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Old 25-02-2011, 15:28   #1
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Tell the truth

I've been lurking here for quite some time and do post occasionally. Since I retired this past Monday I now have time to fulfill my lifelong ambition to set sail and enjoy the cruiser's lifestyle. As soon as I get some affairs in order I'll take off for the Carolina's, Florida or the Gulf coast to find my wind blown wonder. My sailing experience is limited to about 40 years of beach cat sailing and about twenty trips of a weeks duration on my cousin's 26 footer. I don't remember the make of the boat but it is some sleek little Italian sloop with a six foot draft.

I've crossed the Gulf Stream on a 20'catamaran, been caught in some pretty foul weather and have even run the little Italian monohull aground. Since this site appears to have some really, really old salts I thought I'd ask and see what problems have beleaguered you over the years.

I know it's always more exciting to talk about the one that got away, the time you were caught in a storm with 20 foot seas, the blond that actually said "no" or the whale that jumped out of the water and just missed your boat by the length of it's blowhole. How often do these harrowing situations actually arise. If you chose a proper weather window and were going to be at sea for two weeks would you anticipate any circumstances that would have you concerned.

If a boat is properly maintained are they pretty much free from catastrophic equipment failures? How often have you broke something important? What are some of the worst tales you can relate and how many times a year do you really just barely survive. Are thunderstorms and lightning really the threat that some seem to make of them or is it about the same odds as getting hit on land? I'm referring to the escapades of real sailors and don't consider the ice machine being out of ice at the marina and your warm beer really catastrophic.

If you were going to Panama from Florida would you hug the coast or maintain an offing that would allow some alternate decisions were you to get caught in a storm? Just relate some stories if you've ever had an awkward situation arise.
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Old 25-02-2011, 15:40   #2
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Re: Tell the truth

That's a big question, but I will say that the #1 reason I hear from people that go cruising and then quit after a few years is that they found the maintenance and repairs got them down. Today's boats are very complicated and you are basically continually fixing things. You have to approach it with the right attitude or it can get you down. Old boat, new boat, expensive boat, cheap boat, it really doesn't matter. You will always have a "to do" list and in every harbor you will be hunting down parts, repairing stuff, etc. That is all just part of the game, and if you really hate it you might as well take up some other activity, because you will be doing it, like it or not.
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Old 25-02-2011, 16:10   #3
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Re: Tell the truth

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Originally Posted by Bill Burgette View Post
Since this site appears to have some really, really old salts I thought I'd ask and see what problems have beleaguered you over the years.
Since I'm not old, is he refering to Boatman and Gord?
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Old 25-02-2011, 16:24   #4
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Re: Tell the truth

Sorry about that.... to answer the OP's original question, I have been de-masted once, and it was my own fault.

Between a corroded (and I might add, uninspected) mast and my desire to impress my father with every bit of speed I could squeeze out of my boat, the mast suddenly and abruptly made a VERY loud popping noise. Much to my surprise, mast and sail magically appeared in the water next to the boat.

I've also been down below and seen water washing my salon windows because I left too much sail up. Again, my inattention, my error.

I think there are some storms that will catch you out no matter how well you plan, but to minimize the risk, you must have plans and procedures IN PLACE to deal with those, otherwise you are foolish to leave the dock.
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Old 18-03-2011, 13:04   #5
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Re: Tell the truth

It's no different than driving a car. Accidents happen: you can do everything right and have someone fly through a red light and kill or seriously injure you. The guy who wrote Adrift was a very accomplished sailor but (probably) hit a container and sank within a minute.

But most people with smashed up cars aren't unlucky. They didn't do the maintenance they needed to, were using cars where they should have had a truck, or more often are just bad drivers.

It's not popular these days because everyone wants to have a floating condo of gadgets and convenience items, but I wouldn't go to sea with a system on board that I don't know how to fix, replace, or do without. And not just "can you survive", but "do you need to change your plans and hang out in some port because sailing without [gadget x] is not fun/enjoyable/possible". When the list of things that fit that description go beyond mast, boom, halyards, rigging, rudder, deck, keel, and other core components that all sailing vessels share, you should take note that you're now at the mercy of that equipment. If (and when) it fails, it will adversely affect you.

Find good mariners with simple boats and you'll rarely find disaster and drama.
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Old 18-03-2011, 13:10   #6
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Re: Tell the truth

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But most people with smashed up cars aren't unlucky. They didn't do the maintenance they needed to, were using cars where they should have had a truck, or more often are just bad drivers.
I kind of disagree. Most people get into accidents because they were being too stupid, or the person that hit them was being stupid.

For boat this means pushing the boat too hard for the conditions and your ability. Or the boat that hits you is doing the same. Or someone was just plain not playing attention.
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Old 18-03-2011, 13:25   #7
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Re: Tell the truth

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I kind of disagree. Most people get into accidents because they were being too stupid, or the person that hit them was being stupid.

For boat this means pushing the boat too hard for the conditions and your ability. Or the boat that hits you is doing the same. Or someone was just plain not playing attention.
Yeah but there are "marine incidents" that have nothing to do with operating the vessel. Going on the beach because of bad ground tackle, sinking at the slip because you filled up the tanks with the garden hose and walked away for a few hours, blowing up the boat because of bad propane / gas procedures or installation, etc.

Hitting reefs because of bad piloting, engine dies and end up on a jetty because there was no sail rigged, etc.

Not in anyway discounting pushing a boat too hard, but the boats I've seen sink were always because of something incredibly stupid and avoidable.
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