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Old 30-01-2013, 11:20   #16
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Are you going to buy something in Florida?? I have sailed through out the Caribbean with my wife, ( just the 2 of us), and usually charter a 40' sloop for the comfort and ease of sailing. Draft is usually NOT an issue in the Caribe and anchorages are usually in the 20 - 50 foot depth range. Ground tackle ( anchor and chain ) is better oversized than not due to consistent overnight winds. I have dragged anchor a couple of times at 3 AM because of insufficient anchor weight and lack of enough chain. Learning curve is a continuing process.
Try a charter out of Sint Maarten , Oyster Pond for a week or 2 before you jump and buy a boat.... See if you like it and can afford it. Caribbean is not cheap.
Best of luck!!!!

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Old 30-01-2013, 15:09   #17
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

I've had a few friends who hauled up the anchor to pursue the dream in the Caribbean. We passed the hat one night at the Yacht Club meeting for a 30 something that quit his job, sold his furniture and car after his girlfriend of 8 years left him.

He sheepishly came back a couple of weeks later with a story about hurting his back. A few months later the truth came out (he probably didn't want to return the money we raise for him). BVI immigration picked him up when he tried finding a job in the boatyards of Tortola.

Moral of the story: don't plan on working your way down through the islands.

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Old 31-01-2013, 05:57   #18
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, SalsaCaliente.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 31-01-2013, 07:41   #19
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Originally Posted by LedZepplin77 View Post
Hey what's up, I'm new to the forum and I am looking for advice for getting into sailing. My friends and I have been saving up and are looking for advice on what size, construction, and age of a vessel is necessary for sailing along the coasts of the caribbean islands. We're all college students, ~21 years of age, and are trying to plan for a trip that would just involve island hopping down to Venezuela and back. We "know" (again our knowledge is all hearsay and not first hand) that a good typical ship size is from 30 to 40 feet, but beyond that we're clueless on what type is ideal for this type of cruising. We're not going to be sailing across the Gulf and will be sailing out of hurricane season to minimize danger. Anyways, we're all close to Cincinnati and will be looking to train in local resevoirs/the ohio river before we attempt any serious trip. Anyways, that's our story/goal and any advice on the ship we should be looking at is appreciated. Considering there are 4 of us planning to make the trip (and 2 more who are thinking about it) we're not against buying 2 boats. Thanks again.
You are not going to be sailing across which Gulf? Mexico or the Gulf stream?
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Old 31-01-2013, 11:16   #20
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

If you haven't watched "Holdfast" yet, it's a good story about young sailors making it to the Dominican Republic on a very small budget.

Hold Fast on Vimeo
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Old 01-02-2013, 14:44   #21
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

So if I have this right, you have no sailing experience, want to buy a boat you and two or three friends can afford, and want to sail through the Caribbean Islands down to Venezuela and back. Have I got that right?

If so, you have a lot of work to do. Since buying a boat is easy, as long as you have the money, why not start off with a good book? Pick up Inspecting The Aging Sailboat by Don Casey and memorize it. Or at least bring it with you when you inspect any boat you intend to buy and then follow it cover to cover as you walk the boat. That could save you from buying a boat you might not be coming back in.

There's also a lot to learn about sailing too. Most who decide to do a venture like you are planning will spend as much as a year learning to sail and getting familiar with their boat, the last few months would be preparing the boat for the journey.

I'm not saying that's what you need to do, just that it takes time to learn how not to get yourself in a bad situation. You could easily leave Florida and head over to the Bahamas without a lot of sailing experience if you choose a good weather window. Don't go when the winds are blowing from the north. The Gulf Stream pushing north and the winds pushing south will make for a very nasty ride.

Once you arrive at West End or Lucaya or wherever you decide to make your first stop, check in with the local harbormaster. You gotta do things like that when you're sailing to different countries. It's also not a bad thing to let them know where you're heading next, just in case. ALWAYS let someone know when you're heading out and where you'll be going and expect to arrive. BTW, I hope you packed your EPIRB and a tested liferaft before you left FL. If you want to see how life on a raft can be, read Adrift by Stephen Callahan. He left the Canaries in a 26' sailboat, heading for the Caribbean, when his boat mysteriously was holed and sunk in about 5 minutes.

While island hopping in the Bahamas, you'll have plenty of time to learn about shoals, navigation (all their aids may not be where the charts show them), sail trim, sail choice, reefing, etc. You'll learn sailing quickly and you'll also find out who should have stayed ashore. Will you be using charts and dead reckoning or will you have a chartplotter, GPS or some other form of electronic navigational aid?

By the time you're heading for the Turks and Caicos you should have a pretty good idea how committed you are to forging ahead. From there you've got DR, PR, BVI all the way down to Grenada before leaving the island chain that can take you to Trinidad and Tobago or some other port on the Venezuelan coast. Of course you'll know the American friendly stops along the way and what to expect of the locals. There's a number of good books on this as well as great advice on the web. Check out Cap'n Fatty Goodlander. He's been almost everywhere over the last 50 years and writes for several publications and has some good books too.

Once you've made it this far, you'll be a whole new person. And make sure you hit the San Blas Islands on the way back. Sounds like a fun trip.

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