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Old 21-01-2013, 12:13   #1
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Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

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.
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Old 21-01-2013, 12:36   #2
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Sounds doable , how likely and how much fun will be down to you.

The key to your success will be:-

a) budget (boat buying, boat fixing (always at least a bit) and equipping - extended voyaging usually involves at least a bit more equipment than for weekend sailing - see the list in my sig for a heads up)......give us a ballpark on the overall budget and folks will give ideas........the good news is that pretty much anything will do the job you are after.

b) not buying a POS (through ignorance or wishful thinking. or both ).

c) knowing that you are on a learning curve. and not being a halfwit! (BTW that comment is not age related - no sirree, do a search of the forum ).

Plenty of similar threads already (a couple a week?!) - some really good ones (folks here are patient and usually helpful).....so actually worth a search.

Anyway, welcome to CF and to boats - gonna change your life , not simply the sailing or the boats but getting out and about in foreignerlands outside a vacation experiance.
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Old 21-01-2013, 12:42   #3
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Thanks! Just for reference, these are the types of boats which triggered our notion to sail in the 1st place. I am assuming these are too small for open ocean sailing, but I hope that maybe someone will sign off on them for coastal sailing:

1982 Macgregor sailboat for sale in Ohio

1962 Columbia C29 MKI sailboat for sale in Ohio

1976 Catalina 27 sailboat for sale in Ohio

9187 Tartan 27 sailboat for sale in Ohio
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Old 21-01-2013, 13:47   #4
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

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Originally Posted by LedZepplin77 View Post

1) Hey what's up,

2) island hopping down to Venezuela and back,

3) our knowledge is all hearsay and not first hand,
1) all is fine,

2) island hopping may involve crossing some boisterous water,

3) the hearsay saying 30-40 is fine is fine,

You may find most 30' boats on the tight/intimate side if all six of you go (this is unlikely if you consider how many people drop out from otherwise perfectly run projects). A 40' boat will likely fit 6 comfortably.

Catamarans are very comfortable and easy to sail but some people prefer the romance of a mono-hull. Have your pick (yes, difficult if there are 6 votes). Again, with 6 onboard, a cat can be socially easier. Two-boat flotilla sailing may be a great option too.

Boisterous water is actually more boisterous when experienced in a small boat. Make sure guys/girls your sailing skills are up to the adventure you want.

My advice is: a) go well prepared and a') do not overthink it.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 21-01-2013, 14:59   #5
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Hi Led, I just joined like you. For the record, I was born in the Caribbean but moved to Canada, Australia and now Florida. Like you, went to university, bought a boat, went down to Trinidad, got a job and sailed the islands, in my spare time,for 6 years. I'm now 71 and still working....

First sailboats: 22ft in Canada. Endeavour 32 for Florida to T'dad. Next Endeavour 38 forT'dad thru islands and then to Montreal.
Quickly: 30ft is really small if you are living aboard. Toughest part is the "thorny path" from Florida, thru Bahamas to PR. Then the good stuff happens. Also, best to be prepared, maybe do some club racing where you live.
Go do it. And I'm sure you will get lots of good advice from the forum.
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Old 21-01-2013, 15:05   #6
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Fun stuff! spend enough time cruising around close to home to learn the basics of sailing, navigation, rules of the road and boat maintenance. One doesn't want to find themselves lost with no way to find their way home, or broken with no way to repair. Have respect for the sea.
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Old 21-01-2013, 15:30   #7
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, LedZepplin77, and cariblue.
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Old 21-01-2013, 16:27   #8
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by LedZepplin77 View Post
Thanks! Just for reference, these are the types of boats which triggered our notion to sail in the 1st place. I am assuming these are too small for open ocean sailing, but I hope that maybe someone will sign off on them for coastal sailing:

1982 Macgregor sailboat for sale in Ohio

1962 Columbia C29 MKI sailboat for sale in Ohio

1976 Catalina 27 sailboat for sale in Ohio

9187 Tartan 27 sailboat for sale in Ohio
Ok, so boat budget around $5k - and ideally around half that .

Macgregor not enough living room for one let alone 2 or 3. Plus whilst could do the trip (by someone experianced. or whom the gods favour!), firmly in the ballpark of wouldn't really want to.

The Columbia (if well sorted) would have no problem going into the Ocean, including accross one . For extended time aboard room enough for two, ideally a couple (they take less room!). 3 mates possible - but be prepared for some "space" issues, at least now and again . (the secret is to spend time ashore!). And a cockpit tent doubles the living space, or at least provides a different "room"!. 4 would IMO be pushing freindship too far.......but that might be a YMMV thing. Certainly if pushing off with 4 I would not plan on the certainty of 4 coming back!

Catalina and Tartan would likely do the job wanted (probably someone has taken one accross an ocean - but that (for me) a rather you than me thing). The Tartan especially might be pushing things with 3 persons onboard. 24/7.

But lots of boats around similar in vein to the above selection (IMO you are in the right ballpark ).

Which would be the "best" boat to buy out of the above would depend on how much they would cost to make "good to go" and the answer to that will depend on how good they really are (boat adverts not always a good indicator of reality!). All things being equal I would favour the Columbia, and then the Tartan (albeit some of that solely on looks - yeah, I am that shallow!) - but things never are all equal!

It's not so much that you can't stuff all the bodies needed onboard, it's simply that you will likely discover very quickly why you don't want to! TBH if your boat budget is that low, would rule out anything (in a condition that would be possible or sensible) that would take 4 (let alone 6) on extended travels in a way that meant you all came back together, not simply from having jumped ship - but some staying unstrangled! . IMO would be looking at 35 foot plus, and nearer 40 (and 6 still a push) - you can buy something on your budget, but most of it will be bills . 2 Boats does have a downside on cost, but certainly works better on splitting the accomadation!

You could of course mix the trip up a bit, crew up for the passages and when daysailing in places - but some of the crew are then based ashore when you arrive.

Boats is all about choices - and usually picking from a pot of less than perfect, especially on a tight budget.........like yours!
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Old 21-01-2013, 16:44   #9
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Ok what is YMMV?
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Old 21-01-2013, 16:46   #10
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary (could be different for you).
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Old 21-01-2013, 19:29   #11
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Thanks for the responses guys! Again these boats are ones that fit into my own budget, my friends are working this semester to pony up some cash and invest in a second boat/bigger 1st one. School is out early May but we won't be trying to ship out until after MCAT testing (late May). So we'll be learning to sail on a resevoir/ohio river for at least 2 months before trying the real thing. Speaking of which, the biggest logistic we've been trying to overcome is getting a boat from Ohio the Gulf. Is it realistic to attempt a passage down the Missisippi? Or is the Big Muddy simply too shallow for sailboat?
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Old 22-01-2013, 13:16   #12
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Re big muddy, there is a ton of stuff on the web if you google "great loop". These guys do a circle taking in the Great Lakes, Mississippi, Intercoastal waterway, Erie canal etc. Mostly trawlers but sailboats also show up.
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Old 29-01-2013, 19:46   #13
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

why not consider looking for a boat in the 30 to 40 foot range that is on the great lakes and see what it cost to truck the boat to the Chesapeake bay and start your cruising from there.
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Old 30-01-2013, 07:57   #14
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

Going down the Mississippi is a possibility, but it will take a good deal of time. If your goal is to sail the Caribbean, and your time is limited, I would think your time would be better spent traveling down to Florida and buying a boat here or in the Bahamas. If you want a boat to learn on now, get one cheap and small, and plan on selling it before getting the "real" boat for your journey.

In addition, you need to do a search on "thorny path." Traveling from Florida, through the Bahamas, and down to the Virgin Islands is not nearly as easy as it first appears from just looking at a map. Also, be aware that the voyage down to Venezuela, while it doesn't involve crossing any oceans, does indeed involve some open water passages. Get very comfortable with your boat and your own competence while you're in the Bahamas, before heading out.

Good luck!
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Old 30-01-2013, 09:22   #15
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Re: Vessel Qualifications for Caribbean Coastal Sailing

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Originally Posted by LedZepplin77 View Post
Speaking of which, the biggest logistic we've been trying to overcome is getting a boat from Ohio the Gulf. Is it realistic to attempt a passage down the Missisippi? Or is the Big Muddy simply too shallow for sailboat?
I am not big on my US geography , but sounds like the trip to the ocean would be a major trip in itself (nothing wrong with that - just a time thing, and likely less fun if it is done in a rush to start your "real" adventures).

The alternative to buying locally and sailing / motoring (or land transport ($$$) by road, unless own trailor and vehicle - albeit that not free either) to the sea is to buy in the Gulf, either before you arrive or when you arrive. Plusses and Minuses to either approach, as always with boats!

Buying in Ohio

Pros:-

Get to learn on own boat.
Get to fix / mod the boat at your leisure (and with own tools / workshop to hand - not to be sniffed at!).
Can take more time boat shopping (the better you buy for the buck the less time and money you spend later).....when buying boats you get to kiss a lot of frogs!

Cons:-

A trip down the Mississipi which eats into your caribean time.
Possibly less choice on boats for sale (especially when you want them).


Buying in the Gulf

Pros:-

A lot nearer your destination!
No trip down the Mississipi.
More choice of boats suitable for your trip.

Cons:-

All boats required some fixing / mods before a voyage like yours (or any!) - doing so at arms length is a PITA (and costs, with no guarantee that the work you pay for is the work that gets done as expected).
- Doing the work upon arrival eats into your voyage time, and likely adds shore accomadation costs (possible to liveaboard and work - but a few people on the boat sizes you are looking at that make it doable, but very impracticable).
- No pre trip sailing experiance on own boat (but that doesn't mean you can't get experiance in Ohio on other peoples boats, might cost though - but possibly only in beer!)
- If buying upon arrival, then less boat buying time, which could result in a buy now and repent at leisure scenario (bills & time) plus shoreside accomadation and travel during the boat hunt.....of course if you have (or can rustle up!) freinds and family in the Gulf area to help you out that would drop costs. A short list of potential boats beforehand would help a lot, but no guarantee of success.
- If buying before arrival then a buying trip (or 3?!) costs, plus storage / mooring before you depart.


If you do choose the buy in the Gulf approach you can nonetheless be a tyre kicker in Ohio! and get eyes on boats, both for sale and not to get an idea of what you will be looking at later (and especially what problems you don't want to buy, and then spend time and money fixing).

Boat is all about choices - the decpetive thing is that 99.99% of ideas can be done , but whether wise, prudent or fun is always another matter.........and often enough a judgement call for each to make depending on own wishes and capabilities (and that often enuf includes depth of pocket, you are not alone on that!).

My main concern with the chances for success of your adventure is not the sailing or bumping into stuff side (you die or you don't! & have fun or not), but on the boat buying side as you will be short of both money and time (usually one can compensate for the other) which means you can't afford to get the purchase badly wrong (nothing will be ideal - but some real moneypits around, many of them also float!).....but on the upside, as you are going pretty basic will be less to break! but nonetheless some stuff needs to be good enuf for the boat to be seaworthy.

As I said, no idea on US geography - but maybe a compromise to buy in Ohio, spend a little time fixing her and then make the trip to the coast in stages between doing the college etc stuff, even if the trip not completed by the time you can set off permanently might get you close enough. Anyway, just a thought.

and do keep us all posted on how things progress (boat buying and the actual trip!).....it all goes into the pot for the use of others, whether entirely successful or not!
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