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Old 07-04-2021, 22:46   #1
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Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

I am 235 days away (aka Nov 29th) from sailing away from Key west, and Iím looking for some advice. Iím currently living on the boat at Stock Island Marina Village in Key West. If youíre in the area say high. I also manage the best gentlemenís club on the island,if youíd like to come in for a drink.
Anyways, Iím thinking I will sail to the Bahamas first, and then meander my way down towards the US Virgin Islands. Mostly because itís the only place I can get a job. However I am also considering heading towards Mexico to begin with. I have friends that went that way, and then spent hurricane season in the Rio dolce. They said it was amazing. Feel free to leave an opinion on which way I should go.
My boat is an Irwin 30 shoal draft version. Hereís a list of equipment and work done, as well as a list of things that will be done before I leave.

DONE
All new standing and running rigging
2 new sails, and new roller furling
All through holes replaced and new bottom job
Katadyn Power Survivor 40 water maker
Some kind of ice box fridge unit. May upgrade
Almost all wiring replaced
Marinaire 14,000 btu ac

NEED TO DO
SAILING LESSONS!!
Solar arch with davits. Thoughts?
Battery bank?
Wind scoops? Recommendations?
RIB preferably aluminum bottom? Maybe not?
Tiller pilot?
EPIRB
Probably a hundred more things


Other than the trip from Fort Myers, to Key West when I bought the boat, Iíve never sailed in my life. I was able to complete that journey on my own, but not easily. Broke a chain plate on the second day, which I jury rigged with a ratchet strap, and it took nine days instead of five. At one point I was 10 miles offshore, and 40 knot winds. It was a very humbling learning experience.
Iím open to any advice, other than I need a bigger boat. Iíve been living in some boat or another for the last five years, and was living in a VW bus for the four years before that. I like that itís small, and itís built like a brick **** house. I am fully confident the boat can handle more than I can as a captain. Cheers!

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Old 08-04-2021, 00:10   #2
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

I would say a season or two more of actual sailing experience before you try to cross big seas.

The reputation of Irwin boats, by people who are familiar with them, does not suggest that they are built like brick ****houses. The venerable and late marine architect and surveyor Jack Hornor said of Irwin boats:

"Long ago Irwin Yachts recognized the cost considerations of the average boat buyer and, quite frankly, compromised on the quality of fit and finish to offer boats that were carefully priced, well advertised and widely sold to a very broad spectrum of customers.
By general industry practice, construction of the Irwin [boats] would be considered on the light side."

Jack Hornor 1996 Spinsheet magazine.

The irwins, while very attractive and comfortable boats, have a reputation for being lightly constructed, to be sold as economical boats for coastal cruising and bay sailing.

I spent the last 6 years researching, and reading boat reviews , to decide which boat I should buy, I read many reviews of Irwin boats that say that some had cored hulls, improperly bedded deck fittings, and a hull to deck joining method that was considered lightweight, using self tapping screws, rather than being through bolted.

Did you replace all of the chain plates? Are the chain plates bolted to the framework of the boat, or merely laminated in place?

I sailed an Irwin 32 on a week-long charter in the Neuse River Sound. I found it to be comfortable, and fun to sail, but because I have similar sailing plans as yours, and based on the reviews, Irwin boats never made it on my list of top boats to consider.
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Old 08-04-2021, 00:17   #3
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

When I was in a similar situation, I tried to take out the boat at least once a week (given the weather wasn't too bad). And if it was only to motor out for 20 minutes and bob around on a flat sea doing nothing and motor back. If there was wind, it was for afternoon / sundowner sailing. You'll have to find the 2-3 hours. Soon you'll be anchoring out for beautiful nights and get into it.

This will build your confidence like crazy and give you practice with docking, setting sails etc.

And don't start with excuses, like you're alone, the EPIRB hasn't arrived, the moon is in the Aquarius. Just do it.
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Old 08-04-2021, 03:17   #4
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

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Did you replace all of the chain plates? Are the chain plates bolted to the framework of the boat, or merely laminated in place?


Yes they were all replaced, 6 through bolts in each. This is either a 76 or a 79 Irwin, before they started skimping on the fiberglass. Very confident in the boat, thank you.
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Old 08-04-2021, 04:34   #5
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

A fiend of mine had an Irwin when we were stationed in Hawaii. He did a few trips from Oahu to Molokai and a couple out to Maui. He had breakages, but none were uniquely Irwin problems. His masthead failed from crevice corrosion and he almost lost his rig, but he managed to keep it up- much like you did. He had a hose below the waterline work itís way loose and started taking on serious water in his way back from Molokai. But the boat itself stood up to the conditions between the islands (usually 5-7í swells with 2-3í wind waves) well enough.

I say all that because youíre unlikely to find anything along those routes that would sink your Irwin. As with any older boat (Irwin or otherwise) youíll just have to deal with breakages from time to time. The more you use it, youíll find the breakages will start to slow down over time.

I would recommend taking it out regularly ahead of any big trips though. See if you can chase out any impending breakages in a more controlled environment. That, and youíll develop some of the skills youíll want for the longer passages.
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Old 08-04-2021, 05:17   #6
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Enjoy..
In 2004/5 people in NC advised me against taking a 1983 Hunter 37 across the Atlantic... let alone one that had not been extensively prepared.
I made it and the only failure was a brand new Simrad WP and a popped out forward bulkhead when a big wave dumped on me NE of Bermuda.. I must confess that freaked me out enough in '04 to turn back for Oriental.
However in' 05 I made the trip all the way without refitting the bulkhead and despite the replacement new Simrad WP failing again after a similar time as the first.
You have done way more than I did so have confidence, sail in season and reef early.. the exercise is good for you..
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Old 09-04-2021, 10:27   #7
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

Do take those classes up to and including ASA104 before you make an attempt for the Bahamas much less the US Virgin Islands. Spend a year making more forages out as often as you can to build up your confidence before you cut loose for more distant seas.
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Old 09-04-2021, 13:59   #8
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

We bought a boat and sailed to the Bahamas despite my wife having never sailed before.
We spent 3 months just in the northern Bahamas living aboard and learning our boat.
We then came back to the USA to do the upgrades and changes that we then knew we wanted. You already have a great boat for the Bahamas and provided you watch the weather before you attempt to cross the gulf stream, you will learn far more by doing on your own and having fun every day, than you would by occasionally getting out or taking boring theory classes.
There is risk in everything we do, but more often than not, the fear of the unknown is greater than the reality. Take some personal responsibility and get on out there.
Best of luck and we hope to see you along the way on your fantastic journey.
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Old 09-04-2021, 15:07   #9
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

Really like your can-do attitude and we need more of that everywhere these days! IMHO it does not require a "bluewater" yacht to cruise safely, it only requires a bluewater sailor! Get ASA class and a little more experience on overnight sailing before you leave the Bahamas or head across to Mexico though.
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Old 09-04-2021, 15:28   #10
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

Hello lots of answers from folks that probably never saw 40 knots. Have someone show you the ropes and go have fun. Read this 1ST and you will see that floating along is not that hard.

http://www.bluemoment.com/pdf/shrimpy.pdf
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Old 10-04-2021, 05:58   #11
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

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Enjoy..
In 2004/5 people in NC advised me against taking a 1983 Hunter 37 across the Atlantic... let alone one that had not been extensively prepared.
Ahh... that would be a Cherubini Hunter, and a cutter at that, I believe. Probably one of the most underestimated/undervalued boats out there. A good seagoing boat at a great price. Before the bean counters took over.

Have seen two boats being cut up for scrap. One was an Irvin, the other a Gulfstar. Seeing their hulls' layup in cross section, did not inspire confidence.
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Old 10-04-2021, 06:54   #12
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Ahh... that would be a Cherubini Hunter, and a cutter at that, I believe. Probably one of the most underestimated/undervalued boats out there. A good seagoing boat at a great price. Before the bean counters took over.

Have seen two boats being cut up for scrap. One was an Irvin, the other a Gulfstar. Seeing their hulls' layup in cross section, did not inspire confidence.
Yup.. A couple came to grief near Cape Lookout in '04 which fuelled the comments in Oriental about my chances but she was brilliant and sailed like a dream in light and gusty conditions upsetting a few Bene 40 owners when I got her to the UK..
Remember seeing a couple of racing boats around 40ft that had been in collisions and they were wafer thin hulls.. put me off my ideas of buying a cheap racer for cruising to the Med..
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Old 10-04-2021, 09:00   #13
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

You are currently living on this boat, but never sail it? Practice, practice, practice! Try getting insurance for your plans now, so that you will know what they will require. Your boat is small enough that US insurance may not require a captain to sign off, but a wider cruising range may.
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Old 05-05-2021, 19:29   #14
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

Hello I bought a 31 ft Hunter about a year ago and have been living on it. Here's what I recommend:

- Most important thing is to have good anchoring system otherwise you will lose your boat in no time when you venture to new places. Main anchor with at least 100 - 150 ft of chain. Secondary anchor can have 15 ft of chain and 85 ft rope. Main anchor I've found danforth 25 lb works best on all chain to weigh it down and dig in great. Secondary anchor, I like Claw type which is great to have, prevent your boat from doing a 180 and pulling out your main anchor. Always use both anchors, preferably 90 degrees to each other, don't be lazy and you won't have any problems. Your back might hurt, but your wallet won't.

- Preventative Engine Maintenance goes a long way: When you use the boat more, any engine issues will become more obvious. I recommend changing all belts, cooling hoses, oil, oil filter, coolant, air filter, primary fuel filter, secondary fuel filter. Also, get a pre-filter to filter fuel from large particles and water before you pour it in tank. Always add some Seafoam to fuel. Fuel is #1 issue with old diesels and the quality in the Caribbean is marginal.

- Rather than EPIRB, which is incredibly expensive. I use three different things. Make sure VHF is working on boat, get handheld VHF, and there are pretty good GPS beacons like ZOLEO to check in from remote places and send SOS.

- Get 2x75 watt solar panels, 2 or 3 100 amp hour batteries. You can run a nice 12v cooler Amazon like Setpower, for very little energy. Also, 12 volt fan goes a long way so you don't have to run A/C all the time. Also, I highly recommend inspecting your electrical system, it's one of the top causes of boat fires. Also make sure your fire extinguisher is in good working order and you want a CO alarm onboard.

- For Dinghy, you can get a good Inflatable off Amazon brand is Newport Vessels 9 ft 6 in for a good price. Outboard I have Yamaha 2.5 hp works well and ONLY use rec 90 fuel and it will start on the first pull every time, NO OUTBOARD PROBLEMS.

- For navigation, use Navionics app. Make a plan, scroll through every mile to make notes of hazards, and try to take all factors into account like weather, tides, etc before sailing.

- Lots of good books out there on Amazon. I highly recommend DK Sailing Guide and the Cost Conscious Cruiser. Both great books and tons of information in there.
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Old 09-05-2021, 03:35   #15
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Re: Getting ready for first ever sailing adventure

Sounds like you might be going solo, if so then one of my first priorities would be figuring out a decent self stearing solution.
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