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Old 23-04-2017, 09:48   #1
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Desert dweller seeking advice

Good morning all. My wife and are focused on becoming offshore cruisers in about six years when we retire. The dream started when a friend of ours sold everything and left on a sailboat. At first, I thought he was nuts. Last year, a friend of mine talked me into taking the ASA 101-104 in the San Juan islands. Living in the desert I thought he was crazy. As soon as I saw the marina I became hooked. After one week it became a passion. I have since sailed my friend’s boat in Mexico

As you can imagine, living in the desert is not very conducive to learning how to sail. I plan on seeking instruction on marine diesel maintenance and repair, sail repair and electrical troubleshooting and repair.

One of the tasks we will have is to select a sailboat in which to live and sail on. This is the real issue. I have researched as well as I can with my limited knowledge and I am becoming a bit overwhelmed. This is the reason I am now posting this thread. I am sure you experienced sailors have answered these types of questions over and over but I do not know how to proceed and I need advice and direction.

The boat will need to be a pre-owned blue water capable boat with plenty of storage and living space for my wife and I as well as the guests who will come aboard from time to time. We are not concerned about going fast, of course safety comes first and the ability to sail with a limited size crew (the two of us) is important as well.

We have researched monohulls and catamarans. We love the idea of the living space a cat brings us, but we’d be limited on tankage (fuel and water) as well as overloading the vessel with stuff. Seems as though monohulls are more accepting of stuff and I just think they look sexier. Our budget will be approximately $200-$250 thousand for the boat and about another $50 thousand for refit.

I have researched and like the Amel Super Maramu (solid boat, ketch, low cost ish), Celestial 48’s (ketch, balsa cored hull issues?) and Island Packet 460 (Expensive, sloop).

What are your thoughts on solid blue water capable S/V’s which are easy (ish) to handle with experience? Am I over thinking the process of selection?
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Old 23-04-2017, 10:43   #2
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Desert Rat : Keep up the dream it will be worth the wait. Have a look at this site. I have used it and sent a few folks there. They all replied that it was very informative. The guy has years of experience. Hope this helps. Peter

Mahina Expeditions - Selecting A Boat for Offshore Cruising
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Old 23-04-2017, 10:43   #3
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

2 people.
Minimum sailing experience.

How handy are you?
What's your budget to buy and outfit the boat? (living and cruising costs extra.)
Where are you? Where do you want to sail out of? Which coast do you want to set off from and more specifically where on that coast?
Where to you want to go?
Any really strong preferences to start with? (full/fin keel, mono/multi, spade/skeg/attached rudder, sloop/cutter/mizzen rigged).
How sensitive to small places are you?

Best bet is to start on one coast and work up to offshore passages. Spend a year nipping around the Caribbean or down to Baja.
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A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground no one would think to try and refloat it.
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Old 23-04-2017, 11:08   #4
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Welcome, Desert Rat. As beginners with dreams go, you're a welcome anomaly. Most think that learning to sail is all you need for cruising, miss out on the mehanics, electronics, electrical systems, navigation, weather and all the other stuff you are tackling. The usual advice, mostly covered above, are get used to boats until you have a preference based on experience, watch out for fix-em-ups that have been neglected since 2008, do your reading, get some lessons, crew some more,and enlargen you envelope slowly so your mistakes can be laughed about at happy hour. Best of luck with it.
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Old 23-04-2017, 12:16   #5
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Can you possibly exercise sailing with one of these:

From all the bigger boats we have sailed shorthanded (cats up to 54, monos up to 72') we rank Amels at the top. A 54' model was not at all difficult.

I find many 35'+ sloops difficult to handle, esp the cruising boats. I feel marginally fine on many 40' and 40'+ boats but I prefer sailing them with my big and strong sailing mates rather than with my partner.

So, my vote goes to an Amel.

And man how I envy you living in the desert. My 'to do' things now are: to live in the desert for a time, and to spend a winter in the Antarctic. Lucky U.

Welcome here and we hope to meet you one day in some nice and blue anchorage!

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Old 23-04-2017, 14:18   #6
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Desert dweller seeking advice

Congratulations on an excellent choice. When I was presenting programs on going cruising, I always started with, "I don't care how good you think it is going to be -It is better"

Preparation, defining what you want the boat to do for you and gaining experience are very important. The best 14 years of my life was when my wife and I lived aboard and cruised our Cal 46.

Feel free to contact me off the forum for more detail. Tomvandiver - at- bshmarine com
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Old 23-04-2017, 14:37   #7
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Welcome Aboard, Desert Rat. We have some friends who live near Joshua Tree (Calif. desert), and cruise the Sea of Cortez during the season. Doesn't have to be incompatible.

Always with the assumption that your wife is as totally committed to this way of spending one's life, which as Tom, above, said is, in fact, wonderful, then you could consider also a similarly sized Halberg Rassey. The Amel would take good care of you, as well. It is a pretty idiosyncratic design. The IPs have a good reputation. I am not familiar with the Celestial. And, one doesn't really need such large boats to cruise enjoyably. Purchase, upgrade, and maintenance costs are significant, don't kid yourself there. And, even if you mostly live on the hook, there will be occasional marina stays.

Jim and I cruised our first "Insatiable" for 18 yrs., a 36 footer, before we bought this boat, with the illusion of having kids and grandkids come visit us. Generally speaking, one's kids have neither time nor inclination to come 1/2way round the world to visit you on their own nickel.

Never think for a moment that cruising is for everyone. It isn't. To be happy doing it, both of you need to be committed to the project, pretty independent, need to develop some new skills, and, really sail handling with waves coming over the decks isn't for everyone. It is not all beer and skittles. If your wife is an "outdoorsy" sort of woman, she is more likely to take to the lifestyle.

Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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Old 24-04-2017, 06:18   #8
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Desert Rat.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 24-04-2017, 06:55   #9
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

I think you are well placed with your budget. I don't think you need go 50'+ to get comfort and safety. When we were in more obscure parts of the world (e.g. southern Indian Ocean, Easter Island), the average boat size was about 40'. It was larger in the Eastern Caribbean for comparison sake. Our boat (Bristol 45.5) worked well but there are lots of boats in the 40 to 47' range that are fine too. What made our boat successful was a solid design and build, decent performance (better than most boats of that generation), reliable main and jib furling, good ground tackle, the ability to use a variety of sails options (we are a sloop with a removable inner stay), and big winches.
Back to Great Lakes sailing on our Catalina 36 MkII after many years ocean sailing on a Bristol 45.5, which was just too big for the yacht clubs on Lake Ontario.
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Old 24-04-2017, 12:13   #10
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Barnakiel, a friend called a couple of days ago from Ain Sefra in Algeria to tell me they just got 3 feet of snow. Last time it snowed there was 40 years ago,rain 27 years or so,if you are quick you can get the Antarctic and the desert (Sahara) all in one spot + the Atlas mountains!!!!!
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Old 24-04-2017, 12:25   #11
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

I'd say look closer to 40' than 50' with just a couple, and I'd plan on spending less on the boat, and more on the re-fit.
We are going in a 38' and I do not think we will be cramped, the whole aft Stateroom will be storage. Visitors are usually a lot rarer than people think they will be, don't buy a Stateroom for visitors, if you really get one, rent them a room in a resort
In my case I didn't really do much re-fitting so much as fitting out. My boat had none of the usual gear, but it seems often the original Windlasses etc. are undersized, and unless the boat is nearly new, all the electronics are out of date etc.
You may spend way more than you think on just nice to have things that may not be present like Watermakers, proper sized ground tackle, new sails etc.

Things like a good mattress is almost $4K, and when you re upholster the salon, that is probably another $4K, it adds up fast
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Old 24-04-2017, 14:52   #12
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Originally Posted by robbievardon View Post
Barnakiel, a friend called a couple of days ago from Ain Sefra in Algeria to tell me they just got 3 feet of snow. Last time it snowed there was 40 years ago,rain 27 years or so,if you are quick you can get the Antarctic and the desert (Sahara) all in one spot + the Atlas mountains!!!!!
3 feet!!! That's quite some snow! I am grabbing my skis!!!

I have only once visited N Africa but whenever I watch the images I get the travel itch. The ocean, the desert, the polar regions - vast open spaces seem to call me stronger than cultures and their stones.

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Old 24-04-2017, 16:48   #13
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

I like the idea of getting in some coastal sailing, or even some bare boat international sailing to get the crew acquainted with some off shore experience for extended times.
Practice your nav and sailing skills, reef reading, storm sailing, anchoring, mooring pickinf up moorings, reefing, fixing problems, entering different harbors, etc...the list never ends.

You need many different weather situations, that will include calms, to tripple reefed main, and small jib. Or use different sail plans if a cutter, or kectch, or yawl.

Did your mate take sailing lessons as well. As a long, long time instructor, sailing and motor vessels, and also teaching flying, I would strongly suggest that she does just that. She will learn much easier than you trying to teach her. Even when I introduced Erica to flying, I had her take lessons with another CFI.... she gained her .private license, and then went into aerobatics.

Embarking on your marvelous dream of cruising the a big deal with many things to consider. In the military we had a very true saying....the seven P's..
(Prior Proper Planning Prevents P... Poor Performance.) You already have used good judgement and dedication with your ASA programs.

That would include coastal piloting as well as the basic, intermediate and advanced lessons for the wife.

In Papeete Tahiti, we found many sailing vessels tied up in the marina, with for sale signs. ( In French) The were abandoned, and probably left with brokers to sell. The owner and crew flew back to their home ports. maybe moved to the desert or the mountains.

They made it to French Polynesia , and that was the end of the dream.
For what ever reasons.

Most of the cruisers that we have encountered werel sailing 35 to mid 40 monohulls.

Two people can handle the vessel.

You have received great scoops and excellent advice by the dedicated cruisers on this forum. Honestly, I enjoy this forum to the max. Still learning after nearly 37 years of sailing professionally. Now it is just Erica and I, and fun international sailing vacations ( bare boating, and yes we still love it. ).

Be careful buying a used boat, and always,, always have it surveyed, in addition to your own thorough inspections. Just had some long time sailing friends sell their Irwin 40 ( mid)....and purchase a large power survey, the sellers were friends...
( Past tense )Engines are shot, and now thousands more bucks are going out.

I also like your idea of well built vessels . And, that you have a plan as to where you wish to do your cruising. Many start our in the Caribbean, with moderately short passanges.

And, get a much sailing in as you can. If it is OPB ( Other peoples boats ) so be it. In fact sailing on many different vessels that interest you, may help you sort out what you like and do not like in a boat, and be able to make a more informed decision when it comes down to the actual purchase.

Welcome to the world of sailing and the C.F.
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Old 24-04-2017, 19:19   #14
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

What's up wit dat?

Get your game on now so you'll be sailing experts once you hit open water!
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Old 24-04-2017, 19:25   #15
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Re: Desert dweller seeking advice

Hello from Tucson. You are on a learning curve for a whole lot of things related to sailing. Please check out [URL=""] (Adventures on Boats) it has more than 1000 links to vlogs, blogs, and forums that are culled to help you discover what others have learned. I am sure it will help
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