I have not posted in quite a while, because I have been out cruising! WE live onboard and have sold off everything, with no land ties, so you get a good idea of where my head
is at. Please check my thread from 2 years ago "First sailboat at 50". As you could tell, I was as green as they come. We bought what we are now cruising in as our first sailboat (28 year old 52' fiberglass ketch
rig) and it was a great choice from the begining to go this route
for the following reasons:
1. Despite all the naysayers, learning
on your cruising sailboat allows you to learn all the systems as well, and to get comfortable with YOUR sailboat as you learn. It was comfortable and equipt as we thought we would need from the beginning, and continues to be so today.
2. A small sailboat will perform quite differently from a full size cruising sailboat, and while you "see" the results of your actions, your results will be on YOUR boat, with your sail arrangement and your systems, and not something to re-learn all over again (or learn for the first time, since most small boats are completely differently fitted out compared to a real cruiser.
3. Many thought that a larger boat is harder to work, and while partially right, is also is more forgiving in that it moves slower in response to your actions, and feeling that lag time will be more important than "feeling" the response, because in a bigger boat, the "feel" will be quite different.
4. Don't get bogged down with theory and adjusting. It will come naturally as you sail YOUR boat. Quite a few companies that teach you will spend endless amounts of time on this, as well as endless sail changes, BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND CRUSING AND HAVE NEVER DONE IT. While it is important to know the points of sail etc, the truth is that when you are destination
sailing (as opposed to going up and down the bay on a Saturday afternoon), the wind will be more consistant for the whole day, meaning not too much tacking and not too much adjustment. Too much of this in the begining may sour you or make you feel it is just too complicated, but the truth is you want to get someplace, not adjust your sails endlessly because you keep changing direction!
5. Spend lots of time learning about motoring in tight quarters. This is where you will need the most practice and will potentially be able to cause the most damage. Learning on a tiny boat with no engine
will not prepare you for the inevitable docking
sceanario. It is the most tense moments in sailing, I can assure you, and if we hadn't spent hours practicing (during the week when no one was at the marina), it would never have become as second nature as it is now. Let's face it, it is a sailboat, but the truth is, you have to dock
and you have to get fuel
, and you have to back in from time to time, and that is where you have the most potential to screw up. I saw many great sailors make a mess of things when docking/leaving the dock
, because they just didn't practice enough, and the Colgate School
or some other school
never spent time on that, again, because they just don't understand cruising. Most of the time the instructors are racers on their time off, or crew on race
boats, and that is quite different from a cruiser/destination sailor. They also always tend to run with too much canvas
, a practice that is both hard on the equipment
and dangerous in a lot of situations, great for that exciting "well heeled over" look, but not a real world cruisers sailing experience, nobody wants to do that for 12 hours, really!
Now, while I am sure there will be lots of brew ha ha about my post, understand this: We had zero experience before our purchase
of our 52' cruiser. We took instruction on her (three full weeks) and then headed out, going from Miami
to the Bahamas
(far south, the Exumas
to be exact) and then back again, stopping briefly in Miami
and then piloting up the east coast
where we are now sitting at the dock in NYC
waiting for our return south after hurricane
season. We took our time, traveled in only good weather
, and listened to all that offered advise, all with a grain of salt
. So far we have traveled about 2000 miles, most of it in new water (except for the backtrack to Miami) and experienced some bad weather
here and there. While we don't consider ourselves big shots by any stretch of the imagination (like some on this board), we do have the miles under our belt, and they aren't weekend miles or miles in our old familiar bay etc (not that there is anything wrong with that, but being a destination
sailor is quite different from being a weekend/summer/vacation sailor).
One other thing, the always stated "everything will break on a boat". We have found that a well founded vessel, properly gone over in the begining, and properly maintained, will have far fewer "surprise" breakdowns than most advise you. We found that with your systems (watermakers, engine
, generators, pressure water etc, steering
, toilets), if you don't understand them (and I mean completely), have a service
call done, and ask lots of questions of the service
tech. They love to talk and will be happy to give you all the info on your particular system, a cheap
lesson (usually a couple hundred) that will save you plenty later on. Don't skip on this part! After all, this is about crusing, not fixing your boat, and lots of things breaking will break you far faster than anything else. We have seen it all the time in vessels that had been cobbled together by "know it alls" that took to sea without proper preparation.
"Good luck" is the direct result of proper preparation.
Now that I have pissed off about half of the posters on this board, I will bid you farewell once again, I have some crusing to do! And any of you that compare me to Bum . . . can just eat me, I'm out here DOING IT!