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Old 02-01-2010
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Jeff_H Jeff_H is offline
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First of all, reading your post, and non-analytic approach to this, I would say that your chances of crossing the Atlantic in a year are well less than 50/50%.

If you had the time and money to methodically and rapidly progress through the necessary study and apprenticeship, with access to knowlegable friends who could tutor you in sailing and boat handling, and if your mindset was such that you were able to methodically outline a course of study, then you might increase your chances of being successful, but the fact that you have set an arbitrary deadline, and picked an arbitrary boat type, and have not researched even the most basic first steps in a courses of study before setting this goal, suggests that it is unlikely that you can accomplish a crossing at anything resembling a reasonable level of risk, at least not within a year's time.

You need to begin to get vaguely realistic in your planning. For example, there is only a narrow weather window to minimize your risks in crossing the Atlantic in a small boat west to east. The end of that window is less than 6 months away and the beginning of the next window is 15 months away. So at the very least, the soonest you could go is roughly 15 months.

I know that the dream of voyaging under sail can be a powerful one. Several times a month I receive an email from someone who is considering doing just what you are proposing. I have watched literally dozens of folks go through this. Some are successful in getting 'out there', some discover that they really enjoy sailing and find that they really have no need to cross and ocean; some have discovered that the sailing life is just not for them, and still others have not even gotten past the dreaming stage.

From what I have seen, typically the most successful have been the ones who have been somewhat systematic about going. There is a lot to learn before one can safely venture offshore. No one would assume that they could buy a jet airliner take a few lessons and be able to fly around the world. I think most rational people would expect to start with a small plane and work their way up doing short hops and then longer more difficult flights. But for some reason people assume that they can just go out and buy a boat, take a couple lessons, read a few books, and then go safely cruising.

While there are people who literally have taken a few lessons, read a few books and went out voyaging, those that were successful going that route are far more rare than those who have done some kind of apprenticeship and worked up to it a step at time. Learning to sail and learning to cruise involves a lot of knowledge and no matter how much you know, there will always be more to learn, but I suggest that you at least plan to take the time to learn the basics.

If I were in your position, I would start by moving myself to a warm climate, say Florida and taking basic sailing lessons. I would look for a small offshore capable design, (and not try to start with an old, lightly built, coastal cruiser like the Cal 2-27. An experienced sailor could strengthen one and cross and ocean, but you have neither the time or skill to do that.) If you are planning to cross an ocean, you will need a boat with a displacement (weight) of roughly 4,000 to 11,000 lbs per person, so a 27 foot coastal cruiser is too small for two or three people to sail across the Atlantic in terms of carrying enough supplies to feed the crew and carry necessary spares.


To cross an ocean in a small boat, you turly need to know how to sail well. By sailing well, I mean understanding the nuances of boat handling and sail trim in both light and heavy conditions.

The key to even getting close to your goal will be outline the tasks you need to accomplish in the 15 months that you have, setting a sequence and deadlines and be disciplined in following that path. I would start by sitting down and put together a list of all of the things that you will need to know before I set off voyaging. Off the top of my head, you would at least minimally need to study and truly know the following items and then some:
Boat handling
Sail trim
Rules of the road
Weather
Routing
Boat husbandry, repair and maintenance
Diesel/ gas engine maintenance and repair
First aid
Heavy weather tactics
Legal restrictions on leaving and entering foreign countries
Navigation, (Celestial, dead reckoning and electronic)
Provisioning
Radio operators license exam requirements
Safe and dangerous fish to eat
Survival skills
Etc………..

Once you had what you thought was a complete list, you would set up a schedule to try to develop those areas of skill that you are currently lacking.

As much as possible you will need to try to involve all those on board in as many of these aspects of knowlege as each is capable of understanding. With dedication, high levels of energy, and a lot of focus this process could take as little as a year, but in my experience, more often it takes two to three years. The process itself can be very rewarding and can build the kind of family bonds that are required to be cast away on that oh-so-small island that a boat underway represents.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies

Last edited by Jeff_H; 02-01-2010 at 08:21 AM.
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