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  #1  
Old 08-15-2010
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Question Newbie wants advice on his dreams

Hello All,
This is my first post on to this site and I feel very sure it will be the first of many. I am excited to have come across such a treasure trove of sailing information contained by such interesting people. If I may borrow a few minutes from a few of you I would be much obliged.

My first question I understand is large so I will try to keep it concise in subject. I want to know if I should entertain buying a Sailboat in FL that has a draft of around 5' when my entire reason for buying a boat is to eventually make my way out in to the remote pacific islands. Basically I am asking what draft is the best choice for a crossing of the pacific, solo, in a 30-35 ft. cruiser?

Second, How old is too old? Again, loaded question I know. Let me tighten it up a bit--- If I were to buy a boat this year or the next, what should my cut-off year be? BUT WAIT! I PLAN on living aboard this boat 100% of the time. I plan on sailing through Panama, to Hawaii and out in to Micronesia. Once there, I plan on spending years sailing around the Pacific until I drop anchor and the chain turns into a root. During those years I see myself making many passages and anchorages. So now my question really is this; What is the cut-off year for a boat I want to live on and use for many years to come that I won't have to go bankrupt maintaining because of age-related issues?

Third, What are the best boats suited for the task I just described on less than $25,000 budget that are at least 30' and suited to pacific sailing/cruising?

Fourth, You tell me? I have spent about 3 hours before I posted this searching threads and forums and I have already learned so much. I have plenty of time before I wave my last good-byes to the Florida coast but if anyone has any suggestions I am greatly appreciative.

Some additional info: I am just starting out on my dream... I have 3 semesters of college left before I receive my degree and freedom. I have been sailing small craft such as Sunfish and Hobie Cats since I was a child (My grandparents were cruisers who settled in the Bahamas for the past 30+ years). I have spent summers in the Bahamas taking Whalers out and navigating the reef passages with my grandfathers 27' powerboat. I have tied knots, docked boats, anchored them, and so forth. I have not however any experience on a large sailboat. I am going to begin ASA classes for the two basic sailing courses and then take the course for coastal sailing and navigation. After that I will make some trips to the Bahamas to visit old friends. I plan on leaving for the Panama canal no more than 4 years from today (I figure I will need two years of actual work to pay off loan debts and save up starter money(( I am thinking anything more than $10,000 is enough to leave on a solo trip to the pacific)). Once I am out there I will use my Biology degree and other trades to find work to fund my life. I am not looking to grow rich, just old on a life full of happy and unregretful memories.
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Old 08-15-2010
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Trisstan, congratulations on having a plan and dream all figured out.
The success of your adventure depends primarily on your knowledge and skills. For your plan to work you need a lot of experience , skills and judgement if you are going to try on a budget.
The chances of your buying the right boat and knowing how to sail it in challenging conditions with no experience are very low.
What you do have is enthusiam and time. These strengts, if properly exploited can get you where you want to be.
I would like to see you buy a small daysailor maybe 3 to 4 thousand and just start sailing and learning. You will sell and trade up in a season or two and get your money back.
Think of how much you will have learned.
How terrible it would be if you spend all your money on the wrong boat and your dream got squashed.

Last edited by davidpm; 08-15-2010 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 08-16-2010
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I'd recommend you start out by visiting James Baldwin's Boat List, which has quite a few boats that are available fairly inexpensively.

There are quite a few good boats with proven bluewater passages to their record:

The Southern Cross series of boats is one that comes to mind. Pat Henry and Donna Lange did circumnavigations in a SC31 and SC28 respectively.

The S&S 34 that was just used by Jessica Watson to complete a circumnavigation is another good choice.

The Norsea 27 is another good choice, but a bit smaller than the previously mentioned boats.

There are several Pacific Seacraft designs that might work for you as well.

Be aware that a bluewater capable boat will not be as suitable for liveaboard purposes for many people as a coastal cruiser. Bluewater boats tend to have less interior space than a coastal cruiser of the same LOA. They also tend to be a bit heavier with narrower beam and more space set aside for stowage.

I would highly recommend start out with daysailing and then slowly work your way up to making weekend trips, longer coastal passages and then finally work up to short bluewater passages before taking off for the South Pacific. Cruising the Caribbean for a year or two would be an ideal way to learn to make short bluewater passages.

Aside from the traditional sailing skills, you'll want to learn plumbing, diesel engine maintenance/troubleshooting/repair, gasoline engine maintenance/troubleshooting/repair, electrical system troubleshooting/repair, basic fiberglass repair, and basic rigging skills. These skills are pretty much necessary for a self-sufficient sailor who wants to cruise long-distances, as there are no plumbers et al at sea.

You'll also want to take some courses on navigation and such. There are many places you can take such courses. A good book on navigation, such as Hubbard's Boater's Bowditch, is an essential.

Given your budget, finding a boat that is bluewater capable and in fairly decent shape, you're probably going to want to look at boats in the 26-31' range, rather than the 30-35' range. I'd also recommend setting aside at least 15-20% for refitting, upgrading and modifying any boat you do end up buying.
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  #4  
Old 08-16-2010
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new adventures

Sure, I have huge respect for the sailors who have kept a boat for 30 years or handed boats down from generation to generation. That's a wonderful thing. But, that doesn't mean that the boat that is perfect for you right now is going to be the same boat that's perfect for you in two or five or ten or twenty years. People change, learn, grow, and become interested in different things. There is no one perfect boat -- except maybe for the next one!

Second: OPB! Other peoples' boats is a fantastic way to learn. Yes, classes, books, and videos do good things too, along with spending time on the water on your own little boat and maintaining it, helping out with regattas, hanging out at marinas and sailing and yacht clubs, getting a part time job at a boatyard or sailing school, going to seminars sponsored by marine businesses, or talking to folks on the web.

But crewing on race boats, getting on crew lists for cruising, getting on a boat doing something like the Baja Haha, and getting enough skill and experience to where you can crew for delivery skippers would be golden for you.

PS Does your college have a sailing program or are there any community sailing programs nearby?
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Old 08-16-2010
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Thank you three for your input. I am going to spend the next 2-4 years learning and sailing and doing one or two summer trips to the Bahamas before I put out towards Panama. However I still am in need of having my questions answered.
How old it too old? If you were going to buy a car, what year would you stop and say no thats too old? I am wary of even considering a boat that is over 25 years old but should I be? THAT is what I am asking in regards to sailboats.
Second, how deep should my draft be for pacific crossings? Minimum? 4 1/2'? 5 1/2'?
I will discover and learn about the different boat types during the next few years but I am a notorious planner. I find that if you constantly go over your goals and plan for them like your almost out of time you are much more likely to meet your goals instead of always just talking about them.

***Note: I am looking for a NEGLECTED boat NOT a project boat. I want to get the most bang for my buck but I am by no means a ship wright and do not want to try and become one working on my first boat. So while a 35 yr old fixer upper might be tempting to some of you, for me it is a liability. I just want a soundly constructed and maintained vessel that needs a little TLC.

Last edited by trisstan87; 08-16-2010 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 08-16-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trisstan87 View Post
Thank you three for your input. I am going to spend the next 2-4 years learning and sailing and doing one or two summer trips to the Bahamas before I put out towards Panama. However I still am in need of having my questions answered.
How old it too old? If you were going to buy a car, what year would you stop and say no thats too old? I am wary of even considering a boat that is over 25 years old but should I be? THAT is what I am asking in regards to sailboats.
It depends... some boats age better than others... and if a boat has been well cared for, it may be 30-40 years old and perfectly sound. Likewise, a lightly built boat that has been neglected may be completely trashed.
Quote:
Second, how deep should my draft be for pacific crossings? Minimum? 4 1/2'? 5 1/2'?
I will discover and learn about the different boat types during the next few years but I am a notorious planner. I find that if you constantly go over your goals and plan for them like your almost out of time you are much more likely to meet your goals instead of always just talking about them.
Depends on the design of the boat. A bluewater catamaran might only have a board up draft of 2-1/2', where a fin keeled monohull might have a 7' draft. Both might cross the Pacific equally well, but their drafts would be very different.

Quote:
***Note: I am looking for a NEGLECTED boat NOT a project boat. I want to get the most bang for my buck but I am by no means a ship wright and do not want to try and become one working on my first boat. So while a 35 yr old fixer upper might be tempting to some of you, for me it is a liability. I just want a soundly constructed and maintained vessel that needs a little TLC.
A neglected boat is likely going to be a PROJECT BOAT, unless the period of neglect is very short.
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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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Old 08-16-2010
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Old 08-16-2010
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Hey tristan, welcome to SN dude.

There's tons of info on here - as well as many, many salts that will talk you through just about anything.

You can start poking around here: The Salt's Corner Table

It's a thread with some of the best info to some of the most asked questions around here - including yours. And you can see who some of the go-to guys are.

Enjoy.
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Old 08-16-2010
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You're never too old to sail if....

How old is too old? Jethro Tull said you're never too old to rock n roll if you're too young to die! I think sailors tend to be healthier and more adaptable than landlubbers, so ocean sailing well into your 70s ought to be feasible for most people. Oh, and I think Olin Stephens, who died at age 100, got to go sailing until about a year before he died -- of course with crew doing the heavy work.

It depends on your individual health, future medical advances (?), whether you sail alone or with a partner or crew, how well you take care of yourself, your risk-seeking / avoiding profile, your genetics, your mental fortitude and resilience, and so many other personal factors that make it hard to make a good prediction. And maybe it depends on how much you'd like to cheat the nursing home out of a customer!

And another key factor is adapting yourself, your boat, and the kind of sailing you do to your changing health and interests. (Clint Eastwood: "A man should know his limitations.") That could mean sailing with crew (marrying a nurse!?), switching to coastal sailing, installing an electric halyard winch, getting a nice mattress for your berth, carrying a customized medical kit and knowing how to use it (I wonder if any heart attack victims have ever used a defibrillator on themselves, grin!), running lines aft, installing better handholds, getting an electric anchor winch with a remote control, installing a hard dodger, getting high-quality mast-climbing gear, using a good genoa furler, getting a boat with a divided sail plan (ketch), getting a board with a sugar-scoop stern and stern pass-through, sailing in mild climates, buying a big cruising catamaran (flatter sailing, fewer steps to climb), or getting a bigger or smaller boat. Oh and you don't have to get old old to enjoy some of these things!

Draft has a lot to do with the size of the boat; a fin keel that draws 5 feet might be typical for a 34-footer but would be very deep on a 20-footer or very shallow on a 50 footer. The Pacific is generally considered deep-draft boat country since it doesn't have nearly so much shallow protected areas as the east coast does. Although the Pacific in a few places does have some nasty coral reefs (beautiful to snorkel in, nasty to run into with a fiberglass boat) whose positions are very poorly charted!

There have been a lot of discussions about what sort of boat shapes and construction are seaworthy, safe, stable, efficient, and make for good motion. Sometimes these get pretty technical. One general idea seems to be that a deeper fin keel is more efficient and effective than a shallower bulb or wing. Another is that the keel, hull shape, and rig all work together to make the boat stable, so keel depth is only one piece of making the boat work.

For amusement, you should be able to go somewhere on the web and find a
"old sailors never die, they just...." thread somewhere.

Old fishermen never die; they just smell like it.
Old sailors never die; they just can't gybe their poles anymore.
That sort of thread.
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Old 08-18-2010
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More How old is too old to sail?

Just this week (17 August 2010) in Wisconsin, the "ILYA A-Scow championship held on Lake Geneva was won by Buddy Melges at age 80. Buddy finished the five-race series with a 1-2-2-1-2 for a grand total of 8 points. Four of the races were heavy air and the fifth race was light." (from Dawn Riley). And, from the Inland Lake Yachting Assn. Home : "Buddy Melges sailed the ILYA A Champs at 80 years of age and took the fleet to school. " Eighty years old and still haulin' *%^$$*!

Also, on July 6, 2010, "The General" Ken Roper, age 80, also finished the Solo Transpac, with Harrier coming in 2nd in her division and 3rd overall. That's one eighty-year-old-guy sailing 2120-plus nautical miles from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, island of Kauai, Hawaii, in 17 days all by himself.

Last edited by rgscpat; 08-18-2010 at 11:58 PM.
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