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  #1  
Old 11-17-2009
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Learning to cruise and live aboard

Hey all,

Ok, so I'm looking at the possibility of being able to buy a sailboat (28-34 footer) to live on and cruise sometime this coming summer.

I've taken some basic ASA sailing classes a number of years ago. And I've sailed on friends larger boats a couple times. But I've never spent a night on a boat or tried cooking on one or anything like that.

So, my question is... how can learn both 1) how to sail, navigate, operate, repair, provision, etc. (to a level sufficient enough to do it on my own) and 2) if I'll even like the live aboard/cruising lifestyle enough to make the downsides worth it?

I found a school (Offshore Sailing School) that has a "Fast Track to Cruising" course that covers both their "Learn to Sail" classes (I could use the refresher) as well as their "Live aboard Sailing" class. It's only a week long, so I don't know how comprehensive it is, but I figure it would at least help me answer the 2nd part of my question. Has anyone ever done a course like this? Or know anyone who has?

And are there other options? I currently don't live near the ocean nor do I currently know anyone who owns a cruising sailboat - so that's a slight disadvantage.

My main interest is to live aboard full-time while traveling - so maybe something like east coast US in the summer, winter in the Caribbean, over to Northern Europe for summer, down to the Med. for winter, more Europe the next summer, cross back over to South America for their summer, then through the canal, etc... (So, basically hanging out for a season in one general locale before moving on - with ocean crossings once a year or so.) But, of course, that's all just speculative based on my dreams/imagination.

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 11-17-2009
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Hello Greg,

Sailing issues aside, the living life on board part you can do right now. Go unplug your refrigerator to start with, turn your heat off, turn the main breaker off on your fuse box, and turn the main water valve off so you don't have any more water. Now move everything you own into one room and you are making a good start.

Now learn to live like that. Probably you are going to want to stay clean, so you have figure out a way to do that using containers full of water and no bathtub or shower. You're probably going to want to stay warm, so now without electricity you get to figure out how to do that. You will no doubt have electronics you want to use, so it is time to figure out how to generate your own electricity with solar panels or some other way. And you have probably gotten into the habit of eating periodically, so without electricity or refrigeration it is time to learn how to cook yourself enough food to keep your energy and spirits up. Edit - don't forget to unplug your cable while you're at it, no more cable television, and the high speed internet is gone too, you'll have to start using your neighbors wifi. Don't forget to unplug the telephone! Might be time to take up bike riding so you can get to the laundromat, don't forget the bike trailer so you can pull those heavy water containers along behind you.

Enjoy ...

Edit - P.S. it is actually a lot of fun to live like that once you get used to it.
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Last edited by wind_magic; 11-17-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 11-17-2009
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My wife and I took Offshore Sailing's Fast Track to Cruising course last Christmas (we did it in St. Petersburg, FL). Prior to that time neither one of us had sailed anything more than a Laser! Before, and during the course, we had doubts about them being able to cover everything that they promised. Well, they did, and it was excellent! Since completing that course we sold our house, sold all our crap, bought a catamaran and lived on it all summer. We just sold our business and will be taking off to cruise in the Caribbean next year. As you might have guessed, we are big fans of offshore sailing and their courses!

Mike
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Old 11-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
Hello Greg,

Sailing issues aside, the living life on board part you can do right now. Go unplug your refrigerator to start with, turn your heat off, turn the main breaker off on your fuse box, and turn the main water valve off so you don't have any more water. Now move everything you own into one room and you are making a good start.

Now learn to live like that. Probably you are going to want to stay clean, so you have figure out a way to do that using containers full of water and no bathtub or shower. You're probably going to want to stay warm, so now without electricity you get to figure out how to do that. You will no doubt have electronics you want to use, so it is time to figure out how to generate your own electricity with solar panels or some other way. And you have probably gotten into the habit of eating periodically, so without electricity or refrigeration it is time to learn how to cook yourself enough food to keep your energy and spirits up. Edit - don't forget to unplug your cable while you're at it, no more cable television, and the high speed internet is gone too, you'll have to start using your neighbors wifi. Don't forget to unplug the telephone! Might be time to take up bike riding so you can get to the laundromat, don't forget the bike trailer so you can pull those heavy water containers along behind you.

Enjoy ...

Edit - P.S. it is actually a lot of fun to live like that once you get used to it.
That is absolutely classic!! THANKS!!
Greg,
I was in the same place it sounds like you are about 5 or 6 years ago. Not sure I would recomend my approach, but my partner and I just started researching everything on the net, took a couple classes, bought a boat that seemed to have our name on it, and hope to start our circumnavigation next fall. We followed advice that resonated, ignored what didn't, made a few mistakes, all in all: having a great time! For us, it has been the experience of actually 'doing it' that is the best teacher. The ASA class we took was fun, but I probably learn ten times as much when actually out on the water in our boat. Everyone learns diferently, for us it seems best to jump in & figure it out as we go. FWIW
Mike
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Old 11-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braidmike View Post
That is absolutely classic!! THANKS!!
Greg,
I was in the same place it sounds like you are about 5 or 6 years ago. Not sure I would recomend my approach, but my partner and I just started researching everything on the net, took a couple classes, bought a boat that seemed to have our name on it, and hope to start our circumnavigation next fall. We followed advice that resonated, ignored what didn't, made a few mistakes, all in all: having a great time! For us, it has been the experience of actually 'doing it' that is the best teacher. The ASA class we took was fun, but I probably learn ten times as much when actually out on the water in our boat. Everyone learns diferently, for us it seems best to jump in & figure it out as we go. FWIW
Mike
You actually forgot the part about taking a cold shower while tearing up $100 dollar bills.....
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Old 11-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
Hello Greg,

Sailing issues aside, the living life on board part you can do right now. Go unplug your refrigerator to start with, turn your heat off, turn the main breaker off on your fuse box, and turn the main water valve off so you don't have any more water. Now move everything you own into one room and you are making a good start.

Now learn to live like that. Probably you are going to want to stay clean, so you have figure out a way to do that using containers full of water and no bathtub or shower. You're probably going to want to stay warm, so now without electricity you get to figure out how to do that. You will no doubt have electronics you want to use, so it is time to figure out how to generate your own electricity with solar panels or some other way. And you have probably gotten into the habit of eating periodically, so without electricity or refrigeration it is time to learn how to cook yourself enough food to keep your energy and spirits up. Edit - don't forget to unplug your cable while you're at it, no more cable television, and the high speed internet is gone too, you'll have to start using your neighbors wifi. Don't forget to unplug the telephone! Might be time to take up bike riding so you can get to the laundromat, don't forget the bike trailer so you can pull those heavy water containers along behind you.

Enjoy ...
I think it would be only fair to allow him a small generator to charge up his car battery for lights (he won't be needing it for his car). After all, what fun is it if you don't have your neighbors screaming "Turn off that f$@^&%ing generator!"

Mike
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Old 11-18-2009
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One more: Get used to thinking in 'Boatbucks', usually abreviated '$BB'. I think the current conversion factor is 1000US$=1$BB. This represents the minimum outlay for anything that touches the marine environment. I'm not sure who coined the term, but can attest to it's accuracy!
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Old 11-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregX999 View Post
So, my question is... how can learn both 1) how to sail, navigate, operate, repair, provision, etc. (to a level sufficient enough to do it on my own) and 2) if I'll even like the live aboard/cruising lifestyle enough to make the downsides worth it?
Hi Greg,

I think wind_magic overstates things a good bit. Don't stress.

For sailing, about the best you can do is find someone else who needs racing crew. You will learn more that way than any other.

Navigation can be learned at USCG Auxiliary classes or books or on-line courses like Starpath offers.

Operation comes with the territory.

Repair skills (as opposed to resources) can come easily from pitching in as the race boat you crew on prepares for the season and needs help getting in the water.

Provisioning is easiest. People eat everywhere in the world. Keep an open mind and you can always eat.

The longest passages I can think of are in the South Pacific and rarely exceed a month. The longest hop I took crossing the Atlantic was three weeks. You can practice at home -- think about what you want to eat for a week and buy all the food at once (refrigerator is allowed -- most although not all cruisers do have refrigeration) and eat from that. Push to two weeks and do it again. You'll find it isn't hard at all.
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Thanks for all the advice guys!

wind_magic - I DO realize cruising isn't all margaritas and sunsets. I've read a few books (by L. & L. Pardy and by Annie Hill) - so I realize (at a purely logical level) the amount of comforts being given up. But obviously just "pretending" to do it in your house isn't quite the same.

mikeandrebecca - Wow, that's quite an endorsement. Thanks! (Are you sure you don't own the company? )

braidmike - Yeah, that's what I figured would be the best way to learn. It would just suck to jump-in feet-first (what other way is there really?) and then after a month or 2 or 6 decide that you want out. And yeah, the money thing can be scary - it's so hard to get a realistic picture of what's needed - I read stories of people out sailing for years on $1000/month, and others saying they need $4000/month. Obviously comfort-level has something to do with that (ie: refrigeration, water makers, boat size, etc.), as well as how handy you are (ie: scraping and painting your own hull, etc.).

SVAuspicious - Unfortunately, I have ZERO interest in racing. But I get what you're saying... just get out there and start "doing".

I realize there's no perfect way to go about it, no way to know *for sure* how much I'd like it, no way to learn *everything* I'd need/want to know. Well, at least I'm young and single and the "spirit of adventure" hasn't been squashed out of me yet!

Greg
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What do you mean it isn't all margaritas and sunsets? That is what we signed up for!

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