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  #1  
Old 02-28-2008
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Cruising the East cost or anywhere?

What all is evolved in cruising the East coast and Bahamas or northern Caribbean or anywhere. Do you stay close to land so you can see the shore line to get where your going. Or do you plan a trail on a map to see where your going? I read so many post on here people cruising the east cost or down around any side of the states. How do you do it and not get into trouble or have to abandon your boat? If you have not done it before do you just jump in and go?
What about the bermuda triangle, you hear stories are they just stories has anyone been in trouble around there? do you just avoid that area, im just curious and you guys on here seem to be in the blue waters all the time, I have to ask. Because I am a Lake person and thinking of moving in the chesapeake bay area, but would never go out to sea? I dont know it seems scary to me? Help me loose my fear of the great blue waters... Or do I take you guys with me for a couple of trips teach me the ropes?
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Old 02-28-2008
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Coastal cruising is mostly about paying attention. To shipping, to landmarks, to weather, and your charts, for example. How far offshore you go depends on where you want to go. And on the East Coast, there's always the ICW (though that presents it's own set of unknowns).

Being comfortable with your boat, and being out in some rough weather and having an idea of how she, and you, handle it, are certainly good first steps. As a former lake sailor myself, I was fortunate to have crew for my first month out cruising. We encountered a fair amount of rough weather, so I was able to learn how well my boat took to it. This was a big confidence boost, once I was on my own.

Planning ahead is something else you need to do. Particularly on the ICW. You need not just a Plan A and B, but a C, and a D or E wouldn't hurt either. Weather, malfunctions, crowded anchorages, all can lead to a change of plans. Along with that, you can't let yourself get fixated on getting to a certain point everyday. Sometimes you will, sometimes it's better to stop short. Quite a few people on the ICW, leave early, stop early. That way, they get a good spot at the anchorage, before it fills up. As well as relax a bit before dark.

A couple of things I forgot to add ...

You have to learn what works for you, not just do what others do. Learn from them, but then take it all and find what suits you best. Also, as you grow in knowledge and skill, don't become complacent and over-confident. There's always more to learn, no matter how much you know.

The main thing though, is not to fear the elements, but to respect them and their power. In essence. learn to work with them, not against them. You'll have your "Oh S*&t" moments, without a doubt, but that's just a part of the learning process.
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Last edited by PBzeer; 02-28-2008 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 02-28-2008
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PBz's given you some good advice...

One thing you should also do is make a list of the waypoints with courses and distances you plan on using... and then a list of the navigation aids that you'll be encountering along the way... including light lists.. Also, you should make a list of alternate ports and the navigation aids that lead to them, in case you need to cut a day's planned voyage a bit short due to equipment breakage or weather.

Planning to get to a strange harbor or anchorage while it is still daylight is a very, very good idea... entering a busy harbor at night, especially one you've never been in or seen, is a good way to get into trouble.

Plan for the worst case scenario, even while you're hoping for the best... it's what will keep you and your boat in one piece... besides Murphy generally only springs the really nasty surprises on the people who didn't bother planning for them.

Working your way up from lakes, to bays to coastal waters to open ocean is generally a good idea.

One thing... in some ways the open ocean or larger bays, like Buzzards Bay, can be a bit simpler to sail on, since the the winds tend to be much more constant and less fluky, which is a problem on many landlocked sailing areas, including many parts of the Chesapeake. Depending on where we're heading and the wind direction, we can often go an hour or more without making a tack or gybe...
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Old 02-28-2008
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That sounds good, I think I will start in the lake first. You talk about the O **** moments! I remember my dad always ending up in a storm and sailing with it or out of it. Hearing the creaking and noises from the tension of the force of the winds in the sails is awesome! Being that I do not like to get into the water because of some fears that have carried with me since my child hood. I will have to pick the right boat that is strong and very safe and unsinkable. If I have to get into the water I could and would be fine, but that is the last action that would have to be taken. I know I trusted my dads boat and was very confident in what is can do, so I guess its what you are saying you have to know your boat and know what it will do. I guess the biggest thing is to know when to reef and change sails!
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Old 02-29-2008
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From the sounds of your post, I think you need some formal education. I would strongly recommend you join the U.S. Power Squadron. They have excellent courses on seamanship, piloting, navigation, weather, etc. etc. My wife and I and my two daughters joined and took the courses and when we started getting the experience, first on sheltered inland waters, then Lake Erie (scary), the Chesapeake Bay, ICW, Keys and Bahamas - we realized that the knowledge we gained in the courses we took was invaluable.

My guess is that the Coast Guard Auxilliary can offer the same. Good Luck!
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