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Old 07-20-2009
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New Sailor with New Boat

Hello all,

I am new to sailing but not to waters...I am located on the southern coast of texas. I plan to sail my new boat from clear lake houston to Port Lavaca texas. This will mean i will have to sail in the Gulf of mexico and I would like to sail at night and day. Can anyone tell me the essentials to doing this. Depth finder? radar? I dont mind saying that i would like to rough it a little bit and earn the trip but i dont want to die.

Brandon from texas
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Old 07-20-2009
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Well not much advice here (I just bought my first large boat a year ago) but I'm planning to move my boat "Gypsy" to Corpus Christi in Oct or November. I'm alittle worried about unlighted rigs or submerged seacontainers but I'm not about to drop a few grand on radar after all I want an autopilot. I think as long as I plan the trip for a good weather window and there is a decent moon out I should beable to spot most objects.
I'm up in Clearlake also, when are you planning on taking the trip. If I get everything I want done I may be heading out with Harvest moon regata the fist week of Oct.
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Old 07-20-2009
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Pretty tough question

You say you are new to sailing but not to waters but apparently you haven't done any off shore boating of any kind. I hope you don't try this without at least having someone aboard that is an experienced hand and at least three people to help with watches because nothing substitutes for experience and the only way to get it is to get it.

Radar Only if you think there may be fog and then if you do, stay in port until it clears.

Depth sounder Absolutely, but only when you are entering and leaving port in most cases.

Chart plotter Indespensible, in my opinion, at today's prices.

Life saving equipment Absolutely and don't stop with just the minimum required by the CG.

VHF radio Absolutely Both an installed one and hand held one.

Binoculars Yes, a good quality pair

A GPS and set of paper charts of the area you will be sailing is also critical.

Finally, make sure that everyone that stands watch knows exactly how to tell if you are on a collision course with another boat and can stay alert at all times!!!!!

Good Luck!

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Hey, can one of you guys pass me a crab?

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Old 07-21-2009
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All depends on what you run into, figuratively and literally.

If you know navigation rules and have experience on powerboats that's sufficient to give you the confidence to run at night, then the incremental knowledge/experience of a sailboat probably won't represent enough risk to disuade you. After all, you can always run the engine.

But if your experience suggests you might ask the same of yourself regarding motoring at night, maybe it's best to go slow on the idea.

Assuming the vessell is in good working order and equipped with appropriate navigation lights and safety equipemnt, the minimum requirements should include: a good working, callibrated compass, charts and the ability to read them, crew to help, VHF, depth sounder. A hand held GPS would be next, but not a must have as the items above are IMO. Then you get into the nice to haves after that like integrated chart plotting and GPS, Radar, etc.

Good luck.
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Old 07-22-2009
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I don't know about others but I check my depth sounder against the chart regularly and start to ask myself questions if they are more than a foot or two off. Charts are not perfect and shoaling happens, so if the depth sounder and chart are in disagreement, I try to figure where the deeper water will be and start developing an "exit strategy". So far that's kept me off the bottom here on the rather shallow Chesapeake Bay. That's not to say I haven't "found the bottom" just that I was already worried about the depth so I was going slow and hairtriggered to react so we didn't get completely aground.
s/v Palmetto Moon
1991 Catalina 36
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