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Old 04-12-2007, 05:27   #1
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Greetings from Iraq

Hello Everyone!

I am new to this site and I have already discovered a great deal of useful tips, ideas, and stories. Thanks!

I would greatly appreciate some advice from anyone willing to give it.

First, as a point of introduction. I am a 24 year old Army officer currently stationed in Iraq. I am engaged to be married to my wonderful Fiancée upon my return home next year. Since we met and started dating we have talked often about sailing together at some point down the road. And now that we're getting married, we want to spend an indefinite amount of time cruising together early on in our marriage. Our sailing experience is limited. I sailed often in the Puget Sound with grandfather growing up and my fiancée crewed on a 150 foot research sailing vessel in the Atlantic and Carribean for six weeks during college. That is basically the extent of it. I am an Army Ranger and we are both avid pursuers of all season hiking, climbing, and mountaineering; so we are not strangers to relative physical discomfort or confined spaces. Nor are we oblivious to the risks of relatively dangerous pursuits. Our plan is to move back home to the Seattle area once I have completed my Army service in the Summer of 2009. We are then planning to take a series of sailing courses in the area to refresh lost skills and learn many new ones. We will then purchase a suitable off shore sailing yacht, between 35 and 40 feet, and take it on increasingly longer cruises in the Puget Sound and near Pacific coast for the next six to eight months. Around March or April of 2010 we wound like to get under way for Hawaii and the Marquesas. We are currently reading many books to supplement our hands on learning to come. We have $60,000 on the bank, no debt, and have quite a high degree of motivation.

I have several questions relating to this:
  1. Is this plan realistic, feasible, and/or possible?
  2. Are we just two, young, overly adventurous people with too much of a blue water glint in our eyes?
  3. If so, does it matter to a great degree?
  4. What advice, tips, and/or reccomendations could you give us in regards to this plan? Anything would be much appreciated.
Thank you.

Cheers and God Bless!

Matt and Amber
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Old 04-12-2007, 05:44   #2
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60K for a cruising kitty will get you a few years, but you need the boat and the experience.

If you can work for a few years on the boat and the skills and head off with the 60K , you can do it.

I would say that depending on how much intensity you put into the effort, it will take from a minimum of 2 years to as many as 5 to get all the ducks in line.

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Old 04-12-2007, 06:47   #3
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My advice, in no way telling you the right way to do things, just one way you might be able to try it.

Work, but at the same time, keep looking for a boat. There are some excellent deals out there to be had for older, but still decent to good condition boats. I never thought I could have afforded a boat while i was still in college, but here I am with one, and while my boat is a lot smaller than what you would probably want, my budget was a lot smaller as well.

One piece of advice that keeps getting thrown around is "Go small, go now." I'm a huge proponent of this. Go for the smallest boat you think you guys can be happy on. Some people might be happy on a boat of 25 feet, you might want something closer to 35. It's up to you and the deals are out there for each of them, you just have to be willing to look, and consider some of them that might need a few repairs. Even with a few extra expenses they might still be a reasonably good deal. And you wouldn't have any surprises at least as far as the repairs you made were concerned. And definately don't discount older boats. By far some of the best fiberglassing was done during the 60s and while the boats may have developed a few problems between then and now, you can stumble upon one that has either been taken care of very well, or someone has put a lot of work into to restore.

As for cruising on that budget, I'm not sure, I've no exprience in that area yet, but I hear stories of people cutting costs and living on 6000 or so a year. You may be able to do this, maybe not, it's all up to your personal needs and wants. Combine your budget with maybe working a bit along the way as you can find it. (Almost always call for english teachers if you have a bachelor's degree, or in some places just a high school degree. or you can learn a trade, like diesel repair or electrical work and work on other people's boats) If you do that you can really extend your travels. If I remember correctly, the Pardeys extended a 6 month voyage to Mexico into an 11 year cruise by doing this.

To answer your questions to the best of my ability,

1. I think anything is possible with enough time, money, or luck. Unfortunately only the first one can be depended on to any relative degree, the second you can depend on if you're very careful in watching it. Depend on it, but don't trust it. The third, many people have gotten in trouble for depending upon. Don't use luck, just hope that it finds you and gives you a helping hand. So, feasable, maybe. Your time scale is a bit short, your budget is reasonable, but a bit small for most people's tastes. I would say this is more on the optimistic side than the realistic side, but do not let me kill your dream, if you are determined to do this, then you'll find a way.

2.Yes.

3. On the other hand, so am I, so I really don't think that's a problem. Others might disagree. As long as you stick with your common sense you should be fine. If you don't feel safe in a situation, back out, go get some more experience in a more comfortable situation before you try again. Maybe instead of turning straight for the Pacific, do some coastal cruising first, but you'll just have to see how things turn out.

4. I've already covered many tips in the beginning of this post, and I"m sure many other people will have more for you. This board is full of tips like this. So I'll just add one last piece of advice. READ. Reading is the best training you can get without actually being on a boat. There are plenty of books, websites, etc. out there with plenty of good information for people such as yourselves. I spent basically 2 years reading nothing but sailing books before I even managed to sail a boat on my own. By the time I did, I had learned enough of the basics and theory from books that the learning curve was limited to the specifics of the boat I was on. So, check out the book store, or the local library.

Like I said at the beginning, this is all just advice and by no means has any bearing on the proper way to do things. I've just spent 3 years on a very tight budget trying to get ready to do some cruising after college and these are just some things I've discovered along the way.

If you really want to do this, you'll find a way, so don't give up your dream and I wish you good luck.

P.S. Sorry I got a bit long winded there.
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Old 04-12-2007, 07:45   #4
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You are not too young. young people have sailed around the world in small boats, on small budgets. whats his name on the boat "dove" is a good example.
Tani Abbi was not exactly poor... but if you want to talk about a "lack of experience."

Buying the boat will be your biggest expense.
People say you need more..(radars, Chart plotters, watermakers, home entertainment centers, onboard dishwashers, air conditioners) absolutely untrue. Just ask Josh Slocum.

Being young, and a full time cruising sailor, my advice to you is to pay close attention to the advice you receive... When I was considering, and then preparing to leave, 9 out of 10 people would try to scare me into staying.

They would tell my girlfriend horror stories about people being eaten by sharks, or losing arms by barracudas. "Salt water will destroy your boat in a year" and the unbelievable "salt water doesn't dry." hurricanes, pirates, freak waves. "humidity in the Caribbean is unbearable."

You probably won't get as much of that on this forum. but be ready for it.
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Old 04-12-2007, 09:16   #5
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There are many older snug small boats that are suitable for your plans and if you go step by step and are both committed, you can do this. The biggest downside I see to your plans is your location which while well suited to learning and a beautiful area to cruise in itself...it is perhaps the most inhospitable coast around (just look at this past weekend!).
Getting suitable offshore experience before jumping off for the BIG adventure will be a bit problematic, and a California or East Coast location would provide an easier learning curve...but it is not a show stopper...just something to consider and prepare for.
Here's a pretty good list of boats you might consider: Mahina Expeditions - Boats to Consider for Offshore Cruising
Good luck to you...stay safe and thank you for your service to our country.
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:35   #6
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I have done what you are contemplating. Our original plan was to cruise for 3 years on our "Budget". We cruised for 14 years and could have kept going. We found different ways to ogment our income. That will come with experience.

As I have stated, many times on this forum, mechanical aptitude should exceed sailing ability.

I would recommend finding an older sailboat that is totally worn out for about $20K and put another $20K and a lot of blood sweat & tears in it.. It will probably be in need of engine work/replacement, new rig and/or rigging (running rigging and standing rigging), maybe a little glass work and all electronics shot. In otherwords, find a good decent hull with a decent interior.....CHEAP. Trust me...the owner will be glad to get rid of it. Don't pay good $ for a boat that has a whole bunch of used gear.....It just doesn't make sense.

Dedicate 3 months of your life (18 hours a day/7 days a week), re-fitting your new found treasure. Start with a haul-out, clean and paint the bottom yourself. Replace all thru-hulls, hoses and clamps (double clamp everything). Then move to the engine. Tear it down and rebuild it. If you don't know how, find a yachtie that does and wants to make some $ assisting you (there are plenty out there). You MUST get YOUR hands dirty. Start reading books on marine diesels NOW. Understand how they work, what they need and how to rebuild them.

Next, start on the electrical, replace ALL electronic instuments with what you NEED and can afford. ALL good new batteries are a must, throw away all old batteries, even if they are 3 months old (unless they really are 3 months old and all match). Re-wire the boat if you must. Start out with new gear not old gear that you know nothing about.

Next move to the rigging. Take the mast down, strip it and paint it. Check all S/S with a powerful magnifying glass, replace anything that looks dodgy. Replace all the standing rigging yourself. Buy good used sails if it needs it. Find a sailmaker that can cut them to fit, if you must.

My point is, get intimet with this vessel. Make it a part of your life. Know it better than you know your wife. KNOW that you have touched every nut bolt and washer on that vessel. Know that you can fix ANYTHING that goes wrong.....even if you are 500 miles off-shore.

You're mention of "Hawaii and Marquesas".....not an option.....it's either/or. Never plan a voyage to windward. It's usually Mexico/ Marquesas or Hawaii/SoPacific. Maybe as far East as the Cooks but usually Samoa, Tonga, Fiji. You could go to NZ, head East from the South Island, if you want to visit the Eastern So Pac. My advise would be to never leave the So Pac.....but that's just me. I've done 2 circumnavigations and I'm sorry that I ever left the So Pac in a boat. If I want to "See the world" again, I'll fly.

Get out of the Pacific NW to do this. SF better, LA/ SD better yet. You don't need the hazards of the PNW to learn to sail. Get warm.

just my $.02
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Old 04-12-2007, 12:30   #7
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FaithSailors, welcome and thank you for your service.

I am a freshly-minted sailor, so I don't have lots of advice for you. You are not too young and it's great you and your fiancee share this dream. I, personally, am starting off with day sailing around the coast in So. CA and I'll be doing some smaller crossings to Catalina and Santa Barbara Island within the next year. There are many here who are better-suited to give advice, so I'll leave that to them.

Matt
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Old 04-12-2007, 12:43   #8
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Aloha Matt and Amber,
Welcome aboard!! Thanks for serving in Iraq. You are never too young. You can be too old.
Pick a boat between 32 and 36 but only after you've sailed on a few with friends or on a charter. Don't get spoiled with a whole bunch of fancy electronics and follow the advice of becoming intimate with all the physical things on your boat. That's really good advice.
Learn to sail on very small boats and you'll understand the principles of sailing much better and will appreciate what Kanani said about going to windward to some of your destinations. A windward passage is not my idea of fun.
Hope you enjoy the forum and have a safe tour.
Kind Regards,
JohnL
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Old 04-12-2007, 13:18   #9
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Thanks for your service:

I would look at a Yankee 30. They can be had for under $20k and are comfortable enough for 2 people. You can probably find one in reasonable shpe with a diesel engine. From there live on her and figure out what you really need. Sail the sound, gulf islands, etc. Once you can navigate that area you should have a pretty good handle on navigation. From there work your way down the coast to Mexico. If it works great. If not you had a hell of an adventure for $20 - whatever you can sell the boat for. If you decide you want to make it a lifestyle then you can always sell the boat and figure out how to buy a bigger boat. There is a good book called "Cruising boats for under $20k" or something like that. Look at it for other boats of the same vintage. You know better than us how precious life can be so don't wait. Just make it work.

Here is a Yankee 30 in Olympia WA for less than $20k

View Boat Photos - YachtWorld.com
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Old 04-12-2007, 13:30   #10
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Thanks for your service:

I would look at a Yankee 30. They can be had for under $20k and are comfortable enough for 2 people. You can probably find one in reasonable shpe with a diesel engine. From there live on her and figure out what you really need. Sail the sound, gulf islands, etc. Once you can navigate that area you should have a pretty good handle on navigation. From there work your way down the coast to Mexico. If it works great. If not you had a hell of an adventure for $20 - whatever you can sell the boat for. If you decide you want to make it a lifestyle then you can always sell the boat and figure out how to buy a bigger boat. There is a good book called "Cruising boats for under $20k" or something like that. Look at it for other boats of the same vintage. You know better than us how precious life can be so don't wait. Just make it work.

Here is a Yankee 30 in Olympia WA for less than $20k

View Boat Photos - YachtWorld.com
A person could probably find one of those in wasted condition for around $10K. Why pay another $10K for a bunch of used gear of questionable value?

If it were me, I'd be looking for something over 40'. I've been doing this a LONG time and I can tell you that "Bigger is better". Don't be intimidated by size.......that's for ammeteurs. If you buy a small boat, you will spend many years wishing that you had a bigger one. Baby steps can be very expensive. Do it right the 1st time IMO.

Haul-outs can be more expensive but in the islands, I just sanded the bottom while in the water with 80g wet/dry paper (Super easy to do) and laid Kanani over on a nice secluded beach and painted her bottom (so yes....I guess I have been aground).

I hauled out in Panama for $90 (in '97).
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Old 04-12-2007, 13:38   #11
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Matt, aside from your question, I want to THANKYOU for your service to this great country... unless someone has actually had military service (which probably 90% of this country has not) , they don't have a CLUE as to what you are going through on a daily basis regardless of being on foreign soil or here in the US, and I apologize for those that want to interfere with your mission.

But I agree with KANANI... that's exactly what I did.. my first sailboat is my current 40' Endeavour, don't regret it at all!

Having said that, whatever plan you choose, go for it, you'll never regret sailing!
Best of luck and come home safe!
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Old 04-12-2007, 15:31   #12
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When I was in the Navy, one of my Navy friends paid cash for a Tartan 30 sailboat and set out on a circumnavigation with $28,000 in the bank. He and his wife took four years to complete their circumnavigation, and they worked along the way. They returned to the US with $28,000 in the bank. It can be done.
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Old 04-12-2007, 15:34   #13
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My wife puts it like this, "30-36' is camping.........40' plus is living".

nuff said.
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Old 04-12-2007, 16:40   #14
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Aloha again Matt and Amber,
Isn't it wonderful to get all these opinions. You may notice that I disagree with some points of view as you read through the threads. That doesn't mean I disrespect the person expressing different views but I just don't agree with all the posts and opinions.
I like the PNW for cruising. It is beautiful and don't miss the opportunity to sail there. I don't like the cost of gear aboard a 40plus boat compared to a 36minus boat and if the choice comes down to going soon on a smaller boat then take the opportunity. You will be physically able to handle bigger sails when you are young and able. That's not the problem. In my point of view it is economics and there is lots of good used gear on the market at a good price for a boat 32-36 feet.
Happy choices!!
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Old 04-12-2007, 17:26   #15
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FaithSailors - Welcome aboard. Stay safe over there!

I am in the go for 36-42 category. I will say your budget and current savings are small. Take a look at posts by RebelHeart. He and his gf are living aboard in San Diego, working on the boat the budget and the plan. He is on a solid plan to execute his dream.

Save for your dream, spend only on that which advances the dream and you will make it. Don't get distracted by houses, "fancy" cars and junk that you won't need when you toss the dock lines.

Boats are expensive to maintain - you see all sorts of budget numbers but the the better the boat the lower the initial outlay in refit should be. The monthly costs are going to be the monthly costs. Plan for 500-750 a month for the boat and you should be fine. Any less and IMHO the boat starts to deteriorate.

On top of that are living expenses for you and your future wife (congrats) BTW.

You can save a ton of money by keeping the boat simple and avoiding all the modern gee-gaws. Beleive it or not people sailed around the world way before GPS, watermakers, furling jibs and mains and electric winches and windlasses.

A solid boat with a solid rig, decent sails and a dependable auxilliary.
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