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Old 28-02-2018, 11:05   #1
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Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Hello Everyone,

I titled this step 2 because I've finally learned that when starting something new you should listen first. So, with sailing I've done that as a lurker on this forum. I'm 50 years old and dream of someday retiring and spending the first oh, maybe 10-15 years cruising live aboard on a boat. I had a very rudimentary knowledge of boating as the owner of a small 18ft fishing boat on MN lakes. So, step 1 was taking some sailing / cruising classes, on larger boats, on larger waters to find out if my wife and I would both really enjoy being on a boat any length of time.

From this forum I found some good and fair sailing schools. My wife and I took ASA 101, 103 & 104 at Windward Sailing in Fernandina Beach, FL. It was very reasonably priced and a really good school. Highly recommended. We then took a second set of US Sailing courses (Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, Basic Bareboat and Catamaran endorsement) with Offshore sailing in the BVI (stupid hurricane) Bahamas. It was not reasonably priced but it was good fair practice in the environment we hope to sail someday. It was meh good considering what they had to deal with given the storms. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

So given that, officially joining this forum is step 2. My wife and I are planning our first solo charter in the BVI only 2 short weeks away. For better or worse we've decided to stick with what seems like the "big box" vendors in this world, The Moorings and we're chartering a 39' catamaran in the BVI. My daughter and her husband will be coming with us so we'll have some uneducated help.

Even with 2 weeks of classes, I'm actually still pretty nervous. I know we can handle this safely but it seems like there are still practical things that I need more practice with and I'm afraid of being "that guy" around other boaters. For example, I've never actually used the VHF radio. Of course, I had a lot of instruction on it but I've never actually made a call. What if there are no mooring balls available! Yes, I know how to set an anchor and I know how to figure out the correct scope ratio but still, will I be up all night wondering if I'm too close to that other boat, did we just move? Maybe my anchor alarm app isn't working! or is this even the correct area to drop anchor?!

I already know this is too long an intro. Any pointers to what my next stop should be would be much appreciated. I could use some pointers on setting up an itinerary leaving Tortola for 5 nights. Tips, tricks, gotchas for that first 5 day trip as skipper, or is it captain? I'm pretty sure I'm both. I forget he difference. See! I've already forgotten everything!
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Old 28-02-2018, 11:20   #2
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Howdy and Welcome Aboard CF!

Bazul, you have done more classes than most members here probably have.

Based on what you wrote (a very good introduction), it sounds like you are on the right course to enjoying your sailing with due concern for learning the ropes first.

Best wishes for some happy sailing, have a Bon Voyage on the water and on CF too.
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Old 28-02-2018, 11:34   #3
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Welcome to CF!

We were where you are a couple years ago and are now happy boat owners and part time cruisers. If you don't feel like it would be an imposition on daughter and hubby then I would ask the charter company about getting a captain for the first day and STRESS that you want a captain who is a good instructor. I would then make a list of everything you feel you might be uncomfortable doing and let the instructor know that you want an intense day of instruction on those things.

We did this as soon as we took delivery of our boat even though we had chartered several times. For the most part the instructor was just validating and reinforcing what we already knew but we felt much more comfortable going forward for having spent the day with him.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 01-03-2018, 04:04   #4
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Bazul.
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Old 01-03-2018, 05:07   #5
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Hi Bazul and welcome to the forum.

Like Steadman said, you are way ahead of many newbies and seem to be going about this in a good way.

To address a couple of your questions and comments.

Anchoring. I think all boaters have spent restless nights sitting up at anchor but no need to do this every night. Unless conditions are marginal like strong winds, poor holding, open harbor, etc you should be able to get a comfortable night's sleep. One way to help is to use an anchor alarm. Almost any GPS/chart plotter will have an anchor alarm built in. The app on your cell phone should work quite well. Note that using a cell phone app will use the GPS which can run the battery down pretty fast so you would want to keep it plugged in. Where to anchor? Local guide books usually mark good areas. General guidelines which you probably know or could guess:

- Don't anchor in the middle of a mooring field
- Don't anchor where you block access to a dock or channel
- Don't anchor on coral (note in the VI some areas don't allow anchoring because of this and you have to use a mooring)

One thing that might not be as obvious, if anchoring in a fairly crowded spot you may need to come fairly close behind a boat to drop your anchor but when you let out scope you will be far enough away but not too close to a boat behind you.

Radio is pretty simple with a few basic rules. Monitor channel 16 and make your initial call on 16 unless you know the person or place you're calling has a standard channel they use. To start, say the name of who you're calling 2-3 times then say this is "name of the boat" calling. As soon as you make contact on 16 shift to a working channel, 68 is common. Then carry on.
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Old 01-03-2018, 16:47   #6
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

The BVI’s are a great place to charter. Protected and little fetch. The most stressful part of chartering is raising the main for the first time. There is a tendency to do this right out of the marina. It is more protected but you fight traffic and limit your options. Get farther out, the it may be windier but you are out of the way. Also the main always seems to be reefed or the head tied down. I have seldom had the first time be smooth. Also keep your headway speed down. The distances are very short. Get to an anchorage by 2-3 and you should have no problems finding a ball. The water tends to be deep so anchoring is a challenge. Hog Harbar usually has balls if Cooper Island is full. The sound by the Bitter End is protected, sandy and shallow so is a good place to anchor. Remember, you don’t actually have to sail. You can motor for a day or two and get a feel for the boat. Enjoy.
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Old 01-03-2018, 16:53   #7
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Also, the battens will catch on the lazy jacks. Keep watching as you raise the main.
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Old 01-03-2018, 18:10   #8
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Greetings fellow Minnesotan! You've got a head start on where I started from, having had almost no boating experience beforehand. I've never chartered before, but can only assume the charter company has the drill down in getting you acquainted with the boat. Don't think too much on it and enjoy!

With any luck, both you and your wife will love it. And with a little more, you'll never come to yell at each other while dropping anchor in a new harbor!

Cheers
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Old 11-06-2018, 23:08   #9
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

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Originally Posted by dangerfield55 View Post
Also, the battens will catch on the lazy jacks. Keep watching as you raise the main.
First time back here after our trip. I don't recall if I had dangerfield55's comments in mind but they were spot on. We didn't rush to sailing at all and I'm glad we didn't. I think it was day 2 before we even thought about raising the main.

Then when we did...yep it was like we had no idea what we were doing even after all the classes. At first, yep we forgot about the battens but then even after getting past that we got the main what seemed like about 7/8 the way up and then it sounded like the winch was stressing too much. We had it in irons but something seemed to be holding up that main from raising all the way. The two reef lines were free so we didn't think that was it...we gave up. We tried again day 4 and had the same problems. We could not figure out what was getting hung up. After having my wife trying to identify any issues. I tried using the autopilot to keep us in irons but that was a bad idea. It was a little windier and the autopilot started to fight that big main trying to turn us out and things got loud and dicey...we gave up again.

Next time I think we may take dougweibel's advice and have a captain do a little sailing with the boat to both reacquaint us with techniques as well as making sure all sailing parts are in working order. To this day I don't know if the problem was us or the main and rigging.

But that did not stop of from having a REALLY great time. To my relief, my wife absolutely loved it when there were no tests involved.

Thanks all!
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Old 12-06-2018, 19:11   #10
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

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Originally Posted by Bazul View Post
At first, yep we forgot about the battens but then even after getting past that we got the main what seemed like about 7/8 the way up and then it sounded like the winch was stressing too much. We had it in irons but something seemed to be holding up that main from raising all the way. The two reef lines were free so we didn't think that was it...we gave up. We tried again day 4 and had the same problems. We could not figure out what was getting hung up.


Uncleated mainsheet and traveler?
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Old 12-06-2018, 20:03   #11
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

Welcome.
Where in MN?
Long ago in a previous lifetime I was a Minnesotan. Didn’t go back for 25yr but have married a girl from central MN so we go back and see her family annually now.
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Old 12-06-2018, 21:43   #12
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Re: Step 2 - Hello from MN, USA

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Uncleated mainsheet and traveler?
Hmmm. Maybe? I'm not really sure what that means. I know what the main sheet is, what a traveler is but I don't know how that would come into play on the boat we were on, a ~40ft Leopard catamaran, where it would stop the main 7/8 of the way up....and where it would be cleated.

Shrug, we may never know but I couldn't be any more curious what happened. If I found out I'd either feel really good that it wasn't us or I'd bet it was something really obvious that would make me feel foolish.

@Adelie….Becker. It's about 40mi NW of Minneapolis between St. Cloud and Big Lake.
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