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Old 11-04-2014, 11:02   #1
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Prepping for Blue Water

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?
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Old 11-04-2014, 11:15   #2
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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.
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Old 11-04-2014, 11:23   #3
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Hello Mycroft.

I am hoping this will be a good informative thread. Although I am no Expert, as we have just been off the Washington and Oregon Coast, I can tell you this much with the experience I have, I am putting as much redundant systems as possible in our boat, including a manual option for every automated or powered/electronic device.
Things just happen and just when you think you got everything covered, something else unexpectedly breaks.
My own personal rule is, I either need to have the ability to replace or repair every system component on board and have lots of spares ( As much as your storage allows

Since you are in Oly, maybe we can hook up sometime. I have the big wooden schooner in the Swantown Boatworks yard. I am usually there on Saturdays. If we are not there it's probably because we are out sailing in our Mariner 40 ketch

Cheers,

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Old 11-04-2014, 11:48   #4
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
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.
We'd already been turned down by a couple. After BoatUS turned us down, we asked about having the Captain restriction and they approved it. For some reason, insurance companies are reluctant to cover a 43ft $100k yacht with $300k+ liability with a completely inexperienced crew. Go figure. LOL

Once we have our ASA bareboat cert and letters from a couple of captains, we'll apply to have the restriction lifted.

After cruising Puget Sound, our plan is to sail up the inside passage to Alaska and go down the outside on the way back. But after seeing the Zen and Rebel Heart, I want to get some open ocean experience before setting out on that trip.
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Old 11-04-2014, 11:50   #5
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Re: Prepping for blue water

I would find a marine insurance broker and have them handle your insurance. They will know who you should use so you won't have these restrictions.
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Old 11-04-2014, 11:54   #6
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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Originally Posted by leightonyachts View Post
I am hoping this will be a good informative thread.
Me too Rob!

Thanks for the tips re: redundancy. I do plan on having redundant systems, and I've been spending practically every day not sailing on learning my onboard systems.

We're actually in Foss Harbor marina in Tacoma. But we joined a sailing club in Swantown last August so we could get lots of hands-on sailing experience. So when time permits and the weather agrees, we make the drive down to Oly and take the 30ft Catalina out or if it's not available, one of the smaller sloops in the club. For $180/month, we get to take the boats out as often as we want.

Maybe we can hook up some time. I'd love to see your boats!!! I'll PM you.
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Old 11-04-2014, 12:09   #7
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Well you are very new to sailing and your boat will be a handfull for you to begin with especially if its blowing.
Your idea to cruise locally is a good one and depending on the time your willing and able to put towards sailing then you can figure on a couple of seasons before you will have the confidence you need for longer trips. The good news is that you can(if your tough) sail most of the winter which would really help you.
When the local sailing becomes old hat then as Cheechako suggested take a run out of the straights and sail west for a day or two and then sail back. That will give you a taste of what to expect in open ocean sailing. There are offshore sailing courses locally that do just that although I think they add a couple of extra days.
Your sailing in my old back yard and while the summer trips up the inside passage to Alaska is mostly a motor boat trip, its sure a treat to see the country. Good luck in your sailing, have lots of fun out there.
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Old 11-04-2014, 13:05   #8
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Re: Prepping for blue water

I am actually not suprized about the insurance restrictions. At least not initially. As you build a resume I would ask them to lift the day sailing restriction first, so you can start building more time on the boat, then slowely extend the duration of the trips. Do some overnight/weekend stuff locally, then maybe an overnight sail somewhere close, maybe a long weekend one direction then return the next to bring her home. Ect...

The goal is to slowely increase the distance from home and the amount of self reliance needed without ever being outside your home base too far.


The advice above on getting some racing experience is dead on. First it will give you a lot of experience quickly, but more than that racing will show you how to really make the boat go. Not that you care while cruising if you loose .1kn, but knowing how to adjust sail shape for the conditions is also a safety issue.
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Old 11-04-2014, 13:07   #9
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Re: Prepping for blue water

It isn't just about time on the water, but variety of conditions. We have been reading more and more recommendations to go ahead and get out there in progressively higher winds and seas.
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Old 11-04-2014, 13:10   #10
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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It isn't just about time on the water, but variety of conditions. We have been reading more and more recommendations to go ahead and get out there in progressively higher winds and seas.
Yep, when we have small craft advisery here in the Puget sound, thats when i'm itching to go out, much to the resistance of my wife hahaha, although I let her stay home if its too rough
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Old 11-04-2014, 13:48   #11
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Re: Prepping for blue water

One thing to think about when it comes to redundant systems is , if you do not have it then it can not break and you do not have to redundant it . What I think that I am trying to say is keep it simple ! Big manual bilge pumps , emergency tiller , couple big buckets .
Most times on these kinds of forums you will get recommendations for all kinds of expensive systems as if the advisers believe that throwing money at it will make you safer . It does not , what will make you safest is common sense . Also if you do not buy all that redundant junk then you can go sailing much sooner . Thats what it is all about , getting out of Dodge . If you must have redundant stuff to cover for what that you know is gonna break then what did ya buy it in the first place . All successful cruisers are not millionaires , matter of fact the ones staying the longest and having the most fun are the ones in simple , strong boats .
Almost end of rant . You have a fine boat , do not improve it until it is not safe !
Cruising locally is a hell of a lot harder and more dangerous than offshore work !
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Old 11-04-2014, 14:08   #12
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Re: Prepping for blue water

Thanks guys. Yes, it does seem that it's either feast or famine regarding wind in the southern Puget Sound.

Thanks for the advice too pistarckle. While I am attracted to the shiny objects, I am trying to stick to basics - at least at first.

For example, I have two working electric bilge pumps, one of which is automatic and an Edson mega-gallon hand pump, I want to add a bilge pump in a bucket with a Rule 4000 GPH ready to go for backup. And while I have 3 5lb dry chem extinguishers, I've added a 227 auto extinguisher in the engine compartment and I'll probably buy an 11lb 227 hand held too.
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Old 11-04-2014, 15:06   #13
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Re: Prepping for blue water

KISS is fine but I confess I like a few luxuries . Plus many of the bells and whistles can make sailing and your life in general a lot easier. The trick is to enjoy the benefits of the extra goodies but not depend on them.

Practice and experience are very, very good but I think some thought, study and planning is just as important. One can try to simulate various scenarios but at the end of the day it's hard to practice for all the possible problems and emergencies.

Look carefully at all the things that can cause serious trouble like lose the rig or sink the boat and make a plan on how to deal with them. Example, through hulls and hoses. I have a drawing of my boat with all the through hulls clearly marked. The drawing is in the front of the emergency procedures notebook that sits in the top chart table. All crew are briefed on what to do if we start taking on water, how to operate the emergency bilge pumps (two electric and two manual) where to locate all the through hulls and how to close them or drive in a plug. Ditto for fire extinguishers.

So by all means, get all the experience you can but read books by cruisers and study what causes boats to be lost. Accident analysis is one of the best ways to learn how to prevent problems or how to deal with them when they happen.
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Old 11-04-2014, 15:40   #14
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post

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?

I humbly suggest you don't go off and do big circles at sea. You will learn very little.

The key is to do things in steps. Sail locally , experience different conditions and situations., light airs, heavy airs, anchoring over night etc etc. all within your basic comfort zone. As the confidence comes extend your reach , do overnight sails , 2-3 days etc. soon you'll know what you like and don't.

Don't get afraid to modify your dreams based on your actual experiences. You don't have to do 3000 mile passages to be a cruiser

Dave


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Old 11-04-2014, 15:53   #15
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Re: Prepping for blue water

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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
We'd already been turned down by a couple. After BoatUS turned us down, we asked about having the Captain restriction and they approved it. For some reason, insurance companies are reluctant to cover a 43ft $100k yacht with $300k+ liability with a completely inexperienced crew. Go figure. LOL

Once we have our ASA bareboat cert and letters from a couple of captains, we'll apply to have the restriction lifted.

After cruising Puget Sound, our plan is to sail up the inside passage to Alaska and go down the outside on the way back. But after seeing the Zen and Rebel Heart, I want to get some open ocean experience before setting out on that trip.
I'm sure things continue to change in the insurance market. On my first offshore passage I was insured by my auto/home insurance company down the west coast and until I left San Diego for 75 miles. Their policy covered the USA within 75 miles of the coast at that time! I've found Boat US to be the most expensive quote I get when I try, so It doesnt surprise me that they also try to eliminate any possible claims! You have more formal credentials than I've ever had for my boats. (no formal 101 etc courses for me... just the school of hard knocks) I always mention my USCG boating classes, but I have found no hesitation. Have you tried getting a quote fom your auto insurance company? "15 minutes gets you covered...." haha
Oh well, good luck with your babysitter.... I suppose some idiot with a 400 hp 25 foot boat that does 60 mph can just get it covered in a few minutes so he can go out and T bone you with your captain aboard!
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