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Old 21-07-2011, 17:48   #1
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Racer Who Longs to Be a Cruiser

Greetings all! I just recently found this forum when I Googled a question about cruising. I'll get to that in a minute. I have been racing the Cadillac of dinghy's (Lightning's) for the past 10 years in the St. Louis area. I know most of you who know where St Louis is will say . .what do people in the midwest know about sailing. But you might be surprised to know that the fleet of Lightnings I sail with include former National, World and Junior National Champions! These are an incredibly talented group of sailors as far as racing goes. In landlocked mid-America !!!

Before I started racing My wife and I took the Colgate Learn to Sail course in Captiva, and then Basic Keelboat and Live Aboard courses in the BVI. We have been bareboating for 10 years now and are in our early 50's. I have a dream to do a circumnavigation before I am 60, but that is another story. (The wife will probably do cameo appearances).

I know this is the M&G forum, and I had a hell of a time just figuring out how to post something here. But thanks to CapnGeo I have figured this much out.

Let me apologize in advance if the remainder of my post is inappropriate for posting here on the M&G forum. I am open to any advice in that regard.

Here is what I'd like some advice on, with a little background info:

I am new to this forum, but found it by googleing a cruiser question about a sailing sabbatical. Its kind of funny as to what I found out about what a sabbatical even was. Even though a sabbatical might imply a years paid absence, Im thinking of it a little differently. My wife and I have contemplated a bareboat cruise in the Caribbean for a month (maybe more) this coming winter. I checked out doing this last winter over the holidays (for a month), but found that the charter companies love to gouge (at least IMHO) patrons during this time frame. I found their prices ridiculous for monohulls and cats.

Now Ive found this forum and would love to hear some opinions as to how to handle this situation again, but this time not over the holidays. Perhaps Jan, feb.,mar, apr. for a month perhaps longer. We may end up doing it forever

Were early 50s and very healthy, safety oriented, but green at cruising. I would like to sail a cat, for the comfort, and start at one end of the Caribbean chain (doesnt matter). Although we do have a place in the St. Petersburg, FLA area and would be willing to start and/or end there also.

Weve considered the possibility of buying, then selling. Chartering. Or trying to find an owner that would be willing to rent their boat for this relatively short time.

The buying/selling option seems risky, time consuming, and potentially a financial fiasco. Especially for the time frame and economy were looking at. Yeah, we could probably afford it, but not sure that really makes sense.

Chartering. If we use the Moorings, we can start at one end of the chain and then drop off (for a fee, of course) at some other location. Not sure of another charterer Id trust, but am interested in anything the forum could add here. Upside is shorter downtimes if breakdown, insured, and customer service. Downside . . pretty expensive, but less so than buying.

Finding someone that is willing to rent their boat. This would certainly be ideal, as I know there are lots of boats that will be sitting at a dock for this long in this time frame. But in other ways not so ideal. Breakdowns, service, insurance, etc.

Are there other alternatives here the forum might suggest? After writing this, I come to the conclusion that a charter is probably the best way to do this (as expensive as it might be). What if I said 6 month sabbatical . . . would that make a difference as to how you might answer these questions?

Thanks in advance for any input anyone might have here. Capt. Vid

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Old 21-07-2011, 18:08   #2
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Re: Racer that longs to be a cruiser

I think trying the charter for a month will give you a much better idea of what you're getting into and what your real wants and needs are. You might want to share the costs with another couple or two, and there would be plenty of room on a cat for that.

The cheapest way to go right now is to buy a older monohull boat in someplace like Florida, where there are lots of boats for sale that are cruise ready, for a small fraction of what a newish cat would cost. If you held onto the boat for a year or two you could probably sell it for a minimum of what you paid for it, and maybe more if the market bounces back. Right now it is a buyers' market.

Plus, I think it is ideal to get the boat ready in Florida, where prices are low and everything is readily accessible, then learn the ropes by heading over to the Bahamas and playing around over there for the winter.

A lot of people are a bit surprised by how hard it blows in the Caribbean in the winter and how you are basically ocean sailing when you are passing between islands. When we were there we didn't shake the second reef out of our mainsail for two months. It was a particularly bad year for what they call Christmas winds, but we eventually got used to heading out into 8-foot seas and 25-30 knots, but it could be a bit daunting for someone unfamiliar with the boat and/or cruising.

The Bahamas are a bit tricky in terms of navigation due to the shallow waters, but today there are very good charts and guides and GPS. The weather tends to be gentler too.

Kettlewell Cruising
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Old 21-07-2011, 18:26   #3
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Re: Racer that longs to be a cruiser

Welcome to the forum.

It sounds like you want to go too far too fast. Apologies if I'm misinterpreting your objective, but when I read between the lines of your post, it seems that you want to start at one end of the Caribbean and see how much of the chain you can cover in a month, dropping off your charter at the end.

That's not cruising--it's still racing.

Cruising is where you pick a place, like maybe the Bahamas, and try to figure out how well you can get to know it in a month.
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 21-07-2011, 22:17   #4
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Re: Racer that longs to be a cruiser

Originally Posted by Bash View Post

Cruising is where you pick a place, like maybe the Bahamas, and try to figure out how well you can get to know it in a month.
Bash - Great definition.
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Old 24-07-2011, 19:41   #5
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Re: Racer Who Longs to Be a Cruiser

Aloha and welcome aboard!
Good to have you here on the forum.
kind regards,
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Old 26-07-2011, 18:40   #6
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Re: Racer Who Longs to Be a Cruiser

I like the way Bash put it!

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