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Old 06-07-2018, 14:52   #1
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Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

I've been lurking on the forum for months, decided it was finally time to post.

My wife and I, along with our three kids ages 8, 10 & 12 will be moving aboard our newly purchased 47' Leopard Power Cat starting August 30th. Our plan, which has been well researched, is to spend the winter (post hurricane season) in the Caribbean, followed by the Great Loop around the East Coast of the US (minus the parts that can't accommodate our 25' beam).

This isn't our first major adventure, though it is certainly our largest and longest. My job, which combined with flights back to Seattle, allows me to work remotely and will keep our adventure funded. We've owned boats for many years, though this is a significant increase in size.

All advice (other than "give up now you're crazy") is appreciated, specifically:

-Best option for becoming proficient on our new boat? Current plan is to hire a captain for personal training on the boat. ASA didn't seem applicable as this is a power cat.
-Keeping the kids safe? All our kids are proficient swimmers who have grown up boating. Still our plan is lifejackets when above deck and MOB beacons at all times.

A million other questions, but to keep this thread somewhat focused I'll stop there. Our boat is currently in Tampa Bay Florida.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-07-2018, 15:02   #2
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Here are a couple of pictures of our family and boat.
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Old 06-07-2018, 15:43   #3
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boat Named Sue View Post
I've been lurking on the forum for months, decided it was finally time to post.

My wife and I, along with our three kids ages 8, 10 & 12 will be moving aboard our newly purchased 47' Leopard Power Cat starting August 30th. Our plan, which has been well researched, is to spend the winter (post hurricane season) in the Caribbean, followed by the Great Loop around the East Coast of the US (minus the parts that can't accommodate our 25' beam).

This isn't our first major adventure, though it is certainly our largest and longest. My job, which combined with flights back to Seattle, allows me to work remotely and will keep our adventure funded. We've owned boats for many years, though this is a significant increase in size.

All advice (other than "give up now you're crazy") is appreciated, specifically:

-Best option for becoming proficient on our new boat? Current plan is to hire a captain for personal training on the boat. ASA didn't seem applicable as this is a power cat.
-Keeping the kids safe? All our kids are proficient swimmers who have grown up boating. Still our plan is lifejackets when above deck and MOB beacons at all times.

A million other questions, but to keep this thread somewhat focused I'll stop there. Our boat is currently in Tampa Bay Florida.

Thanks in advance.
welcome aboard,nice boat, what is your budget,fuel prices can vary a lot outside of the us,and marinas are few and far between and can be extremly expensive as they mainly cater to super yachts in the carib islands.

most boats anchor out .

your biggest problem will be keeping the kids entertained as kids generally get bored very quickly on boats if they are not used to it.

a power cat really requires little skill to drive,just only approach a dock no faster than you would like to hit it.

you will need only very basic sailing skills apart from an understanding of weather, generally passages will be made in light wind conditions at optimal speed,with refueling stops the main priority .

probably better to get a nanny for the kids,than a skipper,so you and your wife can concentrate on honing your boat handleing skills
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Old 06-07-2018, 16:01   #4
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Sounds like a great adventure. If you have owned many boats over the years a 47 ft power cat shouldn't be too hard to handle. There are a couple of things I would be careful of:


1. Docking. This is a heavy boat and it's inertia will be quite different to a small boat, it will also have high windage. It is imperative to keep the kids away from the sides of the boat when docking, any one that gets between the boat and the dock, or who thinks they can fend off with a shove can be injured severely, even at a snails pace. This takes practice, and so that is what you should do so the kids understand. Just undock, redock for a few hours and everyone will get the message. This also means practicing with lateral fender positioning against fixed pylon docks so side windows are protected. You should also practice docking to a floating dock without assistance from the dock as the deck is so high. Also picking up a mooring ball tether from six feet up will be challenging initially.


2. Fuel consumption. Diesel is expensive in the Bahamans, but that depends on your cash flow. There will be a sweet spot for this type of boat in terms of speed and consumption. Look up the engine specs for this boat in terms of RPM and fuel consumption. I do not knot know how they go using a single engine. No doubt there will be others on this forum who can comment specifically about this boat. Diesel can also be difficult to come by in some places or you have to cart it in jugs. Quality may also be doubtful so a good filtration system is worth getting.


3. Energy requirements. Two decent sized diesels will give plenty of energy, but you would not want to run them just for a water maker or battery charge. So a separate generator or solar power set up should be considered if not already done so.



Great Loop - lowest point will be bridge in Chicago - 19ft I think - you might have to remove something to get under. Other great loop issues the further north you go will be getting slips. Most cats ask for a T head of which there are only one or two at each marina - so pays to phone ahead. Some will want to charge 150% of the standard dock fee. You may need to anchor a bit - so a decent anchor should also be fitted.


There is plenty more -but that's my two cents worth
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Old 06-07-2018, 16:02   #5
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Howdy Sue Crew!
(I know that is the boat’s name, but could not resist.)

Welcome Aboard CF!

Your plan sounds grand!

The boat and your family look very nice.

I recently helped the owner of a Lagoon 52F catamaran move his boat from Charleston to New York City, and during that voyage we talked about his new liveaboard life with his wife and two young daughters. They had recently spent the winter months (and into spring) in the Bahamas and had had a wonderful time. Also, while on this voyage, I met a young couple on their Leopard 48 cat, who with their two young children had also been in the Bahamas for months. They are liveaboard cruising too. The kids have all had a lot of fun. And, since these two boats had met in the Bahamas, the children from these two boats (and others at times) had a lot of fun together in the islands, becoming fast friends, as cruising kids are apt to do. I think that is cool.

Here is an idea: Take along a tutor for the kids, so you and your wife can enjoy time together, allowing the kids to be looked after by the other adult, while they have lessons, etc.

The future for you and your family is one that is bound to have lots of fun and sun and new friends and new adventures. Sounds wonderful.

Bon Voyage!
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Old 06-07-2018, 16:28   #6
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

My brother an I started at your kids' ages. My advice, for keeping the kids safe - teach the kids to run the boat and allow them to do it when feasible/safe. We were in the watch schedule from age 11 (and night watches - alone - started at 13). Don't force it if there's no interest, but otherwise you'll both get a lot of value out of it.

This will give your kids a great deal of confidence on the water, and that will follow them later in life.
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Old 06-07-2018, 17:18   #7
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

We just got back after many months in the Bahamas. Initially our 13 year old was not so keen on boat life. He didn't like not having unlimited Internet and he was rationed on Xbox.

He become more involved midway through the cruise and started handling shifts at the helm. We were struck by lightening just north of George Town and lost our autopilot so hand steering for two months was the norm. Caught some nice Kings on the Bahamas Bank and that stirred up his interest even more.

Now that we've been back in the states for 1 1/2 months he has started bringing up events and happenings with amazing detail saying how much he enjoyed them. He was apparently more involved than he let on and/or that we thought!

Your kids will love it!
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:04   #8
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

The life jackets on deck lasted about 5 minutes for us :-)

Check out some of our early blog posts.

Your plan sounds fantastic.
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:10   #9
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Congrats on taking the plunge!
We just got back from a year with our girls age 7 and 9.

Tip #1: Consider hiring someone to deliver your boat south for you. It's a lot of miles, and those miles are into the wind and waves. You don't want to start out your trip with the family already sour on things, so start from the south and work your way downwind and downwave.

Tip #2: Join Kids4Sail group on FB. Sure, you have a powercat and most of the members have sailboats, but no worries, the emphasis is on kids not boats! The monthly location roll call will let you know where the other kid boats are hanging. Social opportunities may otherwise be hard to find.

Tip #3: Consider switching your phone service to Google Fi. It has affordable data rates, and the phone automatically joins the local network in every country you will visit. Much better than having to find a cell store, active a new SIM, figure out how to buy minutes, etc.

Tip #4: Think carefully about your route. The family may be happier with shorter legs and more time at anchor in nice places. This tip echoes Tip 1 above....

Tip #5: Bahamas are amazing, we really liked the Exuma chain. Culebra is amazing. Grenada has tons of kid boats. Same with Bequia. Martinique (St. Anne) has lots of kids, and french food too!

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Old 07-07-2018, 09:41   #10
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Hi, if I was relying on engines only, I would spend the time and money fitting a very good fuel polishing system.
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:04   #11
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boat Named Sue View Post
I've been lurking on the forum for months, decided it was finally time to post.

My wife and I, along with our three kids ages 8, 10 & 12 will be moving aboard our newly purchased 47' Leopard Power Cat starting August 30th. Our plan, which has been well researched, is to spend the winter (post hurricane season) in the Caribbean, followed by the Great Loop around the East Coast of the US (minus the parts that can't accommodate our 25' beam).

This isn't our first major adventure, though it is certainly our largest and longest. My job, which combined with flights back to Seattle, allows me to work remotely and will keep our adventure funded. We've owned boats for many years, though this is a significant increase in size.

All advice (other than "give up now you're crazy") is appreciated, specifically:

-Best option for becoming proficient on our new boat? Current plan is to hire a captain for personal training on the boat. ASA didn't seem applicable as this is a power cat.
-Keeping the kids safe? All our kids are proficient swimmers who have grown up boating. Still our plan is lifejackets when above deck and MOB beacons at all times.

A million other questions, but to keep this thread somewhat focused I'll stop there. Our boat is currently in Tampa Bay Florida.

Thanks in advance.

Lessons Learned Cruising with Children

This sounds like a wonderful adventure and rich education for your children.

We sailed off with our 4 year and 14 year old sons for 10 month from Portland to Mexico and back on our Norseman 447. We had a wonderful time and mostly good weather. Because we sailed home on the front edge of low pressure systems we encountered winds of 25-52 knots. But we were prepared.

Important lessons.

(1) We started the voyage with the clear understanding that we were in this together. We were the crew. We would all pitch in. By the end of the 10 months to see our 5 yr. old son jump to the dock with the stern line and tie it expertly made us proud. If something needed to be done, do it now. This rule saved us more than once; as when winds changed and put us on a lee shore, or dragging through an anchorage. If our 14 year old had not wholeheartedly agreed to this rule we would have turned the boat around so strongly did we believe this rule was essential to our safety.

(2) No falling overboard. Harnesses when on deck hooked to a strong point in the cockpit or on jack lines to allow freedom of movement and safety.

(3) Someone always on watch. If you are uneasy call for help. No one goes forward alone at night without another in the cockpit.

(4) Shared plans and communication when leaving the boat so we each knew where we were going and planned to be.

(5) Patience. No Captain Bligh. Give others time to catch on to new things.

(6) Careful with stingrays in shallow water on the incoming tide! It is a nasty sting as our 4 yr. old found out. Water as hot as is tolerable helps neutralize the venom and the intense pain.

(7) You become by your boat’s name. “Kinship’s back!”

(8) Cruising with other boats is a blast. Radio nets and chats on the party line, potlucks, and helping one another make the cruising community a special world and one that is worth emulating on dry land.

Good luck and best wishes.
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Old 07-07-2018, 13:14   #12
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Hi Boat Named Sue,

Good stuff here in response to your post.

I own a Leopard 474PC in charter in the BVI which is making good money now. But I bought it, after 50 years of sailing, to learn power cruising for myself and, like you, would like to spend a lot of time around the Caribbean and lower US. I'd like to keep in touch with you and any other Leopard power cat owners on this forum. I spend a lot of time in the Seattle area (where three of my four kids live). Please email me at jmschmidtjr@yahoo.com. Perhaps we can help each other out from time to time.

Jack

PS: Diesel at Nanny Cat a year ago was $3.81/gal. Probably higher now due to Irma and Maria.
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Old 07-07-2018, 14:03   #13
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

What a beautiful family!

My first trip to the South Pacific, I was 10. On a 60' LOD Schooner. I became an instant boat rat.

My daughter's first trip with me from Los Angeles to Mexico and beyond, she was 6. Yep... instant boat rat.

Your kids will love it. (even in today's gotta stay connected age) Give them daily tasks and boat responsibilities. You will be amazed at how much they can do and handle. By the time you get back they will outshine other kids their own age that are living traditional stay at home lives.

By 11, my daughter was backing our 62' classic motor yacht out of our slip in Long Beach, CA, clearing out with the harbor patrol on VHF and handling the helm all the way to Catalina. And yep... I was a very proud Dad.

Go have a great, great adventure! Cheers!
(due to your kids ages, that's milk in those toast cups)
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Old 08-07-2018, 14:43   #14
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

Wow! Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and great advice. Please keep it coming.

RE questions on fuel consumption, our boat is outfitted with two 260hp VP Diesel engines and a 9kw generator. At the cruising speed of 18knts she burns 18gph. Slower speeds easily cut the burn rate by half or better.

Just over seven weeks until we move aboard.
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Old 08-07-2018, 19:24   #15
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Re: Family of 5 starting year long boat trip. Advice?

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Originally Posted by Boat Named Sue View Post
Wow! Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and great advice. Please keep it coming.

RE questions on fuel consumption, our boat is outfitted with two 260hp VP Diesel engines and a 9kw generator. At the cruising speed of 18knts she burns 18gph. Slower speeds easily cut the burn rate by half or better.

Just over seven weeks until we move aboard.
Bring money :-)

Read “best advice” on blog.
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