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TeMPuS2010 12-23-2010 04:12 PM

Experience required to sail the pacific
Hi, I live in New Zealand and am looking to buy a 44' yacht in the bahamas and sail it home. Plan is to spend a couple of months in Florida getting the boat ready, learning it, shakedown sails around the gulf etc. Now the crew of 4 all have their day skippers tickets and are confident sailing yachts. Is that enough to get us across the pacific back to New Zealand or are we mad? I know a lot of sailing is about good decision making, knowing what to do when...if we are confident with that do you think we are capable of making a safe passage? Thanks.

sailingdog 12-23-2010 04:45 PM

How much experience do you and the crew have in sailing in heavy weather? How much experience do you have in planning long passages? Provisioning a boat? How much do you know about storm tactics?

Also, since you're planning on going to New Zealand—are you planning on rounding the Horn, going via the Panama Canal, or going the long way around? If you haven't thought about that, then you need to take a step back and do some research and planning.

How much time are you willing to devote to doing this? Sailing on a fixed schedule leads to a lot of serious problems on a sailboat. A lot of dead sailors were sailing on schedules.

There's a big difference between day sailing and crossing oceans. There's a big difference between coastal cruising and crossing oceans. You have to be a lot more self-reliant to cross an ocean. Bailing out or turning around is not generally a very good option once you've started off.

rockDAWG 12-23-2010 04:59 PM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 680119)
A lot of dead sailors were sailing on schedules.

Wow SD and thanks. This has been permanently engraved in my head.

This means that I can sail until I am retired. :(

TeMPuS2010 12-23-2010 05:09 PM

We are looking at going through the Panama canal, onto Galapagos then through French Polynesia and so on. I have read before that the schedule is the deadliest thing, this should no really be an issue as we are not rushed for time. As for heavy weather sailing we have not really done much, is reading books and practicing the techniques on the shakedown tests sufficient? just get the crew to work together and know what to do in foul weather...

Mcpsych 12-23-2010 05:44 PM

hey mate
yeh you are probably mad ( but I think that is part of what attracts us to sail rather than a dirty big engine :) :cool: )
but why not, as long as you are only gambling what you can afford to lose and are aware of the risks and have done all the prep you can
some people will never do their dream because they will never consider themselves ready enough
go for it

rockDAWG 12-23-2010 06:01 PM


No one here knows you better than you know yourself and your crews. Based on what you wrote, it seems a logical approach. I would not have any problem to sail back to your home port in AU. The short comings that you have now can be corrected by the time you ready to set sail. I think having the skills in heavy weather sailing is good, but having a critical thinking skills, good physical shape and maturity will keep you alive.

Getting a good solid boat is the key. Then practice heavy weather sailing while in the US as much as you can. Go out in bad weather in 25 to 40 knots wind to see how the boat handles. Practice, practice and practice in a controlled environment and to push your limits and the boat to see how she handles. Simulating different breakdown scenarios , no head sail, no main, no steering and no engine and etc.

I found reading sailing story books (over and over again) and listening the old salts help me to prepare for my head. Knowing the sequence and how the event will proceed helps me to prepare or to alter the course of action. Learning the mistakes of others help me in a situation where my decision would be critical for our (me and crews) survival

Because you ask this question, I think when the time comes, you will know if you are ready. I know I will. :)

Good luck.

jrd22 12-23-2010 06:25 PM

A friend of my son just did what you are talking about. Bought a boat in Florida, sailed around the Bahamas for awhile and then took it through the canal and home to Oz. I don't think he had a lot of experience but did the research and had a smooth trip. Hope all goes as well for you, sounds like fun.

YeahJohn 12-23-2010 06:49 PM


are we mad?
The short answer is yes. There are people much crazier though.

TeMPuS2010 12-23-2010 07:33 PM

thanks for all the input guys, think the biggest battle is with your own mind. getting over the fear of going into the unknown, the ocean is a big place and leaving the comfort of your home on terra-firma is a big step for anyone

rockDAWG 12-23-2010 07:49 PM


Originally Posted by TeMPuS2010 (Post 680177)
thanks for all the input guys, think the biggest battle is with your own mind. getting over the fear of going into the unknown, the ocean is a big place and leaving the comfort of your home on terra-firma is a big step for anyone

Yes and no. In the Columbus days, yes, because those days the earth was flat. Now, I think today's sailing is safer than ever. Not sure about Australia, I would rather sail the ocean than riding a bike across America. At least, in the ocean you will not see great white sharks and whales texting their friends. :)

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