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Old 05-04-2007, 08:50   #1
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New Member...Pipe Dream?

I'm posting for a couple of reasons...I need to get the website to quit reminding me that I have never posted previously AND I'm curious for some feedback.

I'm a fairly novice sailor with an adventurous wife, a love for history and nautical literature, and an itch to hit the open ocean. We are contemplating a circumnavigation and am conflicted by what I'm reading and hearing. It seems like there are some folks who just buy a boat and shove off into the world with no practical experience at all, while others spend years preparing and mastering every minute detail before such an undertaking.

So here's my question: is it realistic for a novice to sail the seas these days? What's the learning curve when it comes to navigating international waters? We're somewhat competent sailors who have some training (US Sailing) and reasonably good navigation skills. To quote the Clash, 'Should I stay or Should I go?'

Jeff
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:08   #2
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I can not answer your questions, but I will say you are a lucky man
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:27   #3
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Jeff...It is entirely possible to complete a circumnavigation with little experience. The real question is how much do you both want to rely on luck vs. preparedness. Completing any circumnav it seems to me requires a certain amount of luck but each person's comfort level with how much risk there is...is different, so it is largely a personal choice.
I would suggest that there is a lot you can do on your way to a circumnav to be more prepared...like cruising offshore in bad weather...doing island hopping passages before crossing oceans...joining rally's like the ARC or Caribe1500 for the seminars and the boat checks and the extra security. Any of these will reduce the luck you need and increase your skills. On step at a time is a good motto.
Good luck with your plans!
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:29   #4
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Just my thoughts...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkirstein


So here's my question: is it realistic for a novice to sail the seas these days? What's the learning curve when it comes to navigating international waters? We're somewhat competent sailors who have some training (US Sailing) and reasonably good navigation skills. To quote the Clash, 'Should I stay or Should I go?'

Jeff
I think that once you figure out route, it would be easier to decide to level of difficulties if any. For instance, if you are thinking a coastal route, and cutting through the various canals (Panama and Suez), then the trip is not difficult. On the otherhand, if you are planning to sail around the bottom of the Earth (specifically around the Capes), then you are talking about something that is almost epic adventure and the learning curve is pretty severe.

K.
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:32   #5
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Originally Posted by kcallis
I think that once you figure out route, it would be easier to decide to level of difficulties if any. For instance, if you are thinking a coastal route, and cutting through the various canals (Panama and Suez), then the trip is not difficult. On the otherhand, if you are planning to sail around the bottom of the Earth (specifically around the Capes), then you are talking about something that is almost epic adventure and the learning curve is pretty severe.

K.
I have three sets of friends (all couples) who have either completed their circumnav or are currently doing it. One of the couples had little experience and what they have done is before making a crossing they would hang out at known good jumping off spots, meet others that were going to make the crossing and joined the caravan if you will. They said it helped their comfort and safety factor. IMHO, one of the most important things is weather, being able to read it, knowing what the average windows are for an area and planning. Although, I would certainly put experience at THE TOP of list... Others have done it and succeeded. Grab a copy of Tania Aebi's book, Maiden Voyage... Let your wife read it first

Mark
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Old 05-04-2007, 12:16   #6
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Only YOU know the answer to that question. Ever experienced really heavy weather, being totally unsure of where you were, dragging anchor at night onto shore? Sailing the ocean is like flying, hours and hours of sheer bordom interspersed with moments of stark terror. The former is easy to deal with, the latter USUALLY requires some experience. It's not knowing what to do in an emergency that leads to trouble. Me, if I didn't go through the steps to gain experience and knowledge I'd expect to get my ass handed to me. BUT, then there are folks like bumfuzzle. God really does look out for children and fools I suppose.
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Old 05-04-2007, 17:11   #7
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Cash helps...

Reading between the lines it seems that many those who just buy a boat and go do put down a lot of money to buy a good seaworthy boat, or buy a small one that is seaworthy but uncomfortable.

Those of us with much less money have to spend the time preparing.

The other common thread of successful cruisers is that they are careful. ie they don't go out into bad weather, the wrong season, boat in poor condition etc.
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Old 05-04-2007, 18:09   #8
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'Should I stay or Should I go?'


Go!

Recently my wife, Debi and I decided to take off cruising and living aboard with our three kids. I've sold a business and our house and we have a rental property to still unload. We're currently looking for a suitable boat.

We don't know a ton about sailing, but have owned boats in the past; you know the ones without a mast. We're studying with the coast guard aux and a ton of reading. We'll surely hire a teacher/captain to start us on our new boat. Our plan is to start with some day/weekend cruises, and then take off down the coast this fall. We'll probably end up in the Caribbean next winter.

Debi has committed to 1-2 years as long as we don't do any long ocean passages. Shoot, we could spend longer than that just on these two continents. We'd both like to get back to Europe and have been recently talking about heading over to the Med, with some more experience of course (and like Cam said most likely with a rally for the first time).

Everything we do has risks. All we can do is take measures to minimize them to acceptable levels. That level is different for each of us. But if we wanted to live without any risk, we'd be shut-ins our entire lives - but then we risk not living.

The reason I say "Go!"? Since we've made this decision we've told a lot of family and friends. Most of the responses we get: "I wish I could do (or could've done) that!", "That's exciting!", or the one I love "I wish I could talk my wife into that!" My Dad told me he wished he had the testicular fortitude to do something like this when he was younger.

One thing's for sure: when I'm 65 or 70 I'm not going to say "If only I'd..."

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Old 05-04-2007, 19:30   #9
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Have a look at the "Bumfuzzle" website. They started out with ZERO experience, and they have pretty much completed a circumnavigation. I wouldn't recommend doing the same, but it shows it CAN be done.IMHO having more experience than they had would be a better way to start, but don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to be an absolute master seaman before you leave. I think that becomes an excuse for many people never actually setting out.
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Old 06-04-2007, 00:07   #10
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You don't have to be extremely competent nor rely on luck to compensate for ignorance.
Our requirements in NZ are that you show competence normally by doing day skipper, coastal yachtmaster and ocean yacht master. The last 2 require some practical experience namely coastal and a passage of at least 3 days non stop all at leat 50 miles offshore which in practice would be an 8 day 1000 mile trip as crew.
You also need to know celestial navigation even if you have 3 gps's. The general knowledge component of weather, storm handling, etc etc is useful.
Even the boatmaster thing of knowing your lights and buoys is essential - you may not meet a tug and barge at night every day however one boat went down losing the husband because either the wife didn't know the lights or the correct lights were not shown. You presumably have similar courses.
You also require a ssb radio operators licence and marine medic first aid certificate. A diesel course would also be helpful. As well as written exams there is also an oral exam.
To leave the boat must be inspected and have the required equipment incl liferaft and meet safety standards eg cockpit not too big and adequately drained.
At least one crew must be experienced offshore, and have the certificate or otherwise proven ability.
If you have done a number of coastal trips and an offshore passage I suspect that you will know when you are ready. Likely you will have done various courses ( because otherwise it is too easy to dismiss things as of limited use, or you think you know them) have the right boat and plan to start gradually then fine.
You don't in fact have to set off on a circumnavigation a trip that starts with one leg and then continues with some more is fine. Most people either don't start - talk is cheap and the fantasy pleasant, and most who do don't last 6 months.
I think having the discipline to prepare is a component of good seamanship - you can be found out out if you are shonky.
A good if full plan is at S/V Kestrel - The Plan
So in essence you don't have to be perfect but there is a lot to learn. While you will continue to learn as you go it is a bit of a pain to lose your boat in the early phases.
Bumfuzzle crossed the Tasman one of the worst areas in a breeze. That is atypical and not to be relied on. Normally you could expect a bashing at some point like 30-40 knots that you have to be able to handle. When you are four days from the nearest land you can't get off if the going gets tough. Other areas are mostly more benign but not always.
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Old 06-04-2007, 03:37   #11
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I'm with all the others.
For sure - Go - but in gentle first steps as you feel you way.
The old adage that 'Experience only comes from experience' is never more true than when on the water - but make them smaller experiences when you start.
Good luck and enjoy
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Old 16-04-2007, 11:12   #12
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Go!

and take me with you!
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Old 16-04-2007, 12:09   #13
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Thumbs up Not quite, 44cc . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat
Have a look at the "Bumfuzzle" website. They started out with ZERO experience, and they have pretty much completed a circumnavigation. I wouldn't recommend doing the same, but it shows it CAN be done.IMHO having more experience than they had would be a better way to start, but don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to be an absolute master seaman before you leave. I think that becomes an excuse for many people never actually setting out.
. . . as the following makes clear:

"A month later, with summer just starting up, we took Sailing 101 out on Lake Michigan. Four of us students piled into a tiny 24 foot monohull for 8 hours of sailing instruction. The view was great, sailing in the shadows of the Chicago skyline is amazing, but the classes themselves were terrible. I don't know what it is but neither one of us takes instruction very well. We like to do our own thing, make our own mistakes, and figure things out for ourselves. We quit the classes then and decided to worry about the sailing end of things when we got our own boat."

That's from the intro at the beginning of their logs. So while it isn't 100% accurate that they had ZERO experience, I believe they might tell you that after their experience on Lake Michigan, they started out with less than zero experience!

And, if you log on to bumfuzzle.com today, you will see that last night's update has made it official. They have completed their circumnavigation! They arrived back at Las Olas Marina in Ft. Lauderdale on Friday.

Three cheers for the Bums!

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Old 16-04-2007, 13:59   #14
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A few years back two boats arrived here in Hawaii on the same day, both had come from the west coast. One was a guy in his forties with girlfriend on a beautiful 45' ketch. He had done several sailing/cruising classes in the carribbean, outfitted his boat with just about everything, and then told a tale of how, three days out, an impeller went out - the only thing he didn't have a spare for. In the subsequent days of endless hand-steering (autopilots dont work very well without power that needs to be conserved for radios and the like) they lost every sail except one and barely made it here. The other was a young guy in his 20's on a 28' sloop - something like a Catalina that he had just bought. All he had to say about his adventure was "well, I headed down the coast, made a right turn near San Diego, and kept the pointy end towards the west. Not much happened."
Seems that sume people are just born with cat genes, always land on their feet and have lady luck riding on their shoulder, and then there's others that exist simply to keep the balance of nature with the luck ones. You have to decide which one you are. Note - I've run into several of these luck types, and not one has ever questioned whether or not he needed any experience.
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Old 16-04-2007, 16:30   #15
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Sounds like

You and I are very similar.

We are preparing to leave in the next year or two and 'putz' around east coastal US for about a year with our daughter (6 months now). If, after that time, We still like the idea, then we will pursue further goals in the Carib or maybe Europe. If we STILL like the idea and experience then we will probably go around once. If after that we still like the idea or really want to go back somewhere, then maybe we will do it again.

Don't lock yourself into a schedule or destination, its the journey and the lifestyle not the destination you want. The key is to get your spouse to buy into the idea and then get her help to put all the peices in place to be able to go. There are a lot of pieces you ahve to assemble to this giant jigsaw puzzle and you will become frustrated at times, keep pluggin away. You will get there! Don't rush it. set lots of small goals to make it easier to accomplish. Listen to your wifes concerns and help her address them. With her help it will make your planning go faster and be more complete.

Personally I'm really looking forward to raising my daughter with my wife, and spending all day with them both exploring and just plain living....

2divers
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