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Old 04-04-2017, 13:15   #1
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Advice for absolute beginner

Hello everyone!

My name is Ron. I am a 48 year old father of 3 grown kids who have been on their own for a few years. I am single and unemployed...mostly by choice. I have worked as a software developer most of my adult life but have no interest in the cubicle life anymore. Think detail oriented, analytical type but with personality. No pocket protector here. With all my kids moved away, no job, and no wife...no strings holding me anymore. I have been in deep reflection over the past couple of years about my life and what I want to do. I was not prepared for the question, what do I want...after raising kids. They were my purpose and without them, I had to reflect on what I need to be happy. I realized I don't need much. So, with a nice 4br, 3bath house in Iowa and a bunch of stuff I don't need, I am looking for adventure, experiences, and a more minimalist lifestyle. Less stuff, more journey!

I worked in construction as an HVAC installer prior to going to college for computer programming in my late 20's. I have worked on cars since I was a kid...have done just about everything from rebuilding engines, body work, all kinds of fabrication working with steel, wood, and fiberglass. Basically the only things I haven't done on a car is rebuild a transmission or differential. I also have built a few custom motorcycles. I can fix just about anything...plumbing, electrical, mechanical...etc. Am confident I can do most boat maintenance and repairs myself. Most of my vacations have been motorcycle touring for 2 week periods. Rode 5000 miles in 2 weeks from Iowa to Jasper Alberta, Canada and back with my girl on the back pulling a trailer. I like to travel and see the world. Seems a boat would be a great way to see it from a different perspective.

I have entertained a few options. Build a tiny home, homestead, RV travel, motorcycle travel. Most have a more minimalist and simple lifestyle focused on adventure and travel with nature. Then I stumbled onto sailing. I love the idea! But, I know almost nothing about it. Have been learning but am aware of how much there is to learn.

High level, thinking I sail for about 10 years give or take, then when my body won't be able to perform, sell the boat and retire in the Rocky Mountains. Thinking my 50th birthday would be a good target date to begin sailing, using the interim 1.5 years to learn and prepare.

I will have about $70-80k from selling my house, and another $50k from various odd jobs in the meantime and selling my stuff. I have about $150k in a 401k that I can access if need be. I would not be opposed to taking 1/2 of that out to live how I want.

Am thinking a 35 to 40 ft Catamaran fits the bill for me. I like the owners versions. I will have guests occasionally but would like to be able to sail solo. Maybe a fixer upper with good structural integrity but needs a refit and remodel. Even engine overhaul would be ok with me if it means I can earn significant equity.

My sailing goals would be modest at first. Probably do the Caribbean for a year or so, get my sea legs, then a slow circumnavigation. Am open to ALL options so feel free to make suggestions.

Here are a few strategy options:

First - Save, learn, prepare for 1.5 years.

Then,

Option 1:
Buy a boat and spend 6-12 months fixing the boat up and learning all of it's systems in the process.

Option 2:
Work as a crew member/apprentice for a year or so, learning and earning, then do option 1 or 3.

Option3:
Work in boat repair before or as I do option 1. This would give me access to discounted materials, tools, and work areas as well as connections.

Options 4:
None of the above.

​Please consider my circumstances and give your thoughts on how I might do this. I have thick skin, don't sugar coat anything. ​

A few general questions:
1. Do I need a crew to sail comfortably? I suspect I will have a female companion join me at some point on this journey. She would have to be on board with this plan and life of course. I'm a pretty confident guy and smooth with the ladies. I'd like a partner to share this with. But if that doesn't happen, do I need to have another person there for shifts or other such things?
2. How do I get started? What do I need? Certifications, books, training, etc...
3. If I work as a crew member, say on a charter or something like that, what range of income could I expect from that and what do I need to be marketable?

Ok, I think I have given you all a good sense of who I am and my goals. I hope you are able to give guidance as to how I will achieve it. I realize this is pretty long winded but I wanted to demonstrate that I am serious and have put some thought into it. I also wanted to provide all the information you might need to direct your guidance.

Am thinking about getting a boat listed at $150k or less assuming some level of negotiation discount. Age doesn't scare me. Major usage via charter or otherwise does. I don't mind refinishing wood or new upholstery, new electrics or mechanicals, but I don't want something with rust stains all over, completely worn out. Perhaps something old with little usage, but with good bones and design. Could buy something for very little money also and rebuild everything...this doesn't scare me. Actually like the idea because I would learn every inch of the boat and build equity in it.

I like the Prout 39 Escale. Just to give you a sense of a boat I like. Although I do like the trampolines on the front, so not sure about this one. Give boat recommendations if you like, but I know that is a long way off.

Here is a basic starter wish list for the boat:

Diesel engines
Owners version
Washing machine
Solar
High bridge deck clearance
Shallow draft
Scuba compressor
Enclosed helm
Slight bias toward performance over comfort
Great sailing and layout design

That should get the conversation started. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. I appreciate any advice you share. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I have read around the forum a bit and am sure there are good posts with a lot of this kind of information in them. Please feel free to provide links or point me to information where I can find my own answers as well.

Best Regards,

Ron
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Old 04-04-2017, 13:33   #2
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Hi Ron, welcome aboard! You are among many folks here thinking about and/or doing what you are dreaming of. My first thought is, don't dig into any retirement savings yet! Sailing can demand a healthy cash flow and it is easy to get in over your head too soon.
Sounds like you dream of breaking into this cold and from a place far from water? Any boating or sailing experience yet? It's ok if none, just trying to get where you are. I'm sure you will get a lot of good advice here. Do you have a lake nearby or big river perhaps, where you can begin to practice? My usual recommendation is to get a small, fun, fast little boat like a Laser, and go out and make her go fast everyday. You'll have a blast and you'll get the basics down solid. And if you catch the bug you are done for.
Once you move to a harbor, your mechanical skills will definitely come in handy, and will perhaps begin a new cash flow for you. once you are in the boat world your preferences in boats may change, but it is good to start from somewhere. Sounds like you are heading for the Caribbean!
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Old 04-04-2017, 13:39   #3
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Wow what a plan!
One year ago I bought a 30 ft Morgan . Kids grown. Single at the end of a horrid fight with my sons cancer. I was lost, hurt, in my late 30s . I was an instructor at a beauty school for the last 10years. I had never even been on a sail boat. I quit my job . No savings just some tank tops and shorts. Moved on the glass slipper.
Honestly I have never worked so hard in my life. I have been about 300 miles and stuck about a zillion times. My hair now has dread locks and my whole face smiles. I am happy. I plan on making it to the keys and then to the Caribbean. No rush no worries.
Good luck. Remember smooth seas don't make skilled sailors.
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Old 04-04-2017, 14:01   #4
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Hello Don! Thank you sir!

Keep retirement. Check!
I neglected to mention my sailing experience. Oops! I have none! I did own a 17ft open bow ski boat about 20 years ago. It was fun, but finances force the sale. No real experience otherwise.

There is a lake nearby. That Laser looks like a monohull. Wouldn't a small cat be better if that's what I want eventually? I like the cat because of the lack of heeling. What length should I start with?

Great advice about my boat preferences changing once I am in that world. I was aware of that to some degree, but I gave a current idea of a general direction as of now, knowing it WILL change.

The Caribbean looks like a good place to start. Lots of boats, beautiful scenery, and easy sailing practice. I could be wrong, but that's my assumption.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I'm excited to see this develop.

Cheers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
Hi Ron, welcome aboard! You are among many folks here thinking about and/or doing what you are dreaming of. My first thought is, don't dig into any retirement savings yet! Sailing can demand a healthy cash flow and it is easy to get in over your head too soon.
Sounds like you dream of breaking into this cold and from a place far from water? Any boating or sailing experience yet? It's ok if none, just trying to get where you are. I'm sure you will get a lot of good advice here. Do you have a lake nearby or big river perhaps, where you can begin to practice? My usual recommendation is to get a small, fun, fast little boat like a Laser, and go out and make her go fast everyday. You'll have a blast and you'll get the basics down solid. And if you catch the bug you are done for.
Once you move to a harbor, your mechanical skills will definitely come in handy, and will perhaps begin a new cash flow for you. once you are in the boat world your preferences in boats may change, but it is good to start from somewhere. Sounds like you are heading for the Caribbean!
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Old 04-04-2017, 14:08   #5
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pirate Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Hi Ron.. Welcome to CF..
If you are looking to cats in the future and want something for lake sailing to develop some skills locally the Hobies and Prindles are the way to go.. trailer or rooftop..
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Old 04-04-2017, 14:16   #6
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Not sure I would call it a plan yet, but you have to start with the first step...right?

Sorry to hear about the cancer. Just buried my 50 year old cousin 2 weeks ago, lung cancer. Just another reminder to get busy living!

Glad to hear about the smiles. That's what it's all about!

I wish you luck as well. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by alittle4me View Post
Wow what a plan!
One year ago I bought a 30 ft Morgan . Kids grown. Single at the end of a horrid fight with my sons cancer. I was lost, hurt, in my late 30s . I was an instructor at a beauty school for the last 10years. I had never even been on a sail boat. I quit my job . No savings just some tank tops and shorts. Moved on the glass slipper.
Honestly I have never worked so hard in my life. I have been about 300 miles and stuck about a zillion times. My hair now has dread locks and my whole face smiles. I am happy. I plan on making it to the keys and then to the Caribbean. No rush no worries.
Good luck. Remember smooth seas don't make skilled sailors.
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Old 04-04-2017, 14:18   #7
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Hello Boatman! Thank you sir!
I had read about Hobies, not heard of Prindles but will look more into both. Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Hi Ron.. Welcome to CF..
If you are looking to cats in the future and want something for lake sailing to develop some skills locally the Hobies and Prindles are the way to go.. trailer or rooftop..
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Old 04-04-2017, 14:31   #8
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Ron. Seems like your an adventurous person. For what you described in a boat. 150k isn't enough. Since a lot of people love the dream. But when reality hits half quit.

My advise, Don't take money out of your retirement. Keep working. Buy a day sailor and sail for a year in your backyard. If you love It Then. Move up to a small cabin cruiser. At that point you'll really understand what your needs are vs wants.

Also join a club. Do some beer can racing as crew or buy a small boat and learn the ropes around the buoys.

If you like cats. Get a hobie 16 to day sail. Very fun.

As many people have said. It's a very expensive mistake to jump into a large sailboat with no experience. Just be smart about it.

Fair winds
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Old 04-04-2017, 14:54   #9
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

I figured the budget would be a major constraint. What would be an adequate amount to get started, assuming a year of cruising without an income. Assume I follow your advice and get a small Hobie and learn while I continue to earn.

I like your plan for the meantime. It's basically what I was thinking, short getting a small cat to learn on. I like that idea. Found a cheap Hobie 14 locally, but need to read up more before I take that leap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamish_ct View Post
Ron. Seems like your an adventurous person. For what you described in a boat. 150k isn't enough. Since a lot of people love the dream. But when reality hits half quit.

My advise, Don't take money out of your retirement. Keep working. Buy a day sailor and sail for a year in your backyard. If you love It Then. Move up to a small cabin cruiser. At that point you'll really understand what your needs are vs wants.

Also join a club. Do some beer can racing as crew or buy a small boat and learn the ropes around the buoys.

If you like cats. Get a hobie 16 to day sail. Very fun.

As many people have said. It's a very expensive mistake to jump into a large sailboat with no experience. Just be smart about it.

Fair winds
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Old 04-04-2017, 16:09   #10
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronazon View Post
Hello Don! Thank you sir!

Keep retirement. Check!
I neglected to mention my sailing experience. Oops! I have none! I did own a 17ft open bow ski boat about 20 years ago. It was fun, but finances force the sale. No real experience otherwise.

There is a lake nearby. That Laser looks like a monohull. Wouldn't a small cat be better if that's what I want eventually? I like the cat because of the lack of heeling. What length should I start with?

Great advice about my boat preferences changing once I am in that world. I was aware of that to some degree, but I gave a current idea of a general direction as of now, knowing it WILL change.

The Caribbean looks like a good place to start. Lots of boats, beautiful scenery, and easy sailing practice. I could be wrong, but that's my assumption.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I'm excited to see this develop.

Cheers!
Ha! You are going to do some serious heeling in a Hobie Cat!😀
If you are concerned about heeling in a mono, I'd like to reassure you that heeling is normal and not threatening or indication of anything wrong or hazardous. My own boat heels quite a bit, but it gets to a certain point where it stops and balances the force of the sail and the weight of the keel very nicely. It is something I enjoy actually, I love the feel of the boat rocking to its own particular rhythm created by that balance. Heeling does not mean that capsizing is near or imminent.
Still cats, the big ones, are nice for how stable they feel, so not to discourage your interest in cats. If you start practicing in a Hobie, you will really be having some fun when you get the hang of it. You might google cats like Nacra, then google "Hydroptere."😀
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Old 04-04-2017, 16:49   #11
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Re: Advice for absolute beginner

Dear Ron,

I don't want to burst your bubble or put a damper on your enthusiasm, I really don't. Perhaps I'm asking too personal a question, but you are going to buy a boat and start to learn in the Caribbean? With only $150,000 in your retirement fund? Or perhaps you also will have a pension in your later years? If no pension, you will need to eat and then of course there will be funding (other than the purchase cost) of your boat, ie. fuel, repairs, etc. My concern is how you will fund this adventure, long term.

Do you plan on buying your boat in the Caribbean and having someone teach you or take lessons there? To me "modest" and "the Caribbean" when one is just starting out just doesn't seem logical. But, like I said, if you purchase your boat there and learn there, then that would seem to be doable.

Just my two cents.
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