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Old 10-04-2006, 14:36   #1
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Tell what you wish you'd done when you started.

Hello everyone,
I'm really quite new to this message board and I definately fall into the wannabe catagory of cruisers. I am trying to collect as much information as i can about world cruising so that I can make my plans accordingly. I have no sailing experience whatsoever and I don't know the first thing about boats.
My idea was to have all of you fine people post the things that you wish you'd done when you were in my shoes. Anything from gear you wish you'd bought (or hadn't bought) to unfortunate mishaps that could have been avoided. Anything really.
It is my belief that no amount of reading or planning can replace good old fashioned experience so I'm hoping to gain from the infinite wisdom that you all possess.

thanks in advance,
Dread Pirate Roberts
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Old 10-04-2006, 15:52   #2
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I wished I'd sailed on OPB's (other people's boats) more. Take advantage of ANY opportunity to get out on the water (as long as its safe)...sign up as crew for a racing series (weekly beer-can races, etc), befriend an owner so you can go day-sailing, maybe even help on short deliveries. How about a charter? Either crewed, where they supply the captain, or bare-boat, where you do. Get a friend with experience to split the cost of a week in the'll learn alot.
Don't forget to take classes...local ASA schools can teach you the basics (basic keel-boat, coastal cruising and bare-boat certifications), then you can go for more-advanced stuff like advanced coastal, celestial nav, maybe a Coast Guard 6-pax license.
Have fun
Live life like you mean it
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Old 10-04-2006, 17:29   #3
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As mentioned elsewhere on this site, starting off on a smallish boat is a good idea. I did that and am very happy I did. What I did not do, and wish I had, was move up to larger boats quicker. Larger boats return an enjoyment and satisfaction that is not available from smaller boats.

I started with a 20 footer, moved to a 15 footer, then to a 25 footer. There was some attraction to having a boat that was all that I needed in the smallest length. Not a bad thing. However, with my current 34 footer, not all that big by some standards, I am comfortable, my wife is comfortable, I can take friends, I can stow lots of consumables and gear, I can make longer trips.

The problem was that I didn't admit to myself that sailing was something that I was truly passionate about. Turns out that it is worth the commitment that a big boat requires.
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Old 10-04-2006, 18:20   #4
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Learn to sail on a small boat like a optimist or an El toro. This will teach you what the wind does and how it feels. From there race on OPB. Pay attention to what is going on to make the boat go faster. Read everything you can about sail trim. A devlish idea for cruisers. Making the boat go faster is not just good for racing it is good for understanding sailing. Help on some deliveries You might say forget this idea after going through a couple of storms. Charter boats in an idyllic spot. Sail in SF Bay or somewhere with equivalent weather. Learn everything you can about how to fix anything. You probably will have to. Get used to being cold, dmap (or even wet), and make sure that it is still fun. I think that is a pretty good start.

By the way we could all use a good laugh where are you from.

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Old 10-04-2006, 19:53   #5
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I wish, back when I was in my early twenties, when I had very little to lose, and everything to gain, I had made the leap, bought a boat, and headed it west. I look at the meager means I was able to generate at that time, the skills I had, and how well I lived on those meager means, and I could have everything I am striving to accomplish now without the worries of family, and assets.
When my wife and I made the decision to go cruising, the first boat we looked at was the trimaran we just recently purchased. Had we put the money into this tri initially, aven though the deal was not nearly as good 8 years ago as it was when I bought it recently, we would be at least 3 years into our circumnavigation.
Most importantly, if I knew then, what I know now, is I would have just done it. No waiting around. No planing the perfect financial point to leave. No five year plan. Just buy the boat, and head south.
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Old 10-04-2006, 22:01   #6
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Yeah Kai, and then you and I could be feet up in some bay with a couple of cold ones, while wives are preparing a lovely fish meal.

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
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Old 10-04-2006, 23:16   #7
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Ah, the simple life This is a great thread!
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Old 11-04-2006, 09:11   #8
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Racing didn't help

Just a comment on some of the replies that suggested crewing on a race boat as part of learning to sail. Every time I crewed, I had to focus completely on my "job", whether handling sails on the foredeck or trimming a sail. I wasn't able to learn anything during the race except for brief snatches of conversation. God help me if I tried to move around the boat to talk to anyone else (Get your weight forward/on the rail!). Anyone try to talk to the helmsman during a race? Get your head back? After the race of course, there's "debrief" over cold ones while waiting for results but that's long after when you wanted to know about some particular mainsail trim under specific conditions.
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Old 11-04-2006, 11:08   #9
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Crewing on other peoples boat during races is a great way to learn to sail. But there are definetly some boats that are better to crew on than others. Some people take the whole thing WAY to seriously than it should be. Don't crew on those boats. Everybody is yelling and they almost alway seem to lose.

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Old 11-04-2006, 11:47   #10
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I wish I had quickly sold everything and gone cruising when my wife first mentioned the idea in spring 2000. I thought she was nuts... and I needed to do much research and develop my "plan."

So 6 years later I have the boat and a wife who is not nearly as enthusiastic about the whole thing....

Still trying to 'sell up' and sail. Dang it...
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Old 11-04-2006, 12:43   #11
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The secret is out. I live in Colorado. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find information or even people to talk to out here.
Wow, I really like Kai's reply. I'm 23 right now and I am just starting to learn that a boat is possibility of the near future and not just something that I'd do if I won the lottery.
As far as being free of the burdens of work and a family I'm afraid that I have already adorned thosse chains to some degree. I have great job programming computers, but they'll let me telecomute for long periods of time or even take months off at a time. (They might not even realize i've gone if I'm real quiet about it). And as for the family I'm afraid that my woman is a higher priority than my boat. She's not as Enthusiastic as I am though. Shes open to the idea, but she doesn't like the idea of full time cruising, and I'm still trying to teach her to drive safely let alone sail.
I'm sure all that it'll take is a quick cruise with one of you fine folk before she's ready to cast off the shackles of every day life go sailing off into the sunset.
As for crewing a racing boat, I think I would have to have been refered to the boat by someone before I would join up. My interest in boats is relaxation. I was in Aukland 6 years ago for the America's Cup, and I can confidently say that no one on the racing boats looked relaxed. I'd go if there was good chance for me to learn but I'm worried that it may turn me off to sailing.
This is turning our to be a great thread. I love this kind of a advice. Keep it comin' everyone.

Oh by the way I think the best way for me to learn would be to crew for Alan and Kai. I don't think I could cook much of a fish dinner but putting my feet and drinking cold ones are two of my strong points.
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Old 11-04-2006, 13:31   #12
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I spent years racing SF Bay. From it I gained alot of knowledge about sailing and boats and the ocean. Currents, wind, sailshape. You don't learn much about how to relaxing but moving a boat and handling sails are important to sailing. The other thing was that I got to sail -- alot -- for free. If you sail on the right boat, ask questions (a tthe right times), and observe their is alot you can learn about sailing.

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Old 11-04-2006, 21:13   #13
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Do differently

I refuse to live my life in regret and navel gazing. When it comes to romance tho I think I would have made a bigger pig of myself, maybe asked a lot more questions too.
I have been crewing on another boat and get to talk to the skipper / helmsman all the time. That's because I am standing right next to him. If you are on the pointy end it is hard to make chit chat. You get yelled at because you are so far away. The back end is always making mistakes, it is part of sailing, at least racing, but who is gonna yell at us.
When I raced bikes more money would have helped me go faster. When I surfed, more money would have let me spend more time at the beach. But I have no regrets, zip. For me there is still soooooooo much to do.
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Old 11-04-2006, 22:12   #14
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I agree with the advise about crewing on a racing sailboat; don't do it, you have to concentrate on "your" job and that is it. Instead I learnt by being the crew on my buddy's boat. As you get older, getting "crew" isn't as easy as you might think. I just bought a Catalina 27 but the crowd I hang around with are into model railroading, not sailing. So for me to find some one I like (I'm not that fussy) and who is willing to learn the "ropes" and not just sit isn't as easy as it might sound. For some reason this becomes truer the older you get; I'm fifty eight and to find guys my age willing to learn the "ropes" isn't that common.

I talked to an older gentleman in Campbell River, BC who was from Chicago; he had recently retired from sailing and with his buddy who owned one of those very large power cruisers - the guy was eighty years old (the owner). The gentleman I was talking to said that the problem with sailing is that your crew (often your kids) leave and live their own lives. The spouse decides she doesn't want to do it any more; and your buddies have aged and moved on from sailing. There are guys who hang up the Genoa sheets just because there is no one to go out with them.

The next advise he gave me was to get the smallest boat that would keep me happy; he said the smaller the boat, the longer I might sail. This is why I think my Catalina 27 will probably be my life boat; probably the longest I will ever go out on it will be one month and for these areas with lots of marinas and marine support, I will have enough boat to keep me going even though like others I'd love to have something bigger.

But the best I can tell you is an old native saying: "Wisdom is like a one man dog, once he's yours you can never give him away." You have to struggle down your own wisdom path, make many of the stupid mistakes I and others have made, and like the title of one of my favourite older sailing books says: "Learn Sailing The Hard Way."
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Old 12-04-2006, 00:13   #15
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Experience can't be Bought, Get out and Learn

The only way to learn about sailing is to get out and do it. Never done a lot of racing so hard to say if its a good or bad way to learn, but for me, as an 10 year old, my cousin and I were "thrown in the deep end" as we learnt to sail in a Sabot (8' snub nose dinghy), no book, no lessons, just hoist the sail, drop the rudder and centreboard and work it out.

Probably not the best or ideal, but we learnt quickly about wind direction and sail setting as we reached, tacked and ran down wind to go out from our holiday cottage on the lake, and safely return.

Over ensuing years I either got bigger or sailed on and bigger boats, 14' skiffs and dinghies, Hobie Cat (14'). My first keel boat was a 24 footer, a good size for your entry level yacht. I moved to a 32' for more space and comfort and the ability to cruise safely further from home. We have also chartered a number of bareboats in the 33' - 36' range.

30 something years later those same principles learnt are still relevant and employed in a day's sailing anywhere.

My main point is get out on the water whenever you can, as often as you can and DO IT. You will experience something new and different every time.

Fair winds


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