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Old 01-07-2015, 20:25   #1
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95% decided - need input to get to 100%


Brand new to the forum but have been drawing inspiration from you guys for the last year, and hope for some input.

I'm a 50 y.o. single mom, and my daughter is soon off to college. This gives me the freedom to cast off and follow my dream of travel. I used to sail quite often in my 20s / 30s. Mainly day sail but also some regattas and night sailing. Spent a week crewing a 67 ft in Northern Norway, including experiencing a force 10 storm! Then no sailing for many years until I recently picked it up again. Over the last year I've completed ASA 101, 103 and 104.

As said I'm 95% certain that I want to beqcome a cruiser, but as it becomes more real I find myself facing Doubts.

- Do I have enough experience?
- Will I get lonely?
- Is it too risky?
- Will it be an endless chore of fixing stuff?

A few words about how I plan to do it:
I'm very drawn to Lagoon 380 (although I've never sailed a cat). I live in Houston TX so my target is to sail off early 2016 and spend the first year exploring the Caribbean - and building sailing experience before my first Ocean passage. I have two friends with no sailing experience keen to join, and have planned to at least in the beginning get experienced crew for crossings. Before pushing off I plan to get a ham radio license and do a First Aid course. I've got quite a few of the "must have" books and am working my way through them.

I've travelled extensively before so I'm not worried about the cultural / non-US part of this. I'm also in OK shape, and enjoy surfing and fishing.

So, am I mad to do this, or a wuss who is overthinking things? And what is day-to-day life as a cruiser really like?

Feedback, ideas, suggestions - everything received with gratitude!

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Old 01-07-2015, 20:52   #2
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

First set:
1. You've got more than a lot have when they set out.
2. Depends on your personality.
3. No
4. Probably

Second set:
1. Wuss!
2. Whatever you make of it.

Go for it!

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Old 01-07-2015, 21:06   #3
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Either you will hire maintenance / repair people or you will keep the boat up yourself.

Plenty of boats to be found around the Houston area. I talked to a guy tonite thinking of selling his 50' Californian.

Good luck in ur search.

Looking for another pretty place to work on the boat.
Working on spending my children's inheritance.
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Old 01-07-2015, 21:25   #4
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Howdy Absolutely, and Welcome Aboard the Forum!

You wrote a very good first post (introduction).

Based on what you wrote, it sounds like you are much better prepared than most who want to start cruising.

The Lagoon 380 has caught my eye too. A very nice boat. I suggest you look at the videos on Youtube for "Honeymoon" (name of the boat) as they cruised the South Pacific (starting in Florida as I recall) on a L380. Watching their video made me want one.

Cruising with good friends is a nice thing if family cannot go.

IF you are really thinking of buying a L380, I would invest a little time and money and go charter one for a week (or less) in the Caribbean (or go as a paying guest) so you can see how they sail and what it is like there and on that type of boat.

Another friendly suggestion: You wrote a good introduction. Copy that to your forum profile "About Me" page, until you get your boat. Members tend to look at that page.

Good luck on your decision.

Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2018? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
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Old 01-07-2015, 21:25   #5
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

"- Do I have enough experience?
- Will I get lonely?
- Is it too risky?
- Will it be an endless chore of fixing stuff?"

I think you have enough to get started. You'll be learning all along, wherever you travel to.

Lonely, perhaps. Depends a bit on how much you miss those whom you have left behind. But don't misunderstand: being alone and self sufficient need not make you feel lonely. Alone and lonely can go together, but need not. How well do you know yourself?

Risk. All that lives risks dying...and will. If that's the worst fear, don't worry about it at all. It's not a question of if, but when, and you have little real control over the latter. Land based people may go on about it at great length, but honestly, it's riskier to drive on the freeway than to go cruising. Just bear in mind, you are unlikely to drown on the freeway, so you make plans to stay on the boat.

Fixing stuff. Usually there's a sort of honeymoon period. At first, the boat's all fixed up prior to departure. Then, after a bit, there are problems to solve. Refrigeration vs. electrical capability is one big issue for newbies. Genset vs. solar panels. Lots of threads here relative to power usage and provision. Yes, you'll be in charge of things being fixed. Mostly, if you can do it yourself you avoid the frustrations of waiting for others to complete work that you need done in order to continue to play...and if you do it yourself, it enhances your sense of self competence and reliance, AND saves money, too. Your choice.

You might want to wait till the daughter's into her 3 rd year of college, so that you trust that she is fully launched. However, you're not going to be very far away if she has an emergency with which you want to help her cope. Your call--on all of the above.

Ann, cruising full time for the past 24 yrs., with time off for surgeries
Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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Old 01-07-2015, 21:25   #6
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

You'll be fine. You'll learn what you don't know as you go. I'm a single mom too. Let me say that I had no manual when raising my children. Also had no manual on maintaining my house. But I did it. Now we have all of these wonderful forums to help us maintain our boats! Love the L38! Go for it!
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. - Eckhart Tolle
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Old 01-07-2015, 23:07   #7
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

"Will it be an endless chore of fixing Stuff?"

Yes, you will need to be able to fix stuff, and if you consider fixing stuff an endless chore, you will not be happy. Fixing stuff on a boat is continuous... never ending.

If you can't do the fixing and maintenance yourself or are unwilling to do it, you better have some very deep pockets filled with cash.

Example: Changing the engine oil myself takes about 30 minutes and costs around 50 euros for the oil and filter here in the Med. When I owned our Hunter 450 in California six years ago, a diesel mechanic in San Francisco charged me $850 to do the annual maintenance on the engine, which only included the oil change, replacing the belts, fuel filter and impeller. The guy made it look like it takes all day with his multiple trips to the parts house to "shoot the breeze" with his buddies.

As I've now discovered, the belts can last several years, but do require periodic checks and tightening which takes only 15 minutes and the impeller change takes 30 minutes and only needs to be done once every three years or so costing less than $30. The fuel filter only takes a few minutes if needed.

Basically what I'm saying, ignorance will cost you a lot of money. When I'm doing these "chores," my wife helps out because she knows I don't actually enjoy doing them, and she has her list of things she does on a daily basis.

We average an hour to two hours per day on boat chores unrelated to the BIG STUFF that comes up, like polishing and waxing the hull or refinishing the teak decks.
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Old 02-07-2015, 00:28   #8
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

G'day abso, and welcome to CF!

Your intro sounds sound to me, for you know enough to know that you don't know it all!

Plenty of experience to begin your cruising, especially if you take it in smallish bites.

Lonely? That depends entirely on how you interact with other cruisers. You will find that the cruising community is welcoming, friendly and extremely supportive. Most new cruisers who have open minds about meeting new friends are more worried about being to busy socially rather than being lonely. You don't sound like an Asbergers type in your writing, and I bet that you will just meld into the group beautifully.

Risky? Hell no, it isn't risky if you have any sense at all, and you sound sensible. 'Nuff said.

Fixin' stuff: Well, that varies a whole lot. Depends on how complex your boat is, how old it is, and how well you do the day to day maintenance things that help avoid disasterous failures.You don't give us much info about your abilities and experience in such things, but a lot of it (as others have said) isn't very challenging, and you will grow into more complicated efforts as you travel about. The cruising community is full of helpful (and sometimes skilled) folks who will fall about helping you if you get over your head in something. It can be a drag, but compared to raising kids, not so bloody hard!

I read a lot of posts with the same basic questions as yours. Not wanting to give you a big head or anything, but you sound better based, better educated, better experienced and more in touch with reality than most. You will do fine... trust me, I'm an old fart!

Finally, don't get too hung up in the boat selection quagmire. If you don't have catamaran sailing experience, do get some before signing a big check. They ain't for everyone... like us, for instance. After a lot of agonizing and a lot of shopping, we abandoned the cat idea when we changed boats 12 years ago. Monohulls just fit us better so far, despite the seductive aspects ofcats. You need to have some hours and miles on boats of both genres before you can make a reasonable decision.

Good luck with your decision... we hope to see you out here one day.

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II , lying Twofold Bay, Eden,NSW after our 32d crossing of Bass Strait!
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Old 02-07-2015, 00:34   #9
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

when i first started "big boat" sailing i had no experience of big boats just dinghies - i'm a qualified dinghy instructor.

first set
more than enough plus every sail is different so you learn more about yourself and your boat as you both grow old

lonely - depends - i love being at one with the sea and trimming sails and keeping busy passes the time

is it risky ? no more so than anything else you'll ever do --- having kids is risky cos you dunno how they're gunna turn out - so no.

will you be fixing stuff - probably -- depends on the boat "ruby tuesday" is moulded glass inside and out - no fancy cabinetry and no gas installs so all my "work" is top side.


second set

wuss ????? if you don't do it then you'll be kicking yourself forever over it

lifestyle - prolly more chilled out and far more relaxed - same stuff different environment and at a far slower pace

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Old 02-07-2015, 03:19   #10
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Absolutely.
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 02-07-2015, 03:36   #11
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Much of what I would say would be repeating the good advice above so I'll just take the maintenance issue of long term cruising. Even with this focus, Kenomac has already pointed out the most important plan. Learn to take care of things yourself for your independence, low cost and need to cope with being isolated.

A few specifics:
1- Collect the service manuals for your mechanical devices and download copies of part & wiring diagrams. Most answers for maintenance & repair are in the reading.
2- Keep a supply of the specific parts,- filters, belts, impellors, zincs, engine fluids
3- keep a supply of generic parts,- hoses. line, blocks, fasteners, adhesives, gasket sheets, sealants, clamps, electrical wire, tapes, sewing materials
4- keep a maintenance log of what tasks you completed on what date and what part numbers were used (most tasks will need doing again some years later)
5- ...and the tools to,- other threads post these lists.

We are fulltime liveaboard cruisers in our fifth decade aboard and we rarely hire outside help.

You seem well prepared. I expect you'll have great success!
Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 02-07-2015, 04:04   #12
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Another couple of traits one needs to possess in order to be a happy liveaboard, seems to be self sufficiency, patience and the ability to roll with the punches.


One hour ago, i'm sitting here anchored off the Sardinian coast and needed to fiberglass in a piece of marine plywood to the hull as an attachment point for a new pair of watermaker pumps. Not too difficult, I'd purchased a fiberglass kit two weeks ago and have done similar work many times. There isn't anyone here to hire to do the work and I'm not about to pull into a shipyard for the work which should cost me no more than 50 euros for supplies.

I mix up the resin according to the abreviated English version directions, and I mix, and I mix.... 'getting concerned about gel time, but the stuff isn't combining as it should, and I mix. Suddenly it gels instantly and catches fire.... I toss it overboard. So now, I need to fetch the tub of gelled resin off the sea floor, not such a big deal since it's only 20 feet down, so I'll free dive to get it, then get on my bicycle and pedal 10 miles to the marine store and try to return the kit for a two part liquid type. Then pedal home and try again.

How's that for just another average day? Maybe I'll take a nap first.

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Old 02-07-2015, 05:34   #13
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Hi Absolutely and welcome to the forum.

I completely agree with the previous replies. The previous replies I think have answered your questions very well but I can't resist putting in my two cents.

- Do I have enough experience?

I can't really improve on previous answers: You have more than many. You understand you don't know it all so will be aware of your limitations. You know enough to get started and learn as you go (NOTE: Sailing is a lifetime of continued learning).

- Will I get lonely?

I have been more lonely in a city full of people that by myself on a boat. Lonely is a state of mind and time alone is something to be treasured. That being said, cruisers on the whole I have found to be the friendliest group of people you will ever encounter. 99% certain, if you're anchored in a harbor with just one other boat they will likely welcome your call to say hi and have a chat (as long as you don't anchor too close but that's a whole different discussion ).

If you're in a far away place and need help with anything you just have to ask. Might not even have to ask. Other boaters nearby become aware of your problems will probably come by to volunteer assistance.

- Is it too risky?

Every time you walk out the door of your house, get in a car, even get in a slippery shower you are taking a risk. Any activity or hobby will come with some risk. Like most, you can mitigate the risk by study, preparation and caution.

- Will it be an endless chore of fixing stuff?

Maybe I missed it but in case it wasn't said already, cruising can be defined as doing boat repair in exotic places. Boats of any kind will always need a little of this and that (sometimes a lot of this and that). Sounds like you are pretty self reliant so I'm guessing you could figure it out. Almost all common repairs can be accomplished if you go at it in a logical, step by step manner.

Something electrical doesn't work? Check power at the device. If no power then follow the wire back to the switch, to any connections, to the circuit breaker to the battery until you find the spot where the trouble starts.

So buy a few books and as Hudson Force mentioned, get the manuals for everything, get a few tools and go for it. If you run into something that you can't fix come back to this forum and ask. Promise you'll get dozens of answers, even one or two that might be correct.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
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Old 02-07-2015, 06:04   #14
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Originally Posted by Absolutely View Post

- Will it be an endless chore of fixing stuff?

I've got quite a few of the "must have" books and am working my way through them.

Kenomac made a good point about maintenance being never ending, and another good point about DIY being much less expensive than depending on boatyards...

But I'd say there can be another side to that, too.

Fixing stuff, learning to fix stuff you've never encountered before, learning to use unfamiliar tools, and (usually, on a boat) figuring out how best/easiest to access the thing you're fixing...

Can be interesting in its own right, and a way to keep your mind agile. (Body agile, too, depending on some of those access issues.)

So some books are very useful for that, as are the owners "manual" for each and every system on the boat, from engines to water pumps to sanitation systems, etc. PDFs from the makers, these days, don't take up much room on a tablet. YouTube videos are out there, too.

And, assuming you have diesels and no maintenance experience, a basic diesel intro and/or maintenance course would be very useful -- whenever you get around to it -- too. So you know why and when oil and fuel/oil/coolant filters need changing, how to replace a water pump impeller, how to check belts, etc.

There's nothing on a boat you can't learn to maintain.

Some of that might also give you an appreciate of boatyard prices, too. A simple 15-minute fix on the bench might take 3 hours in the boat, with some tools improvised along the way.

(Replacing the zinc anode on our genset is like that: easiest to first remove the onboard secondary fuel filter, next remove the raw water pump (requires belt removal), change the zinc -- an actual 3-minute job, at this point -- then put everything back together again. But might as well replace the raw water pump impeller and the fuel filter, at this point. Elapsed time, about 3 hours. But none of this is horribly difficult, and for us, it's usually only a ince/year job... but my point it, if I had the yard change that zinc, there's a reason behind the math on their bill.)

There are still usually SOME things on boats that are best consigned to a boatyard. You get to pick which. (In my case, it often has to do with how much physical pain I'll have to deal with afterwards, after crawling "down in there somewhere" and working in some kinfd of upside-down contorted position. But sometimes it's 'cause I might not have the best tool for the job, and might not want to invest in it. Occasionally, it's because I don't know how. Yet.)

You don't have to learn everything right now. Much of what you learn can be "just in time" and can happen when you need to deal with something new.

There's another point about maintenance, too: you can fix some things easiest during your shopping days. I dunno Lagoon 38s, but just for example, if engine room is relatively spacious and you've got 360 access to the engine and its service point... that boat could be a good choice, that maintenance of that one particular system. Multiply by access to ACs, genset, plumbing and water pump systems, etc etc etc. But if access to all that sucks... you need to know that, going in. And before you buy is a better time to decide about the trade-offs between poor access and a different boat.

Finally, about your whole project, you can easily try it, keep doing it if you like it, wuss out later if it turns out you're unhappy. Some money involved in that, but there's money involved in lots of other options, anyway.

Selby Bay, South River, Chesapeake Bay, USA.
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Old 02-07-2015, 06:07   #15
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Re: 95% decided - need input to get to 100%

Welcome aboard we're glad to have you!!!! and I think you should do it. I recently had the same questions you did but that's normal before and or after you make a big decision. I have six years before i can leave because of obligations my first mate and I have shore side, well technically its 2,187 days as for do you have enough experience don't worry about it people go with less and as far as fixing stuff I think you'll find that there's not a better group of people to meet than cruisers and you'll find plenty of people willing to help. I hope you have fun and make sure you keep us updated on your progress!! Happy Sailing!!

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