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Old 26-07-2017, 20:07   #1
HIP
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Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

It's amazing to see a cruising community and get to pick all of your brains. I'm hoping to meet as many of you as we can once we finally cast off.

I appreciate everyone here that has any feedback for our situation so here it is:

We are a family of seven, Mom, Dad and 15, 13, 12, 10 and 7 years old.

We've basically told everyone we know that we are taking off next year. It's amazing how supportive everyone has been. I thought for sure we would have made someone angry. We still need to sell the house, get rid of 90% of our stuff and buy a boat.

I've done some sailing but the Mrs. and the kids haven't done much besides puttering around in SunFish on the lakes around us. Nobody has any experience with large boats with complicated systems, but we are pretty handy and are willing to take on any challenge. We're also ready to get help.
We've been homeschooling for the last 5 years so we have that down.

I'm leaning toward at least a 44-foot catamaran or 55-foot monohull for the adventure. Depending on where we bought the boat we could leave and get our sea-legs in Mexico and the Sea of Cortez or the Carribean. Eventually, we would like to do an ocean crossing but not until we feel ready.

The reason we don't want to put this off any longer is our oldest will be in college in three years and we want him to be a part of the adventure.

I know that slowly upgrading boats and starting out with weekend overnight trips would be best and we plan to do some charters and see how we like each type of boat.

I think honestly we would be okay with either mono or multihull. I think we will end up being travelers first and sailors second, but I do love the feeling of the wind driving where I go.

I'll continue to read everything I can get my hands on but I'm also willing to listen to anyone that has more experience than me (That's pretty much everyone.)

If you have time these are the questions I have right now.


If you were in my shoes and had it to do all over again what would you do to prepare for the trip?

Would you use a broker to buy a boat or try to go private party?
(I'll get a survey regardless.)

Would you get the best deal you can on a boat regardless of location or buy something in the USA (since that's where we are)?

Do certifications help? We already signed up for ASA 101, 103, and 104 (I figure that can help with insurance rates)

Thanks again!
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Old 26-07-2017, 23:33   #2
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
It's amazing to see a cruising community and get to pick all of your brains. I'm hoping to meet as many of you as we can once we finally cast off.

I appreciate everyone here that has any feedback for our situation so here it is:

We are a family of seven, Mom, Dad and 15, 13, 12, 10 and 7 years old. It will help to determine how many staterooms you will need, and if that will change over the coming years. That, in turn, may determine the type of boat you decide on, plus your finances, which will determine how new it is. You might want to take a look at the new vs.
used thread that is currently ongoing.


I've basically told everyone we know that we are taking off next year. It's amazing how supportive everyone has been. I thought for sure we would have made someone angry. We still need to sell the house, get rid of 90% of our stuff and buy a boat.

I've done some sailing but the Mrs. and the kids haven't done much besides puttering around in SunFish on the lakes around us. Nobody has any experience with large boats with complicated systems, but we are pretty handy and are willing to take on any challenge. We're also ready to get help.
We've been homeschooling for the last 5 years so we have that down.

I'm leaning toward at least a 44-foot catamaran or 55-foot monohull for the adventure. Depending on where we bought the boat we could leave and get our sea-legs in Mexico and the Sea of Cortez or the Carribean. Eventually, we would like to do an ocean crossing but not until we feel ready.

The reason we don't want to put this off any longer is our oldest will be in college in three years and we want him to be a part of the adventure. This is an extremely ambitious program for only a years' time. If your wife and kids are totally behind the effort, you can possibly make it work.

I know that slowly upgrading boats and starting out with weekend overnight trips would be best and we plan to do some charters and see how we like each type of boat.

I think honestly we would be okay with either mono or multihull. I think we will end up being travelers first and sailors second, but I do love the feeling of the wind driving where I go.

I'll continue to read everything I can get my hands on but I'm also willing to listen to anyone that has more experience than me (That's pretty much everyone.)

If you have time these are the questions I have right now.


If you were in my shoes and had it to do all over again what would you do to prepare for the trip? In your shoes, maybe you should hire an experienced skipper for a project manager. You need to decide on a competent boat that meets your needs, and boats are a lot like Fords, fix or repair daily, in that they require vigilant maintenance. You will also have to figure out how much space to allot to tools, stores and spares, ideally you will have some "office" space, for records and "stuff" like manuals for equipment. You will have to decide whether to risk KISS or the other risks, of more complicated vessels.

Would you use a broker to buy a boat or try to go private party?
(I'll get a survey regardless.) In our case, we knew which kind of boat we wanted. Kept that one 18 yrs. The next one, we knew which boat we wanted. We hunted 3 years for it, but we're pernickety.

Would you get the best deal you can on a boat regardless of location or buy something in the USA (since that's where we are)? In both cases, we bought where we were, and we bought used. Commissioning a new boat is extremely costly. Jim estimated $20,000 for a 36 footer, 34 years ago.

Do certifications help? We already signed up for ASA 101, 103, and 104 (I figure that can help with insurance rates)

Thanks again!
We have some Australian friends, who were moderately experienced sailors (a lot of sheltered water sailing, one overseas voyage), and who had a small family yacht for a long time. They went to Europe, bought a large ex-charter monohull there, sailed it to Panama, stored it there, and re-joined it the next year to sail it home with their family of 4 kids. That boat was a 56 footer. The skipper and wife are experienced. They hired a governess to deal with the kids. It worked quite well, let the experienced crew deal with the watchkeeping, whatever engineering issues and weather issues that developed, and the housekeeping and kids were taken care of.

Not meaning to discourage you, but sailing lessons, of course, will help, but what you'll come out of them short of is experience. If you're the sort of person who glories in a challenge, the "wake me up if you have any concerns at all" kind of skippership may work for you.

A caveat: if you fall apart under fatigue or stress, then it will be very hard for you, and possibly very hard on your family. This is something that we couldn't possibly tell from the outside, but you, looking within, will see the reality. A lot, also, depends on how mechanically inclined you, your wife, and your 15 yr. old are; many hands make light work.

I would make sure I read up on heavy weather sailing (Adlard Coles), because that is where you want to have already made plans to put into place before things get challenging, and you will find out what works and doesn't...

Good luck. There will be huge upsides if you can make it all work. It is certainly a worthy goal.

Ann

PS. sv TOTEM, a member here, has a blog, and they cruised with their kids a lot, and are open to communicating with other families who want to do it.

PPS. Don't be surprised if extended family members suddenly stop supporting your efforts for any excuses at all. I don't think they're taking you seriously yet.

Here on CF, yours is an often asked question, so searching on the topic "Cruising with Kids," should be fruitful. Anticipate everything from GO NOW to DON'T GO AT ALL.

You might also take a look at all the repairs threads, see what kinds of boats have what kinds of problems. Those are fairly hot subjects.

A.
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:14   #3
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Best wishes to you all. I have learned a lot from this forum, but also from several books, which I can recommend. Easy reads, with true-life info which starts where the typical sailing lessons leave off. I assume you've already run into Voyager's Handbook, etc. A few others:

Pacific Crossing Notes
https://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Cross...crossing+notes

Buy, Outfit, Sail by Capt. Fatty Goodlander
https://www.amazon.com/Outfit-Sail-C.../dp/B00638SJII
in which Captain Fatty shows how you can cruise the world on the cheap. He is incredibly cheap by modern standards, but has a significant focus on safety at sea and comfort at anchor.

Creative Anchoring by Capt. Fatty Goodlander
https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Anch...9RQ3DPEJM68FKD
in which Capt. Fatty shows you how to anchor in all sorts of crazy situations. Some excellent and humorous stories (which he is known for). This has been a great reference for me and we've been in some challenging spots which were made much more enjoyable by knowing that we were anchored properly.

Storm Proofing your Boat, Gear, and Crew
https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Proofin...T4G8DVMCT16MD4
in which Capt. Fatty discusses outfitting for safety. Great guide as well.
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:16   #4
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

PS. Ann mentioned SV Totem. Aside from their great blog and web/social media presence, Behan has written a great book "Voyaging with Kids", which should also be on your bookshelf.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010XWRHU0...ng=UTF8&btkr=1
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Old 06-08-2017, 14:28   #5
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Hello,
I really recommend that you check the book 'Get real, get gone' by Rick Page and Jasna Tuta, which gives a lot of tips on purchasing a boat and start cruising almost from scratch. I think that they sell it on their website (http://sailingcapypso.com).
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Old 27-09-2017, 12:31   #6
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
We are a family of seven, Mom, Dad and 15, 13, 12, 10 and 7 years old.
We are also a family of 7, ages 9-15. Congratulations and good luck. We find it can make cruising easier with more kids as there is reduced drive to find other kid-boats for them to hangout with. We sometimes even take 2 or 3 other kids with us.

Quote:
I've done some sailing but the Mrs. and the kids haven't done much besides puttering around in SunFish on the lakes around us. Nobody has any experience with large boats with complicated systems, but we are pretty handy and are willing to take on any challenge. We're also ready to get help.
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it. If you don't have experience with large boats and complicated systems, I suggest you set your expectations that a lot of time is going to be spent maintaining/repairing the boat.

Quote:
If you were in my shoes and had it to do all over again what would you do to prepare for the trip?
Put away more money

I would suggest spending several months cruising where you have easy access to chandleries/hardware stores and where you can cheaply get parts/equipment shipped in. You'll probably find, as we did, that there are a zillion things we never thought about that we ended up getting for the boat -- from air fresheners and vacuum cleaners to soap dispensers and hammocks -- not to mention all the regular boat stuff -- tools, lubricants, spares, etc. Being somewhere you have can easily have stuff shipped to you helps.

Quote:
Would you use a broker to buy a boat or try to go private party?
(I'll get a survey regardless.)
There's no harm in working with a broker. If you find an experienced one they can help guide your decisions and propose boats you might not have otherwise thought of. While you're working with them you can continue to search private party sales -- you're under no obligation to buy through them.


Quote:
Would you get the best deal you can on a boat regardless of location or buy something in the USA (since that's where we are)?
It depends (on the deal, the boat, the flagging/duty, the location, etc.)


Quote:
Do certifications help? We already signed up for ASA 101, 103, and 104 (I figure that can help with insurance rates)
Certification may not matter for insurance. If you haven't done many miles on a boat of similar size before, many insurers may balk at taking on the risk, or may require that you sail with another captain or other crew for a period of time. You might want to get in touch with a marine insurance agent now to discuss this and set your plans accordingly.
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:28   #7
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Hi and welcome,

We are a family of eight that took a one year sailing sabbatical and sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean from England in 2007 and sailed back to our home in Scotland in 2008. It was the experience of a lifetime that will live with us forever. Our six children (two boys and four girls) were aged between six and twelve years of age.

My wife and I had each done a bit of small boat sailing before we met, a total of about 600nm each, but literally hadn't done any sailing for ten years before we set off on our Atlantic Circuit.

We were fortunate that when we were looking for a boat we discovered that Lagoon were selling the 420 Hybrid off-plan at a heavily discounted price that just put it into our price range with a delivery date that coincided with our planned departure date. In the event, the boat was delivered two months late, which made it all a bit rushed to catch up with our weather window, which meant we set sail across the Bay of Biscay three weeks after taking delivery of the boat and we learned as we went.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
I'm leaning toward at least a 44-foot catamaran or 55-foot monohull for the adventure. Depending on where we bought the boat we could leave and get our sea-legs in Mexico and the Sea of Cortez or the Carribean. Eventually, we would like to do an ocean crossing but not until we feel ready.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
If you were in my shoes and had it to do all over again what would you do to prepare for the trip
If I was doing the same again, I wouldn't change a thing. Much as I love sailing in a monohull, I wouldn't consider a trip like this in one. For us, the ocean crossings were breeze in our 42 foot catamaran, whereas we met monohull families that were totally exhausted after their crossings. We also met monohull families with teenage children where there was no escape from teenage hormones and life was pretty unpleasant at times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
The reason we don't want to put this off any longer is our oldest will be in college in three years and we want him to be a part of the adventure.
Good thinking, but do it soon.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
Would you use a broker to buy a boat or try to go private party?(I'll get a survey regardless.)
We didn't face that choice as we had to use a broker. We didn't get a survey, although some people recommend one with a new boat. If I were buying preowned from the owner then I'd take a risk based on my judgement of the owner and I tend to be trusting. Most people love their boats and want to see them go to someone who will cherish them and get a lot from them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HIP View Post
Do certifications help? We already signed up for ASA 101, 103, and 104 (I figure that can help with insurance rates)
Personally I never bothered and I don't think it affects my insurance premium. I think much of the training in the UK is outdated, particularly where navigation is concerned, and virtually none of it is relevant to catamarans.

Chris
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:49   #8
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Definitely a catamaran, not only because of your number but also because you're more interested in the journey vs. pure sailing. Some would say that sailing a catamaran is like driving a truck and I agree...if you're actually behind helm. But as a comfortable journeying and adventure platform there is no comparison.

I would look for one lightly used that has been upgraded with some cruising equipment, provided the equipment is relatively recent. This will give you the best value for your dollar.

On the experience front, there is absolutely no substitute for time spent on the water with someone who knows what they are doing. For you, volunteering as crew on a passage with an experienced captain on a catamaran, you'll learn more in 5-7 days than you'd learn in months of figuring it out on your own. Boat owners are always looking for crew for passages, on this site and elsewhere. There's a site called crewfinder.com or something similar as well but I've never used it. Might be worth a look.

There are a wide variety of skills needed to do this successfully, and the hats you need to wear include but are not limited to: mariner, sailor, weatherman, navigator, mechanic, electrician, rigger, plumber, safety officer. The more that you can do to acquire basic or advanced skills in all of those the better prepared you'll be when you set out.

I personally would start out in the Caribbean. Lots of ground to cover in a fairly compact area, lots of information available and variety to be had, and the kids will love it.
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:09   #9
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Hey HIP, welcome from another newb. Family of four, incl. a 5 and 7 yr old boy and girl respectively, bought a 35' centrecockpit '70's full keeled tub of a boat in Ft. Lauderdale in 2015.

We motorsailed (for some reason the wind was always on the nose ) from Florida, through Bahamas, Turks, Cuba, Mexico, Belize, and now the boat lives happily on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. We had very little sailing experience before we left, and very little after - as I said we motored a lot

What I'd do the same:
-the route we took was amazing - we loved every bit of it. There were very few passages of over a day. We spent two months in the Bahamas and didn't see a tenth of it; I'd go back in a heartbeat.

-we didn't have 'plans' that we told people about (that way if we changed our minds there wouldn't be the million questions). We followed Lin and Larry Pardey's advice when asked how long we'd be sailing and told people we'd go where the wind took us and sail for as long as it was fun. That's all they need to know about future plans - as we left on a passage we'd let a few people know our immediate plans, i.e. for the next few days.

-the boat is very basic, and I'd do that again. The fewer systems you have the fewer headaches you'll have - yes you can learn to live without something if it breaks down, but I found its frustrating nonetheless. Better to be without at the get go (you'll never miss what you didn't have). Sure radar and aircon would've been nice, but getting used to aircon then having it fail would've, at certain points, really caused tension between spouses. I'm of the opinion that getting the smallest boat you can reasonably live in, with the fewest mod-cons, is best (previous owner had a small genset which they kept when they sold, we thought about buying one to replace but instead we bought an additional solar panel and reduced electrical load by changing to LED's etc.)

-we bought a Rocna one size up from the recommended and I'd do that again. The CQR that came with the boat dragged in a squall (it was lighter so I'd used it as a day hook) while in a tight anchorage in the Bahamas. Only stopped dragging when the keel touched bottom. That was, uhh, fun! Rocna never dragged and we sat out the outskirts of Hurricane Joachim in the Turks, and another wicked squall in Georgetown. Get good ground tackle.

-I'll second suggestions for Nigel Calders diesel book - several times the engine quit and after exhausting my meagre trouble shooting playbook I broke out his book and sorted out the issues.

-wife and daughter are prone to seasickness, we found Sea Bands were very effective and we recommend them.

-swimming lessons - get your kids and yourself comfortable swimming. When you're on the hook you'll be spending a lot of time in the water, and you want your kids comfortable there. You also want to be comfortable knowing that your kids are safe; its amazing how difficult swimming against a slight current can be after goofing around in the water for half an hour. We would snorkle up current then drift down to the boat, then back up current, drift down to the boat etc.

-all of your kids are old enough to take the helm - trust them! Maybe not for long periods, but they need some ownership too. The more they know the better off they'll be.

-on passages the kids always wore lifejackets (except in extremely calm weather in extremely hot conditions, then they were allowed to take them off when in the cockpit - out of the cockpit, jackets came on)

-each person needs a dedicated space for 'their' stuff, books, legos, what have you. Bring lots of games. My wife packed away little surprises so once a month or so the kids would get a new book, or a new lego set, etc. which lifted their spirits and provided new stimulation. Lots of fish/coral/shark/whale identifying charts and books.

What I'd do different:
-I bought a boat full of spares, from a US AirForce pilot, who had just returned from a year sabbatical with his family of four. They kept a nice blog and we thought we had a boat, as advertised, 'ready to sail away'. Welp. Boat was full of spares - of the wrong size. Guy was a pilot, not a mechanic. They'd replaced the fuel tanks because of a leak, so we bought a boat with 'new fuel tanks!'. Wouldn't you know it, the day before we were scheduled to leave I filled the tanks up and we went out for a farewell dinner, came back to the boat with a half a foot of diesel in the bilge. Spent eight hours removing all our supplies from the bilge, cleaning it, putting it on the dock, then two days cleaning all the fuel out of the boat and checking every dang fitting and found a grossly installed t-junction behind a settee, the fuel gauge senders weren't installed properly, etc. etc. You will always have surprises, some good some frustrating. Don't believe a word from the broker, or the seller.

-if we were to do the route again I'd like a catamaran, you can't have enough deck space in the tropics. In different locales I'd definitely prefer a pilothouse monohull, nice and cozy, but in the Caribbean shallow draft with lots of deck space please!

-get a good dinghy! We spent a lot of time travelling from our anchorages by dinghy and if I'd do it again I'd get a bigger outboard (we bought a four horse as it was the largest my wife could wrangle aboard - we tried to make life easy for her in case something happened to me - we also surmised that a tiny outboard would be less prone to theft)

-we bought too much foodstuff before we left, there's still stuff on the boat! Although with a 15 yr old boy this might not be applicable to you!

We didn't get insurance as we left in Hurricane season and no underwriter would quote us. One did, at a third the purchase price of the boat, we said no thanks.

If you have any questions please ask!
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:17   #10
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Do this by taking baby steps first. Charter some boats first. Take just you and your wife first. Then do some charters with the rest of the family.

Don't make the mistake of buying the wrong boat for what you want or a boat that is not quite what you should have purchased.

You want to get some experience under your belts before making the big purchase. You will be far more educated and experienced and therefore will have a better knowledge of what you need and don't need.
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Old 02-10-2017, 00:00   #11
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Taking a family cruising aboard a 55ft boat is much harder than you imagine. ASA IV is a basic course and in no way would it prepare you for a gale at sea or a MOB at night.

As David M says take baby steps.

MAYDAY! On passage from Mo’orea to Huahine catamaran "Tanda Malaika" violently hits an unmarked reef —

That reef was very well marked!

This is one of two boats that sank on reefs in the last few months and hitting a reef is only one of the thousand and one ways to screw up on a boat!

I have a 55ft boat and nothing to do in December, PM me and I will take you and your wife sailing amongst 'unmarked reefs!'
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Old 02-10-2017, 01:23   #12
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Best of luck to you. Given your inexperience with systems and larger boats, a buyer's broker might be a good idea. They work for you, hopefully, and their commissions are paid by the sellers; but beware, it's not a highly regulated industry, and references count. Wherever you buy, here or overseas, factor in transportation costs, taxes, import duties, etc. It's always nice if you can personally see the vessel before you buy it, but looking in the broader market of the world affords more choices. Yacht World is a good resource. The ASA courses you mention are a great idea, not only for insurance discounts, but because they are packed with useful information. Start with coastal cruising, you might find it suits your desires just fine, and stop there. Learn your boat and its systems, be certain all of your family learns the basics of sailing, and get safety down to a science. Practice man overboard until it's second nature. Get some gradual experience in sailing on inclement days. You'll have to challenge yourself to grow where weather is concerned. Blue water is graduate work, as you've observed, requiring special preparation of vessel and crew, plus the ability to "fix things," ALL things. Don't rush the process. Your confidence will grow with your experience, and when pucker factor kicks in, listen to it. The important thing is the voyage with your family, not the destination. Be safe, and enjoy the path with heart upon which you are embarking. May the wind be at your back.
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Old 08-10-2017, 22:19   #13
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Re: Newbie Dad looking for Advice on Boat and Basically Everything

Living on a boat is not that easy. If you like to choose adventure, then go abroad.
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