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Old 03-01-2012, 21:23   #1
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Tips for the Novice Sailor

Hi, I'm going to purchace a sailboat soon. I am thinking between a 27 and 33 foot mono. I have very little experience sailing but I want to learn to sail well enough to navigate around the keys and maybe a few of the other close islands.
I would really appreciate any advice given. Especially at this point I need to know what common problems or potential issues to look for when buying a sailboat.

Thx, Lifejacket
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Old 03-01-2012, 22:02   #2
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Welcome to Cruisers Forum!

Learn to sail well first and get a good amount of experience on different boats. You will then know much better what type of boat is best for you. This can be done through sailing schools or charter organizations.
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Old 03-01-2012, 22:06   #3
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Spend as much time as you can sailing before you buy one. Get a chance to see different boats and watch them sail. See what works for your style (performance, comfort, classic lines, etc). The list of common problems is too large to list: just get a proper marine survey done and bring a friend with you who knows about boats. Your survey guy should be able to talk to you through the results as well.

The more time you spend sailing the better you are as a sailor, and with that comes the accuracy for knowing what you want and being right that it will indeed work for you.

Overall good advice for anyone new is to perhaps take a class (if you like that style of learning), or just sail the hell out of the boat you buy, constantly pushing your boundaries and taking calculated risks to increase your knowledge and comfort zone.

The size you're getting is smart. I'd stick with the smaller end of that spectrum if you can. Cheaper, easier to handle, can run in shallower areas, and overall just manageable.
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Old 03-01-2012, 23:41   #4
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Thank you guys for the advice, it gave me some new perspectives to ponder

"Overall good advice for anyone new is to perhaps take a class (if you like that style of learning), or just sail the hell out of the boat you buy, constantly pushing your boundaries and taking calculated risks to increase your knowledge and comfort zone."

I think this advice was what I was hoping to hear and pretty much describes my plan for now, I have looked in to some schools.... seems most of them are only about a week long. However, there were two I found that seem to have a pretty extensive program. and with completion I can get around an actual test from the USCG. (Im sure this is all elementary to you)

I'm 48 now and just got laid off from my job as a nurse, and I dont think I'll get another chance to do this if I don't do it now. I would love to try a few different boats out to see what I like best but unfortunately I dont have a lot of money so I will probably just have to learn to adapt to what ever I buy.

So my next question is, if I may, how plausible is it for one man to sail around the carribean alone? After spending maybe 6 months or so sailing around the keys every day and learning as much as possible.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:01   #5
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Why not go small?

One of the biggest problems facing a first time buyer is to appreciate the trade off between low cost and poor condition. Buy too much of a project and you're not going to be going anywhere. Buying to a price point and visual appeal rather than on basic soundness is the trap. Even the good boats in the 27 -33' range may need considerable work to get them into cruising conditions. The bad ones will never go anywhere.

There look to be quite a few small trailer/sailers (I'm thinking shorter than 22') available in not too bad a condition. You may be able to pick one up for the cost of a few months depreciation on a bigger boat. If it could be sold after so much the better. If you do some research you should be able to find which are dogs and which are highly prized. Some will have enthusiasts' websites. Look for one that you can tow with your car.

If you get one and sail it for a while you should end up with a cheapish introduction to cruising.

You'll also get a better understanding of what is enjoyable for you.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:56   #6
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Lifejacket.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:13   #7
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Thank You very much. I feel like I have already made at least 1 good decision in getting ready for my adventure, Joining this forum!!!

Thx everyone for your replies and advice, it's much appreciated
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:26   #8
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

The reason I was starting off with a larger boat is because I will be living on it for the most part, especially the first year, so comfort is 1 reason. Another reason is that I want a boat that can handle the trip around the carribean when I am ready to set sail. I'm in no big hurry to start or finish this adventure, so comfort and dependability are what I am most interested in.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:32   #9
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Some local colleges offer sailing programs. These are a good introduction to sailing and are low cost.

Try to find boats that you can crew on. Hang around the dock at races. Many times boats are looking for a last minute crew and some will even take someone with no experience. If you do find a boat to crew on and can make a commitment to be there every week you will get all the sailing in you could imagine. Dependable crew are hard to find.

Sail on small boats (eg under 20 feet) to get the best "feel" for sailing.
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:03   #10
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pirate Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Get yourself something between 27 & 30ft... a lift keel Morgan or similar shoal draught boat.. they'll sail adequately with the keel up for your needs... and reduce groundings around there..
Important is a good diesel engine and learning to handle the boat well under power first... then you can motor out to clear water and happily bumble about to your hearts content.. maybe you could get the seller to throw in a few w/end sails together... you supply the beer..
Its not rocket science... but it is an applied one you have to work at endlessly..
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:40   #11
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Get some crewing time at the local sailing club on as many boats as you can. The more boats you get on the more you will learn. However, I probably should have just said, "Go and Do a course. Its the best way". But most people ignore that advice saying its too expensive ;-) But its not as expensive as sinking a boat or drowning. We don't want you dead!!

Most people use a surveyor when buying a boat. The dollars you spend with him will be quite valuable to you and could easily save you from buying one of the boats full of rot,rust,osmosis or dead engines and rigs that are about to fall down. Never underestimate the input of the pro's. (no i am not a surveyor lol)
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:41   #12
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Learning how to sail takes about a day. Seamanship takes a lifetime. So you plan to live on the boat and singlehand? You need to learn how to: anchor the boat properly (and where to anchor), pull up to a dock without wrecking your gelcoat, tie a bowline (and other useful knots), perform routine maintenance on your engine, read a chart, plot a course... the list goes on.

In addition to actually sailing, get a good basic book on sailing and seamanship, e.g. Rousmaniere's book or Chapman, and read it. Then read it again.
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:12   #13
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Three books I have really enjoyed are; The Essential Guide to Living Aboard a Boat, Sailing for Dummies, and The sailing Bible.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:46   #14
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

I started out a little sooner than you but it doesnt matter except that at 48 you're not likely to be as foolish as you would have been at 20.
Learning to sail is simple enough. It is very basic and doesnt take too much education - kind of a learn as you do thing. The rest of it can be time consuming - learning how to navigate, rules of the road, anchoring, weather, etc, etc. You will pick it up as you go.
A class or two would help - at least go out with someone else so you can tell if this is something you really want to do. Take a trip with someone for a week or so, then you'll know.
The size of boat you wind up with is very important - you will be stuck with what you buy for a long time so buy it right the first time!
I wouldnt consider anything under 32' myself - just not enough room to live aboard in any kind of comfort. I would also advise against going too big - stay below 45' unless you have deep pockets. Even if someone gives you a boat - you have to pay rent, buy paint, parts, sails, etc, etc. The bigger it is, the more you pay.
My 1st sailboat was 25'. 2nd - 42'. 3rd - 72'. 4th 20'. Now I have a 48' ketch and a 20' trailer sailor.
I like the 48'er best overall. It doesnt keep me broke like the 72'er did, I can handle it alone, It's big enough to carry all my toys, it has all the bells & whistles I need and sails fast for it's size & design.
Small boats are slow. You may think that you dont care about speed but believe me - you will!
Look around for an Islander 34, 36 or 44. They are old, cheap, tough as hell, good sailors and look good. I was looking at an I-44 when I found my last boat. The Islander needed too much work but in some ways, I wish I had bought it anyway - it was a hull that I had help build back in 1966.
Good luck on your search - above all, have fun!
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:47   #15
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Re: Tips for the Novice Sailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Learning how to sail takes about a day. Seamanship takes a lifetime.
My dad used to say that to me all the time. "You can teach someone to sail over a weekend and if they keep up at it they'll be good in about twenty years."
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