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Old 13-05-2016, 09:23   #1
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Snowbird Dreaming

Good Morning Everybody, This is my first post hopefully looking for some advise..first of all i am writing to you from Minneapolis Minnesota...not too many coastal waters around here...i am 46 years old and never sailed in my life..although i have owned 18 and 19ft fishing boats and im pretty good on the water and very mechanically inclined..i have been a survivor my entire life and i feel i can do just about anything i set my mind hoping to retire at around 55 years old and my plan is to one day snowbird to Florida and be a part time live aboard on a smaller dream is to bum around south Florida and occasionally hit the Bahamas from time to time...i really don't need much and ive been looking at the geminis which seem just about right for i guess what im looking for is some advise on getting prepared to be a part time snowbird sailor...I get the idea of taking lessons and learning and just getting the feel for the whole thing...but i have questions like, How long would it take to be confident enough to navigate the waters and read charts and understand the weather and pretty much be able to sail to the Bahamas on my own if i want...also looking for advise on liveaboard marinas...the dos and donts...anyway, i just looking for thoughts and ideas from people who have done what the heck am i getting myself into lol...i cant wait...its pretty much all i think about...have a good day and thank you

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Old 13-05-2016, 09:55   #2
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Re: snowbird dreaming

Welcome to CF. The short answer to your question is of course you can do this, the rest of us have. All it takes is unwavering dedication to this dream of yours and a certain amount of money (only you can say how much ). The second and longer answer is answer 1 plus that studying you mentioned plus going out and doing the coursework over and over until it's second nature, then go do it again in snotty weather. If you know electrical, diesel, plumbing it costs a lot less.

I had the dream for a dozen years and now we're doing it. Now after a long 1.5 year refit, I'm good with alternators and DC power, but am forgetting my knots. As refit winds down I'll have to start the knot homework again.

I've found this life rewards persistence. If you have it you should be fine.

Snowbird boating in Florida, great idea!

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Old 13-05-2016, 10:03   #3
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Re: snowbird dreaming

I always recommend crewing in races with others. You get to experience light winds,heavy winds, rain, etc, and learn how to sail. In MN there are races on both the St. Croix River at Hudson and Lake Minnetonka. Many of these folks also sail/race on L. Superior, and over the next x years you can get a lot of time in. My only reason for suggesting racing boats is that non-racing boats don't have quite the attention to sailing, they stay home for bad weather, and you want all the experience you can get.

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Old 13-05-2016, 12:01   #4
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Re: snowbird dreaming

I did my boat dreaming in New Mexico. So have followed a similar path. Honestly reading charts and getting around on the water isn't as difficult as it seems from a distance. A couple things you can do in advance and they will be fun.

1. Get a collection of cruising books. One that can only pump up your confidence is 'A sail of two idiots'. If you've stood on a boat you'd be way ahead of these guys. A little Google search and you can keep yourself entertained for hours. Blogs, books, etc

2. Buy a chart book of an area you are interested in. It's fun to see the information and learn the symbols and such.
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Old 13-05-2016, 12:20   #5
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Re: snowbird dreaming

Nigel Calder's How To Read A Chart is a fun book. Good luck.
Stu Jackson
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Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
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Old 13-05-2016, 14:22   #6
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Minnguy32, I am your mirror image,- the somewhat identical reciprocal! I grew up in Fort Lauderdale and became a "hurricane bird". We often sail north for the hurricane season to spend the summers at places from the Chesapeake to Maine. We travel with the "snow birds", but I can't accept that title.

With the boat, basic equipment and the simple instruction that is provided by the USCG power squadron courses, you can easily be successful with your goals. You could have similar instruction for more expense with other courses or learn this information from online sources or books. Much or your choice will depend on how you enjoy learning.

We've made the seasonal transit on the US East Coast more than two dozen times and still enjoy our many ports on this route. There are so many good inlets and protected options that, with being aware of the weather, there is no reason to be stressed or challenged once you have the basic skills.

I began sailing little boats at 12' and less and then learned the mechanics associated with larger boats by hands on practice and course work.

Keep us posted of your adventures!
Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 13-05-2016, 17:47   #7
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

To prepare while land bound, there are a number of books & pubs that help mariners. Downloadable books are available here: United States. Hydrographic Office | The Online Books Page
One is-The American Practical Navigator, a professional mariner's book, but with lots of info on navigation, an emergency navigation chapter, and 4 chapters on weather.
Coast Pilots - comprehensive info on US waters by CG district found here:United States Coast Pilot®
Sailing Directions - info on foreign waters can be found here:Maritime Safety Information
All are free downloads. Also all US charts in electronic form are available free here:Nautical Charts & Pubs
If you download OpenCPN and buy a BU-353s4 GPS usb reciever (about $30) on Ebay or Amazon, with US charts you'll have an operating navigation system you can run at home. OpenCPN here:OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage
I would suggest you take a navigation course. Usually colleges have someone teaching night school classes in basic navigation and beyond. It's good to know the basics when electronics fail.
Find a book on boat handling, docking in currents and wind, anchoring, etc.
With 10,000 lakes, sailing instruction should be easy.
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Old 14-05-2016, 05:22   #8
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Welcome aboard…and it’s a great idea! Lots of resources in this forum and out there. We’ve been cruising the East Coast and Bahamas in a Gemini for several years.
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Old 14-05-2016, 06:21   #9
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Florida is a different world from Minnesota. it was the bugs (think zika and west nile virus) and traffic and heat that finally chased me away .. not to mention the hurricanes and high prices and obnoxious people. if you can afford it .. living part time in the sunshine state is OK but the sailing is not so good in the winter and yes it still gets cold. maintaining a boat is expensive and sometimes it is a big chore just to keep the thing afloat when you are not there. the marinas and boat yards are looking for your money so make sure you have plenty available. that is my take on it .. many will disagree
sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:58   #10
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Whew that was some major neggie Nellie ,

We've been in Florida for 16 years and couldn't be pried away for anything. Suppose like everything there are preferences and likes and dislikes. Though I totally agree that it is a different world.

Yes there are bugs, you just deal with them. That's what chemicals are for. Yes it's hot and humid in the summer. Thank the Lord for AC. Sailing in the Florida winter is much nicer than sailing in the Minnesota winter. Guess cold needs some definition. Our idea of cold is when we can't wear our shorts. If you haven't heard that boats are expensive then you probably haven't heard of boats. You can do much of the work yourself if you want. Certainly cuts down on the costs. Plus you will learn every little corner of your boat, and how things work. But no doubt there are still things that you have to have done and yes they are expensive. But then take a look at the equipment and liability that a boat yard has. Are there bad boat yards - of course. Are there bad 'any' business'. Of course.

Obnoxious people.....reminds me of the story about the man that had 2 people ask him about the people. Person one said well, where I came from everyone was really nice and friendly. How do you think I'll find them here. The local said I think you'll find them about the same. Second man came to the local and said. Where I came from everyone was really unfriendly, mean, and obnoxious. How do you think I'll find people here. The local said: I think you'll find them to be about the same.

We keep our boat at a marina. It's a monthly expense. Our Marina is the cheapest in town. Also pretty bohemian, if you get my drift. It's 7 dollars per boat foot. Plus 25 dollars for electricity. Once every 2 years we have to have the bottom painted. It's about a thousand dollars to pull the boat and keep it in a work yard for a couple weeks. But generally that is it. Most else is optional. We've had our current boat for 5 years, and all other expenses have been things that we've done to upgrade or replace something.

Don't let some doomsdayers squelch your ideas. Though all opinions are valuable. Listen, ask, and question all points of view and how well they align with your own.
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Old 25-05-2016, 14:08   #11
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

My husband and I are 2 1/2 years ahead of you. We began dreaming the same lifestyle as you, without ever having set foot on a sailboat. yup.. everyone thought we were crazy.

It is CRITICAL for you to start learning how to sail, asap. taking some lessons is good. But, you need to get a sailboat. Any kind will do!! a sailing dinghy.. or any other small boat will do. You can pick them up fairly cheaply. Our little 22foot (30 year old) boat was only $3000. it was in good shape, but we've put some money adding the features we wanted (including a more comprehensive sail plan).

We are on our 3rd season.. mostly we have just gone out and learned by trial and error on our own boat. But, we also started crewing on other's boats for our yacht club races. (GREAT way to learn!!)

Finally, in Feb of this year, we went to Blue Water Sailing school and got 4 sailing certifications on a catamaran. VERY valuable! We've also taken time to go to some of the boat shows. (GREAT place for learning about sailing.. I recommend Annapolis in October! Great sail show! lots of lectures and seminars. You can do a "take the wheel" experience where you go out and get to have an hour or 2 on a boat.

We've also used that time to pick the brains of all of the brokers, sales people.. fellow sailors who are also shopping for boats. great learning experience.

My point is... don't let your dream just sit there on the dock... Go out and start the process now!! By the time you retire, you could have 9 years of sailing experience under your belt.
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Old 26-05-2016, 07:51   #12
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Second Scarlet's suggestions.

Just looked on Craigslist for Minneapolis. There are several good boats available. Saw Chrysler 22 for 2300, Cal 25 for 5400, Hunter 23 for 4000, 23 Oday for 6000, 2 Catalina 22's for 2500 and 3500. --I guarantee that you can cut the offer for a major reduction in those prices. There was a 22 here for sale for months. They kept cutting the asking price, till they finally gave it away. It's a very soft market for sailboats in the 20 - 27 foot range.

I would differ on one smaller point. If it was me I'd do a keel boat. Sailing a dinghy is different. Also racing is OK, but you don't need to be the fastest on the lake to enjoy sailing. We are cruisers and we don't care about eaking out some fraction of a knot of speed. But these are things that you can only decide for yourself. But as Scarlet said get going. Finding boats will give you lots of knowledge. Talk and question everyone you can find. As long as a boat floats then everything you fix and repair will give you more information.
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Old 26-05-2016, 09:07   #13
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Best wishes, fellow Minnesotan! If you don't like FL, just go somewhere else!
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Old 26-05-2016, 10:29   #14
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Hello MG32,

I was introduced to sailing a little more than a year ago and found that I REALLY enjoy it. I am retiring at age 65 at the end of this year, and am planning on doing a "snow bird" (snow boat?) things as well.

To make a long story short I will start in the middle. My father has lived in Bradenton for the last 30 years and we have become quite comfortable with that part of Florida. My wife and I seriously considered buying a home in FL, but a few years ago she has said no to that. After my getting hooked on sailing, I proposed the live aboard alternative and she has "come on board" so to speak.

Yes, it does get crowded with the rest of the flock coming South, but our goal is to split time between just live aboard and sailing/cruising, so it is a little less crowded on the water.

I guess I am jumping in feet first up to my neck. I have an offer in on a Pearson 30 that I plan to keep in Lake Michigan, and am actively looking for a larger boat to keep in Florida. I will be going from zero to two boats in a very short period of time.

I have taken sailing and navigation classes, and am continuing with more classes this year. I will continue to do so until I cannot do it anymore. Learning something new every day is a good thing, good being a value judgement.

On/off topic: I have been a subscriber to CF since December 13, 2015 and have learned ton from all of the questions and answers that everyone has contributed.

Thanks for listening

"teaching an old dog new tricks"

PS I live in Milwaukee but get up to the Cities quite often to visit my sister and cousins. Perhaps we can compare notes sometime. Good luck.
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Old 21-07-2016, 08:21   #15
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Re: Snowbird Dreaming

Hoping to do similar. Good luck, I hope it works out for you!

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