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Old 10-11-2010, 17:36   #1
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Any Pointers for Someone Who Wants to Someday Do Some Bluewater Sailing ?

Hey all-

I am not new to sailing, but I picked it back up after a +10 year hiatus, and even back then I didn't sail very often. To get back into it, I bought a Com-Pac 16 last winter based on several strong recommendations. I made up time quickly - my fiancee and I sailed it in Destin, FL; Bay St. Louis, Mississippi; Pensacola, FL; and we even drove the boat from New Orleans to Key West (1k miles!) as an end-of-summer trip, and actually lived aboard the thing off of Wisteria Island for nearly a week. We have become more comfortable sailing, but have never traveled more than a mile from shore.

Eventually, we want to become proficient and confident enough to sail out of eyeshot of the land, and then move up to destination sailing. How do we do this? Of course, I understand that this will require an upgrade to a larger boat, but how do we progress in terms of both skill and in terms of how much boat we need for each stage? I realize this is a very broad question, so I appreciate the time and thought it will take for your answer. I can tailor my question if need be. Thanks again in advance.
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Old 10-11-2010, 17:49   #2
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The Com-Pacs are pretty seaworthy boats...there is nothing stopping you from getting out a little farther from the hard stuff...assuming you have some nav gear..I wouldn't go too far though..out far enough to be out of sight of land..you get the feel for it anyway..

Keep reading here, and there are a bunch of good books..Larry and Lin Pardey spring to mind..I would recommend taking advice more from folks who have been there and got the T-shirt, than a bunch of keyboard commandoes.. (which means you don't have to listen to me...)

The wife and I are in the starter boat stage as well..but we are laying plans now to be moving aboard in 5-7 years and dropping the lines not too far after that..

There are a bunch of cruising seminars and Sailing schools that can help..

And check out this guys site...alot of wisdom here.. Sailing and living a-board in Paradise on a frugal budget.

But most of all...don't just dream..do it! Make some sort of progress towards dropping the lines every day..no matter how much or how little..get closer to making it a reality every day.
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Old 10-11-2010, 17:56   #3
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Probably the best thing you can do is volunteer your services for near coastal crew on this websiste. You will probably have to pay your own transportation, but the owner should cover all of your onboard costs.

Other than that progress to owning larger, more capable boats as finances allow. You seem to love sailing which is the primary requirement to become a real cruiser.

One week living aboard a Compac 16 off of Wisteria Island. Wow, I am impressed.

David
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Old 10-11-2010, 18:09   #4
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Eventually, we want to become proficient and confident enough to sail out of eyeshot of the land, and then move up to destination sailing. How do we do this?
There is the smart and sensible answer (crew on other people's boats and take various courses and read various books) or there is what we did - essentially just buy a boat we loved, put some food on boat and headed off round the world and learned as we went. The latter path has its pitfalls and you need to be a quick learner and not a quitter, but it sure does get you out there.

The first path is the 'generally recommended approach'. John Neil's offshore sail training is pretty good and a good way to gain experience quickly Mahina Expeditions conducts sailing and navigation training and expeditions in the South Pacific and offers offshore sailing seminars . Taking some hands-on seminars to learn about weather and diesel engine repair and medical skills is useful - may people find those hard to learn from books.

Its really important to understand that sailing/cruising is not rocket science (anyone who can read a manual can do it), but it does require a certain state of mind and attitude (respect for the sea, tenacity thru the bad times, the ability to learn from mistakes)
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Old 10-11-2010, 18:18   #5
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I'm blown away by the informative responses - thanks, guys.

I obviously have a lot to learn, and I'll have to give all of your recommendations a shot.

Keep the advice coming, though - I am thrilled. Thanks for the warm welcome!
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Old 10-11-2010, 21:21   #6
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..... or there is what we did - essentially just buy a boat we loved, put some food on boat and headed off round the world and learned as we went. The latter path has its pitfalls and you need to be a quick learner and not a quitter, but it sure does get you out there.
......
Always like to read things like that.. I think that's exactly what we're going to do.
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Old 10-11-2010, 22:07   #7
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LOL! Couldn't remember the name...and just read her interview on the 30 cruisers project...DUHHH!

Oldtimers disease...

Voyager
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Old 10-11-2010, 23:02   #8
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Eventually, we want to become proficient and confident enough to sail out of eyeshot of the land, and then move up to destination sailing.
The point where you con no longer see land? That is a destination.

And it's one of my favorite destinations.
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Old 10-11-2010, 23:44   #9
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I'm one of the 'jump in with both feet' crowd, but I understand that approach isn't for everyone. Like others have suggested, get some experience on coastal cruisers, and this site's listings are as good as any others I've seen.

And Bash is right. Being 'out there' is a destination unto itself. It's my favorite so far, and there's no comparison.
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Old 12-11-2010, 13:59   #10
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Go down to the local yacht clubs and find out when they have beer can or round the buoy races - owners usually need crew and you don't need to be a member of the club. That will expose you to a lot of different (albeit mostly racing) boats, get you some experience on larger boats and start your process of thinking about what you want in a boat.
They may also introduce you to others who need crew for a particular voyage.

Michael
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Old 12-11-2010, 14:22   #11
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If you've mastered the Com Pac you've mastered sailing more or less... go out and get a boat your both happy to live on for weekends... weeks... then its all down to you...
No one on here can give you the confidence levels that you both can get by going out there and 'doing it'....
Start gently... to far to fast can sometimes destroy the dream, especially for the better half... build up slowly, do not go out with forecasts of F6 - F8 like some headcases... thats for folks who are not quite right in the head... your a cruiser not a masochist.. getting caught while your out there... it happens but to volunteer... DUH....
Have fun.. thats what its supposed to be all about
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Old 12-11-2010, 14:32   #12
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Just time on the water especially in different conditions. The more variety of conditions, locations, and vessels the better. From a pure "sailing" prospective being closer to land is more difficult in regards to sea room, traffic, navigational hazards, depths, and even localized weather conditions.

The further you go the more variety you'll encounter, but the challenges are different. Ground tackle, self sufficiency, power/water/fuel management, etc.

Good on you though for getting a lot of sailing under your belt on a smaller boat. You learn great habits that way.
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Old 12-11-2010, 16:18   #13
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Your Com-Pac is a remarkably sea worthy boat. I wouldn't take it across oceans but in any reasonable weather it can take you just about anywhere coastal. I know an old lady that "inherited" a 22 ft boat in her 70's. She took it down the east coast from N. Carolina to Tarpon Springs on the west coast of FL. Problems? You bet but it hasn't stopped her. Become confident that you can handle your boat, know how to reef or heave to and then take baby steps. Your first overnighter will probably be both frightening and exciting. Just remember that what frightens you today, once you've experienced it, will not frighten you tomorrow. I remember when 20 kt was scary, then it took 30 kt, I'm still not real happy with 40 kt or above but who knows maybe later.
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Old 12-11-2010, 17:32   #14
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I would not support the "jump in and go" mentality, its irresponsible and for every one person it works for there dozens where such actions have resulted in the cruise being terminated.

Neither would I reccomend years of training either.

The best is do some formal training, then crew, build some miles, then start on your own boat amd take it easy.

By all means crew on the odd race, but in my experience you learn very little on a race boat, and even less that transfers well to a short handed cruising boat.

Dave
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Old 12-11-2010, 22:33   #15
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I would not support the "jump in and go" mentality, its irresponsible and for every one person it works for there dozens where such actions have resulted in the cruise being terminated.
Dave
I'll argue the opposite, but for a different reason than you might think.

I think the 'jump in and go' mentality is not one borne of ignorance or a reincarnation of Geronimo. I think people who suggest you 'jump in and go' are suggesting that you try to enjoy the process of medium/long distance cruising. There will be things that break, there will be events which are unpleasant and unforeseen and none of that should stop you from embracing and even enjoying the experience as a whole.

For many, a sailboat is merely a means to an end. For those people, whose primary/sole motivation for sailing is to be somewhere else in a portable house/condo, I would say the cautious/longer spent approach is correct.

For those of us who well and truly enjoy the trip at least as much as the destination, there is nothing wrong with jumping in with both feet. Obviously you don't want to set off on a trans-oceanic voyage in your first few months, but there's nothing wrong with 'pushing' things a bit, as long as you're properly prepared mentally and carrying the necessary supplies for at-sea repairs.

I learned more about sailing in my first four days in a typhoon than I did in the four months we spent up and down the Baja peninsula. I wouldn't recommend the experience to a single-handing novice, but I would absolutely encourage everyone to experience those conditions in a seaworthy boat after they've got their feet under them. The confidence gained (in yourself, your boat and your knowledge) in such experiences is literally invaluable.

Preparation is the most important part of any cruise.
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