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post #1 of 4 Old 07-08-2001 Thread Starter
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Sailor Wannabe''''s

After reading so many of the posted messages here on these boards,I can appreciate that many "soon to be" or sailor "wannabe''s" such as myself can really benefit from this sailnet service. I am 55 and never been sailing but my wife and I will soon take sailing courses. Since we live in the Tampa bay area it seems such a waste to let all the good weather and open water sit there and us not enjoying it. We are thinking about Hunter 28s to 31s as a starting vessel. They seem to be somewhat readily available and reasonably priced in our area. Does anyone foresee any problems (other than our being new to sailing) that we should be concerned about. We are doing probably what everyone else does i.e. reading books, watching video''s, internet sites, asking questions, questions, and more questions. We are not impulsive and are very cautious. We don''t want to make a decision we''ll be sorry for. We want to be regular day sailors and occasional coastal sailors since we have friends that live on both coasts of florida. Our spirits are willing. We just want to make sure we are taking the right steps. What do you all think? experienced/educated opinions please. I know that we all have to start somewhere so I''m starting with you folks. Thanking you in advance, Ronbob
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-09-2001
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Sailor Wannabe''''s

Hi, Ronbob...

Since our homeport is St. Pete, I think I can offer you some thoughts that might prove useful...

First, the Bay is a great place to start your sailing adventures. Great weather almost always. When you want to begin stretching yourselves, good nearby cruising on the Bay, and then S along the protect ICW (for starters, right up the Manatee River, just past the Skyway). Multiple ''cuts'' that will allow you to sample sailing on the Gulf. And even an overnight anchorage in Vinoy Basin by the St. Pete Pier is great fun - might even get a free concert as a bonus!

For reasons such as these, I recommend locating the eventual boat on the Bay side vs. along the Boca Ciega Bay/ICW strip from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater...but I realize others might see it differently, as those waters also have their attractions. Your own location will also discount some places.

As for a starting place, turn off the computer, put down the magazines and - both of you - get engaged! Nothing beats actual ''doing'' and you''ve got lots of options: look for local boat clubs where you can perhaps get a lesson or rent a boat; enroll in the low-cost USCG and/or Power Squadron courses (both available all over Tampa Bay), which not only will give you some basic training but also intro you to other sailors, a big plus; walk the docks & talk to folks - ask around for perhaps a short-handed boat that would like to trade a scrubbed deck for an afternoon sail; call the local Comm Colleges to see what facilities exist for students, since you can enroll just like the young kids (SPJC has a wonderful sailing facility right across from the Harborage & it''s ''big boats'').

There are lots of good ways to get started; the key is to get your hands dirty & feet wet. You''ll soon find out whether this sailing bug is for you, and better for you & your pocketbook you learn sooner than later.

FWIW our first experience, out of shear curiosity like yours, was to ''charter'' (fancy word for ''rent'') a boat along with some friends - and her captain - for a sail & anchoring overnight at a nearby island. What a great way to begin seeing/feeling what this was all about. Our next step was to take vacation time & and enroll in another owner-operated Cal 34 for a week''s cruising/sailing instruction. What wonderful dumb luck! The USCG retired owner offered structured training, right from the basics, while we sailed each day to a different anchorage & spent the night. We left that week''s experience with real if also carefully supervised cruising under our belts. Great stuff. To those who might question the cost, it was outstanding ''value'' and helped us over the hurdle of ''Is buying a boat really sensible, financially?'' We knew enough to know we liked what we''d seen & done.

Involvement might seem awkward & difficult from the remote sidelines...but that doesn''t last long. Start getting involved, and you''ll soon know if this really is for you. And good luck!

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post #3 of 4 Old 07-10-2001
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Sailor Wannabe''''s

As usual, Jack has spoken with great sense and has provided a lot of sage advice, most of which I agree with. I strongly agree with his key point which is get out there and go sailing. He''s exactly right about renting boats, getting invited to go sailing, and trying any other way to go sailing a bunch before buying your first boat. Nothing works better than just getting out there BUT I disagree with Jack about stopping reading and posting.

I really think that reading is critical to the process of learning to sail. I also think that picking the brains of experienced sailors is also very important. There is a lot about sailing that is less than perfectly intuitive. Reading and asking questions helps beginners to visualize and explain the concepts involved in what is happening out there.

I think that Steve Colgate''s wife''s book called something like "Sailing for Women" is one of the best learning to sail books for anybody, man or woman. Sail magazine offers a wide range of skills building articles which should be useful for the new sailor.

As to the Hunter 28-31, few boat builders are more controversial than Hunter. The older 28, 30, and 31 are not bad boats for what you would like to do. Members of my family has owned two Hunters on Sarasota Bay and they were good boats for that purpose, But before you lock in on a manufacturer you should spend more time sailing so you can better shape your ideas about what you want in a boat. In your area there are a lot of different types of boats available pretty cheaply and while the Hunters might worlk for you there may be better choices that might better suit your needs.

Good luck and feel free to ask questions as this process proceeds since this is a great way to learn and check your assumptions.


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post #4 of 4 Old 07-12-2001
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Well, I''ll confess...I didn''t really mean "Stop reading, forever!" but just get past the intellectualizing of it and into the doing. I''m glad Jeff added that correction because most of us continue to gobble up whatever we can find that seems useful & applicable.

Jeff talks about Hunters to point out that you can''t even generalize about one particular brand; that''s quite true. Last night, we visited friends on a 1985 Hunter 40 and I think it''s a pretty good coastal cruising boat. The previous owners spent 8 years on it in the Caribbean (down to Trinidad and back) and it shows no particular weak spots. And I really do loathe Hunters!

But my point is: It can be misleading to think solely in terms of brands or manufacturers. Initially, I recognize it''s much easier - knowing folks have found Pearson''s Alberg 35''s to hang together offshore is comforting because it makes cataloguing that model/brand easier. But there are lots of interesting boats out there, a fair share of them not lending themselves to a nifty, convenient ''brand slot''. Foreign boats sailed here on their own bottoms, some of which may be of low exposure to the U.S. marketplace. Owner-completed boats (yes, there are a few good ones...) or boats built only for a short time (a Cabot 36 is one of my weak spots) that had so little production life that people generally can''t catalog them accurately. But that doesn''t mean you can''t look them over carefully, using the end results of your continuing reading <g>, and end up feeling good about a particular model, no matter what the brand''s PC reputation.

Just a thought to push the envelope a bit...

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