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Old 03-09-2010
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Learning to Offshore Sail??

Hi,

I've been sailing my 1983 22' Catalina for a year on inland lakes. I really enjoy the sport of sailing and I'm always reading in an effort to learn more. I'm comfortable cruising around the lake on my own but by no means am I an expert. I want to learn to sail offshore so I can head out on my own adventures but i don't know how to get started... What do you guys recommend I do to gain experience? Should I go to sailing school and complete all of my ASA certifications?? It seems a little wishful to think I can do 10 days of offshore sailing and then be ready to go out on my own.. What do you think? Thanks

Also, what do you think about taking my 22' catalina offshore?

B
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Old 03-09-2010
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Umm.. NO... do not take your Catalina 22 offshore. It is a lightly built coastal cruiser and really not designed for it except on the best of days. As for getting experience, taking a course might be a good foundation, but the only real way to do it is to sail off shore.

Ideally, you should start by doing short coastal cruises, then short bluewater passages, and work your way up to longer bluewater passages. If you can do this as crew on an experienced sailor's boat, or have an experienced sailor crewing for you... it will make the learning curve a lot less steep.
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Old 03-09-2010
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Offer yourself up as crew. I'm going to the Safety at Sea seminar in Newport RI this weekend to try and get a ride in the Newport to Bermuda race. Keep asking around, keep sailing everything you can, and eventually you'll get an invite. Post your resume on Spinsheet and other "crew finder" pages to get your name out there.
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Old 03-09-2010
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Find a small ASA school who will tailor the 10 day course to what you want. Yep, they are out there. Try setting up a combo course where you get your cert doing full day hops. It is still going to be coastal, but if will get you use to being far enough away from the coast that you are not going to be reading the street signs for position
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Old 03-09-2010
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Hey byron - welcome to SN dude.

I agree with joey - there are lots of ASA courses out there. You should be able to find one that suits your needs. We will be doing the fast track this summer. From what I've seen it's one of the best ways to get a hands-on education and experience at the same time you're having fun. It's fast and effective.

Whatever you do, don't "just sail offshore" to learn. Bad move. Make sure you're with someone that can teach you how to do it well.
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Thanks for the advice.. I figured sailing school may be the way to go but it seems kinda unrealistic to think you can spend 10 days at sea in a course trying to cover everything imaginable, and all the sudden you are ready to head out on your own.. I could be wrong, maybe a lot of the information is retained for long periods from sailing school.. Anyway, looks like signing up for a course is the way to go...

Anyone ever work for a sailboat transport company? I found a few postings online that claim they hire crew to move sailboats from harbor to harbor.. Are these jobs hard to come by and would it be useful for an individual like myself trying to get coastal and offshore experience?

Thanks
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Old 03-09-2010
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Everyone's different and courses can teach you a lot but you also said that you sail a lot (on a lake), and read a lot, so I'm going to agree with SailingDog and say you might be able to just ease your way into it with baby steps.

We took some ASA courses in the beginning to learn sailing and navigation basics, but beyond that we just started going out in rougher and rougher weather for longer and longer distances over less and less protected waters. As our comfort level increased, we extended our range. At this point, we've gone offshore the W Coast of Vancouver Island for 3 days out of sight of land to practice watch keeping etc.

We didn't' crew although I think that would have taught us a lot about offshore sailing generally although less about sailing in our boat.
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Old 03-11-2010
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I'm not sure that anyone can adequately advise you on what to do here. What they can do is give you advise based on their experiences. In my case I was a coasty for a long time before going off shore. I also was a racer, specifically a bow man, thus some of my off shore was in races down the California Coast. I have some 30,000 miles under my belt and can not think of anything I would have done differently in my training for Blue Water except start earlier. Take courses in Navigation and don't pooh pooh the traditional navigation skills. Also learn as much as you can on dead reckoning and following the stars. Once you have a base knowledge then you can start going further and further off shore. As to a 22' boat, I can tell you that the year I transited the Pacific from Balboa, Panama to Nuka Hiva, French Polynesia, the smallest boat was the same as yours. Further during the 40's and 50's whole fleets of under 25' boats would race from San Francisco to Hawaii in what later became the TransPac Race. Most recently an F-24 class has been racing in that race. The point is can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? I'm not so sure. The problem is you can not carry enough gear to cover most contingencies. Remember though that the Pardee's first boat was only 24' Now to your experience. You are a lake sailer not an ocean sailer. You are going to find the Ocean much different. I was a lake sailer and always had my hand on the main sheets. This to avoid wind gust knock downs. On the Ocean that isn't such a concern but an unintentional jibe might be. You need to make that transition before considering off shore in any boat. Next thing is a 22 footer might make it in the Pacific but I am not so sure I would try one in the Atlantic. The two oceans are not any harder of easier but they definitely call for different skills. The Atlantic calls for Jibs. a 100% jib is huge there. In the Pacific they have head sails and a 125% is a small one. In any case, study the wisdom of those that have gone before you and glean out what works for you. Read the survivalist types. They may sound a little off in the head but they have been through a lot and learned how to survive most of it. Good Luck.
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A ten day course does not fit you out to head out on your own it is one step in that direction, the same as your previous experience. There are several other steps you can take until you are confident you are ready and equipped to do so.
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Old 03-11-2010
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Byron,

Since you already have basic sailing skills, what you need now is some experience under your belt. With some time at sea behind you, any advanced course you might later take will be more meaningful to you, since you will have an experience base that gives it context.

While I favor instruction for getting started (i.e. learning the basics of sailing), and also for acquiring advanced/specialized skills or licenses, when it comes to ASA-type "offshore" schools, I fall into the camp of skeptics. There's no substitute for experience, but ASA is not the only nor necessarily the best way to get off-shore.

Why not avail yourself of some of the "crew" opportunities that get posted here on Sailnet? I saw one just the other day for a skipper bringing his boat back from the Bahamas to the Chesapeake. That's a 4-7 day off-shore trip --perfect for getting your feet wet.

A word of caution on those crew postings, though. Most of the posting are legitimate, and present good opportunities even for relatively inexperienced sailors. However, some of the crew "opportunites" that get posted are more like "schemes". Fortunately, the regulars here at Sailnet usually sniff those out pretty quickly. I would avoid any arrangement that asks you to pay money to join on as crew for a delivery.

If it was an open ended cruise (as opposed to a delivery), you might feel differently about contributing toward expenses. But a point-to-point delivery should be free to you. You might have to provide your own airfare, or they might cover it for you -- depends on the circumstances.
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