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Old 09-07-2008, 22:27   #1
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Wink How tough is it really?

Hi! I'm a new member (duh), long-time cruising researcher, small time boater...I've been on smaller power boats (25') most of my life.

My wife (42) and I (46) are 16 months away from "breaking away". We have been on a plan for years and finally getting close to realizing the much deserved reward. We are not wealthy, but have put away most every extra dollar to get us started.

We want to live-aboard. We don't sail. And know almost nothing about the "real-world" of coastal cruising. We are frequent campers, boaters and travelers. Power cruising would be our thing.

The question is this. What type of person does it take to get out there and live on a boat full-time? Will the necessary "survival learning" come quickly or would we be thrown over-board in our first trip out? I'm actually half serious about this : )

We have been researching/looking (some boat shows) at 40' - 44' trawlers. And would like to purchase something soon to "play" on in the Columbia River. We live 5 minutes away.

It is a dream we have had for quite some time (years in the making)...we love the water, love boating and the freedom that comes with it. Not to mention the adventure of our lives.

Any advice would be warmly welcomed and very much appreciated.

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Old 09-07-2008, 23:03   #2
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Welcome aboard smdat! I am so envious that you will be able to cast the docklines soon!

I sure hope rising fuel costs don't put a crimp in your plans. Have you considered a motor-sailer?

My first advice is to read everyting you can around here. Don't shy away from the sailing forums because the living aboard part is largely similar except perhaps the sailors are on a tighter electrical budget - LOL.

I think the biggest adjustment to living aboard is living without a lot of "stuff." Although the lack of stuff must be liberating.

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Old 10-07-2008, 03:27   #3
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We're just going through the "getting rid of stuff" phase and it feels endless. It is a painful but liberating process. The junk is often attached to memories and these are dredged up as one goes through it all. However, most of it is doing nothing and is just baggage that holds you down. As we get rid of it (selling, giving, trashing) bit by bit we feel more and more unencumbered. We're very much looking forward to getting through this phase.

For you guys I would recommend spending some time at local clubs / marinas and talking to people. It's often very easy to get invited on other peoples boats - boat owners seem to love having interested folks aboard - and it's a great way to learn more about different forms of sailing. I second the recommendation you consider a motor sailor. Using the wind as your form of motive energy is another level of liberty.
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:39   #4
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My wife wasn't sure she would like living on our boat in the Caribbean for six months, so we chartered an identical boat in St. Thomas for two weeks. She loved it, and didn't want to go home when the charter was over. There should be some nice charter trawler opportunities in the PNW, I would suspect.
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Old 10-07-2008, 04:14   #5
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Welcome! You will get a wealth of information on this forum.

Being frequent campers, boaters and travelers will give you an advantage on the cruising lifestyle.

Ditto on chartering. We chartered twice and it was very helpful. The Power Squadron, Coast Guard Auxiliary and other organizations offer good coastal navigation and boat safety classes.

We are sailors, but we first owned a 24' power boat on the west coast and it gave us valuable experience. You will probably be surprised at how much you already know.

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Old 10-07-2008, 05:51   #6
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First get some sailing lessons, and lots of them. Sailing is a skill that takes time to become good at. You need to be full of tenacity in spirit. There are times when you ask yourself WHY???????? There are times you will know why. The good part is that the tough times are small, and the grand times are HUGE!

There are people who have been sailing 50 years, and will still be adding to their skills. Sailing the rivers, and sailing the bays are not like sailing the ocean. I was told if I could sail San Francisco Bay I could sail anywhere. I honed my skills, and went out in any weather, but it was not the OCEAN! I am not trying to scare you. I am trying to advise you to get on a sailboat now, and learn. Don't wait until the boat is yours, and then learn.

It has been done successfully to just get on a boat, and go. That is rare, and most times it ends in broken dreams, and sometimes broken ribs. Preperation is everything, and 16 months can give you a large window to get prepared......BEST WISHES in making a successful, and wonderful transition. If things go well for you it becomes a sickness, and hard to give up!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-07-2008, 11:09   #7

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If you want to come up to speed fast, I'd suggest taking "basic" and "advanced" classes at an ASA-certified sailing school, or one of the major independents, followed by a week-long "bareboat" or "liveaboard" class on a larger boat. There's no faster or better way to see what you are dealing with.

Sailing is like riding horse or a bicycle or driving a car: Books just won't give you any feel for it.

Working your way up to your own comfort level canbe done at many speeds in many ways, but a couple of fast (double weekend) classes, followed by a week onboard, will give you all the information you need to make a decision on it, within two months time. And now's the time to do it!
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Old 10-07-2008, 11:25   #8
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Put your name on the crew list for the Cruising Rally Association. Its a good way to get offshore experience on someone elses boat.
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Old 10-07-2008, 11:40   #9
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Aloha Smdat,
Welcome aboard! Some have suggested that you take sailing lessons but what you wanted was a trawler? I prefer sailing vessels myself and no longer than 36 on deck. That doesn't give you nearly as much room but will take you anywhere in the world if you decide to move. It is much cheaper going anywhere on a sailing vessel.
I'm originally from Salem, Oregon so if you are that near the Columbia you might be near Portland or Vancouver, WA?
Whatever direction you go, either power or sail it is always good to join a club and then talk to folks and see where your interest will really blossom.
Kind regards,
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Old 10-07-2008, 14:09   #10
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Wink Power over Sail?

Thank you all for your insights...I know you get a lot of introductions on this forum asking many of the same your advice and patience with us is appreciated.

I got quite a few sail suggestions, but yes we were looking into power cruising over sailing. Simply because that is where our experience lies. We spent some time at sail shows and quite a bit of research before moving to the power options, and prefer (if nothing else) the room provided with many of the power boats.

I know fuel issues are big right now. But I wonder if there has been a similar transition for power boaters as RV'ers...more living on the hook and less motoring in general?

We are passionate about moving aboard permanently, and have few issues with the liquidation part (we have already started that years ago). We always ask ourselves with every new purchase "will it fit on a boat?" that has drastically cut down the impulse buying over the last couple years

It also seemed that going with the power boat might be a quicker and somewhat easier transition than learning an entirely new way of moving around with sails?

We have been considering the "loop" as the first "getting our feet wet" experience.
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Old 10-07-2008, 15:20   #11

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"We want to live-aboard. We don't sail. "
Hehe. I made the mistake of reading that and rsahly assuming SAILing was relevant, as in you wanted to live aboard AND sail.
"Nevermind". [g]
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Old 10-07-2008, 18:45   #12
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Hmm - I could go on for many hundreds of paragraphs about why sailboats are a wiser long-term choce than power, but I won't. It's a very subjective decision. (But you wouldn't catch me anywhere offshore in a power vessel under 100' long).

As far as your concerns about the open sea go - most of the time the water out there is just like the water closer to shore. It is fairly smooth and not at all frightening. You are more likely to run into swells out there, but they are usually fairly long and you barely notice them.

As far as surviving a big storm goes, the only thing to do is practise. The hardest part is conquering your own fears. Spend time out in progressively worse weather until you are able to look at big messy waves and not panic.

There are a few basic rules for survival in big seas. Learn them. Later on, if you apply them properly, you'll survive - if not, then you won't. Most people survive. Even more boats survive. If you maintain your boat well - you're about 90% of the way there.

Don't mean to sound flippant, but it really is a case of learning and understanding the "theory", then learning all about your vessel, and then applying your knowledge calmly when you need to. The circumstances that you'll encounter in a storm are almost never the same twice so you can't really learn rote procedures.

If the thought of inclement weather scares you - then avoid it. There isn't anyone out there awarding brownie points for bravery or perseverance. If you are careful and don't go too far offshore - you could probably cruise for 20 years and never have to deal with more than the odd thundersquall.

Good luck ! Hope everything works out well
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Old 10-07-2008, 20:25   #13
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What are your alternatives...

1. Play golf a lot and never get really, very good. Eventually talk yourself into that you are enjoying yourself.
2. Live long enough for your kids to put you in a nursing home. Then you do not have enough memories too last.
3. You talk yourself out of going and you think about it the rest of your life..........................What if for infinity
4. Go to garage sales and buy junk your kids end up getting a dumpster to deal with after your gone.
5. You move to the country and begin to raise Alpaca's. Write a best selling book 101 Ways to Cook Alpaca. Royalties are too big, puts you into a new tax bracket and plays hell with your retirement plan.
6. The wife buys a pack of small dogs that bark incessantly and you pray to lose your hearing......

I think what I am trying to say in a round about way is go get the boat. See if you can get a charter to or from Alaska or do the round trip. If you get back and you hate it.................Go play some golf.

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Old 10-07-2008, 20:55   #14

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6. The wife buys a pack of small dogs that bark incessantly and you pray to lose your hearing......"

Friend sees one of them in a supermarket of all places,and turns to his wife and says not so quietly "Look honey! They sell live dog here, let's get a fresh one for dinner!"

I like dogs, all dogs, but making them that small and nervous is just one of god's cruel jokes.
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Old 11-07-2008, 03:19   #15
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Originally Posted by Sailormann View Post
(But you wouldn't catch me anywhere offshore in a power vessel under 100' long).
Why not? Fishermen go out hundreds of miles[1] offshore for several weeks at a time. There are well built passagemakers that are economical to operate (compared to other oversized passagemakers i.e. excessive beam, freeboard, windage).

If you're concerned about the engine, then learn about 'em & carry plenty of spares & tools. If you're still concerned, then whack on a couple of half sized sticks (masts) with galvo wire & rig up some cheap junk (or gaff) sails to get ya back to a port.

The only advantage a 100' would offer is extra space for fuel (& lwl hull speed), but you've got to take into account the extra displacement.

Personally, if I could afford the fuel, I'd forget the sailboat & go a 70/30 motorsailer & plan the best ports to re-fuel (eg: best price).

[1] some may even go thousands (i.e. deep sea liners etc)

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