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Old 20-12-2017, 11:46   #1
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Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Hello everyone. I know I am not supposed to ask questions here, but thought by way of introduction I’d outline my cruising plans and where I am in need of some immediate help from CF. I’ll surely be participating in the various threads but would also appreciate any guidance or pointing from here.

The wife and I plan to take a few years off work to cruise. I would say we are slightly more than novices. We’ve day-sailed for a number of years, including on Lake Michigan. This year, we brushed up on our sailing EDU – taking ASA 101-114 in the Caribbean, captaining a L380 on bareboat charter in the BVIs and a L52 in Grenada/STV with a group of other sailor friends. We may take the Advanced Nav and Costal Cruising ASA classes, and will be taking a marine deiseal and electrical class. For us knowledge & prep gives confidence, which gives comfort.

Our IDEAL sail plan consists of exploring the Caribbean, Eastern US, and the Med. We are thinking 1.5-2 years (maybe more).

Our IDEAL boat would be a 40-44ft catamaran. Having sailed both mono and cats, we appreciate the comfort of cats. We also have 2 small dogs who will be joining us and we feel a cat will be easier and safer for them.

We are planning to finance the boat purchase. We have saved enough to cover purchase expenses, outfitting, maintenance, and 2 years’ worth of boat payments and living expenses, with a healthy ‘emergency’ and ‘return home’ fund.

Given the financing, we understand that we need to purchase in the US (E / S US given sail plan). This also means that rather than purchasing in the Med and crossing via the trades, we will need to cross the Atlantic West to East if we indeed want to get to the Med.

This is where things get disorienting. What research I’ve done thus far makes this crossing seem more difficult than others and perhaps outside of our (even near future) skill level. Feedback from folks has also been mixed. Everything from ‘crossing West to East is not for first-time crossers’ and ‘it will be too difficult for a cat’, to ‘na, just strap a ton of diesel and sail late in Spring, stay south until you’re comfortable, and motor if needed – don’t let fear get you. You’ll be fine’. Who to believe?

I realize we are not ready right now, but not sure if after sailing the E USA and Caribbean, we’d be more ready, or if the ARC would provide enough extra support needed. I feel the need to have a solid sail plan (at least between costal only or blue water) before deciding on the type of boat and setting off.

So am hoping CF will help in that manner.

Sorry for the length. If you’ve made it this far, feel free to comment.

Thanks all!
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Old 20-12-2017, 17:29   #2
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Re: Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Perhaps you are over thinking the plan! Get the boat, do the “local” cruising and then see if you have any time left for the Med. The Chesapeake alone took us years to be tired of it and the Bahamas are and endless (ok there is an end, just taking some poetic license here) chain of adventures.

Best of luck in your boat choice - we sail our 2011 Orana with two adults and three adult Siamese....just enough room😜

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Old 21-12-2017, 03:58   #3
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Re: Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Madimo.
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Old 21-12-2017, 11:11   #4
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Re: Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Welcome to CF! I'm sure you'll find lots of info here, I always have. I agree that if you're planning on 2 years max out there, you probably will find that the Caribbean and the Bahamas should fill that up and more.

The best part of this life is slowing down enough to experience these places in a way that no tourist can. You can meet the locals, look at that cove on the other side of the island, climb the (hopefully) extinct volcano, put in a day or a week helping to build the schoolhouse extension.

I lived in the Caribbean for 6 years and didn't completely see or experience it.
I hope you make it and live your dream!
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Old 21-12-2017, 21:35   #5
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Re: Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Thanks for the feedback. We've heard that a few times as well - that EC, Bahamas, and Caribbean will be more than enough for 2 years.

I think difficult because we started with the places we'd like to sail to and hard to let some of those places go....but perhaps something we'll just have to do. Good news is that it leaves something to keep dreaming about i guess.
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Old 21-12-2017, 21:41   #6
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Re: Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Thanks for the feedback. You probably are correct in that we are overthinking it. Likely one of those things that we won't be able to fully realize until we are in the moment and hindsight kicks in. I think it is because this is very much a finite thing for us (or so we believe it will be) and so trying to develop our ideal sail plan and fit everything else around it - vs just cutting ties and going where the wind takes us.

Either way, really appreciate the feedback!
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Old 21-12-2017, 22:45   #7
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Re: Greetings from (hopeful) future cruiser

Hi Madimo and welcome to the forum.

Yes crossing west to east to Europe is not as easy as the tradewind run from the Med to the Caribbean but still it is not that difficult.

The main decision is how far north to make the crossing. The N Atlantic is a gyre IE the winds and currents approximate a giant, clockwise circle with a dead zone (the Bermuda High) more or less in the middle. South of the high (which is quite dynamic and varies with weather systems and seasons) are the easterly trade winds. If you're going east you obviously don't want to fight head winds all the way so you go north of the high where the winds and currents are going your way.

The trick is how far north. Too far south and you get stuck in the dead zone of the Bermuda high. Too far north and, even in the summer, you can catch a gale. The compromise taken by most is to leave the east coast from your port of choice and sail to Bermuda. Best departure points are SC and north. From Bermuda check the weather and the location of the high. You'll probably need to sail N or NE from Bermuda to avoid the calms and keep in the westerlies.

Next stop the Azores. Check weather again, pick a good window and head to Gibraltar.

Best time to leave is late spring, before hurricane season kicks in but after the winter fronts have wound down. Of course there can be early hurricanes and late Nor'easters so get a good forecast before you leave.
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