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Old 17-07-2016, 09:46   #16
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Re: First blue water sail?

Our first trip offshore with overnight sailing was on our Privilege 39 catamaran. That sail took us nonstop from Fort Lauderdale to Jamaica through the Bahamas and south between Haiti and Cuba to arrive in Jamaica. I can't believe we did not stop in the Bahamas, but we were late in the season, and we needed to get to the Panama Canal and on our way across the Pacific.

I had lots of day sailing experience in Puerto Rico on our Pearson 27 Renegade and Westsail 32 when I was in the Navy. No overnight sails. I hated sailing at night when I lived in Puerto Rico, and when the sun went down, I had my anchor down.

Once I started cruising offshore, I found night sailing to be pleasant. It was easier to see ships at night offshore because of their navigation light being so visible. We always reduced sail at night, and so night sailing was more relaxing.

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Old 17-07-2016, 10:35   #17
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Re: First blue water sail?

On my IP38 from Oriental, NC to Stuart, FL. My buddy and a hired skipper; got caught in Tropical Storm Shawn in 2011; got the stuffing kicked out of us all night waiting for dawn to go into Savannah River for refuge; grabbed a slip at Isle of Hope Marina exhausted.

Although a frightening experience, it prepared me well for future adventures and I learned much including what my boat was capable of.


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Old 17-07-2016, 10:48   #18
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Re: First blue water sail?

Galveston, TX to Tampa non-stop straight across, Tampa to Key West, Key West to Turks, Turks to St Thomas, USVI, around the Caribbean islands for two years. Then St. Thomas to Norfolk non-stop and on up to Annapolis/ St Michaels where we still are/ sailing the Bay. Cal 46 ketch. Several prior Chesapeake to Caribbean non-stops on older brother's 53' Gulfstar ketch. But been around sailboats, grew up in sailing household with dad's beautiful 37' 1937 antique/ wooden sloop on the Chesapeake (that's where my brother & I learned bright work!... and general weekend sailing, navigation, making on water repairs.

I'm an engineer and my advice is: focus on safety items first... sturdy boat/ rudder, rigging, sails & and yes reliable (diesel) engine, water & fuel tanks and a reasonable amount of electronics (along w/ paper charts). I consider radar, depth, chart plotter as 'required' for me and my family, but certainly others have cruised successfully w/o radar or chart plotter, but it sure makes navigation easier & safer in my opinion for all aboard... especially at night.

EVERYTHING else is window dressing and too often used as excuses for not going. Don't get me wrong, we like our comforts too (AC, hot water, solar, frig/ freezer), but you can go, get your feet wet so to speak and decided what comforts you really want to add.

But back to your original question about experience... while many dream of selling everything, buying a 'ready to go' sailboat and sailing off to the wild blue yonder the next day... I'm not sure that's a good idea for too many reasons to list here. Cruising is an acquired lifestyle/ and skill in my opinion, especially when considering safety of family. Cruising just isn't all sunshine, sandy beaches, and cocktails. We worked harder almost EVERYDAY on the boat than our prior typical daily home/ work existence doing things the dreamers just don't realize has to be done. Maybe like you, it starts with simple day sails, then over-nighters, then weekends... then for their entire two weeks vacation. And not just wx perfect weekends. Folks have to experience leaving their comfy house and heading out in less than idea conditions (wet, cold, more wind than you'd prefer) because that's how real cruising is. I know I sound like a drill Sargent but the time to find out if you really like full time cruising/ 'have what it takes' is before making a very costly 'sell everything buy a boat' moment. During the hurricane season and the predictions started coming... we averaged about 3-5 EVERY season in Caribbean... the boat had to be completely stripped, tied-up in mangroves/ or hauled, dink dealt with... then immediately all put back and move back on, then repeat two or three more times before the season is over. Ugh! What a grind!

When you area full time cruiser you use/ stress all aspects of the boat and its many systems... and accordingly they wear, need maintenance, break with much more frequency than weekending in home waters. And, you have to maintain/ fix them yourself (who has the $$ to hire someone for everything that needs to be done/ breaks. Working on a boat at sea w/o ability for consultation or extra help with limited spares and tools challenges all of us... and usually has to be done with some urgency, since you may be adrift or w/o a major system. Doing weekend/ week long 'cruising' and fixing/dealing with whatever comes up yourself before returning lets cruisers 'to be' build these required skills/ confidence. There is no Boat US out in blue water.

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Old 17-07-2016, 10:55   #19
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Re: First blue water sail?

My first big boat was in lake Erie, headed for south Florida and then the Bahamas through the great lakes and the rivers. So 9 months to go 3000 miles or so mostly on inland rivers and lakes then across the gulf. It was $5k for a 30 ft Islander bought sight unseen on eBay and then a week to prepare it. I had many years of experience with smaller sail boats of all descriptions (basically anything cheap at a yardsale or auction, I owned parts of 25 or 30 small sail boats, even tried to build and sail an ice boat once) and decades of backpacking and canoeing trips for multi week long trips. The ice boat attempt is a good interesting story. In retrospect it shows how stupid a smart person can be. How one little detail that I was well aware of before seems so obvious after the fact, can destroy something totally. I'm enjoying life, that's the important thing. I'm in the "It's not 100% yet" class right now with my $5k 45 ft custom steel ketch bought on eBay, that included a $15k new never started engine and drive train. The boat would not float when I bought it, But I do have a little extra twist now keeping me at the dock. A great deal, I have free dock rent and a free 2 car garage workshop. When I loose that it will put a little more fire under my butt to get going with my multi year circumnavigation plans.
A bad day sailing is 100 times better than a good day at work.
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Old 17-07-2016, 11:38   #20
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Re: First blue water sail?

Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
How much prior sailing experience did you have before you did this?
I had a three week Red Cross sailing class with Saturday sails on a Morgan 1 Ton boat. I also crewed on it a handful of times, all in a big bay. And I had a couple of sailboards that I used on lakes in Colorado. Other than that, zip experience.
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Old 17-07-2016, 12:39   #21
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Re: First blue water sail?

Delivered my Morgan 35 from St. Petersburg to Norfolk though that was mostly short hops along the coast with 48 hours a long passage. Experience was sailing between the islands in Hawaii on a Columbia 26 for a year and a half and grew up on a lake with a Sailfish.

First real offshore was a couple years later on the passage from San Diego to Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands on our Westsail 32. First time using a sextant. A rather small speck of Islands with nothing but the Antarctic if you miss. Got real nervous when I couldn't see the islands after 24 days because of cloud cover. A maximum sigh of relief when Hiva Oa suddenly popped out of the ocean backlit by the setting sun. Had done a bit of cruising in the Chesapeake and two sails from SF to Newport Beach as well as cruising SoCal by then.
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Old 31-07-2016, 08:12   #22
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Re: First blue water sail?

Originally Posted by edmundsteele View Post
3) 3 weeks earning 5 ASA stickers
Reminds me of, well, me.
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Old 01-08-2016, 14:12   #23
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Re: First blue water sail?

Montauk,NY to Bermuda, five days
Irwin 54
Age 14, as crew, dinghy sailing only

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Old 01-08-2016, 14:33   #24
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Re: First blue water sail?

Originally Posted by W3GAC View Post

I'm an engineer and my advice is: focus on safety items first... sturdy boat/ rudder, rigging, sails & and yes reliable (diesel) engine, water & fuel tanks and a reasonable amount of electronics (along w/ paper charts).

Have to disagree with this.

Not sure if this qualifies as blue water experience in everyone's mind but I have sailed multiple times in the blue water crossing from Florida to the Bahamas and across the Tongue of the Ocean. While not really that long both of these places can be very unpleasant at certain times. On the other hand at other times they are very enjoyable sails.

The difference between having fun and not having fun is the weather. Living in Florida since 1954 when I first started sailing with my Dad I have developed a good feel for the weather. One thing I noticed in a previous post was someone was sailing down the East Coast and got caught in a hurricane. You don't need to be an experienced sailor to figure out going out when a hurricane is heading your way is not a good idea. When I am cruising one of the first things I do after getting out of bed is turn on the VHF and get the weather report. It is not uncommon for me to switch to CH2-9 several times a day if there are concerns about the weather.

Remember the reason we are suppose to be doing this stuff is so we can have fun; and it is much easier to have fun in good weather.
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Old 02-08-2016, 01:07   #25
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Re: First blue water sail?

1. Littleton to Marsden Point NZ, 600NM
2. 30' sloop
3. Approx 8 years coastal experience.

Knocked down off Cape Turnagain with spreaders nearly touching the water and cockpit full of water. Pretty scary at the time but we laugh about it now! Call it "experience".

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