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Old 03-05-2024, 08:42   #1
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Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Howdy folks. I'm a novice sailor and I don't know what I don't know. We're two seasons in now and really having an amazing time taking our young family on short two or three day trips in our trailer sailor on a large local lake. This has led to aspirations of sailing the south pacific islands, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, etc.. I will be taking ASA 101-104 this summer, and I plan on crewing on the local beer races this summer as time permits. The next logical step is a bareboat charter and get in blue water, probably the San Juan's considering where we live.

Once I've done all that, what's the next step in progressing the skill sets that are required for blue water cruising? How far away am I, a couple more years of learning? A decade? We have a lot of enthusiasm right now, and would financially be able to begin this in earnest in the next few years. But I don't know what I don't know, and obviously refuse to set off with loved ones until I have been properly educated and have the experience necessary to do these things safely.

Bonus question if you're still reading and so inclined: What's a good destination for a first cruise? I'm not counting the San Juans because they're so close. I'm thinkin bareboat out of Florida and go to The Bahamas or Turks and Caicos? That seems "easiest" as it's a relatively short jump. Thanks everyone!
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Old 03-05-2024, 09:42   #2
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

This isn't a direct answer to anything you asked, but the book "Blown Away" by Herb Peyson is a fun, and relevant, read.

https://www.amazon.com/Blown-Away-He.../dp/1929214065
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Old 03-05-2024, 10:54   #3
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Take your 101-104 this will give you time a bigger boat with all of the systems. San Juans is a great place place to cruise maybe not the gratest sailing. The US and British Virgins are good locations with losts of options for boats and schools. They are easy sailing and fun. J World in San Diego did a intro to cruising course a while back not sure if they still do it. Is it just going to be you taking the class. May want to take a vacations where you do the class and there are options for the family to do things.
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Old 03-05-2024, 12:48   #4
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

I would recommend getting a little bit bigger boat and heading north to the San Juans and into Canada. You'll learn 10X as much as you will chartering in some tropical location. Go for the two or three-week vacation onboard. A lot of bluewater cruising is repairing your boat in exotic locations around the world, so the experience of owning your own boat will be invaluable. You need to know what parts and tools to bring, how to use them, how to make do when you don't have the right stuff, how to provision, what you like eating for longer term, what it's like sleeping while underway, night watch routines, all types of anchoring situations, etc. that only come from owning a boat and using it.
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Old 05-05-2024, 11:14   #5
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Thanks for sharing your plans for sailing. First of all, a slight correction. Sailing in the Salish Sea is not “blue water” sailing. That’s because that area which includes the San Juan Islands is a vast estuary. You’d have to go beyond Cape Flattery of the Olympic Peninsula, Strait of Juan de Fuca, to enter what many regard as “blue water.” Second, “Blue Water” is more of an advertising slogan to sell expensive yachts to dreamers than it is a place or destination. Better to use “offshore cruising”, versus “nearshore” or coastal cruising. Two hundred n.mi. miles west of Cape Flattery and you’re definitely “offshore” with all that entails. Circumnavigate Vancouver Island, you’re inshore (in the estuary) half the trip, and nearshore or coastal the other half. You may see “blue water” along the way, but has nothing to do with your route.

Regarding a charter close to home, the best to achieve what you appear to seek IMO would be to charter out of Vancouver (Granville Island) on a minimally 38 ft sailboat, sail across the Georgia Strait to Nanaimo, explore the Gulf Islands, then return via Porlier Pass. Good 6-night, 7-day charter. It’s a reach in both directions. You’ll likely get all of excitement you wish. It’s usually considered advanced sailing or cruising crossing the Strait then anchoring the islands. (Yes, anchoring skills are required for cruisers.) Otherwise, you might come to Long Beach and get a 3 or 4 day bareboat charter to Santa Catalina Island across the San Pedro Channel. Whatever you might experience there it is a relatively sheltered area. To get out from under the shelter (Pt. Conception) you’d have to go out 60 n.mi. from Long Beach. Completion of either of those charters should remove the rose-colored glasses of most “newbies.” You will then know what you don’t know! Forgive!
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Old 05-05-2024, 13:07   #6
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

We felt that both of us should have equal opportunities to train and experience sailing. We were able to do all our classes together, but perhaps your family duties mean doing them separately.

I think it also helps because you'll both experience the ups and downs of sailing, you'll learn each others strengths and weaknesses, and will be better prepared to discuss next steps and how you want to proceed.

Also, my recollection is that charter companies like to have more than one qualified person on board.
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Old 05-05-2024, 17:22   #7
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

To me your plan is way better than ours was. We jumped from a Hobie 16 onto a 38ft cat, the first sail on it in the ocean was the sea trials followed by a week later sailing it on day time coastal ocean side cruise of about 50 miles the day we bought it arriving at sunset. 6 months later we went up the coast again about 350 miles over-nighting and learning how to sail at night with radar, autopilot, it had a GPS but only paper charts back then. I did not do my RYA certificate until about 5 years later when I needed it to charter a boat in the med. We have now done thousands of mile offshore sailing and in 25 years never had an insurance claim or an incident at sea that could not be fixed or worked around. So we learned in the school of hard knocks but the knocks were pretty soft in reality.
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Old 09-05-2024, 09:53   #8
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudgeon View Post
J World in San Diego did a intro to cruising course a while back not sure if they still do it. Is it just going to be you taking the class. May want to take a vacations where you do the class and there are options for the family to do things.
We usually end up in San Diego once a year, this could be a good option for us. I'll look into it, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I would recommend getting a little bit bigger boat and heading north to the San Juans and into Canada. You'll learn 10X as much as you will chartering in some tropical location. Go for the two or three-week vacation onboard.
I do like the idea of just committing to doing our sailing in the sound for one summer. Maybe next year we bite that bullet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auklet View Post
Thanks for sharing your plans for sailing. First of all, a slight correction. Sailing in the Salish Sea is not “blue water” sailing. That’s because that area which includes the San Juan Islands is a vast estuary. You’d have to go beyond Cape Flattery of the Olympic Peninsula, Strait of Juan de Fuca, to enter what many regard as “blue water.” Second, “Blue Water” is more of an advertising slogan to sell expensive yachts to dreamers than it is a place or destination. Better to use “offshore cruising”, versus “nearshore” or coastal cruising. Two hundred n.mi. miles west of Cape Flattery and you’re definitely “offshore” with all that entails. Circumnavigate Vancouver Island, you’re inshore (in the estuary) half the trip, and nearshore or coastal the other half. You may see “blue water” along the way, but has nothing to do with your route.

Regarding a charter close to home, the best to achieve what you appear to seek IMO would be to charter out of Vancouver (Granville Island) on a minimally 38 ft sailboat, sail across the Georgia Strait to Nanaimo, explore the Gulf Islands, then return via Porlier Pass. Good 6-night, 7-day charter. It’s a reach in both directions. You’ll likely get all of excitement you wish. It’s usually considered advanced sailing or cruising crossing the Strait then anchoring the islands. (Yes, anchoring skills are required for cruisers.) Otherwise, you might come to Long Beach and get a 3 or 4 day bareboat charter to Santa Catalina Island across the San Pedro Channel. Whatever you might experience there it is a relatively sheltered area. To get out from under the shelter (Pt. Conception) you’d have to go out 60 n.mi. from Long Beach. Completion of either of those charters should remove the rose-colored glasses of most “newbies.” You will then know what you don’t know! Forgive!
This was a very useful post. My wife and I have looked through that sample itenary and both really like the idea. This was very helpful, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by leecea View Post
We felt that both of us should have equal opportunities to train and experience sailing. We were able to do all our classes together, but perhaps your family duties mean doing them separately.

I think it also helps because you'll both experience the ups and downs of sailing, you'll learn each others strengths and weaknesses, and will be better prepared to discuss next steps and how you want to proceed.

Also, my recollection is that charter companies like to have more than one qualified person on board.
Interesting point about charting companies wanting more than one qualified person, I hadn't considered that. Our plan had been for me to take the formal training and teach it to my wife on-the-job. With a family it would be difficult for us to both take the time to attend the trainings, but maybe we need to prioritize that. Thank you for the insight.
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Old 09-05-2024, 10:11   #9
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

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Originally Posted by trswem View Post
...
Interesting point about charting companies wanting more than one qualified person, I hadn't considered that. Our plan had been for me to take the formal training and teach it to my wife on-the-job. With a family it would be difficult for us to both take the time to attend the trainings, but maybe we need to prioritize that. Thank you for the insight.
You both need to know how to operate the boat and taking the same classes is what I would suggest. My wife and I took the same classes and stayed on the boat during the courses. It was fun but it was work. We would get up, get ready to go sailing, study the books and knot tying a bit, go sailing, return to the marina, get cleaned up and eat, do more knot tying and book study and finally go to sleep. Repeat the next day. It was a lot of work, fun and well worth it.

I would suggest taking the classes together so that you both have had the same instruction AND see how the two of you work together on the boat as a team. The team aspect can mess up couple big time. YOU trying to teach your wife can be problematic for a variety of reasons. Some will suggest couples take classes separately but I think that is a mistake. If a couple can't take work well as a team while being instructed, it would seem they are not going to work well together when alone...

A big part of the ASA classes is boat handling with a person overboard. Its is a good cap stone exercise. You both need to have these skills, among others, and the classes start that skill building.
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Old 09-05-2024, 10:34   #10
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

"You both need to know how to operate the boat and taking the same classes is what I would suggest." Ditto, although I would say not necessarily at the same time. Life gets in the way.
It is tough to teach a spouse (ask me how I know). On our first sail in gale winds we had to bring in the jib. My wife decided she would crawl out and do it because if she went overboard I might be able to bring the boat around for a rescue and she couldn't if I went overboard. Instead of divorcing me she took lessons when we got home and we're still sailing, albeit with roller furling and all lines led to the cockpit.
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Old 09-05-2024, 10:52   #11
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I would recommend getting a little bit bigger boat and heading north to the San Juans and into Canada. You'll learn 10X as much as you will chartering in some tropical location. Go for the two or three-week vacation onboard. A lot of bluewater cruising is repairing your boat in exotic locations around the world, so the experience of owning your own boat will be invaluable. You need to know what parts and tools to bring, how to use them, how to make do when you don't have the right stuff, how to provision, what you like eating for longer term, what it's like sleeping while underway, night watch routines, all types of anchoring situations, etc. that only come from owning a boat and using it.
This.

So much of cruising is the "other" part of sailing. Boat ownership, provisioning, repair, sourcing parts in strange locations, route planning, and good weather skills. I really agree with Kettlewell - get your own boat and sail in the Pacific Northwest for more than one season. Sail in the fall/winter/spring as well as summer and you will see a variety of conditions.

We had our first sailboat - a 34' Hanse - for about 4 years out of Seattle. We then sold that boat and got our present boat - 40' Pacific Seacraft - and promptly took it up the inside passage to Alaska for one winter, coming back to Seattle area and living aboard for 3 years. We are now in our 3rd season in Mexico, having come down the coasts in 2021, and all the skills learned cruising in the PNW have paid off.

Chartering a boat for a week or three will not replace this experience.

Cheers - and good luck to your endeavors,

Ron
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Old 09-05-2024, 11:09   #12
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

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Once I've done all that, what's the next step in progressing the skill sets that are required for blue water cruising?
Sailing is the easy part ...
Marine Survey 101, pre-survey inspection
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Old 09-05-2024, 12:38   #13
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

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Sailing is the easy part ...
Marine Survey 101, pre-survey inspection
I am in a similar boat (is that a pun?)
I did ASA 101-105 and 114 over the past year. Sailed in the USVI -a couple of times. But i am 60 and divorced. So i dont have a potential first mate. So it looks like I will be solo- but handling a big boat alone is a challenge- mooring, anchoring, attending to unexpected emergencies, etc give me pause. So i think I will just be joining flotillas., But i really would like to have a catalina 27 or 30 something footer. I live near Gloucester MA so there are lots of places to have a boat. But the weather here is unpredictable and often’not nice’. So the other option is just to charter where the weather is nice. I don’t mean to hijack this thread but my considerations align with the OP.

How do I learn about doing inspections? If I buy a boat, it will be used. I would like to avoid pitfalls. But this knowledge would always be useful in assessing a charter boat too
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Old 13-05-2024, 10:30   #14
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Great question and great advise given thus far. I read the forums often but rarely post. My wife and I live in San Diego and after purchasing our first sailboat over 30' (33' Beneteau), we took about 2 years sailing our local waters, trips to Catalina Island, etc. This got us comfortable with the boat and gave us some idea of what we might want to add/upgrade to make her ready for some coastal cruising. Then we joined the Baja-Ha-Ha cruiser rally from San Diego to Cabo, but spent 4-6 months getting the boat ready. Following the Ha-Ha, we spent the season cruising Mexico and it was one of the best experiences of our life. The sailing wasn't our main concern as others have mentioned. Only time and experience on that water will get you comfortable with handling a boat in various conditions. Open ocean is definitely not the same as protected or inland waters, but much of your experience will help accelerate your learning and confidence. Even a lower cost production boat is plenty capable of crossing oceans, it is more about your personal tolerances for comfort, performance, safety, motion, etc. I'd absolutely agree with the others that the sailing isn't the biggest consideration. Personally, I think the hardest part is choosing the right boat and how to outfit the boat appropriately. This isn't a decision anyone can make for you because we will all have different individual opinions. I think most will agree that if you are a few years away, starting with a smaller, less expensive boat in waters that will expose you to some of the similar conditions you are likely to experience in your chosen cruising grounds will help you build your own personal set of criteria for your cruising boat. Then you can make a switch to your chosen cruising boat a few months prior to your departure so you can work to outfit the boat properly. The more you can do yourself, the better you will understand the systems in your boat so you can be as self sufficient as possible. This is just my opinion, but if you start off with some coastal cruising in a region that isn't extremely remote, like the Pacific Coast of Mexico, you will gain a lot of experience and will end up in a great spot to cross to the South Pacific when you feel the time is right and your boat is ready. Again, personal opinion here, but I think many people that haven't cruised before are under the impression they need a much larger boat and lot more gear than is really necessary. The more gear and systems you put on the boat, the most maintenance and repairs you will likely need to dedicate your time towards. Luxuries are nice, but not only do they have an upfront cost, but they also have ongoing costs that include a fair amount of your blood, sweat, and tears. So you might considering erroring on the side of less, you can always add later. We didn't expect to go cruising when we purchased the 33' Beneteau and I don't think that particular boat would have made the top of most cruiser's perfect boat list. But we found it plenty spacious and plenty capable for our needs. We had a really good solar system which I think is very important. We didn't have a watermaker, but if we were to do it over, I'd probably invest in one, especially if you have your heart set on the South Pacific. Other than that, I'd probably keep the luxury items to a minimum until to determine they will be worth the price.

It is great that you are thinking these things through in advance. There are so many compromises you will be forced to consider as you plan your adventure, but you will likely find happy and satisfied cruisers our there on both sides of every compromise. Over planning may lead to a very long postponement of your departure. You will likely get used to whatever you have and will be able to make due. You might enjoy being out on the water will a less than perfect boat over being stuck in a marina with a seemingly endless list of projects you hope to complete before departure! Best of luck!
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Old 13-05-2024, 11:20   #15
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Re: Setting realist expectations for cruise planning

Like much about your approach EXCEPT taking lessons and then teaching wife…..many pitfalls in that approach. Better for you to take kids and her off to own lessons including docking boat without you - huge confidence boost
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