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  #21  
Old 04-07-2010
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Back to the original question! Go for it!
I sailed a Hobie a for 15 months before I bought my Hans Christian 33. Was there a difference? Yes, it was 10 times easier to sail. However those tied to the dock couldn't figure out how to sail her due to the absence of anemometer. I soon repaired the problem so my fair weather friends could sail with me
Skills gained on the way are always a bonus but not necessary, put the wind on your face you'll do fine.
When you venture offshore, you will begin to think of what your life is worth! Then read and consider all of the above posts! The dog doesnt' have 35k post for nothing Do your best.
BTW, I didn't go through the training, I had an ASA Captain go on an overnight before I sailed 2400 miles down the West Coast. Was it scary, hell yes and I wouldn't trade one life experience for it. Did stuff break, yes, did things malfunction, yes. Prepare yourself for problems(And as my friend Richard Bala, after 4000 miles from the Marquesas to Chile defines problems as(opportunities) (sail 2000 of that without engine), fix them, pat yourself on the back, they are never ending! And last but not least! Have the attitude, fortitude and where with all of the Smackdaddy

Cam Campbell
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  #22  
Old 04-07-2010
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The time line for going cruising probably has as much to do with people as it does with boats and gear. I am with SD on the knowledge thing - I think that being able to fix stuff is vital to confident cruising. But that's maybe because I am competent to tend to virtually everything on my boat. Maybe the confidence is born from knowing that whatever goes wrong, you have the dinero to fix it rather than the skill.

But a timeline that enables you to be sure you're going to have fun and enjoy it is really important. And that the people that are going with you are going to enjoy it too. And if you're saying that you're planning on going alone, revert back to the first point with real focus.

There are legions of boats out there that have been abandonded when the dream became a nightmare. It happens a lot and it could happen to you.

So once you have learned how to fix yourself when you break, then you should start working on understanding the other less important stuff like boats and gear.

Oh, and Smack, I would never leave the dock without glassfibre and resins to fix things. There are a heck of a lot of things that can be fixed with GRP.
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  #23  
Old 04-07-2010
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I think Smack is right in terms of what the OP actually said and asked, if the OP is just going cruising for days or a week at a time then it would probably be okay to just have a boat and pay someone to fix it. That isn't long term cruising, that is just going on the occasional cruise for a week at a time. Still, you're taking your chances doing it that way.

But for long term cruising I'd agree with the dog, and others. Our lives depend on millimeters of fiberglass (or steel, wood, etc), we're in the middle of an uncaring ocean that we're not meant to live in, etc, it isn't like when your car breaks down and you can just walk to the next town. Some amount of preparation is required, and the more the better.

I also agree with what SD said about finance, I think if we did some kind of a survey of cruisers and took the mean of their cruising kitty and cruising incomes, it would be hard to justify the expense of paying others to keep the boat maintained. Paying other people to maintain the boat is more for boat owners who are working, or for the extended vacation cruiser that will only be out until the kitty is empty, or the autumn cruisers who are enjoying the last of the wine. I think we'd find that most long term cruisers are forced by simple financial reality to do everything themselves, the math is ugly.
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  #24  
Old 04-07-2010
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This is a topic that comes up frequently. I wrote the following for a different purpose but hopefully, it begins to address the OP's question,

Learning to Voyage

The dream of voyaging under sail can be a powerful one. There was a period when several times a month I would receive an email from someone who is considering doing just what you are proposing. I have watched literally dozens of folks go through this. Some are successful in getting 'out there', some discover that they really enjoy sailing and find that they really have no need to 'go out there’; some have discovered that the sailing life is just not for them, and others have not even gotten past the dreaming stage.

From what I have seen, the most successful (especially when children are involved) have been the ones who have been somewhat systematic about going. There is a lot to learn before one can safely venture offshore. No one would assume that they could buy a jet airliner take a few lessons and be able to fly around the world. I think most rational people would expect to start with a small plane and work their way up. But for some reason people assume that they can just go out and buy a big boat, take a couple lessons, read a few books, and then go safely cruising.


While there are people who literally taken a few lessons, read a few books and went out cruising, those that were successful following that route are far more rare than those who have done some kind of apprenticeship. Learning to sail and learning to cruise involves a lot of knowledge and no matter how much you know, there will always be more to learn, but I suggest that you at least take the time to learn the basics, and that just about can’t happen if you buy ‘a big sailboat’ and move your family aboard.

I find myself saying this a lot lately but here I go again. We all come to sailing with our own specific needs, our own specific goals and our own specific capabilities. The neat thing about sailing is that we all don’t have to agree that there is only one right way to go sailing. There is no more truth in expecting that there is one universally right answer about many aspects of sailing than there is in trying to prove that vanilla ice cream is universally better than strawberry ice cream. One area of sailing for which there is no one universally right answer involves the amount of knowledge one requires to go sailing.


For some, all they need or want to know about sailing is just enough knowledge to safely leave the slip sail when they want and get back safely. There is nothing inherently wrong with that approach. Lack of knowledge will impact the level of risk, cost, comfort, and performance, but if you want to get out there with minimal knowledge it can be done. But for others, like myself, there is much more to sailing than simply developing a rudimentary knowledge of sailing basics. If you fall into that camp, it is next to impossible to learn to sail really well on a boat as large as the one in question.


While I am in no way suggesting that this makes sense for everyone, for those who really want to learn to sail well, I strongly suggest that they start out owning a used 23 to 27 foot, responsive, light-weight, tiller steered, fin keel/spade rudder (ideally fractionally rigged) sloop (or if they are athletically inclined then a dinghy.) Boats like these provide the kind of feedback that is so necessary to teach a newcomer how to really sail well. Boats like these have small enough loads on lines and the helm that you and your children can all participate and learn together. Being able to learn and participate, the children will be more engaged and less likely to be bored and feel kidnapped.


By sailing well, I mean understanding the nuances of boat handling and sail trim in a way that cannot be learned on a larger boat. Used small boats generally hold their values quite well so that after a year or even few years or so of learning, you should be able to get most of your money out of the small boat and move on to a bigger boat actually knowing something about which specific desirable characteristics of a boat appeal to you as an experienced sailor rather than the preferences of some stranger on some Internet discussion group. From the advice that you have already gotten you can tell that there will not be a consensus of opinion on how to go distance cruising.

In any event, I think that you have the right idea about taking sailing lessons. If I were in your shoes, I would sit down and put together a list of all of the things that I would want to know before I set off voyaging such as:
  • Boat handling
  • Sail trim
  • Rules of the road
  • Weather
  • Routing
  • Boat husbandry, repair and maintenance
  • Diesel/ gas engine maintenance and repair
  • Sail repair
  • First aid
  • Heavy weather tactics
  • Legal restrictions on leaving and entering foreign countries
  • Navigation, (Celestial, dead reckoning and electronic)
  • Provisioning
  • Radio operations and operators license exam requirements
  • Safe and dangerous fish to eat
  • Survival skills
  • Etc………..

Once you have put together what you think is, I would suggest that you set up a schedule to try to develop those areas of skill that you were currently lacking. As much as possible try to involve all those involved in as many of those aspects of learning as each is capable of understanding. This process could take as little as a year, but more often takes two to three years. The process itself can be very rewarding and can build the kind of family bonds that are required to be cast away on that oh so small island that a boat underway represents. As you go through this apprenticeship, you may also alter your goals and add to the list of required skills. The result of going through this kind of process in itself can be a very rewarding experience.


Respectfully,
Jeff
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  #25  
Old 04-07-2010
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Jeff—

I'd add "Coastal Pilotage" to the navigation skill set...
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  #26  
Old 04-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccam View Post
Back to the original question! Go for it!
I sailed a Hobie a for 15 months before I bought my Hans Christian 33. Was there a difference? Yes, it was 10 times easier to sail. However those tied to the dock couldn't figure out how to sail her due to the absence of anemometer. I soon repaired the problem so my fair weather friends could sail with me
Skills gained on the way are always a bonus but not necessary, put the wind on your face you'll do fine.
When you venture offshore, you will begin to think of what your life is worth! Then read and consider all of the above posts! The dog doesnt' have 35k post for nothing Do your best.
BTW, I didn't go through the training, I had an ASA Captain go on an overnight before I sailed 2400 miles down the West Coast. Was it scary, hell yes and I wouldn't trade one life experience for it. Did stuff break, yes, did things malfunction, yes. Prepare yourself for problems(And as my friend Richard Bala, after 4000 miles from the Marquesas to Chile defines problems as(opportunities) (sail 2000 of that without engine), fix them, pat yourself on the back, they are never ending! And last but not least! Have the attitude, fortitude and where with all of the Smackdaddy

Cam Campbell
s/v Sea Horse
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico
CCam! Dude! It's great to hear from you. Post some pics of your travels when you get a chance.

BTW - my wife and I lived in Hermosillo for a year and spent a lot of time in San Carlos. Cool place.

Have fun, man. And keep checking in when you can.
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  #27  
Old 04-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pontiakos View Post
Sailing is an ongoing learning experience, even with all the course knowledge the real confidence comes from going out and coming back, experimenting with your boat, seeing what works with your rig, floating and stowing your sea anchor etc. The courses, practical knowledge all come with time. You originally asked about going out on an overnight, that is a good place to start once you get through the navigation and basic seamanship stuff. The ability to be the calm in crisis, whatever the situ is a function of doing, so get out and do...the plumbing, glass repair, celestial navigation, motor mechanics, all come with time. The most important skill is your own objective assessment of your capabilities sailors, pilots, car drivers, barflys all get into trouble when they are overconfident....learning the craft never ends, that is what is so fun about it...
+1 pontiak.
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  #28  
Old 04-07-2010
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rite on dog,a few skills go a long way,fiberglass repair is not really brain surgery...there are epoxy putty that comes in a tube that can be even used underwater for temporary repairs
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  #29  
Old 04-07-2010
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Oh, and Smack, I would never leave the dock without glassfibre and resins to fix things. There are a heck of a lot of things that can be fixed with GRP.
Okay - point taken Oma. I'm not at all saying these things are useless or insignificant. I'm just saying that they are not necessary to getting out and cruising - even for fairly extended periods - especially if you are going to be around areas where you can get help (Carib islands, etc.).

For example, how many square inches can a GRP kit (or how ever much material you carry) take care of? Is it sufficient (and intended) for fixing serious, life threatening problems that couldn't wait until you get to port where you could get help? Or is it more intended to fix stuff that just needs fixing but can wait a while?

I'm just trying to set some context here for people thinking about what it takes - minimally - to get into cruising up to a few weeks like the OP asked.

For example, the case Dog mentioned above for the underwater epxoy kit was in freakin' New Guinea! They hit a reef causing massive damage - the boat sunk - then an entire village helped re-float and cradle the boat while they airlifted in some supergoop.

Does anyone's current GRP kit cover that scenario? Should the cruiser have known how to build their own cradle out of kerosene wood with a machete in case the villagers had been busy during mango season? Should they have been carrying all the gear necessary to deal with rebuilding a hull on a reef?

It comes down to this: Should someone really not cruise until they have all these skills and gear? I mean, I know Pidgin - so I'm way ahead of the game when in PNG - but c'mon!

Then there's the "Dismasting of Maude" (sounds like a made-for-tv-movie). And the point Dog made was that she was only 200nm from her destination (essentially coastal cruising). Okay, but it sounds like it was a catastrophic rigging failure since the conditions were pretty benign. My assumption, therefore, is that if this were not Maude and instead was some poor cruising schlub, the point of the story would have been that he should have inspected his rigging prior to leaving Tallahassee and that he obviously had it coming. Again, not really a great example for the point of this thread.

So, again, it's about context. As has been mentioned herein - learning all this stuff takes a long time. BUT, it's fun, important, and extremely rewarding. And it gives you a great deal of confidence - AND saves you a great deal of money over time. No argument at all.

But, back to the OP's question, it's not necessary for cruising around for a weekend, a week, or even longer.
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  #30  
Old 04-07-2010
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But, back to the OP's question, it's not necessary for cruising around for a weekend, a week, or even longer.

Again, it depends on where he is cruising and for how long... if he is cruising for two weeks in the Inside Passage to Alaska and back, then it might be necessary... at least to be reasonably safe... If he's cruising the ICW for three months, then no, it isn't necessary.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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