Join Date: May 2002
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Crazy dream or reality?
Some people used to teach their children how to swim by throwing them in a pool and saying, "sink or swim." They trusted that desperation, and the child''s natural resourcefulness, would prevail, but, to my way of thinking, that''s no way to teach a child to swim. It''s more likely to be a nightmarish experience that is likely to haunt the child long afterward.
It''s also no way to learn long-distance sailing.
You have eight months to prepare yourselves and the boat for an extended cruise.
You''re talking about buying an older boat, and any older boat is likely to have leaks that don''t show up very much at the dock, but they will soak everything inside the boat when at sea. The boat may need to be recaulked. The boat will likely have many other repairs and upgrades to its sails and its systems that will need to be made. It will take time and money to find all the boat''s flaws and maintenance issues and to repair them. If you have to pay to have them done, it will cost more. The boat may need a bottom job before you leave on an extended cruise, and that''s a big job. You won''t be able to sail the boat while you''re doing some of the work that will need to be done. That means you won''t be able to practice sailing the boat, trimming the sails, learning navigation, learning how to use all the boat''s hardware, learning "seamanship" (i.e., the easy way to do everything on a boat), learning to handle the boat around the docks, under power ( even if the boat has wheel steering, it isn''t at all like driving a car.), etc. If you''re going to be on your own, at sea, you need to know enough about all the boat''s systems to be able to make emergency repairs yourself.
You can speed up your learning curve by taking all kinds of courses, but that all comes at a cost of time and money.
I''m not going to say you can''t do it in eight months, but it would be a big job to prepare yourselves and the boat in that period of time, and it would require an all-out effort to do so. My suggestion is to work towards that goal, but, as the time nears, make a hard, realistic judgment as to whether you and the boat are ready for the trip. If not, then cruise the coast for another year, learn for another year, and go when you''re ready. There''s a lot of nice cruising to be done in Florida, and another year learning and cruising there wouldn''t be too painful.