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  #1  
Old 09-24-2008
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Sailing experience first time out

Here is a question for those of you who have been 'out there'. What do you think is the typical experience level and knowledge of most sailors making his or her first big ocean passage? I know there are a few people who buy a boat and learn as they go. This (I would hope) is the minority. I am not interested in what people should do, but, what experience most actually have.
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Old 09-24-2008
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I think that probably more than 90% of sailors never make an ocean passage. I had sailed for about 20 years before I made my first real offshore passage but I probably had the same years experience twenty times! Not quite...but you get the point. I think a couple of years of active sailing while reading everything you can about prep and passagemaking and getting the boat ready is probably sufficient for most to make a safe initial passage if you are so motivated.
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Old 09-25-2008
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As Cam said, 90% never go to sea.

Many get marooned on the Teak Reef. Looks like this and is found in most yacht clubs around the world.



There is a wealth of sea-going stories to be heard around these reefs and most of them are about as genuine as the desire of the speaker to really go sailing.
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Old 09-26-2008
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Of course everyone's experience is different

I had my boat for nine years before my first ocean crossing, from Vancouver, BC to Kailua-Kona on a square rigged sail training ship. We did it to find out what it would be like to be at sea for weeks at a time. Quite a difference from afternoons on the bay. We decided we liked it and began taking trips that took us out of sight of land for a day or two. Laura signed on as delivery crew on a schooner from San Diego to Kauai to get a bit more experience (23 days as it turned out).

After a few island hops in Hawaii we figured we were ready for some serious voyaging. We like it even more now that we measure our sea time in months. I recommend working up to it gradually. We were lucky, living in Hawaii and having the option of sailing to another island overnight but you can just sail away from land for twelve hours or a day or so then turn around and sail back. In my opinion, hugging the coast and staying in sight of land is not a good idea if you want to get a taste of deep water cruising. We've run into lots of people who dreamed of sailing to faraway exotic locations only to find that they failed to consider the reality of being at sea for extended periods.

What I'm getting at is that you don't need years of sailing experience. You need basic sailing skills, of course, but, more importantly, you need to understand what it's like to stand watches and work your ship toward its destination, day and night, watch and watch. If you and your crew have the discipline and attitude blue water voyaging demands you will enjoy it. If not, no amount of day-sailing will prepare you.

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Last edited by vega1860; 09-26-2008 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 09-26-2008
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here here for vega1860's post!
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Old 09-26-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
As Cam said, 90% never go to sea.

Many get marooned on the Teak Reef. Looks like this and is found in most yacht clubs around the world.



There is a wealth of sea-going stories to be heard around these reefs and most of them are about as genuine as the desire of the speaker to really go sailing.
Thats what that damn reef looks like? i've been stuck on it many times.
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Old 09-26-2008
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I'd agree with Vega, there's nothing in coastal sailing (other than simple boat handling and familiarity) that compares to actually leaving the land behind and out of sight.
First time out you'll be amazed how difficult it will be to get a good bit of sleep, how fatigued you will become (in short order) and how that affects your judgement, perceptions and your whole attitude about the experience.

Once you work through all that and get into a bit of a rhythm (if indeed you do) then you'll have a better idea of whether or not this is for you.

Overnight or 2-3 day offshore jaunts would be an excellent way to check things out and still have a fairly easy escape route back.

Coastal hops are another way to get a taste of "blue water" but that too has it's downside.. Lee shore, possible increased risk of shipping traffic, and on the West coast, few harbours that are usable in bad weather.

Having a boat you have full and complete faith in is another huge factor, especially when you first run into some nasty weather. Dealing with your own reactions is plenty, constantly worrying about how the boat will deal with things will overload you quickly.

So I think you need to be a competent confident sailor, know your boat (and that it's capable), and have done your research on routing and navigation. Then have plenty of time (no short term deadlines if possible) and give it a go.
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Old 09-28-2008
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I had my first boat 7 months before crossing the Atlantic in it, a Bahia 46. 4 days sailing experience before that. Here's the blog and info:

The Babelfish, a Sailing Catamaran
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Old 09-28-2008
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We worked our way up to it. Coastal day passages, then overnights, then multi-overnights, then an 800 mile coastal passage up to 100 miles offshore, then 1300 miles to the caribbean. It was a matter of getting comfortable and gaining confidence with ourselves and the boat. Next?
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Old 09-28-2008
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I did two ocean passages as crew before taking my own boat. I can really recommend that.

Ocean sailing is a little different from coastal and needs more careful preparation, but with GPS isn't any more difficult. A couple of seasons of coastal sailing working up to some overnight passages should be plenty enough experience.
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