I'm not big on taking a crew. People get on my nerves and I'm happier not having to put up with them. Only exception is my wife but she'd rather play golf than sail these days. A truly compatible crew person can enhance your cruising experience but finding such a simpatico individual seems to be the eternal pursuit of those wanting crew. Many women have done it solo so wouldn't rule
First thing is how will your boat self steer in nearly all conditions. I don't trust electrickery and have done thousands of unevetful miles with a self steering
vane. A vane is mandatory for me on any ocean passage
. Can your boat be set up to sail with a vane?? If you go with an autopilot
, how are you going to feed it, how many spares are you willing to invest in to insure its presence and will it steer the boat in adverse conditions. Wheel
and tiller pilots, for the most part, are only suitable for powering in good conditions. If you are going auto pilot, below decks units are the only way to go for solo sailing. Remember, if anything goes wrong with your self steering
, you are almost guaranteed to be a slave to the wheel/tiller. That loses it's charm real quick.
The sail down the coast to Mexico
is not that big a thing if you keep an eye out for the weather
. Have twice sailed from SF to Newport Beach
without self steering
and averaged hull speed
. Really exhilerating sailing and very quick passages though a long time to go without sleep. From Oregon
is a bit further but there are several places to duck into and SF Bay
and the Delta
are some pretty neat cruising grounds in themselves. If you are serious about making time, you could be in San Diego
in two weeks. Sailing down the coast also lets you shake out the boat while you are still in easy contact with marine
suppliers. No matter how well you think your boat is set up, you'll still find some things that don't work in real life or you just want to do differently.
Whether to take crew is an issue. Made both passages without sleeping because I had to drive the whole way. Got pretty strange after three days without sleep. A well set up boat would have self steering
so you would't be a slave to the tiller. If you went 50 plus miles offshore
, should be able to sail solo and get enough sleep to continue indefinitely. If you want to stay closer to shore, at least one crew would be mandatory. It's embarassing to run into a rock as large as North America. Getting well offshore
, you shouldn't have that problem.
If you want to get to the Carribean quickly, nothing beats Boeing to get there quickly. Buying
a boat in Florida or south will extend your time in the traditional cruising grounds. Problem with buying a boat away from home is the difficult issues modifying it to fit your needs. Way easier to work on a boat with your car and tools right at hand. Of course, buying a boat already set up with cruising with the necessary bells and whistles could make that a non issue. So far, haven't found that that has worked out. Bought my last boat because it had most things that I felt were necessary to cruise
. Ended up selling most of the equipment
off and replacing it with stuff that worked. Turned out to be a real issue 2200 miles away from home. Personally, think it would be better to go with the boat you know especially if you won't be leaving for a while.
Catalinas are adequate boats for what you have in mind. Don't know about their handling characteristics but you want to be sure that it can handle the self steering issues. Things you'll need to add for living in the tropics are a full boat awning. Needs to be built hell for stout to take the windy anchorages
in the Carribean, if that's where you'll be spending your time. An SSB radio
for long distance communication. A 2nd dinghy
if you are going to go with crew. Not a bad idea to have two in any case as they tend to go 'walk about'. The usual saftety gear
, life raft, etc. Have found refrigeration
maker to be expensive, power hungry devices that I can easily live without.
Good luck with your adventure.