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Old 19-01-2021, 11:07   #31
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Originally Posted by FutureCapt View Post
Hey all,
This is my first time posting here. Please let me know if I am breaking any etiquette or rules so I can edit and correct.

So small backstory. I am a recent widower. My wife, of nine years, and I made a trip to Kenai Fjords two summers ago and I fell in love with sailboats. I've studied sailing since then. My wife passed from stage 4 breast cancer in August. I am 29 years old and unfortunately with no children. My thought is I am never going to be this young and/or available ever again.
I can't imagine anyone has ever been on their deathbed thinking, "I wish I hadn't sailed the word."
I would like to circumnavigate the globe.

I know this is a bigger task then I realize currently. I am hoping some experienced salt may help me make a reality of my dream by sharing their experience.

I've talked to some of my friends about joining me and it looks like it would be just me, solo.
I sailed a little in the boy scouts (eagle scout here) but that's been over a decade now so for all intents and purposes I'm a beginner.

I've been enamored by the Catalina 36. It's well within my price range and I've seen it on the world ARC list before. What do you think this boat has for pros and cons in a circumnavigation.

I like the "usual" two-and-a-half year circumnavigation plan with the extra season in the South Pacific/New Zealand area. I'd start heading south and west-ish from the Seattle area around February 2022 as a target. I know please laugh, I don't know what I'm talking about, that's why I'm asking for help.

I haven't looked thoroughly at any real routes but have purchased Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes and World Voyage Planner and Don Casey's Complete Sailboat Maintenance Manual.

Do you think that $1,500.00 per month (so 45K cash for the voyage, with an additional 2.5k set aside for the Panama Canal) would be a realistic budget for 30 months travel?

I know this is all still new to me so please excuse the naivety and offer experience and assistance if you are able. Please let me know any other information that may be needed or DM me.
Thank you in advance,
Sorry for your loss.

A desire to circumnavigate is common among most sailors. Take it one step at a time and work up to it. However, if you are planning to circumnavigate rather than sail coastal selecting your boat is a bit more involved as not all are designed for offshore passages. Furthermore, you are buying used so only boats on the market are the options you will be looking at assuming your not going to build your own. Additionally, since you are a new sailor/boater you haven't gotten your sea legs and determined what your personal limits are...what you are comfortable with.

By all means get yourself out on the water sailing via lessons, clubs, friends. whatever...get your feet wet. See what others recommend but, above all else, realize you are getting opinions not hard facts 99% of the time...weigh them all and create a vision of the boat features you want. Look at as many different boats as you can...and there are many. This encompasses not only the boat layout and equipment but more importantly how it sails, handles, and can withstand the seas you are planning to take it through. Make short lists as to what fits your plan and what does not.

Boat length (LOA) alone is not the deciding factor for a suitable offshore passage/circumnavigation boat...there are small boats that meet those specifications and larger ones that do not...the Catalina 36 would not be my first choice. Do your research, check out viable boat specifications on, compare them, and gather more information/reviews on the ones that interest you. Once you buy the boat you will just have to make the best of what you have so take your time and be committed when you pull the trigger.

Your selection of reading material: Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes and World Voyage Planner, and Don Casey's Complete Sailboat Maintenance Manual are very good beginnings. I would further recommend Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder. There are many others.

In terms of timing February is early to depart Washington particularly for a new sailor. You should follow Cornell's recommendations to minimize your risk. I departed the coast from Neah Bay at the end of May, leave time to select a good weather window. Remember the Washington-Oregon coast is called the Graveyard of the Pacific and mother nature doesn't care how big your boat is or how much money you have. Once you leave the coast you are on your own, literally.

You will live on whatever your budget is. Just remember that everything takes longer and costs more than you expect or plan.

Good Luck.

~ ~ _/) ~ ~ MJH
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Old 19-01-2021, 11:13   #32
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

"As an exercise, price up a mainsail for 40' and 30' or the amount of bottom paint needed. I promise you the difference in the costs are staggering."

I just bought a new main for my 26',. It was $2100 Canadian.
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Old 19-01-2021, 11:42   #33
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

I am sorry for your loss but hopefully you will make a number of good friends and memories over this passage. Single-handing is a problem if there is no furling system for the main, docking a monohull without bow thrusters, and if she is a monohull longer than 50 feet. Buy the largest boat you can. She will go faster, be more comfortable and have more storage/fuel/water capacity. Good luck
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Old 19-01-2021, 12:37   #34
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

I'm truly sorry for your loss. I know how hard that can be.

If your loss is very recent you may not really be emotionally ready for such an arduous and lonely task, but no one but you knows for sure. The first few years can be a real roller-coaster and being away from friends and family in the middle of the ocean may not be a good idea.

If you really are a novice sailor, I would spend some time learning how to sail in all types of weather before setting out alone across large oceans. Try to crew with some local sailors. You will learn what you really like and don't like in a boat. That can be important when it will be your home for so long.
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Old 19-01-2021, 12:44   #35
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Originally Posted by seandepagnier View Post
the bigger the boat the less likely you will achieve your goal. I use smaller boat with weight 4 ton or lower so that it's possible to easily sail as well as human power the boat.

Bigger boats are more dangerous:

1) falling from mast is too high. I fell from the top of my mast and didn't break anything.
2) accidental jibe more danger. I would probably be dead already on large boat.
3) running aground much more difficult to get off again.
4) anchor buried deep in storm, big hassle to raise
5) large boat difficult to sail puts you in difficult position. too many here rely on engine power, I have never used one. the engine often breaks and I never had this problem
6) large boat also costs a lot in too many different ways and the danger is to spoil your plans when you cannot afford to continue.

many people around the world are disgusted by wealth inequity. in many pacific islands they may smile but they are reasonably upset to see large cruising boat dieseling in destroying the reefs of the world when they are living in harmony. I know all about this because the people there told me so! In the most interesting places you can sail to the people prefer a visiting cruising boat without pollution engine. I received more kindness and friendly people and many special passes.

I encourage you and hope you select a boat no longer than 33ft, and prefer 4 tons or lighter in weight. Boats from 24-27ft are adequate. I strongly encourage you to consider the merits of engine free cruising!

I have a 33 foot Westerly and have done shortish offshore passages and coastal passages in some quite big winds. I am sure she could handle an Atlantic crossing. Round the world passages have also been done in surprisingly small boats.

But one factor to consider, especially if thinking about a boat under 30 foot is storage of food, water and fuel. Does the boat you are thinking of have sufficient storage space to carry sufficient food, water and fuel for an extended passage eg 4 weeks or more? Does it have space for a watermaker and sufficient power to operate it?

You also need to think about battery capacity and whether you have sufficient deck space for solar panels or space for a wind generator on the stern.

I suspect that without enough storage space for essentials and power, your voyage will quickly turn from comfortable to intolerable and then to desperate. A bigger boat will give you that vital storage space.

PS Sorry to hear about your loss.
"Outside of a dog a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read" (Marx G. 1890-1977)

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Old 19-01-2021, 13:05   #36
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Kelly, as others have already expressed, I'm, sorry to hear of the loss of your wife, and can readily understand you desire to start on a new and challenging adventure. You are certainly at a good age for the adventure you propose and I only wish I was as young and able to consider such an adventure. However, I would recommend you spend some money initially taking serious lessons on a cruising sailboat with overnight passages. However, if you persist in purchasing a boat for this adventure, I concur with boatman61, Benz, Asus, and others on this forum that a boat smaller sailboat would be more practical for singlehanded sailing. Tania Aebi circumnavigated on a Contessa 26 (read her book "Maiden Voyage"). Yes, the Catalina 36 may be a lot of boat for the money, but definitely would not be among my first 10 choices for a boat to sail any ocean let alone a circumnavigation. Best wishes and good luck in whatever you decide.
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Old 19-01-2021, 13:19   #37
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Have a little experience with a friends C 36. Nice boats for live aboard, coastal cruising and Caribbean but not for a circumnavigation. Big negative is the interior structure is not tabbed to the hull. From what I could see there is no reinforcement of the hulll with the interior floating free. Catalina's construction obviously works for their intended market but wouldn't feel comfortable for an extended cruise.

My friend often single handed the boat not just sailing out in the bay but the boat was so maneuverable he would regularly tuck it into the old SF waterfront warehouse slips to grab lunch. Something I didn't feel comfortable doing with my long keel/attached rudder Pearson35. There is something to be said for the close quartering maneuvering ability of a spade rudder/fin keel design. For real cruising you won't have to be concerned about Marina maneuvering ability as you'll be on the hook most of the time so it's not critical.

As far as size, the C 36 had more space than a couple would need. We lived aboard and cruised a Westsail 32 and had all the room and carrying capacity we could use. The only thing we would have gained in a bigger boat is a place to store toys. Even then we had plenty of room for 'stuff,' a hard dinghy, inflatable, outboard, life raft, scuba gear for two, and enough provisions to be independent for six months.

We were about your age when my wife and I were cruising in our W32 in the mid '70s. A boat over 40' was a rarity. Most of us were in boats considerably smaller, one as small as 24' that had been sailed from France to Tahiti. IIRC there were only two over 40' boats in our seasonal class. These were the days before solar panels, wind generators, water makers, refrigeration, etc. People did just fine especially since few were forced to go from large stinky commercial port to the next large stinky commercial port to get the expertise to keep all those superfluous systems running.

One of my current boats is a 28' racer cruiser that I've spent a some time living on getting it ready to move from SF to SoCal. The 30 gallons of fresh water lasted just fine and the 20 gallon fuel tank and two 5 gallon Gerry jugs was enough fuel to power from Morro Bay to Oceanside. Space to stow provisions was a little tight but would be enough to get me from SF to Hawaii. Would it be the size of choice for an extended cruise, no way, would want something 30' and larger but certainly less than 40'. Realistically you only need about 16' of living space for galley, salon, and head. When I lived alone on my Morgan 35 never used the V berth for more than sail stowage and the same for my Pearson 35 that I solo'd to Hawaii.

As far as design, like the Morgan 38 Mk III and IV. Usable head with separate shower area. Very important if you are going to be showering below decks in less than tropical conditions. The separate keel and rudder should make the boat maneuverable. Like the skeg hung rudder with prop in aperture. Should make the rudder very strong and hide the prop from entanglements. Just wish it was a few feet shorter and available with a tiller. With that length should have plenty of space if you pick up a hitchhiker along the way.
Peter O.
'Ae'a, Pearson 35
'Ms American Pie', Sabre 28 Mark II
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Old 19-01-2021, 13:22   #38
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

A little postscript here Kelly, as I failed to acknowledge your achievement as an Eagle Scout; no small accomplishment and an indication of your determination. Again, I offer my best wishes and, although it is far too early, hopefully one day you will find another first mate and she will welcome your sailing enthusiasm!
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Old 19-01-2021, 13:36   #39
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Hello, Kelly,

Sorry for your loss.

I, too, am in the smallest that will work for you camp. Jim and I sailed a Yankee 30 from SF to HI and return in 1982, but we had been sailing the boat in the bay and coastally before that. Jim chose a 36 footer for us to go cruising further afield, and we lived aboard that boat for 18 yrs. We did not circumnavigate. We have spent our time in what we wryly refer to as the South Pacific Eddy. We are still living aboard, on the hook.

About going small, we have friends who circumnavigated in 26 and 27 footers. The husband and wife team who did it in the 26 footer used celestial navigation, and had a vhf radio and a depth sounder: that was all their electronics. Some will tell you you "must have" more but Twigga's voyage was in more or less modern times, and proof that it can be done. People will try to sell you on the concept of your needing more. Choose wisely.

If you can re-locate to somewhere there is sea water, I'd suggest joining a sailing club that has different boats you can learn to sail on, 22-27 ft. or so. By experience, you will see what your preferences are, and it is always least expensive to learn on other people's boats (OPB's). You can be taught to sail easily. Learning better seamanship is the work of a lifetime. However, participating in club races, and trying to follow the faster boats around the courses will teach you the racing rules (which have carry over to the Colregs), but also help you hone your trimming and tactical skills.


"Future Capt" is an okay screen name for now, but I have to tell you the people here with the most experience do not call themselves Capt. anything. When you want to change it, just let a moderator know, or use the Contact US button at the bottom of the page to request a name change to whatever you want. Among the cruising sailors, many choose to use their own name, or some part of it, or their boat name. One of the newer members who had just had a maiden voyage on her own boat is KellyB, on the east coast of the US.


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Old 19-01-2021, 14:03   #40
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

I just sent you a PM give me a call.
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Old 19-01-2021, 14:39   #41
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Originally Posted by OS2Dude View Post
I'm truly sorry for your loss. I know how hard that can be.

If your loss is very recent you may not really be emotionally ready for such an arduous and lonely task, but no one but you knows for sure. The first few years can be a real roller-coaster and being away from friends and family in the middle of the ocean may not be a good idea.

If you really are a novice sailor, I would spend some time learning how to sail in all types of weather before setting out alone across large oceans. Try to crew with some local sailors. You will learn what you really like and don't like in a boat. That can be important when it will be your home for so long.
Kind of beat me to the point I was going to make.

If we are talking weeks, yes, go ahead and immerse yourself in learning if only to give you something else to focus on but be careful of pulling any triggers you can't UN-PULL.

Until you have had time to process and really think about what your new life will be, I would be concerned about having too much time alone with your thoughts.

To some practical considerations (beyond, yes, I agree a smaller boat would likely be a better option for you):
- Consider your career prospects and how they will be impacted. I assume at 29 you aren't independently wealthy. Is it a career you can leave for a few years and realistically get back into.
- I know it's probably way too early to think about the dating scene but single guys living on boats may sound romantic...but they rarely find romance. Yes, there are exceptions but they are a rarity.
- As far as $1500/month, that can be done but it will likely be a very Spartan lifestyle and a major equipment failure could end the trip. It's on the very edge of doable with no margin for error.

PS: So sorry for your loss, I don't know what I would do if I lost Tammy.
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Old 19-01-2021, 15:16   #42
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
This is very relevant.. I have known big bold men turn around and sail home after 600nm into a Trans Atlantic they have dreamed of and prepped for for years..
The alone time coupled with the prospect of the days ahead broke them.. being alone for weeks in an empty seascape with nothing but Gannets and the occasional Terns is not for everyone.
Before setting off visit lots of Charity shops and stock up on some good books.. they are much more tactile and comforting than reading off a screen. Speaking books are also great..
You need to be happy with your own company.
This is very good advice. You'll confront yourself alone at sea. No choice.
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Old 19-01-2021, 15:17   #43
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

When did we get to the 40 foot is too small place? Seems the ocean remains much the same with vastly improved information and systems. I think your plan is fine. The boat you are considering fits right in the sweet spot and if necessary is easy to sell. Tried to buy one myself and it was gone before I got to make the call.

Go find your World.
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Old 19-01-2021, 15:31   #44
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

Hi Kelly,

I'm in the smaller is better camp too. Only reason I have a 37 footer is I want to be able to take crew of 1 or 2 as I'm getting long in the tooth.

Friends of mine have sailed a Coronado 25 to Tahiti and Hawaii and went through 3 Hurricanes/Typhoons as well, no problems. Another guy want to Tahiti in a Cal 27 quite nicely too, oh and I know of two surfers that sailed a Piver 25 Trimaran to HI from LA years ago. A most Excellent adventure.

A friend in FL sailed his Cat 36 from St. Pete, FL all the way down the windward islands of the Caribbean and then up the So & Central Amr. cost to FL again, half single handed & half two up.

Please do the Baja Ha Ha on your way, very good experience, I did it in 1981 with a similar group before they organized the Ha Ha, wonderful experience & shake down, mostly done with out a motor in a 36" Tri. Try to crew on the Ha Ha as soon as you can, it will be a wonderful experience to try the cruising life style.

So sorry to hear of your loss,

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Old 19-01-2021, 16:12   #45
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Re: Cruising Advice for a Widower

We are so very sorry for what has happened to you. I admire your outlook very much and agree that now is the time to go for the dream of cruising. I think the "around-the-world" thing is over-rated, unless that is the primary goal in your life right now. Maybe you can look at just cruising to exotic places and not be driven by that single goal. There are lots of amazing places to sail that are not on the "around the world" track. Scandinavia, Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, etc. come to mind. If circling the globe is your goal, fine, but you'll miss a lot of unique places and people and cultures. Me, I would look for places, not routes. As for the size of your boat, please get some experience in wrestling sails in a hard breeze before you decide. Sooner or later you'll get caught in a squall and the halyard will jam or the topping lift will break or the furler will jam or the sheet block will explode, and you will have to get out there on deck and wrestle hundreds of square feet of wildly thrashing sailcloth on a heaving deck In this case, the less there is, the better and safer you will be. Personally, I would not consider a long cruise without a boat that can balance itself at sea without constant helming i.e., no autopilot. This means a true cutter, or a yawl, ketch, or schooner. Most sloops won't balance for more than a few seconds. My ketch will sail herself happily for hours while I rest, eat, fix stuff, or read. Good Luck, Sir, and let us know how it goes!
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