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Old 15-09-2009, 13:01   #1
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Post Hello from 'Beyond My Comfort Zone!'

Hi. Call me Mike. I just passed my 59th birthday and this posting is my commitment to becoming a Caribbean cruiser within 14 months. I have read of boaters proudly proclaiming to have been "green" when they first made this plunge. I am here to tell you that I must be catagorized as "flourescent vermillion" and I'm far from proud of it.

If time was on my side, I would purchase a small pocket cruiser and sail out of my own home port, daysailing to overnight to weekends to a week or two aboard expanding and developing new sailing skills at a sensible pace. Then acquiring that "cruising boat" and spending another year or two to familiarize myself with it and it's systems including how to make repairs etc., before embarking on such a large undertaking.

What I have is a handfull of Power Squadron classroom courses taken too many years ago and less than two months in total, crewing on other peoples' boats on the Great Lakes. Here I am ready to prove the old adage, "There is no fool like an old fool". However, I stand commited to this enterprise and despite all my trepidations, I will do this while health and good fortune still permit it.

Any advise from those of you who have trod this path before me (particularly any of you who set upon it as late in life as I am) would of course find an appreciative ear here!


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Old 15-09-2009, 13:42   #2
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Welcome and good luck in living your dream.

a.k.a. - Flashmutt007
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Old 15-09-2009, 14:20   #3
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What you want can be done, but forget sailing from FL to the Carieb. Instead, buy a boat in Trinidad and ask friends/another cruiser couple to help you sail it to Grenada. There, you have an area of Grenada, Carriacou, St Vincent and the Grenadines that is beautiful and a good place to gain experience.
Boats for sale in Trini are listed on the web.

In the mean time, start doing courses for coastal navigation. Almost every reef out there is un-marked and some even un-charted.

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Old 15-09-2009, 15:02   #4
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Welcome and you maybe surprised by how many successful cruisers started about the same time are you are looking at. "Now" is always a good point to start.

To get on the fast track you may want to consider one of the many Vacation / Sail Certification programs. Good way to get started the right way when you don't want to spend too long on the learning curve and get the certifications often requested by charter boat companies. Have a great vacation in a wonderful location and learn more in a couple of weeks than you could ever hope to on our own in months.

Just in the past few days several posted indicated they were doing the vacation charter out of US Virgin Islands a great place to learn. Same is available in the BVI and Turks and even more distinct locations. ASA is one of the larger organizations that has certified instructors located all over the US and Caribbean. I did the classes some 20 years ago and had a ball with the weekend classes as I was working full time.

I would agree that sailing from Florida may not be a great idea for a new sailor or at least it may be more uncomfortable than you may expect. Do consider possible purchase in the Caribbean and use it as a base for a while.

Several years ago I bought a boat in Tortola and used it 4 to 6 months a year in multiple trips down and now I'm getting ready to fly down in December with a one way ticket and stay as long as it is fun. It is a really fantastic area and a great place to learn more about sailing in the sailing capital of the world.

Again welcome and let us know where the winds blow you... our paths may cross a few time!
I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
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Old 15-09-2009, 15:17   #5
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Welcome aboard:

Sounds like a good plan to me. I'm sure that you can get lots of advice here. Focus on what your goal is and then ask questions and you will get more information than you need.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 15-09-2009, 15:24   #6
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Mike, Good luck with you plans, and they make sense in a lot of ways. Not sure if you meant to say you live near Georgian Bay, if so, you have a lot of places to explore as you re-learn to sail!
We recommend a refresher course at a CYA, ASA or US Sailing school in the Great Lakes area.(Or some place warm like Florida this winter) it will help get your vocabulary up to speed for coastal navagation and other classes you will need for your adventure. There are some excellent websites that can help as well
Have fun and keep us posted.
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Old 15-09-2009, 16:01   #7
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Sounds like fun! I'm looking at the same thing, but with a different timeframe (3-5 years).
I have a couple of points for you to consider. As some others have suggested, I think a VHF certificate & Coastal Nav course would be good- they are also courses available in the winter, when you can't really go sailing in Canada anyway. I would also consider (well, I am considering actually) a CYA Intermediate Cruising course.
Most of the schools on Georgian Bay are more "learn to sail" oriented. 30,000 Islands Sailing Adventures offer the Int. & Advanced Cruising courses in Thornbury. Also, Harbourfront Sailing & Powerboating in Toronto offers an Advanced Cruising course in the Caribbean. It could be handy to brush up on your skills in the waters you plan to cruise- on the other hand, if you can avoid all the rocks in Georgian Bay, you should be able to avoid reefs in the Caribbean!
The CYA Intermediate Cruising course has no prerequisites. The Advanced Cruising course does.
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Old 15-09-2009, 16:28   #8
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Get some off-sore experience first. Volunteer as crew with some organization like the carib1500. Get your feet wet and see how it feels before you commit. Too many have had the dream but never left the dock.
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Old 15-09-2009, 16:42   #9
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Hey Mike

Glad to hear about your pending adventure. Lots of good info on the thread already. Perhaps a good idea might be to redo the Power Squadron "Seamanship" course as a review and to get the lingo back. Most of the basics of what you'll need to know is there. As well, if you can find a course or a friendly mechanic to show you some basic diesel maintenance (fuel filter change, fuel line bleeding, impeller change) it'd help with piece of mind.

Good luck!!
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Old 15-09-2009, 16:51   #10
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Wow! I am overwhelmed that within a few hours so many of you have taken the time to respond with consideration and advice and especially for the encouragement that what I have set out to do, is in fact doable. Yours in boating, Mike
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Old 15-09-2009, 17:08   #11
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Originally Posted by trippermike View Post
"flourescent vermillion"
Yeah, my chic hadn't done much sailing prior to us buying our boat - just a few classes etc.
Our first outing was a 10 day passage. She could sail after that
Notes on a Circumnavigation.

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Old 15-09-2009, 18:07   #12
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Hi Trippermile:

Sounds like your last boating expierence was years ago. So you might want to consider leasing or crewing various types of boats to learn what form of sailing you might enjoy today. I'm speaking of cats, mono's etc. Much changes over the
years so keeping an open mind as to what you may enjoy is healthy.

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Old 17-09-2009, 17:11   #13
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When Gene bought his first boat in Florida the guy who sold him the boat had to explain what the winch was for. He and his buddies got on the boat and sailed it across the Gulf to Texas. His premise was that if you left Florida and headed West you'd eventually hit Texas. It's not the kind of thing I would suggest for most people but it can be done.
My firmest piece of advice is always but always have a good weather window even if you're only going for a " three hour tour" and never but never have firm plans. On a boat they always change.
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Old 18-09-2009, 13:33   #14
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Well, the ball is roolling now. I signed up for a 2 day marine diesel maintenance and trouble-shooting hands on course in Annapolis.
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Old 18-09-2009, 15:17   #15
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Good luck with course Mike. I hope you're in Annapolis now because I'm on board in Georgian Bay and the forecast is for 2 deg C tonight. What a great climate we have...

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