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Old 10-09-2015, 18:17   #1
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Hello to All

I have just joined this Forum. My husband and I (Mike and Laurie) are wanna be cruisers. We've been dreaming of retiring and sailing the caribbean for years. We are now three years away and ideally I would like to purchase a boat a year and a half before we set sail so we can get used to sailing our own boat, however there is a two year waiting list for the marina in Santa Cruz, CA . So I'm not sure logistically how this will work. We took Basic Keelboat sailing lessons and are practicing on a 20 ft keelboat in a lake (which is really a river) by our house. It's been a little stressful haha as the first time out the boom hit my husband in the head pretty hard on a jibe. Our instructor told us he taught us enough just to be dangerous. He was right. We are learning as we go. We plan on taking all the courses offered in Santa Cruz, CA next year and go on a three night/four day trip where we will help skipper? the boat off Monterey to see how that goes. I know we have a long way to go but we gotta start somewhere.

We are reading everything we can - Recently I enjoyed reading Captain John's book about sailing the Caribbean. He says the smaller seaworthy boat you can live on the better which is not what I would've thought. He thinks it's a good idea to be able to sail single handedly if needed. Makes sense to me (in case my husband gets hit in the head again LOL). Also the longer the boat, the more expensive the upkeep. Right now we are thinking 30 ft seems to be reasonable.

One of the questions I have is about getting to the Caribbean from California. I know you can sail south to Mexico, Central America then go through the panama canal, but then what? I can't find much regarding how to get from the eastern side of the panama canal to the Caribbean. Is it best to go to San Blas Islands, then to Cartagena and then past Venezuela??? (sounds scary) or up to Belize to the Gulf of Mexico and around Cuba...I have no clue. And I can't find much on the internet. I know the weather and time of year is key but maybe one way is safer than the other?

Seems to me, the other option is to wait and buy a boat in Ft Lauderdale and get to the Caribbean from there but then we wouldn't be able to practice on our own boat before going. I suppose one could get an apartment in Ft Lauderdale, look for a boat, buy one, then practice until ready. Am I missing more practical options?

We will have about $50,000 - $60,000 for boat provisions and then monthly income of about $4,000 per month. And our house will be paid for. From what I've read, this seems doable. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
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Old 10-09-2015, 18:46   #2
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Re: Hello to All

Howdy and Welcome Aboard CF Laurie!

I think you did a very good job of introducing yourself.

Here are a my Quick Comments in response to some of your questions:

1. California to Caribbean?
Boats do that. You can do it. Plan accordingly. There are published guides that will help you plan this voyage and members here will give tips too.

Or, Buy the boat in Florida. More choices there (I suspect) and it is closer to where you want to go. But, then you will probably miss the fun of spending time in Mexico waters.

Or, buy the Boat in California. Sail it to Mexico, and have it trucked to Texas. Sail from there to Florida. This was recently discussed in a thread here on the forum, when a potential boat buyer asked very similar questions to yours, related to buying in California and getting the boat to Atlantic. A search will reveal the discussion of that topic.

_______________
Your monthly budget is more than many have for cruising. If you would like to spend some time reading how others cruise on a budget (lower than yours) here are a few recommended threads:

Cruising on $500 per Month
Cruising on $500 per Month . . .

Shoestring Sailors (Cruising on $500 per month - part II)
Shoestring Sailors (Cruising on $500 per month - part II)

Refurbing / Refitting an Older Boat - Advice and Ideas
Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

(NOTE: Don't let the blue link text fool you. Sometimes the forum software puts other words in place of the link info, but the link will take you to the proper page, I just tested it.
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Since you are new to this forum, let me mention a few things you might miss but that could help you more enjoy your time here:

There is an amazing amount of shared knowledge found in the thousands of threads on this forum. If one has a common question, the answers are usually there, often with different possible solutions. The trick is finding those threads and answers as they can be "lost" in the many threads, which are often not titled well.

Here are my favorite Tips for newcomers to this forum:

WIKI
Take a look at the Cruising WIKI that is found via the tab up on the top menu bar of the forum. It has a LOT of information in it you might find fun, interesting, or helpful.
____________

Looking for Quick Answers?

This is the best and fastest method I have found to the answers I seek here.
Since you are relatively new to the forum, here is my favorite friendly forum search tip: Look at the menu bar on the forum pages for the drop down "Search" menu. Click on that to drop down a list of search functions. From that drop down menu select the GOOGLE CUSTOM search feature (the second box down) and then enter several different descriptive or key terms for your topic of interest. That will do a Custom google search of ONLY this site and it is likely to find answers to your questions or results for you. Note: this is VERY different from using the regular forum search box or field (which I never use because of poor search results). Also note, this is NOT found if you use the CF mobile app. It IS found if you use a web browser such as Safari, IE, Firefox, etc.

Note: The ordinary "search" field on this forum has yielded less helpful results for me when I perform searches. That is why I prefer and suggest the use of the alternative "Google Custom Search" instead. I see a very clear and big difference and find the Google Custom Search much easier for scanning (with my eyes) threads for relevant comments and information.

I am confident if you spend some time trying different search terms (key words) using this method, you will find much advice and many tips.

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Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2017? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
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Old 10-09-2015, 22:11   #3
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Re: Hello to All

Thank you so much for your helpful and friendly response! I will follow your instructions! Laurie
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:59   #4
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Re: Hello to All

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Laurie & Mike.
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:30   #5
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Re: Hello to All

Laurster...

Welcome you and hubby to the forum!

There's a lot of roses along the path to your proposed plans.... I suggest that you be aware of them in case you decide to take a sniff along the way!

If you continue to take some ASA, Building a relationship with a school/charter co., and doing some real coastal exploration... you might even consider doing it down in the LA or SD area... Or up in the SJ's...

After stepping up to boat sizes you are considering, and spending some time sailing them... You'll quickly know what you like and don't like about a particular boat before plunking down your mattress stuffing...

The ocean may look blue-er-er... over the horizon, but you guys are local to some prime sailing in your back yard too...
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Old 11-09-2015, 06:48   #6
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Re: Hello to All

I'm pretty much a novice myself, but operating on nearly your exact plan, just a little ahead of you is all.
I wouldn't consider the trip from California to the Caribbean myself, not until I had a lot more experience than I have now, and we have had our boat for a yr and a half. But maybe you guys are fast learners and just better than I am, but I believe that's a Graduate level trip, not for beginners?
I think buying your boat in Fl is a much better idea, but don't stick to Ft Lauderdale, look at the whole Gulf Coast, if money is an object, the Gulf coast is much cheaper, especially the Panhandle of Fl, all the way to Tx. Learn your boat, wait until Hurricane season is over and head to the Islands. Lots and lots of bail out locations on the Gulf, maintenance facilities etc, much easier, safer and simpler than that trip from Calif to the Caribbean would be I think.
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:06   #7
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Re: Hello to All

The length of the boat doesn't determine whether you can single hand it or not, it is how it is set up with sails, in-mast furling, electronics, autopilot, etc. Consider a larger boat than 30 feet. You need fuel, electrical and water capacity as well as a good kitchen to prepare your food and keep your supplies. It is much more than how to sail when cruising, so go charter different boats and spend some time living aboard for a charter. You will lean what is missing and what you need to have to be comfortable. Cruisers spend more time at port or anchor than moving from place to place. Make sure you have enough room for privacy and to have your own space. There are times when two people confined to the same small space, just need a little separation. Also consider a full enclosure, generator, water maker and other items that make cruising more comfortable. If you like Spartan camping, then a small sailboat could work, but if you like being cool, taking showers regularly, and a softer lifestyle, a larger boat is necessary to handle the items you need to make that lifestyle work.


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Old 11-09-2015, 07:44   #8
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Re: Hello to All

Laurie,

Here is another thread on this forum you should keep an eye on. If you subscribe to that thread (which is very easy, if you just post a comment in the thread or use the "Thread Tools" drop down menu from your site menu), you will see new posts to it as time goes on. I will be posting examples of boats well within your budget in this same thread as I find them. Not all will be on the Pacific coast, but some are.

For example, there are two Morgan 33's mentioned in that thread and each one is less than $15K asking price. One is on the East coast, one in Southern California. Both look like they are in good condition, one looks especially nice (SOCAL).

Of course this is just a small sample of what is available around the country and is just intended to draw attention to some different types and styles.

Boats Less than $30K
Boats Less Than $30K Recent Noteworthy Finds
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Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2017? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
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