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Old 06-09-2019, 08:25   #1
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Recommendations for best way to get started

Hi,

I would like to retire in the next 3 years, and my wife and I are very strongly considering buying a catamaran. We would probably spend the first year living on the boat in a marina (sailing only locally to get more experience), then the next year sailing around the US coastal waters and carribean. After that, if we like it enough and feel comfortable, attempt an ocean crossing.

The thing is, we currently have no sailing experience whatsoever. We've owned boats, but always small, motorized boats, nothing over 20 feet and nothing with sails.

We have a couple years to learn/train/get experience and decide if this is what we really want to do, and we're looking on recommendations on the best/most affordable way to get started, without investing a ton money before we find out if we even like it or not.

For example, we could take a ASA 101/103/104/114 learn to cruise vacation to get started but I wonder if anyone here has other recommendations.

But, do we even need the certifications if we never intend to charter a boat or take on passengers for hire? Would the certifications be required for (or lower the cost of) insurance? Could we instead learn from an experienced captain without doing (paying for) the certifications? Are there other alternatives?

Or, if it turns out that we need or want the certifications, is there a specific program anyone would recommend (or to avoid)? We live in Florida, and something nearby would be ideal.
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Old 07-09-2019, 05:55   #2
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

You don’t need certificates.
I recommend taking course, you will get valuable experience and knowledge.
It will also help you decide if you like it.
After the course with a certificate, charter a boat, it will help you decide if it’s right for you. Is it expensive, possibly, cheaper than buying the wrong boat.
Or finding out after you bought a boat sailing is not your thing.
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:29   #3
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pirate Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

Seeing as your looking at catamarans, the expensive entry its likely you can afford this.
An RYA skippered charter where you both can gain a ticket and find out if its the life for you at the same time.
As someone said.. dimes spent saving dollars if you find its not for you.
You can find preparatory theory courses on line
https://www.google.com/search?q=rya+...ing%2520Centre

https://www.kippersailing.co.uk/cour...MaAglTEALw_wcB
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:58   #4
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

Agree with above advice, ASA, RYA, USS, all good steps, RYA is the most rigorous, the others are very good as well. You both need to do the classes! Get yourselves on sailing boats, the classes are great, but first hand experience and decision making on your own is key. Have fun doing it, it will be a great adventure for both of you! I will stress that BOTH of you need to be involved in every step, this makes for a powerful team.

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Old 07-09-2019, 08:51   #5
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

Check out NauticEd.org - great online courses and then you can do practical competencies. MUCH different that ASA and better in my opinion!
You can do the online work and then find a NauticEd school to do your practicals.
There is nothing like getting TRAINED FROM AN EXPERT! I learned to sail only 5 years ago knowing NOTHING, but I took classes and also did NauticEd. I grew exponentially and yes, I spent money taking courses but if you are investing in this as a lifestyle, do it the right way, get the training, know what you are doing and have a GREAT TIME!
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:36   #6
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Seeing as your looking at catamarans, the expensive entry its likely you can afford this.
An RYA skippered charter where you both can gain a ticket and find out if its the life for you at the same time.
As someone said.. dimes spent saving dollars if you find its not for you.
You can find preparatory theory courses on line
https://www.google.com/search?q=rya+...ing%2520Centre

https://www.kippersailing.co.uk/cour...MaAglTEALw_wcB
I would go with Boatman's answer dovetailed with RACING. All the courses in the world are great for exposing you but racing builds the muscle memory under stress.

There are usually "C" fleets at most clubs that are not as aggressive as the A and B fleets and both you and your wife can likely find a spot to crew. Added benefit, you will get involved in your local yacht club, meet folks who share your interests and likely develop a taste for Heineken and Captain Morgan :-) (not necessarily in that order)
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:09   #7
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

I endorse the above advice. Take the courses (both of you), read Chapman, then read Chapman again. Sail with your local sailing club. There is always someone willing to add you as crew. Charter a cat in the BVI, then charter a different cat in a different place, then sign on to crew on a couple of deliveries. You will learn a lot from your delivery captain. Then buy your boat and go cruising.
One caveat: My wife and I think it is usually best for a woman to learn to sail from a woman teacher in a women-only class. You and your wife may want to take separate beginning courses. After that, you can take courses together.
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:31   #8
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

All good advice above. We learned on dinghies, moved on to cruising boats initially via a couple of cruise and learn weeks "at sea" as a family. Then we bought a one third share in a keel boat which gave more time for practice. Not long after that we bought our own first boat. Throughout, we have taken CYA courses together and individually. There came a point where it was better for my wife to learn from someone else. Earlier this year we crossed the Pacific from Mexico to Tahiti. All went well.

Good luck and happy sailing.
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:56   #9
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

Thanks, everyone for the excellent advice.

I think we're going to start out with just the ASA 101 course, and if we like that then we're going to consider a catamaran vacation to pick up the other certifications. It's little pricier than we would like for a 1 week vacation, but as several have said: it's worth the investment to see if we really would enjoy the live aboard lifestyle before we invest in a boat! This way we also have the certifications to make it easier/less costly to get insurance when we eventually do get a boat.
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Old 07-09-2019, 13:33   #10
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

No experience, you better have cash. No insurance without experience equals no boat loan. All the ASA, and the like, will help if you had even a couple of years of serious sailing experience. And marinas and some countries won't let you in without insurance.

Like the old AC/DC tune: "Its a long way to the top if your want to rock and roll."

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Old 07-09-2019, 14:53   #11
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

Uricanejack put it as well as it can be said. The only thing I can add is keep chartering until you are sure this is what you, and more importantly, your family want. Friends and family can go with you to offset the cost of chartering as you build your experience and confidence. We did this for years and have some incredible memories from each charter. This will help you decide what you want in a boat as well. I agree with other comments, this “cost” is nothing compared to the cost of boat ownership. Take your time, and enjoy.
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Old 07-09-2019, 21:12   #12
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Re: Recommendations for best way to get started

I agree that getting some ASA classes classes under you belt is a good start. You could join a local sailing club and use their boats while taking the courses. I also agree with volunteering to crew in racing. Nothing teaches you sailing faster than racing. Then follow it up with a sailing vacation on a catamaran. Once you get your bare boat license you can have some friends out to share the expenses of another sailing vacation while you try your hand at skippering a cat. A few vacation on a Leopard or Lagoon will give you some hands on experience in determining which boat you want to buy. The next step might be to actually buy a cat and put it into charter with one of the larger charter companies: Moorings, Sunsail, Dreamyachts. This will give you a chance to use boats for up to 12 weeks a year around the world at their bases. My experience with them was that it was about a break even on my investment at the end of 5 years but gave me experience sailing in cruising grounds around the world that would have cost me over $500,000 had I paid for the 12 months a year for 5 years. If you have the initial funds to buy a new cat it seems like a win win for you for the next 5 years. After that you can either sell the cat that was in charter and buy something else or take it over when it comes out of charter.
cheers,
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