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Old 07-02-2016, 21:24   #1
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I'm new and I have so many questions...

Hello everyone, my name is Jason Bailey, I am 39 years old, married with three children. I do not own a boat but would like to someday buy a catamaran. I have a family of five and feel that that would best suit our needs. I've never owned a boat and never been sailing so this account has been set up to learn as much as I can. I'll try to ask only a few questions at a time as some answers will inevitably lead to more detailed questions.*

With all of that being said, on to the questions.*
What is the minimum length (multihull or monohull) considered safe enough to sail around the world? Say from Georgias Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean sea?*
I've looked at a few boats (catamarans mostly) around the 40-50 foot range and I have found most of them to have freshwater and grey water tanks up to about 50-75 gallons? Is that enough for a trip from here to say Italy? I was just thinking between bathing, cooking and general use of the toilet that it may not be enough.*
What size boat could one man sail by himself? Or at least with very minimum crew?*

And most importantly, where could I go to take some courses on sailing? Hands on courses. Or are there private teachers for that sort of thing? Basically, how does someone go about learning to sail their own boat? Most everything in my life I've learned by just jumping in and doing it, is that even possible with sailing?*

Thank you to everyone in advance that can help me begin to learn.
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Old 07-02-2016, 22:26   #2
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Well, welcome here! It sounds like you like to jump in with both feet! First of all, where are you? Before the advice piles on, can I ask why you want to launch into a big boat, lessons and a trip to Italy? And how soon do you see your family doing this? Some might say it would be easier to go to Italy and buy a boat there, and learn in the Med. (I would.) I mean to go from never sailed and never owned a boat to a catamaran for 5 to take across the Atlantic... I have more questions for you than you have for us! I'm certainly not saying it's impossible or you are crazy, however. As far as how to start, I recommend getting a small and fun boat that is easy to sail and take it out everyday. See if you can figure out how to make it go. If you get a rush out of being able to control a big piece of cloth, and a stick to steer with, to make yourself go jetting across the water, I'd say you are on your way. Make sure your family is in it with you too. Boats like Lasers and Lido 14s, and Hobie cats, are good possibilities, but there are many. You need to see if you all fall in love with sailing. Then maybe move along with ASA lessons for the whole family so you can charter a larger boat and get a little farther offshore, coastally and see if the family is still with you before you move up to chartering a larger catamaran to see how you like it. Sail with other people first on their boats and ask them lots of annoying questions. You will need to see if you and your family really love to be out on the sea, and eventually, out of the sight of land. If those things work out then you'll be in a much better position to understand the answers to your questions I think.
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Old 07-02-2016, 23:22   #3
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

In international waters the direct discharge of grey water or sewage isn't prohibited. In the US grey water (non-sewage) can be discharged in most waters that aren't no discharge zones. In port your holding tank size determines how often you have to go to a pump out station. Better marinas have sewage hookups at the dock. If you can stand it, there are composting toilets.
On long voyages with several people on board you'll need a water maker.
Yacht clubs and marinas should be able to help find schooling. Probably you could find someone with experience on the type of boat you want.
Learning how to sail and crossing the ocean are two different things. I would suggest you do a lot of coastal sailing in various sea conditions before an ocean crossing.
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:22   #4
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Hello Jason,

I am two decades and 20,000 sm ahead of you

Forgive me for being blunt, but your dream seems a bit theoretical. I've always sailed - well, let's say for about four decades, before buying our dream boat and casting off. And even for me it was a steep learning curve - thank god our boat forgave us all of the stupid things we did in the beginning.

First and foremost I would recommend that you find out how much the remaining 80% of the family share your dream. And for that there is nothing better than chartering a catamaran in the Caribbean and actually trying it. Take a friend who knows how to sail, or a skipper, if no sailor friend can be found. Find out how it really is to be out on the water.

Once you really are decided, your technical questions are all easy. Few people cross an ocean today without a decent water maker, so your water supply is basically limited by the amount of energy you feed into it, be it generator, engine or solar.

Lastly, I MAY cross the North Atlantic at the end of our tour around the world, but I am not sure - if we can sell our dream home on the Caribbean or on the East Coast we will do that. Our first Ocean passage was the other way around with the trade winds, and that was tough enough for us. We've had plenty of experiences since then, but the North Atlantic going East is definitely not something I would recommend to a Newbie - no offense intended.

And if the family buys into your dream - go for it! I assume I will smile on my death bed thinking about how I fulfilled my lifelong dream...

Oliver
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Old 08-02-2016, 02:43   #5
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

I agree with Oliver L. I would not try a transatlantic journey without being very well experienced in all aspect of sailing. The sea is a grey wolf snarling at times. When you watch those youtube videos, you do not get any real idea of what it is like sailing in high seas; videos flatten the waves. You must have a very sturdy boat in excellent condition with many spares. There are no mechanics half way across; you have to keep on going and fix everything yourself. Imagine that your motor must function faultlessly for every second for thirty days and start organising from there. Of course your sails will be your engine for much of the time, if the winds favour you.

The journey from west to east might take you more than 30 days. You can work out water needs by working on at least 2 litres per person per day. That's 300 litres for your family, but that's basically drinking and cooking. Don't expect to shower or bathe until you hit land. Top and tail is the way to go. A watermaker is the way to go but you must carry reserves.

If you are forced to use the motor every day then budget at least 100 litres a day.

Do as Oliver says, get some training, do some charters, do an overnighter or more as crew, get on a sailboat in rough weather and above all, make sure you family are 100%with you
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Old 08-02-2016, 03:04   #6
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Every post here contains good advice, the best being learn to sail.. You don't do that by going through a sailing course (though that wouldn't hurt) but by, as Don said, getting a small boat and sailing it.

You might also read the three unrelated current threads on this forum, and no doubt the many old threads, about catamarans capsizing and/or sinking offshore and the subsequent loss of life. You might pay particular attention to the little girl who recently died and consider if you would choose the same fate for your children.

Paul
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:23   #7
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jason.
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:01   #8
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Jason,

I took three ASA courses at Blue Water Sailing School in Ft. Lauderdale in December and highly recommend them. Specifically, Captain Wayne was knowledgeable, a master sailor, had great sailing stories, and put some killer sashimi on the plate when we hit the Gulf Stream.

Good Luck!

Terry
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:28   #9
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Hi Jason and welcome to the forum.

All sailors have to start somewhere and for many it starts with the dream. However as has been suggested, the reality sometimes doesn't match what your dreams predict. Before getting in too deep you need to get on a boat and do some sailing, and very important, see how the family feels about the dream. A charter in the Caribbean is one good way to do this.

Then to address some of your questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonbailey View Post
What is the minimum length (multihull or monohull) considered safe enough to sail around the world? Say from Georgias Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean sea?*

It's not the size, it's how well the boat is put together and the skills of the captain and crew. As I recall, a 20' boat has sailed around the world.

I've looked at a few boats (catamarans mostly) around the 40-50 foot range and I have found most of them to have freshwater and grey water tanks up to about 50-75 gallons? Is that enough for a trip from here to say Italy? I was just thinking between bathing, cooking and general use of the toilet that it may not be enough.*

How much water you need depends on how well you manage the use. For drinking and cooking a rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person per day. Most toilets flush with ocean water so that's not an issue. You can bath in salt water and use a cup or two of fresh for the final rinse. I once spent 45 days cruising with three on board and a 75 gallon tank and had water left over when we made it back to a marina. We did supplement the tanks with jugs of drinking ware but if I recall that was only 25 gallons additional.

Also, I have not seen many boats in the 40' and up range that only had 50-75 gallons of fresh water tanks. My 42 has 150 gallons.

What size boat could one man sail by himself? Or at least with very minimum crew?*

This is another question where the answer is, it depends. Years ago a racer sailed a 235' boat single handed across the Atlantic. Yes that is two hundred and thirty five feet. To do this the boat was rigged with powerful winches to handle the heavy loads and any boat can be equipped with similar machinery. Where it gets tricky is docking the boat singlehanded or when you have to move the sails around on the boat by yourself. Most people settle on a max of 45-50' for practical single or short handed sailing.

And most importantly, where could I go to take some courses on sailing? Hands on courses. Or are there private teachers for that sort of thing?

A couple of good suggestions made for this.

Basically, how does someone go about learning to sail their own boat? Most everything in my life I've learned by just jumping in and doing it, is that even possible with sailing?*

How good are you at learning something independently? I more more lr less jumped in and did it but I did start with a few weeks at sea with experience sailors. Then I took that little hands on time and immersed myself in study and reading everything about boats, sailboats, cruising, repair, etc. Did this for about a year and then took off cruising the Caribbean.
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Old 10-02-2016, 17:43   #10
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

There were a few questions asked and I will try to answer some of them. Why a big boat? Well, we are a family of five and 1 dog. I have 2 boys and a girl. I like the idea that on a little bit larger boat, while we would be in close enough quarters we could still have some privacy. Why lessons? Well, while I may be adventurous, I am not wreckless. I am old enough to understand the value of training and knowledge. Why Itlay? Why not? Not just Italy. South America, Canada, the Caribbean maybe Madagascar. There is a lot in this world to see and I would like to see at least a little of it before I go. I want my children to understand that what they see on TV is not near as interesting as the real world and seeing it in person. And lastly when do I see us getting a boat? Within a year. Give or take. I'm very serious about it. This past Monday I took my wife to just lok at some sailboats. Now I should preface that by saying my wife is very rarely if ever excited about my ideas. But to my surprise, she was actually a little excited about the prospect of owning a boat. I asked her if she thought maybe she would preffer a boat with a motor, maybe a motor yacht, she said she liked the sailboats better, they were prettier. My kids are fairly adventurous so I don't think it will be an issue with them. For future reference where should I post my general questions?
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Old 10-02-2016, 17:56   #11
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Welcome Jason..

I promise this is not a shameless plug for my blog. I think you will get a lot out of it. I was in the same situation as you (never sailed, family of 5, wanted a cat). I detailed our progress so far. Currently I'm on my boat refitting with the family moving aboard in 5 weeks.

Now, before you go to my blog, understand that I'm just one story. There are millions of ways to skin this cat and mine was NOT perfect. Stupid in many ways, but sometimes that is how you learn. I hope it helps and someday I can be reading your blog!

Party of Five – Our Sailing Adventure
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Old 10-02-2016, 18:00   #12
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Hi Jason. Given your question, something like a lagoon 400 might be more than adequate. Enough space, berths and payload for a family of five. We crossed the Atlantic with 4 aboard and arrived with a month of provisions left over. Friends crossed with 6 on board no problem. Longer passages are where you need some payload for provisions, fuel and maybe water, but I'd suggest a decent solar array or generator as well as a watermaker to keep you and your family self sufficient. Why not start your adventure in Europe? The US dollar makes for some good buying there now, either used or new. If buying used perhaps look at some ex charter cats from Croatia, Italy or turkey. Specifically look for cats without VAT paid as they are likely to be less expensive and it's not something you will be needing. Most cats up to 45' are fairly easy to sail solo. Sailing from Europe to the Caribbean is easier than the other way. I believe Yeloya on this forum may have a 44' cat that would suit you in turkey.
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Old 10-02-2016, 18:15   #13
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonbailey View Post
There were a few questions asked and I will try to answer some of them. Why a big boat? Well, we are a family of five and 1 dog. I have 2 boys and a girl. I like the idea that on a little bit larger boat, while we would be in close enough quarters we could still have some privacy. Why lessons? Well, while I may be adventurous, I am not wreckless. I am old enough to understand the value of training and knowledge. Why Itlay? Why not? Not just Italy. South America, Canada, the Caribbean maybe Madagascar. There is a lot in this world to see and I would like to see at least a little of it before I go. I want my children to understand that what they see on TV is not near as interesting as the real world and seeing it in person. And lastly when do I see us getting a boat? Within a year. Give or take. I'm very serious about it. This past Monday I took my wife to just lok at some sailboats. Now I should preface that by saying my wife is very rarely if ever excited about my ideas. But to my surprise, she was actually a little excited about the prospect of owning a boat. I asked her if she thought maybe she would preffer a boat with a motor, maybe a motor yacht, she said she liked the sailboats better, they were prettier. My kids are fairly adventurous so I don't think it will be an issue with them. For future reference where should I post my general questions?
OK. It sounds like your focus of interest is in traveling and taking your family to see the world, primarily. I hesitate to say this at the risk of sounding negative, but perhaps a sailboat for your family is not the way to accomplish this goal. And a year would also be too short a time frame to do it. I think if it were me I'd use the money to fly to places of interest and charter a boat there. It would be easier, faster, maybe cheaper and safer. To get a boat, that is big enough for your plan, yourself and your family (including a dog) up to speed for what you have in mind would take a considerable amount of time for all of you and quite a bit of money... and more than a year, IMHO.
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Old 10-02-2016, 18:38   #14
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Here's wishing you and the fam all the best. It's a wonderful lifestyle and you meet lots of great, eclectic people along the way. I've yet to meet a cruising kid that didn't rock.

Apart from the crossing, there's a lot to go, do and see right in the backyard. You've got the bahamas and the caribe.. even the east coast of the US is a surprisingly diverse and unique experience from the deck of a boat. It's an angle of experience or access to the world that you really can't replicate any other way. High highs and low lows, but always a real, honest to goodness way to go about things.
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Old 10-02-2016, 18:48   #15
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Re: I'm new and I have so many questions...

Welcome Jason!

Not specific to catamarans, but family cruising.... Here are a couple of family blogs that might be of interest to you ... one family (Totem) is working their way back from South Africa to the US East Coast -- not a catamaran, but alot of good information. Sailing Totem

The other family I love to follow with 3 toddlers aboard - 2 baby twins and an "older" sister. Currently in the BVI, supplementing the cruising kitty. Windtraveler

Also, several of these family cruisers just published a great book called Voyaging With Kids -- available on Amazon & elsewhere. Here's the website: Voyaging With Kids – A Guide To Family Life Afloat
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