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Old 16-03-2009, 07:45   #16
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Originally Posted by jcmcdowell View Post
For a scaled back version- maybe charter a boat for 4 months. You'll get a great deal. Go to the USVI, BVI, or some other sailing paradise and spend your days sailing between islands.
Funny, this was exactly what I was thinking about several years ago! As I did my research on cost, I looked at the Moorings and Sunsail ownership plans..... they would not allow such a long term use, I also checked with several smaller charter companies and a large number of individual owners who had boats stationed in the areas I had interest in doing my multi month sail "test".

After a rather exhaustive evaluation (part of the bane of being an engineer) I came to the conclusion that paying for a 3 to 6 month use of a boat is about the same or more than actually buying one in equal or better condition.

Of course if you buy one it has a lot more down stream factors to consider.... such as where you would keep it when your not on it and other associated cost.

Understanding those factors and with the added benefit of knowing how much I love sailing both with crew and singlehanding... I selected the option to purchase the boat.

You do need to know something about boats. What is good and bad and what you need for your specific type sailing / live-aboard use in the areas you plan on sailing. A knowledgeable Marine Surveyor is also a very good idea when you have down selected to the boats you have most interest in. My selection process started on line and moved to a central point in the islands where most of the boats I had interest in were located. This happened to be in the British Virgin Islands. A two week visit spent looking at about two dozen boats that were in my short list, quickly allowed me to delete 3/4 as unacceptable and when I made an offer on what I considered to be the best boat, after minimal haggling got me a boat. The one I've spent months on two or three times a year since and will probably be well over half the year in the next year them about 3/4 time.

I still maintain a business in Florida which I enjoy and helps with the cruise kitty and the little add on's such as solar cells, increased tankage, Ham/SSB Radio, and other items. I may never be a 100% cruiser, don't really feel any need to. I'm very comfortable making hops between a land home which is fixed and a sailing home that I can place anywhere in the Caribbean to South/ Central America with out much difficulty.

As long as your considering having a distant located boat anyway... look at the advantages of having it in a possibly better sailing location that may have lower overall cost and easier starter sailing venues.

I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
--- Jack London
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Old 16-03-2009, 09:23   #17
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this isn't a four month cruise but this website will give you some idea of costs etc. Mahina Expedition - Offshore Cruising Instruction I would also try chartering a boat for two months somewhere. Perhaps the Florida Keys would be a nice place to start. I rented from this outifit a couple of years ago. It is a Ma and Pa shop and they may be willing to charter a boat for an extended cruise at a discount. The boats weren't in the greatest of shape but the rates reflected that. This way you might also learn some of the real fun of cruising Fixing things in Exotic places. The location is such that you can cruise Florida and (i'm not sure if they allow this) go over to the Bahamas. It is worth a look as you are doing your research.

Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 16-04-2009, 17:24   #18
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Our daughter signed up to be crew on one of the BAHAHA boats and had a great experience and thru those connections went on to crew on a boat out of Antigua and now is el capitaness on a 30' C&C --also a BAHAHA connection--in Nicaragua--so maybe start as Bahaha crew?
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Old 16-04-2009, 22:17   #19
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We had only about 14 days sailing experience when we bought our boat. That was 10,000 miles ago and we have since been as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as Grenada. There are many cruisers that come from landlocked states (we're from Arizona) and get started with minimal experience. Our boat was ready to cruise from day one, far more ready than we were. It takes time to build the confidence and skills to cruise. For us this was the bigger issue than getting the boat ready. But I suppose it depends on your budget and the condition of the boats you are considering.

If you're single, I'd agree that maybe you should try finding a crew opportunity. You can get some good experience this way with minimal out of pocket expense, before you make the commitment to buy your own boat.
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Old 17-04-2009, 04:48   #20
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Our boat was ready to cruise from day one, far more ready than we were. It takes time to build the confidence and skills to cruise. For us this was the bigger issue than getting the boat ready.
The crew side of things when dealing with a family is the most work. You can't make them into working crew in a few days. Relationships and responsibilities are all upside down with the lack of familiar routines and surroundings. You can't quickly feel at home when you are suddenly on a boat. Relationship problems are not left on shore.

New boats (or old boats new to you) are time consuming. Getting familiar so it really can seem easy also takes time and that assumes you already know the basic operations of boats. Just knowing where eveything is takes a long time.

It's easy to start with a high level of excitement but without the effort early on it starts to wear off in a few weeks. Building crew skill sets with confidence matters more than how far and fast you travel in your early days.

This is where not being in a hurry helps. If you need to learn all this plus help the rest of the crew do it all too being excited just can't you through the duration. The clogged fuel filter or we forgot to get something before we left or what happened to that thing. A few stop yelling and I didn't yell's and suddenly the crew is all unnerved. Meanwgile it's getting dark and the anchorage was not where the map said it was. Things go from a minor difficulty to near disaster in short periods. Being in a hurry at that point will get you taking the exact worst possible action.
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Old 17-04-2009, 04:51   #21
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Try orange coast sailing. They do offshore sailing trips in succession to different ports. You can sign on for how many legs you want to if you are able to take the time off. Great experience factors as you learn offshore nav, celestial work, helsmanship etc. Good luck!
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Old 17-04-2009, 05:07   #22
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I'd buy the boat on the east coast. I lived in California for 30 years, boated there for 10. I have boated on the east coast for 4 years. The variety of things to do and places to explore is FAR better on the east coast! Cruising in the Chesapeake, exploring something of the Intracoastal, the waters off Florida. Maybe getting over to the Bahamas. I believe you'll be FAR more pleased.

When we were preparing our boat, we had a blast just working on it down in Florida. We did it in the winter months and getting away from the cold, pleasant walks along the beach, just added to the excitement of preparing to go.

The adventure begins. Go for it!
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Old 17-04-2009, 06:50   #23
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I have to agree on the east coast choice. I am from the S.F. Bay area, and have cruised from SF to Puerto Vallarta, and back. It is challenging, less forgiving, and can be very isolated at times for newbies.

I am now in Florida, and have sailed the whole east coast of Florida to the Keys, and nearly all the Bahamas with some Caribbean sprinkled in, and places in between the two.

You can at this time buy a fine coastal cruiser from $10k to $30k in the Floriduh area with all the cruising gear needed. Learn to sail in the Keys where there is a huge variety of things to see, and advance your skills. When you have your abilities built up. The Bahamas which can be paradise is awaiting you, and only an afternoon away!

As soon as it warms up, and the sailing schools start working. Take basic 1,2, and coastal cruising. By summer you can look for a boat. A boat that has been used often, or just returned from cruising. Buy a boat with the gear on it already. Let the previous owner bite the bullet. A boat that has sat idle, or been neglected will rob you of money, and PRECIOUS TIME!

Don't think about the limitations others put on themselves. Think about the limitless oppurtunities that await you. I am not advising you to be foolish. I am advising you that there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Already several members have typed that they have experienced, and survived exactly what you are thinking about. Sailing is not a slick magazine cover. It can be deadly. It is blood, sweat, and some times tears. I will type this.....IT'S WORTH IT!.....i2f
SAILING is not always a slick magazine cover!
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Old 17-04-2009, 07:11   #24
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i would also add that there is a lot of difference between the desert coast of baha mexico and the tropical southeastern US. take some sailing vacations or maybe you can sail in the great lakes.

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