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trisstan87 08-18-2010 02:48 PM

NEW B Questions
I am an official newb and I have officially newb questions I would like to ask. I really enjoy looking around these forums and reading up on so many different things. A few comments/questions I have that I havent found answered I will put here:

Why is is so unbelievably expensive to sail through the Panama Canal? Over $1000 for an 11 mile stretch of waterway? Seriously? Your really not kidding?

Traversing the Horn is never "safe" no matter what the size of the vessel. However, is it stupidity to try and round the Horn in a sail boat 35' or less? *I should add that in this scenario the boat would be single-handed.*
The reason I ask this question is because when I set sail (4-5 years from this date) I will have no more time constraints and so I just imagined being able to save a lot of money by skipping the canal and rounding the horn.
***P.S.--Is the route that Joshua Slocum took through the horn (not around it but through the water ways and channels) still open to small vessels sailing through?

What sort of strucutal damage does a boat take from prolonged exposure to rough seas? I understand how lines and sails could be affected and cleats could be loosened but do waves breaking over the bow or on the hull risk breaking the boat?

Should boats like Hunters/Catalinas even be considered for oceanic voyage or should you keep your search in the realm of islanders and able type crafts?

I have so many questions that I forget some and think of new ones all the time. I will continue searching for my answers but I hope you sage's will not mind my postings in the meantime. I predict to be active on this site for the long haul and look forward to including those interested in my progress as I go from sea rat to sea cat and on my way to sea dog!

puddinlegs 08-18-2010 03:05 PM

Well, there are a couple of ways to look at it. First, how much does it cost to operate your boat annually? Then how many more months would you be at sea by rounding the horn? Do the math, including the extra wear and tear that goes with equipping a boat and sailing in high latitude environments, and that $1000 looks very reasonable if not downright dirt cheap. Go around the Horn because you desire to, certainly NOT to save money.

A Hunter or Catalina around the Horn? With the right weather window, sure. You might have to wait a hell of a long while to get it though :) Speaking only for myself, I'd prefer a tougher boat than the Hunters or Catalinas. Structural damage to a hull in prolonged heavy weather? Depends on the boat (age, construction, etc...), but hulls are incredibly tough. Contact with solid objects; containers, whales, and the like are probably the larger causes of significant structural damage. Then there's the more likely scenario is getting rolled by a large wave and loosing your rig

A couple of books I mentioned before ( I think it was to you) that will give you a better idea of basic design and voyaging issues are:

Yacht Design According to Perry by Robert H. Perry

The Voyager's Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising

Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing

They're nice books to help you develop a baseline of ideas, and then hopefully refine them with your own experiences.

Read, read, read, everything about boats and voyaging that you can, and sail sail sail on other people's boats until you have enough of an experiential baseline to decide what kind of boat you 'need', and work work work to save $$$ for your voyage.

Jeff_H 08-18-2010 03:08 PM

Slow down and breath... The kinds of questions that you are asking are by at too fine a focus. Start reading more broadly about long distance cruising and routing and quickly you will learn that it costs way more than a $1000.00 to cross through the Panama Canal these days when you add everything up, but that is also way cheaper than prepping a boat and sailing around Cape Horn even if you can cut through the Straits of Magellan.

There is a lot more to your question "What sort of strucutal damage does a boat take from prolonged exposure to rough seas?" than can be answered here. But in a general sense, a coastal cruiser with heavy use might sail a 1000 miles a year in mostly moderate conditions. A boat sailing around the Horn will sail 10,000-15,000 between ports of departure and where it would cross a path out of Panama, and so experiences the equivilent of 10 to 15 years of hard use. Its not just the rough seas that do in a distance cruiser but the relentless continual motion. The Duldrums can do a more damage as a three day low pressure system.

Hunters, Catalinas, and Islanders are all coastal cruisers. While with luck and skill and courage you might sail one long distances, for all kinds of reasons beyond standing up to the abuse of long term voyaging, they are less than ideal choices.

I would suggest that you take this a step at a time, study and read the usual sources, and then come back as you develop more orderly questions.


cormeum 08-18-2010 05:10 PM

A Hunter or a Catalina trying to take the Straits East to West....

Wow, just wow.

Trisstan, take Jeff's and Puddlinlegs advice.

I'd add Marchaj's Seaworthiness, the forgotten factor. for thoughs on boats

for an overview of sailing Tierra del Fuego read this:

Through the land of fire, by Ben Pester

trisstan87 08-18-2010 08:33 PM

Okay guys, first off thank you for replying. Second thank you for your patience. I understand what you all are saying very well, just as I understand the concepts of Alkines in Organic Chemistry or point-slope formulas used in College level Calculus. However, I am infinitly more excited about sailing, boats, voyages, and the like than I have ever been about ring structures for organic carbon compounds or what quadrant cotangent is positive in. I do spend a lot of time searching these forums before I ask any questions. I realize a lot of what ask seems to jump around, but I do that to save space. Otherwise the post I just put up would be 5 post, one for each question, and even I would have a wear on my patience from such a barrage of noobness. Knowing this I try to keep my questions concise and as much out of the way of good post as possible.
I just want to say that I really do appreciate the advice given, and I will use it. Barring losing my hands or a world-wide internet blackout I will be a frequent visitor to this site and yes, I am sure I will ask many more questions on my way up the ladder. I will try not to ask stupid questions but forgive me if I do, I am a humble newb excited by every aspect of this life style and I find I cannot quench my thirst for knowledge on the subject fast enough.
So again, I am sorry my questions jump around, I will try to get them to fall-in as soon as possible. I will read the literature prescribed and I will continue searching this site for other unknowns. I only hope on the days I have too many question marks and not enough answers that the sailors here will oblige my ignorance and keep me steering in the right direction.
Thanks a lot guys,

puddinlegs 08-19-2010 08:01 AM

Tristan, what everyone's trying to say is that it's hard to give you answers you'll really understand given your current level of knowledge. We're all assuming that you're capable of learning, so there's no real need to share your academic prowess, but many of the questions you've asked on this thread and others are ones that display a sort of laziness about reading and researching first. Prioritize your thoughts, and you'll get better answers. A good set of first questions would be something like:

There are a lot of sailing books out there. Are there any in particular that you'd recommend reading to help me learn more about blue water voyaging, boats, design, sailing, maintenance, etc... ? (you've already been given a short list... maybe add one of Nigel Calder's maintenance books as well )

Are there 'don't miss' periodicals that I should subscribe to or look up at the library?

Are there other web sites that I should keep an eye on?

I live (name your specific location). Can anyone recommend a good sailing school in the area? I'd like to spend time on both keel boats and dingy sailing. (Your university will probably have some sort of sailing club... this can be a great place to start!)

Where in my area can I look for opportunities to crew on race boats? Do any of you need crew?

At a minimum, what kind of foul weather gear do I need to sail in our local weather conditions?


In general, it's kind of like asking about becoming a Le Mans driver, and asking about the minutia of the race car, before you have your first license or any time behind the wheel of anything. You can see why we're telling you to sort out your thoughts... but by all means, keep your enthusiasm and energy! :)

( It's beginning to look like Tristan is a troll . )

AdamLein 08-19-2010 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by puddinlegs (Post 634116)
Tristan, what everyone's trying to say is that it's hard to give you answers you'll really understand given your current level of knowledge

With all due respect, I think that what everyone's trying to say is, "The questions you are asking are not going to help you achieve your goal at this time. Here are the questions you should be asking."

Tristan: as an example, you are asking whether it's better to take route X or route Y on a journey that may or may not happen 4-5 years from now. The fact that X=the Canal and Y=the Horn isn't really the problem (though it probably encourages everybody's blood pressure to go up a bit). Like Jeff said, your focus is wrong: you don't start planning a route for a trip like this when you haven't figured out what sort of a boat you need yet, or how to use it.

All the advice you've been getting is good, and fairly complete, so I will just say that where I think you should focus (and where I would focus if I were just starting out) is the OPB suggestion. Follow that and you will discover what it is you want in a bigger boat and what sort of sailing you enjoy most. Then get yourself such a boat and plan such a sailing trip, then you can come back and ask for help with route planning, though by then you will have discovered that it's probably easier to go east around anyway.


( It's beginning to look like Tristan is a troll . )
So far I disagree... trolls don't usually claim to be planning on taking ASA courses, do they?

puddinlegs 08-19-2010 08:06 PM

Hope you're right Adam. I've tried to answer his questions in good faith, but it's a little too all over the map for me... I'm done.

chuck53 08-19-2010 10:38 PM

Let's put this in another prospective and I'm not trying to give you a hard time about this.
Let's talk race cars. You're asking questions as how you go about racing in the Daytona 500 and you haven't even mastered the local 1/5th mile race track where guys soup up old clunkers on a shoestring budget to run on Friday nights.
Do you really have the resources to buy and outfit a bluewater sailboat and live without income for many months as you are looking to do. If $1000 going thru the Panama is a big concern, I'm guessing your resources can't handle what you want to do. Crossing the Pacific is not something you do on a shoestring budget.
Not trying to crush your dreams, just trying to get you to be realistic.
I have a 34' Catalina that I really like. It's 23 years old and I just bought it a few months ago for a little over $40k. As much as I enjoy it, no way in hell I'd take that boat offshore. It's not a bluewater boat. Heck, there are days I won't even take it out into the Potomac River.

hellosailor 08-20-2010 10:41 PM

"Why is is so unbelievably expensive to sail through the Panama Canal? "
Because the canal company is owned by the godless Communist Chinese Government and the People's Republic wants to make a profit off their investment. And Jimmy Carter, peanut farming schmuck that he was, fogot to FILL IT BACK IN before he gave it back to Panama, years before the US lease on it was up.
I'm an ecologist, I'd have filled it back in before the lease ran out. And then given Panama back to the neighbors as well. (The US essentially created Panama in order to build the canal, read up.)

"Seriously? Your really not kidding?"
Now, what kind of college are you in, that they didn't teach you to USE THE INTERNET AND GET THE PRICES DIRECTLY FROM THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY?

It's not like you have to make a long distance phone call at four dollar per minute, or wait two weeks for international mail, the way most of us had to do research before the internet.

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