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  #1  
Old 09-01-2013
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Getting started again

Hi Everyone,

My name is James. I was on here a long time ago. I used to own a little 19' sloop, which I loved, lived on for a short while, got rid of when I joined the army, and missed ever since... ok, well, I missed sailing her, if not paying for a slip and seeing her more to work on her than to actually go sailing. I decided I'd not have another boat in a slip while I lived far away.

I decided that the next boat I got would be small enough to fit on my car, or big enough that I could live on. I talked to a number of people who've sailed around the world, and it seemed to me that there were 2 ways to get around.

1.) Be an immortal teenager. Have no real health issues or dietary concerns. Be a mechanical genius. Buy a cheap boat that's falling apart. Have no money. Fix it as you go, and work your way around the world.

2.) Be old. Have bought and sold a house. Have hundreds of thousands in the bank. Still be relatively mechanically savvy. Still know what you're doing, but do it on a comfortable boat after a different fashion.

Well, I seem to have an anaphylactic reaction to seafood (both fish and shellfish) , my endocrine system doesn't work, I need daily meds, and if there's one thing motorcycle racing has taught me, its that I'm a horrible mechanic. So I bought a house. The plan was to hold on to her for ~10 years or until I could get a clean $200,000 in the bank from a sale, be debt free, and have a boat already paid for, or at least paid down enough that I could sell the house, pay off the boat, and have that $200,000 in the kitty. (that should be more than enough for a circumnavigation, right?)

The plan was to wait a decade or so, pay off my debt, find a comfortable resting spot with my martial arts, and once the house was worth a few hundred thousand more than I owed on it, I could join a club, start sailing with them, learn a bit. Maybe take a diesel course. Definitely do a baja haha, and take the slow steps towards becoming both a more competent sailor as well as a competent boat maintainer/mechanic.

While dealing with the house, I bought and sold a set of kayaks. Initially I thought that having a way to get on the water would ease the pain of being away. I was wrong. Every time I was out, all I wanted to do was paddle up to sailboats and admire them. There's just something about sitting at the helm, the pivot on which the sea and sky turn, with the mainsheet in one hand, tiller in the other, able to control both axis as I stayed perfectly still, and the world went spinning by.

Much to my surprise, it appears that I'm already 1/2 way to my net worth goal on the house, so it looks like it's time to start my training sooner than later. I've never been a big boat person, but as I decided long ago that my next boat will have a below-deck hot water shower, that means a whole lot of other infrastructure with it.

When I was a kid, the idea of sailing anything bigger than a 30 seemed really daunting to me. I didn't want anything so big that I couldn't jump off and single-handedly fend it off the dock if I came in too fast (something I did a few times while learning) As I've gotten older and sailed with a wider variety of people on a wider variety of boats I'm more ok going slower, learning, and letting the engine do more work while docking. I still don't want anything too big just because of the exponential dollar and maintenance jump... but I'll be looking at much more mainstream ocean crossing vessels, rather than things like the Cape Dory 25d, which was previously a leading contender for me.

So, with all that backstory out of the way... you'll notice that actually choosing and buying a boat wasn't even close to the first thing I wanted to do. I'm very hesitant to get another boat while I'm still tied to a house, and more hesitant to do so till I've spent some serious time learning boat systems. My electrical is fine. I can rebuild marine heads and patch fiberglass. I can change out an impeller, but that's a long way from knowing how to fix a diesel engine. and quite frankly, for all my dreams, I've never done more than an overnight to the islands...

So my question is, how do you recommend getting back into it? For those around Los Angeles, any club recommendations? Suggestions for getting crew spots that aren't day trips? How essential is the diesel mechanic stuff (presuming, which I do, that my eventual boat will have a diesel)

I've probably got at least another 5 years before I'm ready to let loose. At least 3 before I buy a boat.. so I've got time, but when I realized that I was 1/2 way to my net worth goal, I let out a whoop, and realized it's time to start prepping the house to be worth more when I sell it. It's time to zero all the cards I've been holding at a higher balance than I should. It's time to start learning again.

For those who have successfully gotten off the docks, what was your path?

Thanks =)

-- j
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Old 09-01-2013
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Re: Getting started again

Our path is one we are on right now. It involves paying off dept, setting a budget and saving, sailing every chance we get while water is liquid instead of frozen.

For the record we are neither immortal teenagers nor well to do retirees. We just decided we were going, set a budget, set a date and started taking the loads of small steps to get there. Good luck.
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Old 09-01-2013
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Re: Getting started again

Skillfully written, James. I can see your sailing adventure blog may be a big seller!
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Old 09-01-2013
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Re: Getting started again

A friend in California sails out of Dana Point. There's a club down there with a few boats. There are also weekly races down there; perhaps you can crew for now and build your skills while also building your savings?
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Old 09-01-2013
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Re: Getting started again

So far as the diesel, you'll need to know how to bleed the fuel, change the oil and filters, fuel filters, which will be covered in the owners manual. The lack of a distributor use to throw me on diesel, but they really are quite simple.
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Old 09-01-2013
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Re: Getting started again

I'd suggest you have a look at Jim Trefethen's THE CRUISING LIFE, it's one of the better books addressing some of your concerns, particularly financial...

As for the diesel, get yourself a copy of Peter Compton's TROUBLESHOOTING MARINE DIESEL ENGINES, it's the single best introduction to diesels, and will teach you about 99% of all you'll likely ever need to know...

Good luck..
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  #7  
Old 09-26-2013
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Re: Getting started again

Well... that was quick. When I bought the house, I thought it would take about 10 years for it to appreciate to an amount I could be free on. It's been 2. I'm just past capital gains issues. and my house is on the market. I won't have a LOT after I'm done, but I should have enough to buy, liveaboard, and with my current job, work from anywhere I've got an internet connection.

I've been meaning to do this since I was 19 (ok, when I was 19 I actually did it, but on a crappy boat, in horrid conditions as a sneak-aboard) I'm a little terified, and a little excited.

So I guess I'm going to start looking and seeing what I can get at the low end of the used market (I'm looking to spend about 30k, which to my way of thinking means a 20k boat that's pretty much good to go and 10k of "oh, just this one little thing here, oh and this, and this, and this)

Now to start searching and find out if that's actually reasonable.

-- James
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Old 09-26-2013
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Re: Getting started again

Congratulations!!!
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Old 09-26-2013
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Re: Getting started again

A lot of people buy a boat because they like it's looks. A lot of people buy a boat because of how it sails and still others because it's sturdy and safe. But most forget about livability, which is pretty important. Even the most avid cruiser spends a lot more time at anchor (mooring or dock) than actually sailing and that is the reality.
When you start looking at boats, concern yourself much more about how comfortable it would be to live in than what it looks like.
A good galley, a comfortable bed (unless you like sleeping in a tunnel) and a salon that you can actually stretch out in and be comfortable in (a rarity in older boat designs), watching TV or reading.
All the rest is frosting on the cake, as far as a liveaboard boat is concerned.
There are well built boats out there that aren't that expensive, and yet they are sound, dependable boats, so, especially in this economy, you have a lot of choices.
Right now, in the lagoon in St. Martin there are probably 20 or more boats for sale at a really good price. Most are excellent cruising boats that for one reason or another the owners must part with, most having nothing to do with problems with the boat.
You have to remember that a liveaboard boat is your home and the little things like a refer system versus an ice box, or a stall shower versus a shower/head are not so little in a home.
Good luck.
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Last edited by capta; 09-26-2013 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 09-27-2013
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Re: Getting started again

Thank you for your service!
It is funny about the kayak story, I used to do the same thing. Sailboats look HUGE when you are paddling alongside them.
You can get a lot of boat for 20K right now. What is slip rental like in your area?
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