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Yeshua 03-28-2005 04:33 AM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
Ahooy! I am currently land-locked in Arkansas, but am planning to relocate to Florida''s West Coast in the next 3-5 Months.

I will be looking for a sailboat in the 25-35 foot range. I will be Single-Handing the boat, thus the small size.

After upgrading the boat and building the "Cruising Kitty", I plan on cruising the Bahamas... maybe a trip around the gulf to Belize for a Shakedown cruise.

My only boating experiences are ski-boats and the one trip that got me hooked on sailing, 2-3 years ago, I went out on a sailboat with some friends.

Standing out on the bow pulpit, the sun halfway hidden by the horizon, I watched as a pod of dolphins played alongside the boat. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity. It was almost spiritual. I was hooked.

I despise the "rat-race", traffic, the whole 9-5 scene, corporate America (I LOVE AMERICA, just hate climbing the corporate ladder, office politics, brown nosing, etc...), and all the general little things one must deal with to work and live in "normal" society.

I am rather Nomadic by nature, never caring to stay in one place too long. I love to travel, see new places, meet new people and experience new things.

I''m not foolish enough to believe it will be all white beaches, with rum drinks, sun and fun. I know there will be maintenance, break-downs and myriad other things I haven''t even considered. I know it will be a lot of work but it will be a great adventure.

Things I wonder about...

Can I earn a living abroad? - I have an Associate''s Degree in Electronics and can do a lot with circuit design and implementation. I am somewhat handy with tools and can do most maintenance on a gasoline engine. I have been a computer geek for more than 20 years. I can sew. I fancy myself a good cook. I''m not a carpenter but I can do some basic woodwork.

Is an Autopilot or a Self-Steering WindVane a better choice?

Where in the Bahamas are the best places for...
Fresh Water for tanks,
Fresh Meat (Lamb, Beef, Poultry),
Good Rum - (Taste, Smoothness),
Computer Parts (Hard Drives, Printer Cartridges, etc...),
Paper Charts - if I decide to venture outside the bahamas,
Riding out storms/hurricanes,
Sodas - (Coke, Mt Dew, etc...),
Dry Dog Food

If I take a dog with me (Pit, German Shepherd, Lab, etc...) what complications will I run into? i.e. quarrantine, etc... I plan on having the dog immunized, documented, etc... The dog is for guarding the boat when I am ashore, companionship, etc.


What I want on the boat...

Laptop w/ Charting/Plotting, DVD & MP3s
GPS - Handheld X 2 (1 for laptop, 1 backup)
Depth Sounder
Radar (highly unlikely to obtain)
Small Watermaker for when tanks run dry
Various Windlasses/Winches for anchor, sails, etc.
Inflatable Dinghy/Liferaft
Minimum of 3 anchors w/chain and rode

I don''t plan on having refrigeration or Air Conditioning. I am thinking of building a 12 Volt Ice Maker, capable of keeping an ice chest full and a little extra, if needed...


Being a sailing Newbie, I am planning on many Daysails, Coastal Cruises, etc. before heading "Down Island". The middle of the Gulf Stream is a bad time to realize I don''t know how to ___________ (fill in the blank).

With any luck, I will find one or more "Buddy Boats" to head Down Island with, but I do not want Crew other than a trusty Canine.

I intend to leave when the "Cruising Kitty" is approximately $7500-10K. Ashore, I have lived on as little as $500/month, rent included, trying to learn to live on as little as possible.

Can anyone reccomend a book or website about tropical fish and other sealife that can be be caught/prepared for food and which are dangerous to humans and canines.

Many friends think I am nuts, my family thinks I should be committed to some mental health facility... I think I am fairly sane and have a pretty good plan... Do I sound nuts to you?

Everyone around me is trying to discourage me from pursuing the dream... Maybe its out of concern for my safety, envy that they can''t do it themselves, or just a general landlubber''s ignorance of the sea). With so much negativity around me, I can''t help thinking about all the possible negatives.

That being said, I intend to push forward and live the dream.

Sorry that is so long... It should probably be several different posts but here it is...

Oh, one other thing... If anyone has any Navigation Charts, Cruising Guides, etc. for the Bahamas and or Belize that you would care to donate, e-mail me at

Irwin32 03-31-2005 06:26 PM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
Read "advice on books for the VI" on the learning to sail forum. My opinion of your plans is summed up in my response there.

The Belize bible is a book by Capt. Freya Rauscher. I plan on using mine again. Belize is very shallow and can be pretty tricky. Stay away from Belize city as I am told it is a crime pit. The Islands along the barrier reef are fabulous and the natives friendly. Don''t rely on GPS as the existing lat lon on available charts are not accurate.

Nereus32 04-01-2005 05:13 PM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
Hi Yeshua,

I just spent the seven months cruising down through the Great Lakes, Erie Canal/Hudson River, down the East Coast to SW Florida with my wife and two year old daughter. It was the best seven months of my life (so far).

We, too, had a bunch of nay-sayers telling us what a big mistake we were making. In the end, it turned out they we all just envious of us having the chutzpah to make the discision and go. If it feels right to you, then it is probably the right thing.

Keep in mind, of course, that is far from ideal. I think my greatest reward is the fact the we did it successfully - we set our goal and achieved it. We would have loved to have kept going, but we couldn''t afford more than we''d planned for. No regrets.

As per your dog idea, we have black lab and decided to make other arrangements with family for her. We love her and she is part of our family, but the open sea is no place for a large dog, even one who loves the water as much as she does. We are now reunited with her, but surely realize that the trip would have been too much for us all to handle. It was a tough decision, one that you''ll have to decide for yourself.

Per your gear choices, well, they are a matter of personal taste. However, I can add that I used my radar all of 3 times during the trip, but wished ever week that I had a watermaker.

Good luck in what ever you decide. It is a great way to live.


Irwin32 04-04-2005 09:44 PM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
I am not saying don''t go. What I am saying is that living long term aboard a sailboat is different than the pictures in the magazine. While there is , indeed, unmatchable pleasures, there are also downers and not everyone is willing to put up with the downers.

e31 04-08-2005 07:41 AM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life

What is the boat you are on? My wife and I own an Ericson 31, have two children (age 3 & 4) and are starting to think about a year or two of crusing in the future.

I''d be interested in your other thoughts on gear selection (such as your watermaker comment).

We would have a similar route, New England down to FLA, the islands, (Venezula?)

Regards - Doug

GordMay 04-09-2005 02:53 AM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
A trip around the Gulf to Belize is NOT a shakedown cruise.

The opportunities for a cruiser to acquire ‘casual’ work abroad are spotty at best. As one of the best sources of income might be other cruisers, boat-related skills are among the most useful.

An auto-pilot is more useful for short-haul or inshore work (Bahamas), whereas a wind-vane is more often used on longer passages.

Fresh water may cost anywhere from $0.25 to $1.00 per gallon in the Bahamas, and is readily available at any marina.

Fresh meat is harder to come by, in the Bahamas, and is often of lower quality than North America. Frozen meat is readily available throughout the Abaco’s, in Nassau, Staniel Cay, and Georgtown (Exumas).

Good rum (all spirits) is cheap in Nassau (Luden’s Liquor’s will deliver your pre-purchased order to the dinghy dock).

Computer parts, Charts, Soda, Dogg Food will be harder to find outside of Nassau (etc) and very expensive.

A 12V Ice-maker is NOT a practical accessory on 30 Ft class sailboat.

bombayduck 04-09-2005 04:55 AM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life

I think you will want to learn how to sail first on a small boat like 25 feet or so. Keep that boat for a couple of years and learn on that one. Then, you will better know what you want and don''t want in a cruising sailboat and not have alot of money invested.

If you decide that cruising is not for you then you have not put all you eggs in one basket. Give yourself a few years to become familiar with sailing and cruising. Don''t rush into it. Take your time and check out all your options along the way. Sailing is a wonderful way to spend a life!

Just my two cents.


JeffC_ 04-10-2005 01:53 PM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
Thanks for your post, Yeshua. You remind me a lot of myself. Here is your rating:

<b>Enthusiams/vision:</b> 10.0
<b>Adaptability and willingness to learn while doing:</b> 10.0
<b>Actual sailing knowledge/experience:</b> 0.5
<b>Probable menace to navigation/slip neighbors learning by yourself on 30'' keelboat:</b> 9.4<P>I think your idea is great. But you know that your first job is to become a competent sailor, so that with your new set of skills and judgment, you can decide where it is safe for you to go, and in which conditions, in the boat you are captaining. Here''s my best advice for someone on the fast track:
<ol><li>Get a book on the subject of basic sailing skills. There are several. I cut my teeth on Bob Bond''s <em>The Handbook of Sailing</em>. There are several other excellent primers to be found at Barnes & Noble.</li>
<li>When you get to Florida, take sailing lessons from one of the many competent schools. If you will arrive in Florida in the next 3-5 months, you can get this done before this summer is over.</li>
<li>Continue the reading program over the winter. That shelf at Barnes & Noble has a lot to keep you busy and absorb. Let your sailing class become the jumping-off place for sailing topics to learn about.</li>
<li>In the spring of ''06, buy a small (20-24'') weekender for $3-4k. Sail the hell out of it next summer. Practice basic skills such as the "rules of the road" & sailing ettiquite, reading the wind & sail trim, heaving-to, anchoring, and tacking & controlled gybing. After you feel competent on daysails, plan and provision for a weekend mini-cruise (sleeping bag, ice chest, camp stove). By this time you should have basic navigation tools like local charts, a ruler, compass/dividers, and a hand-bearing compass. Don''t know what to do? You didn''t read the right books. Practice your piloting skills by going somewhere within the boat''s range, stay on the hook somewhere protected for a couple of nights. Though your boat may be small, figure out a way to display an anchor light. Remember, you''re practicing for the bigger boat. Take a few trips like this over the course of next summer, increasing your range as your skills and confidence to handle changing weather and safely control your boat single-handed grow.<P>During this period, make as many dockside friends as you can. Sail with them. Decide who is truly knowledgeable, and talk to them about your plans. You''ll get more opinion to sort through than you can manage, but much of it will be good, and based on real experience.<P>Your reading during this period should focus on cruising skills (everything from provisioning & water conservation to heavy weather single-handing tactics, and tender (digny) options. Dogs, lacking opposable thumbs aren''t good for deck crew, so it''ll be all you out there.</li>
<li>Next fall (or earlier), focus your reading on selecting a cruising boat (again, there are several good books, but the subject is replete with differing opinion, so get a good range of thought, and determine which philosophy most closely matches yours.</li>
<li>Now you have the right to have an opinion. Begin shaping your idea of what kind of boat will suit your needs. Compare those emerging ideas to the local market of used sailboats. See what actual available boats in your area seem likely choices for your intended purpose.</li>
<li>Take your short list to knowledgeable friends. Take their comments into consideration. Do more research on the models on your list.</li>
<li>It''s time to learn about systerms: diesel engines; electricity generating/storage/use; anchoring ground tackle/deploying/retreiving; communication choices; sailraising/dousing for single-handers (know what <u>lazy jacks</u> are? Find out); mast-climbing options; harnesses and single-handed safety; watch-keeping. And the list goes on.<P>Continue to sail your boat during this time, or sell it and put the cash into the new boat fund.</li>
<li>In the spring of ''07, enter the used boat market with a focused idea of which boats are both suitable for you and are within your budget. 30-35'' is reasonable, depending on the layout and ability to be single-handed. Shorter if you''re spartan and leave the dog behind. Plan on spending 20-50% of your purchase price on repairs/maintenance (as revealed in the <b>survey</b> you were smart enough to insist on before you bought the boat) and upgrades to systems (blown-out sails? Big expense).<P>This summer, get to know your boat: how she handles under power and sail, what her performance is, what you need to change, e.g., leading lines back to the cockpit can increase your convenience and safety. Repeat the mini-coastal cruise experience with this boat. Get to be her captain.<P>Assuming your cash flow is healthy, implement your upgrades/adaptations over the off-season as you plan your real trip.</li>
<li>Find out about documentation and customs requirements for where you are going. Make sure you have all the paperwork in order to avoid problems once you get somewehre. Those places are soveriegn nations, and regulate travel into/out of their territorial waters & soil. Then cast off and have an adventure.</ol>
This is a very ambitious plan which will consume most of your evening and weekend hours. It is heavy on reading. If you don''t like to read, add two years to the plan and make sure your insurance coverage never lapses.

<u>Other thoughts:</u>
Those electric/electronic devices for entertainment will require power which you may need to reserve for essential functions such as lighting, communication, water pumping, an autopilot, and maybe powered anchor weighing. Add refrigeration, and you may have to make some hard choices about pleasures that require electricity.

Refrigeration itself is a hotly debated topic. Take a hard look at what you will actually require, and the power it will take to support your need for cold soda pop. Ice? Some consider it a necessity, some a luxury, others laugh at the idea.

Water desalinatorrs are very expensive and are sometimes less than reliable. Adequate freshwater tankage and good conservation practices may suit you better.

It''s been done, but I''d consider and re-consider taking a dog that size, after talking to a few people who have done it. If you do, make sure you know the customs regulations for bringing in animals in the countries you plan to visit.

GPS is great, but having one in your hand doesn''t make you a navigator or a pilot. And many (most?) charts were drawn to survey data that is quite old and error-ridden: things are not exactly where the charts say they are. Consider GPS a convenience, but don''t trust it blindly.

I''m sure others will have more to say and may disagree with me on several points, especially on the need to develop basic skills on a daysailor/camper. But if you want to be a sailor, not just a boat owner, this is the fastest way, IMHO, to truly develop the required skills to sail wherever you want to go safely and confidently.

Yeshua 04-11-2005 11:26 AM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
Thank you all for the wonderful responses...

JeffC_ - I love your rating system!!!

I have pretty much have given up on the idea of taking the dog... I found a pretty good website (sorry I dont have the address atm...) with lots of info about taking animals sailing and the red tape involved in many of the places I want to travel.

It looks like it will be late July - mid August before I am ready to go to Florida. I still have several things to take care of here.

I had already planned on getting a small sailboat 20-25'' to learn the basics of sailing. I had already considered the menace factor (to other sailors) of learning on a larger boat 8^)

Thanks again to all of you for your great posts and encouragement. Please continue with the posts, I will be checking in here as often as I can.


You can''t sit on the beach drinking rum all day if you dont get started early in the morning...

sonofasailorsailing 04-13-2005 07:33 AM

Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
Ok, my 2 cents...I started on a Chrysler 22, an excellent boat by the way. Two years, and not less than a few mishaps, later, we bought a 33'' yawl. While I love the way she sails and she will be ideal for our plans in the future, I still miss sailing the Chrysler.

I bought two books to begin with..."sailing Basics" and "Sailing for Dummies". Both are excellent. I got a great deal on on them as a package deal. I recomend them both.

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