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Old 11-04-2014, 16:31   #16
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Be very careful about relying on manual bilge pumps. Everyone has one, and none of them are worth much. They are actually more work than using a bucket and other than getting rid of a few ounces of water just aren't very effective.

Real de-watering pumps or crash pumps are the only thing that will actually save you from a hole in the hull, and they generally require either a direct PTO from the engine or their own motor.
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Old 11-04-2014, 16:34   #17
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Re: Prepping for blue water

> and head off shore a couple hundred miles for at least two weeks,

Don't get sucked into the "200 miles offshore" schtick. You can experience just the same conditions within less than 50 miles of a coastline in many areas and have the ability to run for cover if necessary. Make that a two week trip up and down the coast a reasonable distance off-shore instead.
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Old 11-04-2014, 16:45   #18
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Everyone learns differently, so much of the above advice needs to be adjusted for your personal situation. For me, early in my sailing life I started racing, and I think that accelerated my own learning process a great deal. (Obviously, this requires that you get over the insurance issue). One not only learns to get decent performance from your boat, but one is (if at all driven towards success) forced to go sailing on days when the conditions are not ideal. If you never go out when the forecast is for inclement weather, then you won't have the experience when it happens offshore.

If you just don't like the racing environment, and many do not, then simply force yourself to sail outside of your comfort zone. You will learn many things, both about your boat and yourself. EG, in the last winter before Ann and I left SF bay to go off cruising we went out on days with storm warnings flying. Our marina neighbors thought we were crazy, but we got to use storm sails in real storm conditions a couple of times, and then had the luxury of hot showers on our return... and nearby chandleries to replace any broken bits. Was it fun? Well, not really, but when we encountered our first gales offshore we were better prepared to deal with the situation.

In fairness, we were lots farther along the learning curve than you appear to be. I had started out in a daysailing dinghy, graduated to a trailer sailor and then to a proper keel boat. Raced in all of them with increasing seriousness, but that's just my competitive nature showing up! Also did as much cruising as my work schedule allowed: trans-Bay trips in the dinghy, the Channel Islands and a month in the Canadian Gulf Islands in the trailer boat, and coastal trips in the 30 foot keel boat. This eventually lead to our first blue water passage in that boat, a whirlwind 7 week round trip to Hawaii. When we encountered tropical storm Gil, we were sure glad that we knew how to rig the storm jib and get the third reef tucked in!

I'm rattling on too long... I guess the final word is that there is no substitute for experience, and that is best gained incrementally and at your own pace. And don't expect it to be painless!

Good luck and keep on sailing.

Jim
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Old 11-04-2014, 16:54   #19
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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After reading the threads about the loss of the Zen and Rebel Heart, the most important take-away for me is that my partner and I will need to get some open ocean experience *before* setting off on a thousand mile passage.

With that in mind, I would like advice on a future sea-trial for us.

We have a 43ft 1983 Slocum double-ender cutter rigged sloop. We're new to sailing with ASA 101 & 103 under our belts and some time on 22 - 30 foot sloops in a club out of Olympia. In order to get insurance with our limited experience, we had to agree to having a USCG certified captain on board any time we left the slip. We just found a local volunteer, (thanks Gary!!), and took our boat out Wednesday for the first time on a successful bay cruise and look forward to lots more.

As soon as we're able to get our insurance restriction lifted, we plan on retiring, cutting the dock lines and cruising Puget Sound for at least a year.

My plan is that some time during that year, the earlier the better, we would prep our boat for sea and head off shore a couple hundred miles for at least two weeks, doing big circles, to see how we handle that type of voyaging. If we find that we can handle the open water, then we continue with our plans, but if we find that we can't handle it well, then we can change our plans to spend a few years just exploring beautiful Puget Sound.

What do you think?
We're doing a similar thing. It's all about eating the elephant one piece at a time. There is no substitute for experience.

We ensure that each time we sail we are practicing a procedure or testing a system under real world conditions.

One of the benefits of sailing compared to so many other pursuits is the wealth of good texts where others share their hard earned experience.

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Old 11-04-2014, 17:53   #20
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Re: Prepping for blue water

I think people under estimate the amount of cruising that can be done without going big crossing an ocean. Plus nothing will prepare you well except time on the water, not local time either. Cruising time, just bring out there going from place to place getting to really know the weather. If your new to it nothing can prepare you for the big hop like being on the boat every day for 2 years. No need to rush into ocean crossing, go up or down the coast, go to the caribbean, you could do the whole continent for years before having to do a 1000+ mile crossing. The way to get skilled is to do it, not practice on the weekends or vacation time . After doing it for a year or two you will be good at coming into strange harbors, docking in terrible weather, finding that nice anchorage.
As I studied from my armchair for 7 years I though it was all about the big "Go", like I had to leave the continent to actually be cruising. I was so wrong, if I had tried to go big It woulda been a huge disaster. There is way more to learn and grasp than most day sailors assume, it's just different. And it's not instant, but doing it is the only way really get the ball rolling toward the big crossing. Trying to think of everything, make every repair , load your spares, have the boat perfect, and shake down on the way out of the harbor is just not realistic. You won't know if you wanna go big until you've had a year or so to figure out what big is.
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Old 11-04-2014, 18:17   #21
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Re: Prepping for blue water

I went on my first ocean passage as crew even though i had already owned my boat and sailed it around Chesapeake Bay for a year and a half. Sure, when you have your own boat you always want to sail it, but I was VERY glad to get offshore experience (Bermuda back to the East coast) with somebody else as skipper the first time. There is so much to get used to offshore that it really would have been too much to have also been the one responsible for everyone's and the boat's wellbeing.

My own experience was that offshore sailing has aspects which you really can't understand without actually doing it. It isnt for everyone.

One way to get crew opportunities is Offshore Passage Opportunities. (google it) You can join for an annual fee and then you get all of the crewing opportunities emailed to you. I still use it so I can go to the tropics in the winter - Last january I sailed to the Virgin islands. There are several skippers who are willing to take relative novices.

You can also get experienced crew to go with you on your own boat so you have somebody with you who isnt a newbie. I have gotten crew from them several times and it worked out very well.
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Old 11-04-2014, 18:43   #22
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Re: Prepping for blue water

We are prepping to go off also. With NZ registered boats you can't leave without a Category 1 Certificate. Besides all the safety equipment that means you also have to have a suitably experienced crew member who has done it all before. This way they know you'll be looked after when the SHTF and fatigue and sickness takes you out. Once you've done the main ocean crossing leg your offshore expert can return home and leave you to it.
I'm very happy with this requirement.
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Old 11-04-2014, 20:09   #23
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Most folks get their first boat as a 22 or 24ft, then they upgrade to 30 or so, etc. It's a LOT easier getting insurance if you have a track record. When you're over 50, never sailed before, and buy a 43' sailboat for liveaboard, I think it's understandable to be wary of insuring. As for auto insurance, Progressive, (my ins. co.) has a great boat insurance program. They would insure me, but I would have to lie and say it was a recreational boat and not liveaboard. Whenever I'm getting insurance, I resist the urge to fudge the application.

I agree that you can get tons of experience on the boat in all kinds of weather, especially here in the wicked tidal flow and strong winds present in the Salish sea. However, that's not the point of my proposed two-weeks at sea exercise. Both Zen and Rebel Heart crew had fairly decent coastal experience. However the crew of both boats were seriously ill and extremely unhappy in just a week of ocean sailing. The weather really wasn't that bad either.

Without sailing over a week without sight of land, I think it's very difficult to gauge our aptitude for passagemaking.

Yes, we could spend the rest of our lives "cruising" Puget Sound and all coasts of America and the Caribbean. But *IF* we're still having a good time after Puget Sound, Alaska, and San Diego, I would like to know if we could make a passage if we wanted to.

I have to say taking a passage as crew is tempting. But again, what happens if we get two weeks off shore and me and/or my partner start freaking out from not seeing land or can't handle days and days of lumpy seas? That's going to be one unhappy skipper. I'd rather know before that happened.
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Old 11-04-2014, 20:33   #24
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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I think I'd find a differnet insurance company. Or at least maybe go racing as crew to make your resume better, then get a quote from a diff company and buy their insurance. Wow, never heard of such a thing...
Anyway...For some good sailing experience (once they take your training wheels off) Maybe a trip out the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Desolation Sound. That will give you some boisterous wind in the straight, working with and against the tides, fog crossing the straight etc. Or up the inside accross the Straight of Georgia and maybe Princess Louisa inlet etc. Those kind of trips are roundly valuable.
Rounding Vancouver Island can be fun and the outside is offshore type environment.
Listen to this advice here on this post. I have been in these waters and he is spot on. Desolation sound is surreal. You may not want to leave. This whole area will give you most conditions you would encounter offshore. Big seas, fog, wind, tides, heavy commercial marine traffic and soooo much more.
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Old 11-04-2014, 21:02   #25
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Re: Prepping for blue water

> Without sailing over a week without sight of land, I think it's very difficult to gauge our aptitude for passagemaking.

Once again - sailing over a week without sight of land does not require you to go over 200 miles offshore, it just needs a thousand mile or so passage out of sight of land. Just sail to San Francisco and back staying at least 30 miles off shore
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Old 11-04-2014, 21:57   #26
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Re: Prepping for blue water

For the time being, Mycroft, pick Gary's brain as much as you can every time you go out. Do go out in inclement weather. Both you and your good lady practice doing reefing, holding station, MOB rescues, docking the boat in various circumstances. When you've got your independence from Gary, then go practice with just the two of you. I'd suggest, if it fits for you, to sail as crew on someone from your area whom you trust on the WA to SF trip Stu M suggested. Southbound, you are with the wind and current. The return trip is usually upwind, current against you, and not an easy trip at all.

As long as you take it in steady bites with pauses for reflection, you both will build skills that will increase your self confidence. I like to encourage women to sail with other women and with other skippers, for knowledge and confidence building, which increases the fun of it...

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Old 11-04-2014, 22:10   #27
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Thanks Ann, excellent suggestions. Trust me, we're gonna suck Gary's brain dry.
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Old 11-04-2014, 22:53   #28
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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Thanks Ann, excellent suggestions. Trust me, we're gonna suck Gary's brain dry.

ZOMBIES! Runaway!

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Old 11-04-2014, 23:46   #29
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Being closer to shore is always more terrifying and takes more skill. Practice there. Try doing it up north where tides and currents are strong. Weather and visibility poor.
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Old 12-04-2014, 00:33   #30
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
My plan is that some time during that year, the earlier the better, we would prep our boat for sea and head off shore a couple hundred miles for at least two weeks, doing big circles, to see how we handle that type of voyaging. If we find that we can handle the open water, then we continue with our plans, but if we find that we can't handle it well, then we can change our plans to spend a few years just exploring beautiful Puget Sound.

What do you think?
I would recommend that you and your partner consider crewing on deliveries (look under the 'Crew Wanted' section on CF). I've gotten great offshore experience with a seasoned captain right there on board, sailing up the coast of Mexico as well as the Western US. I've already made bar crossings and have been in heavily traveled shipping areas entering the Straits of Juan de Fuca without having to do it alone. Of course, not all captains are equal, but if you look over their resume, you should be able to deturmine if they really know what they're doing or not. I've had very good luck!!
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