The benefit is that you can rescue yourself from a capsize. (I nearly died at your age when I capsized a Penguin a long way from nowhere in icy waters. November 11, 1967. A looong, cold swim followed by a two mile barefoot hike through forest to a highway). Laser is the most popular one design cllass in the world. This means there will always be a fleet nearby regardless of where you are stationed. Good for racing, good for support and friendship. Girls go to Laser regattas, too. I probably don't need to point out the benefit of that feature. But it reminds me that a Laser is big enough for two. One of the most pleasurable days afloat I ever had was with my wife blasting up and down Somes Sound on a breezy day in a Laser. So, you can take a girl out for a sail. In my entire life I cannot recall ever being turned down after asking a girl, "Would you like to go sailing?" And I asked alot of 'em. A Laser will teach you more about sailing in a few weeks than a bigger heavier, more expensive boat will in a few years. You sail and race a Laser and by the time your enlistment is up you will almost always be the best sailor in any club or harbor. And if you do encounter someone more skilled, you will have his respect. A Laser is a good boat for someone in the service. Wherever you are stationed stateside, there will be a fleet close by. If you are deployed overseas, you can sell it quickly or perhaps store it in the garage of another fleet member.

You will need very little equipment. A lifejacket. A wetsuit (a farmerjohn will do fine for spring and fall sailing even up north, but for winter sailing you may want a full Mike Nelson including booties and gloves). Get the book, Laser Sailing. It's been republished several times as racing evolved. The first author was Dick Tilman, an early champion--and, like you, in the military. I think the second version was by Ed Adams Get the most recent one. It will tell you all things Laser.

Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

Paul
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Old 01-02-2016, 15:59   #12
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

One additional thought: Young Laser sailors are highly prized by owners of big boats looking for racing crew. The reason is dinghy sailors know how to actually sail. (You will be surprised by how many people don't know all that much about actually sailing the boat. (I once met a woman who had raced every race aboard one boat for five or six years. All that time afloat and the only thing she could do was handle the backstays. That was her job and she did it. The backstays. Couldn't steer a boat downwind on a screaming run, couldn't make a boat ghost along in a drifter. Nada. She was lamenting her situation to me and I gave her the same advice I'm giving you--get a Laser and learn to sail it. She wrinkled up her nose and said, "I don't think I want to do that!") As a skilled sailor you will be able to line up crew positions on deliveries or on races to Mackinaw, Bermuda, or Honolulu. Not only will that make your leave time an adventure, but you will gain valuable experience at no cost.

Something to think about.

Paul
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:14   #13
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Take a look at The Sailor's Book of Small Cruising Sailboats by Steve Henkel. It does have errors in it, so if something appeals to you then do some independent research. Great book.

Also, see if there is a sailing club or yacht club near you that has races. People are often needed as "movable ballast" and as you progress you can do other jobs. This will put you in contact with knowledgeable folks, provide sailing opportunities in larger boats, and let you evaluate what is important to you in a boat. You may love speed, you may love low key cruises, you may get frustrated by reduced pointing ability, you may see it as a challenge. If you can go sailing on many different boats then you can learn all those things before you buy a larger boat.

Good luck!
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:24   #14
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

Welcome to CF Roosters!

Lots of great advice here.... This is my top pick....

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Good plan. Sail as much as you can. No substitute for time on a boat. Go out with your friend. Get a small trailer sailor. Small boats are a great way to learn sail handling. The same principals apply to bigger boats but on smaller boats you get a much better feel for what's going on and how your actions effect the boat.
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Old 03-02-2016, 15:24   #15
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Re: Newbie seeking advice

first of all, good luck at basic. as for sailing, you're in luck, pretty much every navy base has a marina where the offer sailing classes and where you can rent sailboats ranging from dinghies to small keelboats.
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