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Old 24-10-2007, 17:15   #1
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Help Me Escape!

I'm russ a 22 year old college drop out and i plan to escape the stresses of work/home by escaping on boat quickly heading south. I live in connecticut and have been sailing since i was 10. I have no on-the-water navigation experience but i was a boy scout for 15 years, so i know my way around a map and compass. Also I am unsure about how it all works, for example I am really allowed to anchor outside almost all beaches and stay for as long as i like? The largest problem is my budget, very, very poor. I am looking for a nice small cruiser, maybe 23 feet, age is not a major concern but price is, I can only pay around 5000 if i want to be able to eat or sleep. The 2 boats i am eying are a hunter 23 from 1987 for 5500 and a 1981 us yachts 25 footer. How long would it take me to become prepared to live/travel on a boat by myself. I would leave tomorrow if i could get a boat tonight, but i imagine this is not practical. Other than the initial cost of the boat, what am i looking at? Is there a thread or page or book somewhere that will answer a lot of my newb cruiser questions?



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Old 24-10-2007, 18:28   #2
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How long would it take me to become prepared to live/travel on a boat by myself. I would leave tomorrow if i could get a boat tonight, but i imagine this is not practical.
If you left tomorrow I guess you would find out how long it would take. I think you need a better planned itinerary though. There are issues about money and actually where you might go. Sailing down the coast isn't that hard and with dumb luck you should be fine. Going farther isn't as much navigation as know about all the parts and aspects of the boat. With some instruction and dedicated sailing you could be ready in a year.

You'll find a lot of "what it takes" here in the many messages that already can be read. I think at this point you are still at the point where there is a whole lot you have not thought about to ask the right questions. Spend some time reading and I think you can get there. Start thinking "bigger picture". It's not how far you go it's how you get there.

There is the dirty little secrete that you may not get to quickly. It's really all about the money. You need a lot more of it than if you just start walking and hitchhiking.

Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 24-10-2007, 19:46   #3
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Not familiar with U.S. Yachts, but a Hunter 23 is a daysailor. This doesn't mean that you can't spend a week or two or longer on one - especially if you marina hop. However, most people would consider them unacceptable for extended cruising. In my opinion most any Good Condition cruiser class boat is suitable for what you have in mind. Cruiser class boats (with some notable and expensive exceptions) generally start around 25-27'. They are characterized by:

1. A fixed ballasted keel (some also have center boards, but they still have significant ballast).

2. Sufficient room below decks such that normal sized people can stand up and move around without bending, stooping, crawling.

3. An inboard (preferably diesel) engine capable of making hot water and charging batteries.

For some basic philosophy/tips go here: Cruising Log

There are many suitable boats available. If you are interested in Hunters, the 70s-80s H27, H31, and H33 could be good inexpensive choices.
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Old 24-10-2007, 20:42   #4
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Rules and regs are the name of the game with coastal and offshore cruising. A simple A-B line does not work, it will get you in a heep of trouble. Learn what everything means on a chart, NAVRULs, Coast Guard regulations, etc. There is a bunch to know. Duttons was a bible for me when I was a navigator in the Coast Guard. Books are a great place to start, and so is this forum. The older, more weathered folks have a lot that they can share with us younger fellows (Im 26).
As far as a boat goes, the previous post is quite right that a 23 hunter. Too small for living on. This isnt because of the interior size, but because the ballast will not be enough in heavy winds or seas. A big storm on the ocean is a hell of a different thing from a lake. A full keeled one with a 50/50 displacement to ballast ratio would be fine, though.
The money issue is quite an issue. If you ever pull into a marina for a night, $. Gas is more expensive. Repairs are horribly expensive. Food is an issue. Even if you always swing on the hook, a dinghy is a whole lot of money. Charts, flares, etc. If you ever have to get towed, god help you. It adds up super fast. It does take years to prepare and afford a trip down south.
My suggestion would be thus: move down south, perhaps the keys, and work. Find a boat down there and stay on it. Work odd jobs and repair until you have it in good condition. Sail around and have a good time.
Another option is serve as a deck hand on a boat. Do it for free and learn some good info. Eventually, you will find out if it is the life for you.
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Old 24-10-2007, 23:03   #5
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On the one hand, I'll have probably put $100K into my current boat (including a base price of $60K) before we try to get around the world with it. On the other hand, a Japanese guy took a 22 foot plywood boat around the world.

So, there's a lot of room for variance in there. It's sort of like how some people don't care what they drive, and to other people the idea of putzing around in a 1983 Honda Civic with a spring in the seat poking them in the ass cheek is not possible.

I'd have more trust in a good sailor with a crappy boat than a good boat in the hands of a crappy sailor.

So if you can't spend the money for some fancy blue water boat, than make sure you improve your sailing skills. What you won't have in equipment, you'll need to make up for with your own abilities. Find a place where you can crew on other people's boats, to get more experience. It's a great way to learn, because unlike your boat, there's smarter people on it who won't let you screw up too much.

There's a fine line in people's definitions of "cruising boats" (a.k.a. "blue water boats"). Concern yourself with the things that are required for safety and sea worthiness (rigging, hill integrity, sail plan, etc), not the things that wealthier sailors consider essential (microwaves, marinas, chart plotters, etc).

A neighbor of mine is selling a Chey Lee Cadet for $2500. Sort of like this one. Again, start sailing a whole hell of a lot, and realize that you're going to need to get extremely competent at many different things (sailing, engine maint, plumbing, etc) because of your limited capital.
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Old 25-10-2007, 01:39   #6
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Chapman’s Piloting & Seamanship ~ by Elbert S. Maloney
Is the officially recommended book for the U.S. Coast Guard's boating education classes, and many local United States Power Squadrons.

Originally Posted by stoupidmonkey View Post
... Duttons was a bible for me when I was a navigator in the Coast Guard.
I understand that:
“Dutton's Navigation and Piloting” (14TH Edition 1985) ~ by Elbert S. Maloney (originally “Navigation and Nautical Astronomy” by Benjamin Dutton 1926)
has been updated as:
“Dutton’s Nautical Navigation” (15TH Edition?) ~ by Thomas J. Cutler

The other classic Navigation texts are:

Bowditch -The American Practical Navigator ~ by Nathaniel Bowditch (NGA Publication 249)
Available (free) online at: Maritime Safety Information
Or: Bowditch Online

Admiralty Manual of Navigation: General Navigation, Coastal Navigation and Pilotage
(Volume 1) ~ by Her Majesty's Stationary Office
Admiralty Manual of Navigation: BR 45(1) - Google Book Search

See also: Admiralty Manual of Navigation: Astro Navigation (Volume 2)

There’s also an online Navigation Course at:
Advanced navigation courses - sailing schools Greece and the Greek islands
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 25-10-2007, 01:41   #7
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Then the was a 21 ft Wharam cat which circumnavigated--I think the good ship Cooking Fat was the one.

The minimum ocean crossing Monohull for me would be one of the Nordic Folkboat developments. Some glass versions exist--they are twenty-six foot long and very seaworthy in the right hands.

Five grand will not get you anything capable of blue water cruising. Day sailing perhaps--
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Old 25-10-2007, 03:28   #8
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Originally Posted by slomotion View Post
An inboard (preferably diesel) engine capable of making hot water and charging batteries.
Russ, you don't NEED an inboard engine, and you certainly don't NEED an engine capable of making hot water. You can make hot water the way most people make hot water--by heating water on a stove in a pot.

Don't let people discourage you from doing what you want to do. Many people have cruised aboard smaller sailboats, and you can certainly find a used sailboat in the 24 -- 26 foot range for 5,000. You'll probably have to put some money into getting her ready for offshore use, but they are out there!

With some work and minor modifications, this boat would work:
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Old 25-10-2007, 05:37   #9
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If you know your way around a sailboat (and it sounds like you might – wish I could have started sailing when I was ten), then you could escape almost as soon as you find your boat – assuming you’re NOT going to venture offshore until you’ve given everything a thorough shakedown in protected waters… I like the little ChoyLee that was mentioned although it sounds a tad outside your price range… However, I’ve pretty much always figured the minimum boat (for me at least) was something close to three ton displacement for me and at least an additional half ton for an additional “mate,” for anything more than a weekend sail – more is better of course (up to a point), but that is enough for me for coastal and Bay cruising I’ve found

My guess is you’ll eventually want permanent standing headroom at least somewhere in your boat, if you plan to make it your home… that alone will knock out a lot of modestly priced boats, and will point you toward boats with a bit more substance… but for $5K you can do more than you might suspect, so long as you have a good eye and proceed carefully and methodically… the Net is a wonderful tool, and you can shop and shop and compare boats (like the Pearson that was mentioned or a slighly smaller Bristol of similar ilk)), do your own research and have a fair idea what to look out (good points and known flaws) for whatever vassals you might be interested in… Most thoughtful purchasers these days recommend a newer boat – been there, did that – but for folks on a budget, or for the consummate minimalists, using your noodle and a little elbow-grease here and there can get you the same effect for noticeably less cash…

Good luck…

Worry: misuse of imagination…
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Old 25-10-2007, 09:00   #10
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Don't let anyone discourage you. You 100% capable of making the trip you wish to, just the way you are.

Answers to your questions:

Anchoring: Yes, you can do it anywhere (except in channels and maybe Florida). You are not allowed to anchor within 75 of docks or moored boats. But 99% of the time no one will even bother you about that. It is not often that the anchoring space will be so confined that you have to worry about it. Bring two anchors. get "Skipper Bob's Anchoring guide" none of his books are over $20, they are filled with places to anchor.

Depends on what you mean by "south." A trip to the southern United States is nothing but a big series of day sails.
Ocean navigation? Can't help you much there. I've never done it. but neither had Tani Abbi, she stumbled around the world.

Most sailors today navigate Via GPS. you can get a handheld for cheap. NOAA Charts are available online for download for free. If you have a laptop you can turn it into a chartplotter for less than $100.

Don't eat out... ever. stop now. you will be surprised how much you will save.
Stop drinking.
if you smoke stop smoking.
buy food. And things for your boat.

Again, your budget will be determined buy where you are going. If you are heading to the southern US your biggest expense will be your gas. Figure on 4 dollars a gallon. pick a place to go... save the money. put it in a gas envelope. use it on gas.

Food will be your second big expense. for 50 dollars a week you can eat very well. Fresh meat, eggs, milk. all the good stuff. for 10 dollars a week (maybe less) you can survive on canned foods, ramen noodles.

If (and it's a big if) your boat is prepared, it will be what you spend the least amount of money on. Take good care of it. All the same, back up money would be nice.. in case of emergencies, but you are looking for an "escape" right?

The Boat:
You are the only one who can decide here. I agree with the others, at least get something with some solid fixed ballast. You can buy a lot of used boats for less than 5,000.

Tristian jones crossed a continent in a boat he couldn't stand up in. Slocum circled the world in a boat with no electricity. Remember this will not be your last boat... this is your "escape" boat. you can always trade up later.

Get something with a good engine. your engine will be VERY important if you are heading to Southern US.

If I were you:
It's pretty late in the season. If I were you I would spend the winter saving money, and looking for a good deal on a boat. Spend next summer working/living on the boat. Head south in the fall.

I'm 23. When I started my last cruise I was 22. I've been sailing for 5 years. I'm poor. I spend $25 a week on food. about 100 each time I go to the gas dock, which is every 100 miles. When I bought my first boat (for 5,000) I had no idea how to sail.
as for "college drop out, escape stresses of work and home"
Sailing aways doesn't solve anything. Think hard about why you want to sail off.

The hardest obstacle for me was saying goodbye to friends and family.

Good Luck.
Use your head.
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Old 25-10-2007, 09:45   #11
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Cascade 29 1968 Boat For Sale

Russ3, I was once a 22 year old college drop out with an urge to take off sailing myself. I bought one of these and sailed to Greece the long way. All the way to Australia we buddy boated with another couple in the same model Cascade. Narrow beam, not a lot of room, but they are very strongly put together. Short stick with a long boom, makes for quick effective reefing. Good luck on the escape!
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Old 25-10-2007, 13:00   #12
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Just to clarify, I never said you ‘need’ and inboard engine or hot water or even a cruiser class boat. I said that just about any Good Condition cruiser class boat is suitable for the intended use - which I took to mean coastal cruising/island hopping - escaping south. A characteristic of modern cruiser class monohull boats is an inboard engine - these have capabilities which outboard engines do not. This one would be a good example, but I know nothing about it beyond what’s in the ad, and with this vintage condition is more important than design (it also happens to be pretty close to Connecticut): Boats and Yachts for Sale=

I would expect that a 22 year old would have a greater tolerance for liveaboard camping that someone nearly 3 times that age like me. You do not ‘need’ any engine at all. The first guy to circumnavigate didn’t have one; neither did the second guy; the Pardys didn’t have one, but they do now and Hal Roth came to consider them essential or at least very desirable. Regardless of what you 'need' my advice is to get a cruiser class boat with an inboard diesel engine.
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Old 26-10-2007, 01:29   #13
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Aloha Russ,
Welcome aboard!! You've found the forum of many opinions. Good to have you here. The International Folkboat is a really great choice and so is the Cascade 29. The Folkboat will out perform the Cascade but the Cascade has more room and creature comforts. Both can be had for under $10K. In sorry shape maybe much cheaper. Check eBay Motors under the search sailboat and then sail boat title and description. You'll find a bunch in your price range but each needs to be looked at with a knowledgeable friend.
Kind Regards,
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Old 26-10-2007, 16:21   #14
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If the total budget is five grand there had better be a heap of goodies included. You WILL need a good radio, HF if going offshore and MF for coastal. VHF is fine but limited range.

You will also need to refurbish stuff--I have spent five grand alone in ropes, paints, small repairs, spares, and extra anchoring equipment--and you will need a drogue or sea anchor. Some form of battery charging will be needed--engine is OK temporarily but it will chew up expensive fuel if you have to run it excessively just to charge batteries or pull down the frige utectic plate--if you have one. Then there are lights for navigation and illumination under decks.

Yes--you can use oil lamps--but they often stink and give off a lot of heat--not pleasant in the tropics. I use fluoro tubes, the 240 volt type run through little inverters. LED lighting is good and cheap too.

For charging your house batteries a trailed turbine is OK if you can manage five knots or so. Solar and wind are not speed dependant and need a decent regulator and isolating diodes, not expensive in themselves but trades people are expensive if you do not have the skills to do things yourself.

I do not like gas on small boats--kerosine is available anywhere and you do not really need an oven--although some stoves do incorporate a kero oven. A pressure cooker works well for veges anb bouilabaise, and uses less fuel because it cooks more quickly. Gas is convenient but it needs a gas certificate for insurance purposes--and insurance for third party property damage is a good idea. Many marinas and fuel docks will not allow you near them without it.

A tender is a good idea--with a good pair of oars.

You also need to buy spares--for engine if any, because if you have a breakdown it usually happens somewhere where spares are hard to get or expensive. You need to carry spare fuel filters, some extra hose clips,, hoses, spare tinned covered 30 amp wires in several colour codes, assorted terminals and crimps, distilled water, anticorrosive paint, oil, spare ropes and cordage, spare rigging fittings and turnbuckles, spare shackles etc etc.

Good value if you can get it all for under five grand in total--certainly not possible in Australia.

I think securing a sound vessel alone with good sails for five is the way to go and spend another five to six once aboard getting it seaworthy and well found. I recommend a GPS , sextant and paper charts. Do yourself a favour and buy a good depth sounder--heaving lines are ok but not if you sail alone--and they are not useful at any speed.

Even so--ten to fifteen grand finished cost would get you safely on the ocean for a fraction of what most sailors will spend, even if the whole package comes in under twenty thousand.

How much you ultimately spend depends on the risks you are prepared to take. You do not need to buy super expensive stuff and second hand equipment of the manual type--sextant and dividers etc can be bought second hand. Old second hand electronic stuff can be unreliable.

The main thing is to spend your money as wisely as you can. What is your life worth?
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Old 27-10-2007, 11:23   #15
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Taking a day-sailer south

Hi, Russ.

My previous boat was a 1986 22' ODay with a swing keel and a 6 hp outboard. She displaced 2,200 lb, and had 800 lb of ballast. I bought her for $6,500 in 1996. She was in great shape, and needed no additional work.

I never cruised her, always day-sailed, but I believe that I would have been able to take her from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida on the Intracoastal Waterway, IF (the big IF), I was capable of constantly monitoring the weather outlook, IF I was capable of identifying safe, protected anchorages to duck into if the weather went bad at any point on the trip, IF I had two sturdy anchors with enough rode and knew how to set them, IF I had the skill and experience to handle the boat in unfamiliar waters without panicking if were caught out in a squall, and IF I had enough money for the fuel it would take (there's very little actual sailing on the ICW).

I would NOT have felt comfortable taking her outside (into the Atlantic) to sail to the next inlet south, even if the weather looked promising. I would not have wanted to get caught underway in a blow in the ICW's tight quarters--the outboard simply wouldn't move her into a 30 kt wind, and I'd be blown up on the lee shore. The ultimate danger in a lightly ballasted boat like that is capsizing in cold water, since the trip south is usually done in October or November (after hurricane season), when you can get some pretty strong, gusty winds when the fronts blow through.

Also, in a boat like that, you'll be camping out--porta-potty, single burner butane stove, jugs of drinking water, cooler with ice when you can get it, eating out of cans. Not the lap of luxury.

But, if you really want to "escape", I would say, "Go for it!" But think it through and plan it out before you jump in the boat and go.

Good luck!

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