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Old 31-07-2017, 13:08   #1
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Transitioning from Land to Sea

Ok, I'll state what my hopes are, and Iíll let you guys tell me itís unrealistic or not a good idea.
Me (50) and my girlfriend (42) of 5 years, who are both divorced, her once me three times (financial suicide), are thinking about taking a break from the US (possibly forever) to head south in search of warmer waters, and less politics and the everyday chaos. I retired from the Army in 2011 and work briefly for the federal government after that, we have no bills, and own our two cars (one of which will be sold). We have a monthly income without working and after paying my exís (see note above) and taxes, of around $4500. We have also put aside some savings for a down payment on whatever we decide on getting.
Neither one of us sail or have sailing experience, although as a Special Forces Combat Diver in the Army I do understand how to navigate, read charts, operate a radio, SAT phone, and electronic navigation systems. We have lived together in our Motorcoach which is 40ft, for 9 months straight after selling our houses and enjoyed the experience (selling everything we didnít need) and the simplicity of it. I also briefly lived aboard a 30ft sport yacht in a slip at the end of my second marriage before being forced to sell it. We both love the ocean, and being in the water (diving, paddle boarding), we had talked about moving to Belize and renting, as well as doing some diving/work, but now feel that a boat may be a better fit for us.
Thank you for hanging in there until I reached my questionÖ.
We are leaning towards a Catamaran, we donít have any plans on leaving the Caribbean/gulf, we believe this would provide us ample space while allowing our adult kids to visit and stay for short periods of time, we could also use the motors if needed as we get more comfortable with the sailing part. Currently looking at boats from 37ft to 47ft. We have just started looking with the hopes of departing the beginning of next year. The thought was that we would spend a year or two living on the boat while visiting different places until we either decide to put down roots, or continue the life afloat.
So what would be the recommendations from those that have done this, on how to proceed (type and size of boat), how to make a safe purchase, route/location to start from or head to? Classes to take, licensing if needed, as well as general thoughts/suggestions. Iím the type to jump in with both feet, but I donít want to end up in over my head.
I appreciate any input as well as ďIf it was me, I would Ö..Ē
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Old 31-07-2017, 13:27   #2
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Thanks for your service!

I think you're going to get some answers you don't want to hear. I'm still building my boat and have no experience so I can't help you there.

However, I think it's a great idea. If thats what you want to do, if it's your dream, you should go for it. I think a little perspective is important here. You're not taking a one way trip to mars. If you find this is not the life for you, you can always come back to land. At least you'll never have to say what if.

my 2 cents, good luck.
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Old 31-07-2017, 13:30   #3
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Take a week long liveaboard sailing class in an exotic location. It will give you a better idea if you like living on the water, sailing and provide you with some basic sailing knowledge. It will also allow you to see how things work on a boat to give you some idea of the things you would prefer on the boat.

There are so many options on what type of boat, what type of sailing/cruising, what type of equipment etc that are personal choices (meaning they vary by many degrees from one person to the next).
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Old 31-07-2017, 13:59   #4
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Best of luck with your plans and decision, Its pretty hard to decide nowadays between Multihull or Monohull. looking forward to seeing what others post
All the Best James!!
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Old 31-07-2017, 14:13   #5

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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Don't even think of doing anything but renting and charters until you have hundreds of hours' experience actually sailing, and months living aboard.

There are TONS of opportunities to get out on the water on other people's boats.

I would set a goal for you two to get qualified as PAID CREW, usually guy is the captain lady is the cook but not necessarily.

Volunteer as crew for races, just ballast to start.

Volunteer for deliveries.

Volunteer to take car of absentee owners' boats.

Learn refrigeration, electrics, deck repairs and maintenance, volunteer to apprentice yourself.

Ant really active yachting community, clubs etc will be helpful.

I love the BVI myself, used to be a great campground at Brewer's Bay.

First, you will find out if you really love it.

Second you will find the boat of your dreams for a great price.

Yes it will take years, and yes swallow your pride, pretend to be poor people, by yachting standards you are.

Do NOT prematurely wipe out what little nest eggs you have left!
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Old 01-08-2017, 04:57   #6
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

OK, I can't argue with a single one of John's points. And around here, the "go for it" response is sometimes overused to the point of endangering the safety of some dreamers.

But here's the rub. It's not really a bad plan, and what little you've shared about your background suggests to me that you're adaptable and capable of learning the many different skills needed to be successful. With the right attitude, good planning, flexibility, and an innate ability to "Macgyver" in unexpected situations, it IS possible to learn as you go.

I do like the suggestion of renting or crewing, mostly because you'll learn what you need and don't need in a boat BEFORE you buy. That'll save you money.

This advice is very specifically NOT for anyone who hires a plumber to fix a leaky faucet. This only works for a hands-on personality.
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Old 01-08-2017, 05:40   #7

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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
I do like the suggestion of renting or crewing, mostly because you'll learn what you need and don't need in a boat BEFORE you buy. That'll save you money.
And once learning hands-on what the right boat is for you two, I absolutely promise if you are actively connected into a boating community, over the following months you **will** find incredible bargains on just that type. As in a working fixer upper practically falling into your lap "for free".

That you just won't come across while looking as relative noobs, even if you did know what to look for.

I know I make it sound like magic, because it is; you don't even have to believe in it 8-)
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:48   #8
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jeff.
Sounds like the beginning of a plan.
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Old 01-08-2017, 08:58   #9
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Sell the 2nd car as well. Wish I had as it has been in the garage for 35 years.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:13   #10
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Personally I agree with most but not all of the above.

First, with living in the RV it sounds like you have already addressed the living in close quarters question which can be a deal breaker for a lot of boating newbies.

With your military background you will have a good leg up on being self sufficient in remote areas.

The obvious shortfall is boating and especially sailing experience. How much and how to get it? The obvious, easy answer for how to get it is to take classes and/or charter. The downside to that is it ain't cheap and, depending on your savings and monthly expenses, could take a big bite out of the kitty.

The less expensive way is to crew on OPBs (other people's boats). For someone with little experience I would expect at most expenses and the first job or two might be slow coming with nothing on your sailing resume.

How much experience before you're ready? The answer will be different for everyone. I've met boaters that have been boating for 20-30 years that I would go out with any further than I could swim back to shore. There are a few cases (very, very few) of people with zero experience buying a boat and taking off around the world and with a bit of luck, made it back alive. A lot will depend on how much time and energy you spend on learning the skills. Intense reading and study helped me and shortened the learning curve a lot. When I started out my total time on boats was as crew on two deliveries, total of three weeks, then took off cruising the Caribbean and didn't see the states again for two years.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:45   #11
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Hello Jeff,

That sounds like a WONDERFUL plan!

12 years as an ARMY DIVER

Send us a private message when you have time.

Steven A.
Sandra J.
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Old 01-08-2017, 11:03   #12
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

Originally Posted by stewie View Post
Sell the 2nd car as well. Wish I had as it has been in the garage for 35 years.
What is the car and where is it?

Might you want to sell it if it so desirable that you keep it garaged for 25 years?
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:29   #13
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

not to be short but my answer to everybody that asks this question is another question; are you and your wife boat people??? if you need an explanation or are in anyway unclear of what i'm asking, then with no help from anybody, both of you find out the answer to this ON YOUR OWN!!!
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:36   #14
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

I like Tom and Skip's take. You already have many questions answered, and have some life experience in your pocket.

Take the A101 and 103 courses minimum, 104 if you can. My instructors all said you'll never really learn until you get the boat (or get time on ANY boat), but volunteering to crew if you can is gold. John is right that sometimes life will throw you a bone. Lots of people are ready to give up the life, so you can find good deals when you get to know some yachties. In the meantime, go boat shopping, and think about what you need, so you can then determine what you really want in a vessel. Get on yachtworld, and look at the different boats. Google them, you'll find all the complaints. The only thing certain is that nobody completely agrees on anything, so without years of boating experience, you're going to have to wing it a little.

Indeed, the 'just go' mentality can be dangerous, but I think you're well past the phase of being foolish. Read, research, do the maths, and I think you'll be fine if you take your time, think things through and ask the right questions... not only from others, but from yourselves. I think you're set up for a great new life.
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:56   #15
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Re: Transitioning from Land to Sea

"...donít want to end up in over my head."

That must've made the diving tricky

Actually, I would disgree with john61ct, if everyone took that route, we'd never get out their cruising; that long list will teach you a something about about sailing/maintaining a boat, but virtually nothing all about 'living' on one. It's not about the nuts and bolts, it's a whole lifestyle that you'll be buying into and in all honesty, you can't 'learn' that and will never know for sure that it's fr you without actually trying it.

The time already spent living in the RV will definitely stand you in good stead and your work history will probably have given you some common sense and practicality, so you're more than halfway there.

I know people who've bought the boat and just sailed away, learning as they went and getting by, eventually even getting competent, I certainly don't recommend that approach, but it does show that sailing a boat's not rocket science.A week long sailing course would definitely be a good start and if the budget'll run to it a week or two's charter doing it 'on your own'; these don't need to be done anywhere exotic, indeed somewhere less so, perhaps with more inconsistent weather would probably teach you more.

If you're looking to live/cruise down in the eastern Caribbean, then find/buy yourself a boat that's aready down there; getting from N America to the Islands is probably the most difficult sailing you'll encounter -Direct/offshore's not a passage for the novice and the Thorny Path's hard on the boat, the patience and must be a PIA! - so don't make either your first experience.

Look to buy the smallest/cheapest boat that'll fulfil your needs (not 'wants') that way, if you discover you like the lifestyle, then you can either upgrade or replace it and if it isn't for you, then you'll have minimised the financial loss of getting back out of it.

Good Luck, we look forward to meeting you on the water.
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