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JeffH 08-27-2001 04:52 AM

The "Plan"-response
The ''Plan''

The three big sailing areas in Florida are Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa Bay on the West Coast of Florida. The West Coast has traditionally been less expensive to live than the East but generally has a smaller selection of boats. There are a lot of pretty big Catamaran fleets in the Caribbean but many if not most were in the Charter boat trade and we set up for island hopping rather than serious voyaging. Also, while ex-charter boats are cheap to buy, they are generally expensive in rebuild costs and time.

As to your ''decisions'', you both are very new to the sport and to sailing to be planning this kind of voyage that quickly. When you think of what it takes to ''get out there'' 6 to 10 months will fly by in a flash. You need to pack and/or sell your stuff, move to Florida, find a good used Cat, figure out which brands are suitable for that kind of voyaging (I don''t know of a 30-34 Cat that really is built for that kind of use.) commission her for that type of trip, learn to sail her well in a range of conditions, provision the boat and purchase a reasonable set of tools and spares. B

Beyond the physical tasks, you need to develop your skills at least in some of single-handed sailing, boat handling, navigation, weather, provisioning, language, rules for entering and leaving foreign ports, first aid, engine, electrical, refrigeration, and other aspects of general boat maintenance, and heavy weather storm tactics. While you may have some of these skills you will need to be prepared with all of them.

Then if you add up the time frame 8-10 months from now puts you in the Caribbean right at the start of Hurricane season.

Then there is the choice of a 30-34 foot Cat. Catamarans, like monohulls, distribute the energy of a gust in three ways, acceleration forward, leeway and heeling. In the case of a Catamaran, acceleration is very important to the safety of the boat. When you talk about the kind of heavily loading that is required for long distance cruising, I personally do not know of a brand of 30 to 34 foot Cats that are made to safely carry those kind of loads.

With all due respect, if you want to really sail off in the shortest possible time, I would suggest that you do a little bit more homework. At least enough to develop a step by step process as to how you are going to get everything done that you need to do. Set up a schedule and a sequence and then it will be easier to tell when and where you should go.


DuaneIsing 08-27-2001 09:50 AM

The "Plan"-response
We, too, have a somewhat similar plan (cruise Nov-Apr and stay in Florida condo May-Oct). We hope to be able to retire and cruise within 6 years, but I have already started the planning and preparation (Jeff is completely right that there is a LOT to prepare for). Fortunately, I''m enjoying the planning (and dreaming) as I''m sure you are.

I wish you all the best in pursuing your dream, but I think it is very ambitious to think you can start in less than a year.

Smooth sailing...


egallant 08-27-2001 10:51 AM

The "Plan"-response
Jeff -

I should have been more clear in my original post, we''re planning in having all of our California business (the house, cars, household stuff) taken care of and the move to Florida completed in 6-10 months. That would hopefully put us in Florida in Jan-Feb 2002 and the use the next 7-10 months getting a boat ready and getting our sailing skills honed. That should set us up to start the trip outside of the hurricane season.

So, that''s 13-20 months before we actually cast off and head out. Is that still unreasonable?

My real estate agent is coming over to look at the house tomorrow night, we sold our last house in less than a month, with a very short escrow. I think the big hurdle will be figuring out what to sell and what to store. Anyone in the market for Carvin full stack? It''s got 2 4x12 cabs and a 100 watt tube head. It''s not really practical for a sailboat.

JeffH 08-27-2001 02:40 PM

The "Plan"-response
Hi Pete,

13-20 is still a bit of a foot race but it can be done if you are methodical in setting goals and schedules and keeping to them. There is an enormous amount to learn and do in that compartively short period of time. You may be able to accelerate the schedule by buying a lot of the necessary work (i.e. having the boat professionally set up and taking a lot of courses) but even with that, you will need to stay focused. I can put it this way, four years ago I began to think that I wanted to buy a bigger boat. Over a year ago I decided to start looking in earnest. I began negoitating on the boat that I ultimately bought back in March. The boat only gets trucked in some time in the next two weeks. I figure if I went to work on her full time I could probably have her in condition to go distance cruising by next spring. She''s in good shape and basically began life as a distance cruiser. So, If you are starting with a small catamaran which did not start as a distance cruiser you have a lot of work to do. You even have a lot of work to do just to figure out what all you need to do to the boat to set her up for the kind of thing that you are considering.

I am not trying to discourage you in any way. I am merely trying to keep things in perspective as I have seen them.

Good luck

egallant 08-27-2001 02:59 PM

The "Plan"-response

Jeff -

Don''t worry, I''m not taking anything you say as discouraging. I''m used to working under pressure (12 years in the computer industry will do that!) and I consider myself reasonably "together" enough to make detailed plans and then follow through with them.

My girlfriend and I have been dreaming about this for years, buying the magazines, hanging around the marinas, and reading all the books, it''s only been recently that we really committed ourselves to doing it. Now that we''ve done that, it''s been a constant struggle just hanging on for these last few months before packing up and moving over to Florida. I lived in Clearwater for a few years in the mid-eighties so I have half a mind to go back there and use that as our homebase but I''d prefer the East coast as it''s someplace I''ve never lived and closer to where I want to ultimately depart from.

You mentioned having the boat professionally set up. Is that something that a boat yard could/would do or would surveyor be able to point me towards a person capable of it? In my current line of work I would hire a consultant to do work that I can''t do for a project, would this apply to something like preparing a sailboat for cruising?

And thanks, I appreciate your honest and candid responses.

kimberlite 08-27-2001 04:09 PM

The "Plan"-response

outfitting your boat yourself for cruising i feel is essential. you can''t call a mechanic up if you are 500 miles from land. knowing how all the systems work and all the wires , valves, pipes and switches are i believe is critical . i personally rebuilt kimberlite and have found many times when something broke - and they do break- i knew exactly what was necessary to repair it. for example--on my last trip south to bermuda we lost our alternator in a full gale in huge seas. knowing how to reinstall the alternator and circumvent the smart regulator allowed us to have electronics , refrigeration, running lights and autopilot for the balance of the trip. another time coming up from st thomas we noticed a lot of water in the bilge we quickly eliminated the obvious and found a leaking rudder post stuffing box. we easily repacked the rudder post box. not knowing about these simple things can cause a miserable passage.

on a location note, i bought kimberlite in st pete and found there were many good craftsmen on the west coast. it is also a nice spot to take off from. one boat i looked was owned buy an 80 year old man who made annul trips to the bahamas with his 80 year old wife. he logged 30,000 between st pete and the carribbean between the ages of 70-80. so i guess you can cruise from the west coast . its only a couple of days to the east coast and going through the keys is a nice way to start any passage.

bill seifert has written a book called offshore passagemaking and is a hands on book of how to outfit a boat for offshore. the best i have read. should be in the stores in october. he incidentally ran the tartan, then the j boat then the alden factory has made over 35 passages to bermuda and the caribbean and is a supervisor for outfitting and maintaining many world cruisers.

JeffH 08-28-2001 04:49 AM

The "Plan"-response
I think that Eric has hit the nail on the head here. The more you do yourself during fitout, the more you will be able to in extremeis. So while there are people called ''Outfitters'' who can act as a general contractor to help get a boat put togther, I do not recommend this as an optimum way to go fit out or go cruising, it is only a last recourse way to go cruising more quickly.

Fitting out on the West Coast of Florida would probably be less expensive than on the East Coast.


egallant 08-28-2001 06:41 PM

The "Plan"-response
Eric (and Jeff) -

That is certainly sound advice that I will follow. I plan to be as self-sufficient as possible and learn all there is to know about my boat.

I added Bill Seirfert''s book to my Amazon wish list, I should have it shortly after it reachs them. Do you have any other suggestions for books?


forthman 08-29-2001 07:47 AM

The "Plan"-response
I guess you have already hear of "The Gentleman''s Guide to Passages South."

egallant 10-26-2001 05:47 PM

The "Plan"-response
Wow, it''s been a busy two months since I posted my original message.

We''ve been planning, reading and dreaming non-stop since then. Our house went into escrow this past weekend and we''ve got about 25 days to go before it closes. We had orginally planned on 4-6 months to sell it and move to Florida but it looks like we''ll be there before Christmas, maybe even before Thanksgiving!

I''m excited, it''s finally happening.

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