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Old 28-02-2009, 06:15   #1
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Out of the US Army and into my own navy... eventually

I have been planning this one for YEARS.
I know everyone says "go now, don't wait for things to be 'ready'", so I took it to heart as best I could.
I have been dreaming of sailing around the world, or just cruising in general since I was 18 years old. It became much more of a real life goal about the age of 20. I built a couple of wooden sail boats with my dad (14 foot and 18 foot open boats) who was raised in the LA area and sailed and built boats when he was younger and has spent a lifetime obsessed with them, I graduated college, joined the Army as an Officer, and began the financial journey to sailing. I could never get a financial planner to understand my goals (nor my first wife for that matter) of NOT HAVING a "legacy" as they liked to call it. I tried to make them understand that I do not plan on having children ever, I just want to make enough money to one day be able to buy a boat, move on board, quit my job, and start sailing, even if I went broke trying. Financial planners never understood that. In fact no one did. It wasn't until I came on this forum and began surfing that I finally found a group of people that realize that having just enough to get by is just fine, and in fact: better. And here I was thinking that all the Henry David Thoreau's of the world were gone.
Anyway, I finished my initial term of three years (wife divorced me in the last year of my term: 2006), had all my money saved, planned on at least a year and a half off to sail the Caribbean, and then off to an IT Management job in Manhattan. (I am doing Communications/Network Mangement in the Army)... It didn't work out.
The Army denied my application to exit. See, Army officers don't just get out at the end of their contract anymore, we have to apply to be released after our contract expires. That kind of defeats the purpose for the contract I think, but that is the way it is. They said that they needed more Captains, and since I was a 1st Leuitenant, one month away from making Captain, I had to stay: Bush's back door draft got me.

So I continued to save, ran into my old highschool sweetheart from 8 years earlier while home on leave a couple years ago, fell back in love (we were right for each other from the beginning, I just... lived the college experience, so we split) and we got married.
So now I am remarried to my high school sweetheart who wants more than anything in life to sail around the world (wouldn't remarry if that wasn't the case), aproaching 30 (28 right now), and just chomping at the bit to complete this dream/goal I have had for the last decade.
and the excitement grips me everyday...

except that I am in Iraq right now and still in the Army until April 2011.

Luckily I pulled all my money out of stocks and funds about a year before the big crash, so I didn't experience too much loss, but still, only a few years of working afer college doesn't amount to much start up capital. However, my wife is used to the ultra-simple lifestyle and doesn't even care if we have hot showers or refrigeration as long as she gets to sail around the world. She is hard as nails. 5'2 and 98 pounds, but in college she had an abcessed tooth and didn't have health insurance (she never has) so she paid someone 30 bucks to yank it out with some pliers and took ibuprofen. Gotta love a woman like that. She always made ends meet and put herself through college while making less than 6000 a year as a waitress. I had a similar college life (I made it on about 10,000 a year with a wife), and being that we aren't too far removed from college, and still not too soft and used to the officer life, I think we can easily pare back down to that sort of life. Especially since we look back at that sort of poverty/simplicity rather fondly. We really dislike having money, it just adds up to more bills and more problems... anyway.
My dad had me read all the older stories of great sailors from Slocum's "Spray" all the way up through "Apogee's" circumnavigation, and he taught me the basics of celestial and chart navigation, so I have never really expected that I would ever have pressurized water or hot water or refrigeration or much other than a hand held GPS and a VHF radio, or even a windlass, much less an ELECTRIC windlass! So I figure if we can make it on 10,000 a year or less, especially seeing the quality of life of others living onboard in the Caribbean making it happen for about that much.
The one thing that gets me: I can't imagine having much less than a 32 foot boat, and preferably closer to 36. I know there are lots of 27 foot sailors out there, but I just can't imagine the way those cabins are arranged that my wife and I could really make it comfortablly onboard. I know that the cost of living aboard goes up exponentially with the length of boat, but I hope if I can keep it really simple: no refrigeration, no pressurized water, no hot water, minimal electronics, etc. and be able to keep cost way down.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell my story to give a bit of an introduction.

Oh, and I want to learn to sail (with my wife) and get a bareboat license so I can charter later on in life if I need/want to, but since I am 100% certain that I am going to sail, I want to buy a boat, and I can only expect that it would be cheaper to find someone who can instruct and certify us on our own boat, but I can not find anyone who seems to offer this service. I guess it is rare that someone would want to learn how to sail yet already has thier own boat... But the apparent minimum of $4000 for two people to go through school cuts deeply into a cruising budget when we plan on making it for just under 10,000 a year, and for someone who is fully committed, I know there must be a cheaper option.

I already know the basics of sailing, having sailed a dinghy on the lake back home, but I know that there is a large difference between a lake and the open ocean and maneuvering a 600 pound 18 footer to a dock versus a 35 foot 5 ton sail boat with 5 feet of draft, so I want to start from the beginning.

So any instructors out there want to teach my wife and I how to sail a larger boat (she has done no sailing) and certify us for bareboat over the course of a week or so? She lives in Germany right now, and I will redeploy from Iraq to join her this November, but I have even been thinking about buying a boat soon (here in Europe) so that when we get back I can drive down to Croatia and sail around the coast of Italy and Croatia on my four day weekends and weeks off for practice (and pleasure of course).
The other option is the northern coast of Germany/Holland/Denmark area.
So if any of you cruisers out there happen to be cruising in the general Europe area any time in 2010 and want to have an easy going couple pay a thousand dollars or so to hop aboard and learn to sail on your boat for a week or more, we would love to learn.
Or hey, here's an idea if we end up buying one here: In 2010 WE pay YOU about $1000 to "charter" our boat in the Mediterranian/Agean while you teach us how to sail for one week. Maybe offset the cost of something you might have done anyway. (charter a boat in Croatia). Just an idea to toss out there.

Any ideas/recommendations/comments?
Thanks for reading if you made it this far,
Captain (well, in the Army) Andrew Lea
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Old 28-02-2009, 06:39   #2
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Here is a left field suggestion,

The British Army has a sailing school at Kiel, why not see if you can get access to it through the mil.
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Old 28-02-2009, 07:00   #3
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Triffic post aj. Can't help at the moment, but... maybe in touch if you're not sorted by the time my baby hits the water. I wish you all the best. Have a look at crewfinders (it's advertised on here somewhere) and sites like that.
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Old 28-02-2009, 07:32   #4
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Welcome aboard !!

I wrote a nice long post in response (well, not as long as yours) but lost my connection and therefore my post. I will keep this one short.

I vote you go for the 36 footer. Don't beat yourself up over that. Being a minimalist is... not attractive to me.

I didn't plan and prepare as you have. I had the dream and shelved it. It came back to me when life hit a "mud puddle".

I really kile to see young people out cruising. I worry about their furtures because I have been taken down to my own financial "ground zero" and I live in fear of outliving my money. But your approach seems to be healthy.

Your struggle with the -big boat/little boat- is a good sign to me. There's a real balancing act in the needs vs wants department. And those that go minimalist are the subject of whole other threads.

A good friend one met a famous cruising couple while he was on the hook. I will not name them here in order to protect the innocent (me). But his lasting impression was, "they ate my food and drank my booze". They did not endear themselves to him.

Good luck and fair winds.
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Old 28-02-2009, 07:40   #5
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stupid typo.
I really LIKE to see young people out cruising. (that's a very "old person" thing to say)

My wife is 22 younger than me. Does that make me old?
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Old 28-02-2009, 08:10   #6
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Nope. It makes you lucky.
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Old 28-02-2009, 08:17   #7
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Nope. It makes you smart.
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Old 28-02-2009, 08:27   #8
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Thanks for the words of advice. If I give myself any amenities it will be the additional space below, even if that additional space holds no amenities, ... I guess it can hold more tools and parts to allow me to be more self sufficient and spend less money in the long run.

22 years younger, that does make you quite lucky! For me that would make her 6,... an age where I would be consider adopting rather than marrying!

A big plus with being so young is when I sail around the world for say three years or so, if I go broke, I'll only be 33, which is not a "scary" age to be broke really, especialy since I've got 6 years of IT and radio communications management experience. No worries about finding a job.
VHF, HF, SSB, Satellite,... all radios that I have worked on and used from many different manufacturers.
Oh, and my other MOS (Military Occupational specialty) when I was enlisted, before I cam in as an officer, was a diesel generator mechanic.
I've worked on all sorts of diesel generators from one cylinder Yanmars to huge turbo charged 6 foot tall diesels.
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Old 28-02-2009, 11:45   #9
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aj, your story sounds a bit like mine but it took me longer. I spent almost fifteen years in the Army then had to go to work to finance the dream. I finally made it, albeit with a lot of distractions along the way.

Sounds like you have the right partner. That is a big plus.

Stay focused on the goal and find your inspiration where ever you can.

Aloha e' komo mai
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Old 28-02-2009, 12:29   #10
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myself and my lady (mid 20's) are taking my buddies 37' to bahamas and virgins in dec. i have done some gulf crossings and keel boat offshore racing. we have found that our biggest obsticle is not preparing the boat or getting things ready, or even saving money for that matter. the biggest obsticle is our non sailing friends and family, everybody thinks we are crazy, they are all squares and thought we were crazy for spending a month or two at a time in central america during college summers so to them this one takes tha cake.
everyone around you (but you) will just expect that you will buy a house and a big car and start saving to buy your next bigger house and fancier car (we already have a benz but only because its actually a practical car that will get 200k miles and used there only about 15k for a good one, comfy too)

i just wanted to vent my 2cents. ive worked on boats and sailed them offshore since i got a job scrubbing them when i was 14.

ill get to the point:

my advise for cheaply learning to sail is live in a town with a decent keel boat (30+ ft not dinghy) racing community.

i thought i was a darn good sailor until i started racing. it makes you an amazing sailor. they beat hard to weather set a spinniker douse beat again etc etc. and if the weather is 20 kts they usually still race. do the "around the buoys" races and get on as many offshore races as you can. hang around the marinas and stay on this forum to keep focused. buy books about cruising and start planning routes etc just to keep you focused. there are alot of other fun and expensive hobbys you will want to take up but keep focused. if you do take up another hobby try and make it one that relates to cruising like rope work or something. i took up spearfishing which is an amazing hobby that i can use during our trip as well. im scuba diver too and i got my lady certified so we can enjoy together. for her get a book changing courses it will help with the transition. i speak as if weve gone cruising already, this is just what ive been doing for the last year, getting things ready. but were well on our way. i have found it to be multi year preperation. i am a licensed captain (50 ton) but just learning the routes and getting charts and learning more about weather patterns has been taking up my time for the last 6 months.

you dont have to pay anyone money to learn to sail well. there are lots of people out there looking for sailing buddies and crew for races. find a boat that is willing to take along a newbie and be social at the afterparties. once i got into the racing scene, payed my dues and become decent at all positions on the boat, i would get multiple emails for every race from different boats.

just get into the scene and next thing you know youll have more oportunitys to sail than you have time for.

fair seas,

later
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Old 28-02-2009, 12:47   #11
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Aloha AJ,
Thanks for serving Captain. Welcome aboard! Many of us have had military service and although I am retired Navy I've had the pleasure of having been stationed in a few joint commands with Army, Air Force and Marines and appreciate their missions as well. And, of course, the Coast Guard too. Good to have you here and posting.
My continual advice since joining this forum has been 32-36 LOD, fiberglass, cutter rigged and diesel auxiliary powered with an aft cockpit. There are lots of bargains out there (US) because of the economy. They can be found in pretty good shape for about $15K.
Good luck in fulfilling your dream.
Yes, by all means take a sailing course. I think they are worth the extra effort and money. MWR in Germany used to offer sailing classes at Chiemsee but that was 100 years ago so I don't know what they have now. I was stationed at Panzer Kaserne near Stuttgart back in the 70s. Maybe your wife can check out MWR sailing classes since she is in Germany and no doubt near a base.
Kind regards,
JohnL
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Old 28-02-2009, 13:15   #12
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I was concerned that we were the only 20 somethings that wanted to abandon "normal" life of bigger car, bigger mortgage! I was also concerned that during our cruising we would only meet older retired people. Not that there is anything wrong with the older crowd, but it is nice to have at least a few friends who are like-minded AND in the same age range.
And you are right, the pressure from average people to live an average life is immense. I would love to live somewhere that I could sail, but that is the problem with the Army, they put you where they need you, and for now it is Iraq, and I will go back to the most inland portion of Germany after this. I will have the cruising kitty "finished" when I get out in 2011, and I plan on buying and hopping aboard within months or less of getting out: no apartment hunting, just boat hunting and living with friends or in a car.

Oh, and I've got to make a point of contention with you Gtown: 15k isn't all that cheap for a car when you've got cruising on the mind. I owned a series of cars in that price range. I'm a car nut and I've averaged one car for every year I have been able to drive: 12 total now, and I've always had at least one sports car. My most recent collection was a Mazda RX-8, my little original 1972 Mini Cooper, and my Honda Civic autocross/race car.
I thought I could continue to save for the trip and still feed the car addiction, but I realized that I needed to make some (more) drastic budget cuts to make it happen. I sold everything, all my cars (god I loved them sooo much) and started riding my bike and bought a 1997 diesel Smart as soon as I got to Germany. I get between ... ready for this? 85-100 miles to the gallon. And it still does 95 MPH on the intersate (autobahn).
I have to admit it is a bit embarassing to make 100k a year and drive a little beater or ride my bike and have an apartment that is virtually bare, but everytime I feel the wind on my face I close my eyes and dream that I have my hand on the tiller or wheel and I am glancing up to check the sail trim or taking readings and going below to plot my position and course.

I can't wait! It is worth whatever I can give, and to be honest, I felt guilty everytime I sat on the leather seats in my RX-8 and burned up 20 MPG.
I knew that every cent that car was costing me was money that I was taking away from a REAL dream, and taking away from allowing my wife to have that dream with me.
Same thing with my cell phone, my electric bill, my water bill, etc.

Everytime I turn up the heat or take a long hot shower I think, "that is money that I could spend on sailing the world." or "That could get me another few days in the south pacific"
If the problem is finding the money, then it is time to question how badly you want to get on the water, and if it is bad enough, then you will cut the budget to the bone. I currently am putting over 60% of my paycheck into savings for the cruising kitty. (with the permission of my wife of course) and living like college kids again, and everything we have bought over the last year gets the "Can I use this on the boat?" eye, and if the answer is no, then it doesn't get purchased. The only exception was a couch, because we were tired of sitting in folding chairs or on the tile floor.
I know huge budget cuts always have to be run by the wife, but I already had my mind made up when I met my current wife, so when I described what I planned on doing with my life (sailing and generally just bumming around the world's oceans), she was all on board, so to the alter we went!
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Old 28-02-2009, 13:25   #13
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"Or hey, here's an idea if we end up buying one here: In 2010 WE pay YOU about $1000 to "charter" our boat in the Mediterranian/Agean while you teach us how to sail for one week."

I hope you meant for that week to be an intro to sailing, not the whole course! Your idea has merit, but I wouldn't completely throw out the idea of sailing school either. I thought I knew a lot about sailing, having lived aboard for a couple of years as a teenager. I took the sailing classes with my wife because I wanted her to take them. (and because I was scared @#$%less about docking the thing) I thought I had the sailing part down, but I learned a LOT in the three full weeks of sailing classes, in addition to a little practice in between. My wife not only learned a lot, but she had a lot of fears relieved too. I've also crewed on other peoples boats, and that was a great learning experience too, but not the same as a sailing school. BTW I'm playing in the sandbox right now too, and when I get home, I'm going to sell everything and sail off.
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Old 28-02-2009, 13:29   #14
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Aloha AJ,
Thanks for serving Captain. Welcome aboard! Many of us have had military service and although I am retired Navy I've had the pleasure of having been stationed in a few joint commands with Army, Air Force and Marines and appreciate their missions as well. And, of course, the Coast Guard too. Good to have you here and posting.
My continual advice since joining this forum has been 32-36 LOD, fiberglass, cutter rigged and diesel auxiliary powered with an aft cockpit. There are lots of bargains out there (US) because of the economy. They can be found in pretty good shape for about $15K.
Good luck in fulfilling your dream.
Yes, by all means take a sailing course. I think they are worth the extra effort and money. MWR in Germany used to offer sailing classes at Chiemsee but that was 100 years ago so I don't know what they have now. I was stationed at Panzer Kaserne near Stuttgart back in the 70s. Maybe your wife can check out MWR sailing classes since she is in Germany and no doubt near a base.
Kind regards,
JohnL
Thanks for the advice. I'll look for classes! We are a couple hours drive from Stuttgart (waiting for the new Porsche Museum to open!), in Schweinfurt.
I've been looking at yachtworld for a few years, and I've always been concerned with the 15k dollar boats in that range. I am mostly concerned that they are going to need more work than they are worth. I know from owning and restoring a series of British roadsters and general oil-leaking vintage cars that the more you pay up front the more you save in the long run, even if you are willing to spend countless hours of your own hard (and free) labor on it. That was mainly due to rust and panel replacement though.
Is this not true for fiberglass boats? I was always concerned that a 15k boat probably needed full rigging replaced, needed a haulout and deck replaced, sails probably worn to the point of needing new ones, diesel on its last legs, etc, and that for 25k one can be had that is almost ready to sail...
But please, if this is not the case, I want to know! that is 10k more in the kitty, which leads to at least another year afloat!
And can you toss out a couple specific models/brands to look for in the 15k 32-36 foot range that I would want to look at?
BTW, Is the 33 foot Morgan Out Island a seaworthy (oceancrossing) craft?
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Old 28-02-2009, 13:36   #15
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"Or hey, here's an idea if we end up buying one here: In 2010 WE pay YOU about $1000 to "charter" our boat in the Mediterranian/Agean while you teach us how to sail for one week."

I hope you meant for that week to be an intro to sailing, not the whole course! Your idea has merit, but I wouldn't completely throw out the idea of sailing school either. I thought I knew a lot about sailing, having lived aboard for a couple of years as a teenager. I took the sailing classes with my wife because I wanted her to take them. (and because I was scared @#$%less about docking the thing) I thought I had the sailing part down, but I learned a LOT in the three full weeks of sailing classes, in addition to a little practice in between. My wife not only learned a lot, but she had a lot of fears relieved too. I've also crewed on other peoples boats, and that was a great learning experience too, but not the same as a sailing school. BTW I'm playing in the sandbox right now too, and when I get home, I'm going to sell everything and sail off.

You hit the nail on the head: I am scared #!$%less about docking.
I really don't think I'll have a problem with sailing, and I think I would feel moderately confident making maneuvers in a 36 foot sailboat with another crew member, but then an aircraft pilot could turn over the stick to just about anyone in flight and they could turn and climb and descend... bet they couldn't land though. ;-)

I wasn't thinking I could get certified in a week, but most bareboat charter classes I have seen are 3-5 days and intros are 3 days, plus many have one week "beginner to bareboat license in one week" courses, so I thought that was the norm. Of course my offshore experience would be noticablly lacking...
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