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Old 02-05-2012, 10:20   #1
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Noob question / Ten year plan?

Hi everyone, I've been lurking here for a while and am amazed at knowledge here. I hope someday to be able to contribute instead of just absorb.

Enough sucking up, here's my question, be gentle:

I love being out on the water, and so does my wife. But we live in Minnesota and have jobs and lives and kids. I'm one of those people who has always played by the rules and put my crazy dreams on hold for... everything.

A recent trip to California reminded me how much I love it there (I lived there for 2.5 years) and got me thinking about what I want to do in retirement. My wife and I both think dropping everything and sailing sounds amazing.

So, right now we have an 18' Hobie that we trailer and use on local lakes. Either this summer or next summer we plan on taking lessons on bigger boats -- (hopefully catamarans) in Lake Superior, and then maybe vacations of one or two (or three?) weeks on Superior or Michigan.

The idea is to ease ourselves into it over the next decade. At that point a whole bunch of financial things should come together so that the possibility of buying a $200K-$300K catamaran outright and living on it is very doable.

I guess my biggest concerns are:

1. Is sailing on the big lakes enough experience to consider taking on the ocean? Would I need separate lessons for that? (I'm expecting that will be the case).

2. Is sailing 35-50' boats too hard to start at age 60-something? I'm in great shape for a 50 y/o, but some days I swear I can see the deterioration before my eyes. I hate to think about 10 years from now. Do people start to give up sailing at that age because of the aches and pains?

3. There seems to be so much to learn, and I don't see a good way to learn it without spending a LOT of time on boats. But my ability to spend much time sailing before then is pretty limited. So say I do what I can in the meantime (a week or two per year) and then can find ways to get on boats for 3-5 years after I retire, now I'm looking at being 65-70 before I even consider buying.... is that just crazy?

My ideal goal would be to retire a few years early (don't see how), get a slip in Ventura or Santa Barbara and sail the west coast until we've seen it all, then maybe cross the Pacific or, alternatively, take the Panama Canal and spend years in the Carribbean and Mediterranean. I'm just not convinced I've got enough strong years left for all of that. Has anyone else here really *started* cruising seriously during their retirement years?
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:28   #2
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

A significant part of the plan is keeping yourself in shape. Not something we as Americans have been great at considering the data over the last couple fo decades.

Prepping the boat, prepping the finances and figuring out what you want to do is part of the total equation.

OTOH - The journey is as important as the destination. I am 15-17 years away from retirement. I may not be there physically at 65 so I try and structure my life to enjoy the next 15-17 years sailing as much as I can. I hope to be able to liveaboard for the final years of work but nothing is guaranteed...
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:34   #3
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

Well, I'm 53 and am making definite plans to start seriously cruising at 56-57. I have no boat yet and have no sailing experience prior to the last year. So, I hope it's a reasonable thing to do! I plan on cruising indefinitely.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:41   #4
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

My dad sailed around the world at 70. Having said that, I also feel the urge to say...Go! Go Now! Sieze life by the scruf of it's neck and get out there now!

Maybe this means a more moderate lifestyle, do you really need a 2-300,000 boat? And yes the great lakes and a hobie will teach you more than you realize about the ways of the sea. Dang, I have more than 25,000 ocean miles on the Atlantic and I've never been more humbled or intimidated than I was when on the Superior.

My 2cents
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:49   #5
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

One of the outfits that does lessons on Superior is Northern Breezes. They also do courses at Shorewood Yacht Club on Lake Minnetonka. Shorewood in turn has a boat club program in which you can get unlimited use of a 23' boat for the season. Two of my friends from Shorewood have recently graduated to cruising in other waters on bigger boats. So there are good local possiblities right in the twin cities to get you started wtih cruising.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:51   #6
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

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Originally Posted by hblask View Post
Is sailing 35-50' boats too hard to start at age 60-something? I'm in great shape for a 50 y/o, but some days I swear I can see the deterioration before my eyes. I hate to think about 10 years from now. Do people start to give up sailing at that age because of the aches and pains?
Don't forget, providing you have been good and gone to church every Sunday then you should live longer than your parents as each generation lives longer.

So what are you going to do with your retirement if you don't go sailing?

Clearly at 65 you won't have the strength of an 18 yr old but cunning and guile always wins over brute force need help winching up the mainsail? then buy an electric winch, simples

Final thought, you don't have to limit yourself to sailing on the US lakes. If you can handle an 18' hobbie then you should be holidaying in Greece as part of a flotilla enjoying about 4000 years of history

Greek Ionian Yacht and Sailing Holidays

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Old 02-05-2012, 10:54   #7
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

My wife and I are in our late 30's with no kids. We know we want to spend a lot of time sailing at some point and have chartered the last couple of years. We bought a boat in charter, knowing that it will allow us to spend all our vacation time on the boat at minimal cost (flights are often the worst part) and we know the date the boat leaves the program.

When that date arrives, we're going to do it. It's only 4 years away, so we'll be in our early 40's which is early for complete retirement, so in the next 4 years we'll be honing our sailing skills and working on ways to make money while on the boat. Both our jobs should allow us to do that and there are a few other financial components that will help as well, so we think it will be doable. Worst case, we'll get out for a few years in our prime and come back and go work again.

If we hadn't done things the way we've done so far, I think it could just be a dream - but I've been working hard to put things in motion so it's no longer a dream, but a plan that's under way.

Age doesn't have to matter if you are in good shape and a little lucky. My father-in-law is in his 70's but often acts more like he's 90. And we have a good friend also in her 70's who acts like she's 20 sometimes - only downside is at 70 you can't keep going as long, but she is very active.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:06   #8
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

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My dad sailed around the world at 70. Having said that, I also feel the urge to say...Go! Go Now! Sieze life by the scruf of it's neck and get out there now!

Maybe this means a more moderate lifestyle, do you really need a 2-300,000 boat? And yes the great lakes and a hobie will teach you more than you realize about the ways of the sea. Dang, I have more than 25,000 ocean miles on the Atlantic and I've never been more humbled or intimidated than I was when on the Superior.

My 2cents
Happy adventure, hope I see ya out there, are 'Rain Dog'
Erika
If I could go now, I would. But my lifelong goal of being a responsible, boring citizen meant tying up my money for the long-term. If I dropped everything now, I'd have to declare bankruptcy. In 9 years, I get access to my 401K, then more becomes possible. Also, I live on a farm that is zoned to become dense residential in about 10 years. Between those two things (and a few other similar items) I go from clipping coupons to living dreams in a very short time.

In retrospect, I had a chance to do this in 2005, I just didn't know it, or really even realized that this whole lifestyle existed. If I could go back to 2005, I'd be out there with you guys now.....
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:07   #9
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

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Originally Posted by FecklessDolphin View Post
One of the outfits that does lessons on Superior is Northern Breezes. They also do courses at Shorewood Yacht Club on Lake Minnetonka. Shorewood in turn has a boat club program in which you can get unlimited use of a 23' boat for the season. Two of my friends from Shorewood have recently graduated to cruising in other waters on bigger boats. So there are good local possiblities right in the twin cities to get you started wtih cruising.
Thank you, I will look into this. I tried searching for things like this but apparently my Google skills failed me.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:18   #10
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

I would also look into the United States Power Squadrons. I'm sure that they are active in your neck of the woods. They have a safe boating course that anyone can take, but for members they have many other classes on various navigation and seamanship topics. At least for times when you are landlocked, you can build up your book knowledge and associate with other like-minded people.

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Old 02-05-2012, 11:30   #11
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

The four reasons I see failed cruising plans:

- financially couldn't pull it off. invariably they would have been able to if they got a cheaper boat and didn't shop at west marine every week.
- physically unable. people eating like crap, drinking like fish, and fat. it adds up and as an example there's a guy with a tayana for sale because he got a stroke (which are 99% related to lifestyle) and can't balance anymore.
- relationship failed. his vs. her dreams type stuff. tough one to comment on because the dynamics are different all the time.
- bad attitude. works okay if you're solo, but some people are such asses that no one wants to be on a boat with them.

The boat rarely has anything to do with it and usually more a manifestation of one of the problems above.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:35   #12
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

Hi hblask, welcome aboard! I won't try to answer all your questions b/c there are far more experienced folk here on CF, but our stories do overlaps in some ways. For one thing, we're closing in on the end of our 10-year plan. We've picked the date (Spring, 2014), and are now divesting ourselves of the stuff of land. But for another, we live and cruise on Lake Superior.

The Great Lake are lakes in name only. As you already know, they are best thought of as inland seas, and this is especially so for Superior. You will find Superior an excellent sailing and cruising area. The Big Lake will produce all the wind and seas you would ever want to deal with. And thanks to being mid-continent, you get to deal with far more complex weather patterns than most ocean sailors. It's an excellent proving ground.

I have no idea about your situation, but if you can manage it, I would get an inexpensive 28 to 35 footer right away, and get out there as much as you can. Sailing is easy. It's the ownership, and cruising parts, that takes time to learn. Charter trips are good, but owning your own boat, and cruising for as long as you can each year, will teach you a lot more about the cruising life.

One comment on your timeline. If you are concerned about age and ability ten years out, why wait? From your brief description, I infer you financial status is already quite sound. (As me ol' newfie dad used to say, "If I had your money, I'd throw mine away!" ).

Why not move the plan up? A boat for 1/2 (or less) the amount your planning is still a heck of a lot of boat. Get out there sooner!
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:49   #13
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

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Originally Posted by hblask View Post
My ideal goal would be to retire a few years early (don't see how), get a slip in Ventura or Santa Barbara and sail the west coast until we've seen it all, then maybe cross the Pacific or, alternatively, take the Panama Canal and spend years in the Carribbean and Mediterranean.
Youngster, if you want a slip in Santa Barbara, you've already waited too long. Their waitlist is so long they stopped adding anyone to it years ago. Chances of getting a liveaboard slip for a catamaran in Santa Barbara anytime during your lifetime are less than zilch.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:53   #14
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

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Youngster, if you want a slip in Santa Barbara, you've already waited too long. Their waitlist is so long they stopped adding anyone to it years ago. Chances of getting a liveaboard slip for a catamaran in Santa Barbara anytime during your lifetime are less than zilch.
The mooring balls in the "nice part" of San Diego (Shelter Island / Point Loma) are a ~7 year wait; stuff is crazy. We're expecting to take our sweet time going around the globe and hopefully have a ball waiting for us when we get back.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:57   #15
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Re: Noob question/Ten year plan?

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One comment on your timeline. If you are concerned about age and ability ten years out, why wait? From your brief description, I infer you financial status is already quite sound. (As me ol' newfie dad used to say, "If I had your money, I'd throw mine away!" ).

Why not move the plan up? A boat for 1/2 (or less) the amount your planning is still a heck of a lot of boat. Get out there sooner!
I like your suggesting of getting a smaller boat now, I may look into that for next year. A question: say that I could get out on the lake for 2-4 weeks per year and maybe a couple long weekends, figuring in all the costs of owning (depreciation, putting in/out, slips, maintenance, etc) is owning much cheaper than chartering for those weeks? It looks like it's maybe $1000/week to charter a 32' boat in Superior.

I think I answered this already, but the obstacles to dropping everything and doing it NOW:

1. young kids in school
2. money tied up in 401K
3. money tied up in real estate purchased at the peak
4. a pending change in zoning of my farm, probably 5-10 years out
5. money tied up in a loan to a restaurant -- basically tied to the value of real estate again

In other words, cash on hand: not so much. Non-liquid assets due in 8-12 years: potential financial independence and then some.
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