Dear Salty Fox
I want to be of assistance to you. I really do. But I'm a professional and I help people in positions similar to yours all the time but they understand the need for solid, professional advice and are willing to pay for it for the simple reason that I've learned a lot in over 40 years of sailing and crusiing and that is valuable.
While I admire boldness and the willingness to be adventurous, I can tell you stories of people who have ended up in awful situations at sea--or in coastal or inland waters because they were foolish and inexperienced. You can learn from your own experience or that of others. It is your choice. However, you just wrote the following:
"Why can't I just stick to shore while I sail? Why can't I stay less than 5 miles from the shoreline?"
Well, the answer is you can, but it would be terribly foolish and dangerous and you cannot always choose to stay close to shore but here is the real reason---BECAUSE....closer to shore is almost always much more dangerous than offshore. The fact that you do not know this and posed this well meaning [insert other adjective here] question on this forum should give other, more experienced cruisers pause to catch their breath. Why would you ever think that somehow staying close to shore is safer than being in bluewater? And as for the West Coast
, most of that shoreline is pretty darn challenging and there are relatively few safe havens or inlets when compared to many other coastlines. Apparently you must have been thinking that if the weather
gets really bad, you'd be able to just turn toward shore and poke into a river? Well, maybe, but what if there were no river for 100 miles or more? And it's not always easy or advisable to enter a river or inlet in bad weather. And as one person mentioned--what if it were a lee shore? Surely you know what that means-yes? Why do you think the US Navy
leaves port and heads to sea when hurricanes are forecasted?
Think of an airplane and airplane safety
. Where do most problems occur? Near land of course--there just is not much to hit in the air but they spend almost all of their time way up high and only a tiny portion landing or taking off near airports and other low flying planes. See the analogue?
So you want friendly advice? Well, it's too late for the first piece of advice which would have been GET MORE EXPERIENCE so I'll try to be helpful. Hire a professional sailor to work with you and develop your skills and do part or all of the trip with you. Make sure you have excellent carpentry and mechanical skills....oh and a lot of cash to spare would be helpful too.
Beyond that, if you are still in Washington
, DC, please consider visiting me about a 45 minute's drive from downtown and buy me a nice dinner--a really nice dinner and drinks--preferably really nice vintage red wines and I won't charge you my normal consulting feel or any fee for that matter to "pick my brains" for a few hours. I'm willing to do that because I really want to know your story and how you are able to do what you are doing--and it might be fun and entertaining. At middle age and with over 40 years solid sailing experience, even looking at buying
a later-model glass sailboat can sometimes tax my knowledge and skills. So I want to meet you and understand how a PhD got into this thing. I wish you well and please, feel free to send a personal message if you'd like to take me up on my offer. It might make an interesting article for me to write about in Wooden Boat or perhaps Sail...