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Old 09-12-2008, 15:03   #1
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Sailing - is it for me?

Hello all,
My husband is a very experienced sailor who has been on a 2-year-cruise before. My sailing experience so far amounts to a 3-weeks-vacation, which I loved.

We have decided that we want to work, save, and then go on a 1-2 year cruise and I am really excited about it! We would take our kids (right now we only have one but this will hopefully change, haha) and just do it! Before we had our baby, I loved to backpack, and I am hoping that sailing will give me the same sense of freedom and adventure and seeing the world!

Until we actually start, I want to learn all I can about it and started today with looking through this forum.

And oops, it has gotten me a bit worried . Here are my two number one worries, and I am looking forward to your opinions:

- I am not very practical, more artistic type than bike repairer if you know what I mean - will I like the life aboard at all, or is it all about using tools and being pragmatic?
Please note: I don't mind getting my hands dirty and am a hard worker. Just have two left hands and have so far not been interested in how a car motor works EXACTLY (don't laugh, I have other talents!)

- I am courageous, but how adventurous does one need to be? Do you really have terror-experiences all the time?

I hope you understand my worries and am looking forward to your opinions.

All the best to all you sailors!
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Old 09-12-2008, 15:27   #2
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Sonne..You sound exactly like some friends of mine..
you can read about them will do fine I am sure..and I bet if things got a little serious due to hubby getting injured on the boat you would step right up...after all thats what wemon do.. take over if no man is willing or can step up right? and often times do a better job at it to and never look back.

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Old 09-12-2008, 16:11   #3
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There is way more to discuss of course but regarding knowing how things work I would offer this.

On the day you cast off you might not know how everything works but like your own home you will quickly learn how most things work just because you are using them daily.

Your past trips have probably helped you learn about many boat systems already.

Showering might, or likely involves pumps and a sump.
Cooking probably means gas of some type and that has its own issues.

In your house the electrical breaker panel is hidden in a closet or maybe the garage. Power comes to the house and you can turn on lots of lights and other appliances. If you go to sleep or leave the house and water is running or lights are on there is little issue at home.

As you have already seen, on boats the electrical breakers are visible. Often they are part of the saloon decor.
Water and power are limited resources that have to be watched over. To get more water you have to do something. To get more power you have to do something.

Its not difficult and not overly labor intensive to charge batteries or get water its just different than at home.

Things you really should know before throwing off the lines the first time have more to do with safety in my opinion. Not just because you are bringing small children but mostly because, At sea you are the first responder in case of an emergency. If something goes wrong you will always be the first person on the scene. You are the fire department and the EMT.
That means CPR skills up to date. Basic first aid knowledge up to date.
You also need to know how to steer the boat.
How to start and stop the engine.
How to drop or furl the sails.
You need to discuss and walk through some emergency plans with your husband.
Specifically I am talking about man overboard, flooding and fire.

I am not bringing these up to deter you in anyway from cruising I just want to you to know that these are the types of situations that could happen and the more you are prepared the more likely there will be a happy outcome.

As a family we have been going to sea on power and sailboats for years and we still talk about the things I have mentioned and we still do some basic drills within the first hour of getting underway.
Lastly. Never downplay or underestimate the contribution your children can make to the daily chores and even emergencies. Any child who can master a video game at age 5 can easily understand how to turn off an engine or turn a wheel hardover if they have to.
Even if you don't understand the significance of this now you will.

Like you my wife and I are now contemplating moving aboard more or less permanently after years of short and long trips.
I really look forward to hearing about your progress. Good luck!
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Old 09-12-2008, 16:26   #4
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Hi Sonne,
I was once told that sailing is 95% boring/relaxing and 5% terror. I think that after being aboard our boat for the past few years that statement pretty well sums it up. Luckily the 5% can mostly be dealt with by experience/training and it does make for some interesting stories in the future.
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Old 09-12-2008, 16:34   #5
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The 5% terror is what keeps you young!
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Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 09-12-2008, 17:30   #6
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It's hard to know how you'll actually fare out there. But you need to consider this as a joint venture. Your husband seems to be "handy" and so this may not be something you need to excel at or even do. The same can be said about an apartment, a car or a home. Most non mechanical people do fine in all of them and especially when they have a handy person around to do things more complex than changing a light bulb.

There are many non mechanical, but "technical/intellectual" aspects to sailing - navigation is one of them, communications, sail trim and so forth. I only fix / service my engine because it is so expensive to get a mechanic and even harder to find one. So I was forced to tackle something I have no experience with - motors. Most of the mechanical things you can find "how to" books for "idiots (like me) so that almost anything on board becomes doable by the owner/crew.

If you start with a sound boat and approach this all from a maintenance POV.. ie not fixing broken things, but maintaining them in good repair, it's a way to ease yourself into the whole handyman am I thing.

Personally I have come to enjoy working on the boat almost as much as sailing. And there are some who spend lifetime working on their boats and hardly sail them - and lots who sail and don't work on them, because they don't have the time, are lazy, or too well off to pay for everything.

Not being mechanical should not be a barrier to someone like you with the positive attitude you have. If you like learning - which is something at the core of sailing and cruising - you will soon want to own all the mechanical stuff that your might fear now.

My sense is that you will like the sense of freedom and adventure and all the "different" types of experiences that will become your every day ones.

If you can cook, you probably can conquer this.
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Old 09-12-2008, 17:32   #7
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My wife had many misgivings before setting off to sail around the world on our catamaran. She didn't like heeling over on a yacht (which is why we sailed on a catamaran), she had a problem with seasickness, and she had her own set of worries about things that would happen if she set sail.
You can read about her worries at: THE TOP TEN CRUISING DISASTERS I WAS AFRAID OF

I think that the two of the most important qualities that make for a successful cruiser are:

1. You are flexible and are willing to roll with the punches. Things often don't go as planned on a yacht, and if you are a rigid person in which things must be exactly as you would like, you will not be happy cruising on a yacht.

2. You enjoy being outdoors and experiencing mother nature. When you are cruising, you spend lots of time outside in the cockpit, riding in inflatable dinghies, getting wet, sweating, and basking in the sun. If you like that sort of thing, you should do fine.

If you need two showers a day, perfect makeup, fancy restaurants, and a predictable life to be happy, then cruising may not be for you.
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Old 09-12-2008, 18:04   #8
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FWIW obtain a copy of Debra Ann Cantrell's book "Changing Course" and the Neal's book "All in the Same Boat". Once you've read these check out S/V Zora and the Collins Family .

When my wife and I met, the lowest heel shoes she had were 5" ("...don't I look taller?") and the smallest boat she'd ever been on was the QEII!

Now, in her mid-50's, at 4'-11" and 105 lbs, she stands night watches on our First 42, alone, on passages and claims that our best times have always been " home on the boat". (It's a good thing as, if the economy doen't improve, that's where her home might be for a long time!).

Best of luck...

s/v HyLyte!
"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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Old 09-12-2008, 18:10   #9
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Hi Dave, good to hear from you, Sonne the reason that you read about so many terror stories here is because every has "normal Days" if there are such things but when something interesting happens then we want to know what oters would have done in the same situation, the 2 scariest things that ever happened to me whle sailing the sea were
1. The sheets ripped in a storm and we didn't have an outboard motor(but on a big boat you will have inboard motors so you won't have to worry about that)
2. We sprang a leak when my friend hit something that shouldn't have been there and broke the prop off and the radio wouldn't work so we had to turn the bilge pumps on, but that was the worst and we made it back safley to the dock to make repairs both times but I wouldn't worry about the technical stuff to much because like it was said earlier you will be useing it everyday and will learn it quickly and if you like sailing in the beginning then there is a very good chance you will continue to like it best wishes and may you always have fairwinds and following seas.
Sailing and exploration are necessary for life to endure
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Old 09-12-2008, 18:22   #10
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If your husband can do everything onboard to keep the vessel running: sail changes, repairs, navigation, anchoring, and cook! Then if I were him, I would teach you to and the kids..... to be able to hold a course in a variety of conditions. ( steer )

The rest will come in time.

Safety, first aid, radio communications should obviously be covered.

Terror is relative. A novice sailor my feel terror when the boat heels over in a moderate breeze. I would suggest building up your confidence slowly and locally. Go out one day when there are small craft advisories. ( a very windy day, with a choppy sea ) and see how you feel. Confidence in your vessel and your captain is very important.

If your plans will take you out of the sight of land, and you've never experienced that before, that will take some getting used to. For some people, losing sight of land for the 1st time can be a little intimidating.

Make sure you are able to relax on a boat when you are not, draw, listen to music, fish, watch the clouds go by..... etc etc.....can you sleep well on the boat?.....some passages can be's important to be able to get rest and sleep.

And's got to be Fun..

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Old 09-12-2008, 19:23   #11
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Totally agree with Tempest245. I started off with no experience, but depended so much on the experience of hubby. I learned so much along the way, but hubby was also very patient. This is a joint venture after all.
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Old 09-12-2008, 20:12   #12
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Baby steps. Work your way in slowly. Try a few weekend tips and then perhaps a few week long trips then perhaps a two week trip. Pilots don't learn to fly by starting out on a 747. Don't be Shanghied by being told you must commit to being on a boat for months at a time with little to no experience of knowing exactly what this means.

Life begins where land ends.
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Old 09-12-2008, 22:17   #13
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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
If you need two showers a day, perfect makeup, fancy restaurants, and a predictable life to be happy, then cruising may not be for you.

What???....Now you tell me..
"Go simple, go large!".

Relationships are everything to me...everything else in life is just a tool to enhance them.
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Old 10-12-2008, 03:20   #14
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Thank you...

Thank you, everybody, for the encouraging words! Will let you know how it all develops. I love to learn, I love speed, do not get seasick, love the outdoors, meeting new people and don't need makeup and restaurants. So maybe it will just be allright.

Except for the 95% boring / relaxing... is this so close together?

Anyway, I have the feeling that sailors are nice people! Thanks again for making me feel good about this. Will do loads of preparation and then just do it!

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Old 10-12-2008, 08:30   #15
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I would advise to take some basic sailing lessons without hubby. Get to feel how the boat works, and the terminology of the boat, and the wonderful act of sailing. When you understand the act (art) of sailing, and the boat's terminology you will become much more comfortable. Learning the terminology will help in communication, and allow for things to be done quickly, and safely.

I would also rent small boats for day sails until it is time to step aboard your own boat. I left my boat some 1,300 miles away for months at a time. I would go down to the local park with a large lake. There I would rent small daysailors just to be able to feel the act of sailing.......BEST WISHES in moving forward with your goals.......i2f
SAILING is not always a slick magazine cover!
BORROWED..No single one of is as smart as all of us!
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