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Old 02-09-2005, 04:15   #1
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Am I just dreaming?

My name is Fritz and I live in Denver (although I lived in Southern California for my first 40 years). I've been ocean boating (mostly sailing) off and on since I was 15 -- at which time my father bought an Owens 29 powerboat. At that age I took the Coast Guard Power Squadron course and passed the related exam. Since then I've sailed a Sabot dingy for a couple years, a Santana 27 for several years (single-handed it out of a leeward slip with no engine for the first few months) and owned a Mason 33 for about five years. I've mostly day-sailed out of the following California harbors: Marina Del Rey, Dana Point and San Diego. I've taken maybe twenty trips over the years, the longest of which was about 100 miles from my home port. I've comfortably dealt with fog, small craft warnings, dragged anchors, engine problems and a variety of other things that cruisers do -- but not many times. I have a pretty good understanding of weather, currents, tides and other natural phenomena and know more about navigation than most coastal sailors.

Iíve spent a lot of time in various Mexican resorts (and driving through Mexico) and really love the country. Iím thinking of retiring to a boat in Mexico for at least most of the year. Iíd like to cruise the entire coastline and possibly go out to some of the Caribbean islands (if I choose the east coast), a number of which Iíve visited via cruise ships over the years. Iíve done a considerable amount of reading about Mexican ports, conditions and the boating life on both coasts of Mexico. Iím very aware of the seasonal weather threats on each coast.

I will be able to afford a nice boat when I retire in two years and will have sufficient income to live well and have the boat professionally maintained. Iím 6í5Ē and like a reasonable degree of comfort.

Iím giving you this long prelude to my questions because Iíve been reading the forum for a while and (with no intention to be patronizing) Iíve been very impressed by the knowledge, well-thought-out analysis and frankness of the participants. I also know that time and time again, you folks ask for more information before answering the original questions, so I hope Iíve given you enough to answer the following ones:

1) At 59 years old am I too old to start the cruising life? (I do thirty minutes of vigorous cardio vascular workout each morning and am in reasonably good shape for my age.)

2) Does a person dare go cruising when he is not mechanically inclined? For example, about the only mechanical thing that I know how to do on a boat is change the fuel filter. Iíve read a number of mechanical discussions on this forum and most go right over my head -- although I follow all the other discussions related to cruising issues. I am willing to learn, but I would be starting with virtually no mechanical knowledge.

3) If you think there is hope for my dream, what boats would you recommend that I consider? I wouldnít want to buy a boat that was over five years old (mostly because I donít want more mechanical problems than necessary). Iíve been reading a lot about Pacific SeacraftĎs 37 and 40 and Island Packetís 370 and 420 (even though I read a long and thoughtful negative posting about IPís on this board). Iíd like to buy a brand that is still being produced, so Iíve excluded Mason 44ís, which Iíve always admired. I wouldnít consider a Mason 43 because itís too tender for my taste. (The 44 was designed to be stiffer.) And, I definitely wouldnít buy any boat with teak decks.

I look forward to your input.
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Old 02-09-2005, 06:13   #2
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I will not even address the "which boat" issue, but it seems to be a recurring theme tonight that I recommend a book. Pat Henry is the author of "By the Grace of The Sea" She started a solo circumnavigation in her 50's, and spent 8 years sailing around the world single handed.
For the opposite perspective, search Latitude 38 (Ca sailing rag) for Ivan the terrible as the Brits are calling him. He is a fellow yacht club member who took off from Ca to Europe in his 70's. He had a crew mate until GB, and did fine, but after that, he earned the reputation as a "hazard to navigation" from the British coast guard.
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Old 02-09-2005, 10:54   #3
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Retired and cruising

Though we are much younger than most of the cruisers we have met while crusing the caribbean many are older than you. Most started near retirement age or just after.

We know several who are active sailor and are 70 plus years old. So age is not much of an issue. Just your health. If you are in reasonably good shape cruising shouldn't be a problem.

Which boat....well that is a nevering ending discussion until you decide which one. There are many good sources and dicussions, but I recommend going sailing, chartering, bumming rides, and even Wed Beer races to get to ride on as many different types of boats before deciding. We are Catamaran sailors so we are biased that way.

Being mechinical helps greatly, but most of this is not rocket science and the basics can be learned through a sailing school or a local program. We do know a few out here that can't even change thier own oil. There are services and people that will do it, but learning to be self suffecint is part of the experince.

Just look at cruising as a whole new set of challanages that can be over come. It is worth the dream and reality is better than you can ever dream!
Captain Bil formerly of sv Makai -- KI4TMM
The hunt for the next boat begins.
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Old 02-09-2005, 16:01   #4
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They say a women may be as old as she looks, but a man is old when he stops looking. I am 59 and have large plans for sailing further. I sail every week with short cruises and the regular race schedule, but plan on going further starting next year.
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Old 02-09-2005, 16:17   #5
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I would strongly suggest that you take the two diesel courses offered by Mac Boring (800-622-5364). Very good classes that anyone can learn from.
They will teach you everything that you need to know about your engine.

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Old 03-09-2005, 00:24   #6
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A man's limitations are based on his knowledge of them.
Even as I get older, I amaze people with the things I accomplish, only because I did not know I could not.
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Old 03-09-2005, 00:27   #7
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Thanks for Your Respones

I appreciate the encouragement regarding my age, will read at least one of the two books and will look into the diesel course (which I think is a great idea).

Test driving various boats from Denver is difficult but, later this month, Iím combining business and pleasure by attending the Houston Boat Show. I'll try to attend a couple more shows in the spring.

I know that there's been some friction on this forum regarding boat preferences, but I really would appreciate it if someone would at least give me the names of other manufacturers that are comparable to Pacific Seacraft and Island Packet. I, in turn, will research them and come to my own conclusions. Also, except for magazine reviews (which I believe can be influenced by advertising revenue), I haven't been able to find any objective opinions about the two Pacific Seacraft boats that I mentioned in the earlier posting. Please let me know what you think if you're familiar with them.
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:06   #8
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The problem with recommending a boat is, boats are such a personal thing. If you think about your home, you have curtains or not, you live in a rancher, or a 2 story, a colonial or a cape cod, or maybe a log cabin. You drive a ford or a chevy or a dodge or a honda or whatever, and you drive it because you like the gas mileage, or the ride or the power etc. A boat is exactly the same. It is your home, and other cruisers, harbor officials and the general public will form their first opinion of you based on your boat.
Boats are use specific. I would not recommend a heavy deep draft vessel if you want to cruise the carribean. I would advise against a lightweight fin keel tall rig sloop if you will single hand to Austrailia. Your best bet is to, as has been suggested, get some sea time wherever possible. Go to some boat shows, and spend time on the different boats on display to see what is different. Lay in the berths, sit on the setees. Sit in the nav station long enough to listen to the salesman's pitch, and even read the brochure. Stand and sit at the helm. Can you see?
I would say if you give a few more specifics about where you want to cruise, how long you want to cruise, and if you will be singlehanding, or have crew, some specifics will be brought up.
While there are good boats, bad boats, and yachts out there, there are people who are proud of their Yugos.
As for the Pacific Seacraft, Great boat. I have several friends who are currently cruising on them. High end, and you can not go wrong. I would say Choy Le and West Sail are in that catagory. A step down at the risk if insult , would be a Beneteau, or a Hunter. Tayana would be a step up, Swan would be a step up. If you will singlehand, consider around a 30 footer. If you will have a partner, consider 34'-37'. If you are going to only do coastal, or Carribean, consider a multihull. Lots of living space, level sailing, and fast.
That being said, these are my opinions, and are not universal. Hope this helps.
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:39   #9
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Thanks so much....

.....for taking the time. I get your point. Still, I hope to narrow my search down to 2-3 boats and then go see them at boat shows.

Regarding my plans, I have no wish to cruise the world but, rather, mostly plant myself in various ports along one of the coasts of Mexico. When it's time to reposition the boat, I'll either hire a crew or (more likely) have friends from the states down for a week. I relish the thought of an occasional trip that puts me at sea for a few continuous days -- but don't expect to frequently do extended passages. I might move the boat out of the hurricane belt each July-Oct or stay close to a home port like the one on Isla Mujeres, which is very well protected from all directions (and has one of the few boat cranes on the east coast).

I'm super safety conscious (e.g. local knowledge is a must, man overboard precautions, weather checks, etc.) and think through pretty carefully everything that I do on the water. I'd rather be in a heavier boat knowing that I'll give up some speed and have to motor when I'd rather be sailing -- but I don't want to go to excess in this area.

When I was younger and sailed a lighter boat, I thought nothing of single-handing it and was always confident that I could get back to the slip under sail. Since I am considering only heavier displacement boats (and for safety reasons and because of my age), I won't do any single-handing -- even for day sails.

I want a pretty stiff boat with a fairly moderate draft so that I can have the option of choosing the east coast, which in some areas has shallow waters similar to those to the east.

That is my rough plan as of today.
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Old 03-09-2005, 06:03   #10
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For what you are doing, you might consider an Islander Freeport 41.
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Old 03-09-2005, 06:05   #11
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Boats, courses, and time.

Fritz: Go for it. Plenty of us in the 55+ group out there thrashing around. You'll also find that you can, with a bit of effort, learn and perform a batch of maintenance on your own.

Locate a United States Power Squadrons unit near you (see, join and start taking their courses. They have just gone through a revision of their course materials and most are pretty good. I do admit, their Engine Maintenance course is way too focused on gas engines but the navigation/piloting, weather, cruising and other courses are great, particularly if you get a good instructor.

Like others, its tough to suggest a boat and opinions run from the defensive (I bought this so it must be good) to the overly analytical (endless research, almost to the point of indecision).

In our case, we wanted an older (classic plastic) upper end production boat in the 32-36' range, with good basic and accessable systems and shallow draft (for FLA, Bahamas etc). We narrowed it down to three builders, Pearson, Sabre and Tartan and purchased a Tartan 33. We knew it would involve some upgrades and we had the time.

I also learned that I was not a total mechanical klutz. Don't be afraid to try and don't be shy to ask for help. Load of great folks out here that have been VERY helpful.

And yes, go do it. The clock is ticking.

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Old 04-09-2005, 02:24   #12
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Thanks for mentioning the boats and the further encouragement.
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Old 09-09-2005, 13:14   #13
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Re: Boats, courses, and time.

[In our case, we wanted an older (classic plastic) upper end production boat in the 32-36' range, with good basic and accessable systems and shallow draft (for FLA, Bahamas etc). We narrowed it down to three builders, Pearson, Sabre and Tartan and purchased a Tartan 33. We knew it would involve some upgrades and we had the time.]

How do you like the Tartan? I think I'll probably "upsize" in a couple years to something a little more able to accommodate the family, and the T33 is at the top of the list. I'd be interested to hear the pros and cons of the boat. Thanks,

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Old 09-09-2005, 20:33   #14
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Thumbs up Fritz

I'LL recommend the Pacific Seacraft if no one else will. Bill Crealock has been designing well designed boats since the early 70's . And If I HAD the $$$$$$$$$$ I'd sure buy me a P.S. As a matter of fact a lot of his 70'S boats are still out there. I have one of them sitting in my drive that I've restored (well, maybe I'm biased)

As for the I.P.'s, their all show and no go IMHO.

And for Mexico, check out this site for lots of good info!

Also, sailing is what keeps a 55 YO like me in shape. Just lost 10# on a short cruise to Canada.

Mechanical-- just get a vessel with a new diesel that is well known, Pacific Seacraft is one of those (Yanmar). The rest is rigging, plastic and electrical work.

My $.02............................._/)
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Old 10-09-2005, 00:52   #15
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Fritz, I bought my first (and last?) sailing cruiser, a 19' baby last year at 74. Now on a steep learning curve. Previously had small sailing dinghy and done a bit of kayaking some years ago.
All the time you're learning you're not old.
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