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  #11  
Old 04-25-2011
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Keep an eye on the weather and conditions....I know that the Spree and Fling often cancel trips out to the Flower Gardens because of conditions....and those are pretty sizable vessels.
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  #12  
Old 04-25-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeDiver View Post
Keep an eye on the weather and conditions....I know that the Spree and Fling often cancel trips out to the Flower Gardens because of conditions....and those are pretty sizable vessels.
I was booked on the last trip out to The Flower Garden Banks last fall. It would have been my first trip out there, and the first trip for a recreational dive vessel since the BP spill. It got cancelled due to high seas.
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Old 04-25-2011
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Originally Posted by tomperanteau View Post
Our first boat was out of Dana Point, too. We had a 26 footer that we sailed in that area. We had taken her out about 10 times on our own to learn how to sail. We bought her to learn on and knew we would upgrade.

We then bought our second boat - a 31 footer. Picking that one up, and with around 20 hours total experience, we took on the task of sailing the new boat 93 miles from Oxnard to San Pedro, with a stop off at Catalina Island.

Once you get out there and find out how exciting it can be, you'll be hooked. As with what others will tell you, read, research, and try to anticipate everything that might happen. That way you MAY be ready for those things that you did not anticipate. And.... Check the weather!
LOL - sounds like us... Bought a 25 ft to learn on (DIY).. Then upgraded to 30 ft... Sailed it to Dana Point from MDR... Our 1st longish trip.. The 25 ft is now in the back yard waiting for our boys to grow into and the 30 ft gets used year round....

Completely agree with the excitement statement.... I love sailing in the open water... Even though we mostly stay within 20 miles of the coast.... It's still great...
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  #14  
Old 04-25-2011
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nolatom will become famous soon enough
I'm a sailor who has also been out to the Flower Gardens a few times on the SPREE. Sounds like you'll be okay as long as you have a decent weather window.

Where are you homeported? Just remember that several of the ship fairways (Houston, Lake Charles, etc) are out there as well as the platforms and oilfield traffic so keep a good lookout and be ready on Channel 16. A small AIS transmitter may be a good idea. Also the offshore lightering area, you'll see the tankers two by two. With a good lookout you'll see them, just make sure they see (or know about) you.

Try it, and you may eventually get to where you could get out to Stetson, where you could moor for the night and get some very good dives in. But that's more of a 75-mile trip out of Galveston, so probably a very long day (or two?) out, and the same back in.

As a halfway measure, you could find an unmanned platform and dive it, those are fun dives with lots of fish. Make sure there's enough wind and current to hold your boat off the rig you've tied up to.

Last edited by nolatom; 04-25-2011 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 04-25-2011
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Agreed that he should probably plan two days. The last thing you want is to have a situation where your fun adventure turns into a pain in the ars because you're tired or pushing it.

Another thing that comes to mind that just happened to us last weekend on the way to Catalina Island (24 miles). We had three teen girls with us and two of them became seasick. I made the mistake of letting them stay below for too long after we passed outside the breakwater. Once we got to the island and their feet hit terra firma, they were almost instantly better. It only takes about 5 minutes to get over it, but it sure can spoil a trip! On the way back I made them stay in the cockpit and they were fine - had a great time.

Take some meds with you just in case, but when you get out into the swells, stay in the cockpit. If someone in the cockpit starts to feel a bit woozy, let them steer. That also helps.
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Old 04-25-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wise4 View Post
LOL - sounds like us... Bought a 25 ft to learn on (DIY).. Then upgraded to 30 ft... Sailed it to Dana Point from MDR... Our 1st longish trip.. The 25 ft is now in the back yard waiting for our boys to grow into and the 30 ft gets used year round....

Completely agree with the excitement statement.... I love sailing in the open water... Even though we mostly stay within 20 miles of the coast.... It's still great...
Best way to learn in my opinion, but you really need to read and talk to a lot of people, then take baby steps. I joke that I learned to sail on Youtube, but there is a certain amount of truth to that. We are still noobs, with about 1200 miles experience, but we've been through some things that, although unavoidable, were tough and made us stronger. You can't buy those sorts of experiences.
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Old 04-25-2011
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We sail out of Vermilion Bay, in South Central Louisiana. We really don't have too much commercial traffic. When we do, it's the smaller fishing vessels or platform supply boats, not large freighters. In the bay, we can sail outside of the ship channel, so there's not a problem with traffic for us until we get to Southwest Pass (the pass into the Gulf, which is narrow and can have high current). I figure that I will time passage through the pass with the tidal current.

When we brought the boat from St. Petersburg to Louisiana, I was amazed at the courteousness the huge freighters paid to us in the ICW. We of course, were courteous to them as well. It sure was fun passing them as they swung their sterns out to make a tight turn! One mistake on out part, and they would have squashed us like a bug!

I have done some dive trips to the platforms from a friends power boat. The platforms are really good dives.

I have tried to think of some way to make diving from a sailboat practical. I've been advised against trying it due to the difficulties of entering and leaving the water from a sailboat, the difficulty of tank storage, etc. Finally, good winds for sailing would seem to make boarding a boat with heavy dive gear difficult, especially if there's no walk-through in the transom.
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Old 04-25-2011
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I'm not familiar with the area, however, I'm not sure I see as much value in straight out and back. Why not head 10nm offshore, then head to a foreign harbor/anchorage and stay the night. Head back next day. That would then include practice making landfall in a foreign harbor.
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Old 04-26-2011
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Harbors in this area very scarce.marc
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Old 04-27-2011
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It's all about knowledge, skills, and preparedness.

Coastal cruising is a lot of fun but can also be dangerous. Going to sea is all about knowledge, skills, and preparedness to control your situation and minimize your risk. You have a lot down pat from your experience sailing in coastal waters, but you may need to know more.

Have a plan. Practicing your plan is a good idea too. When you are out of sight of land, you must depend a lot more on your own resources. We always hope nothing goes wrong, but something can and often does. We must be prepared to handle the issues no matter what they might be. I usually begin a long trip, be it in coastal or protected waters, by asking myself a bunch of questions such as those below so I can formulate my plan. Some are general in nature and some are specific to the trip and the people involved. Taken at face value they are pretty scary questions. I don't mean to be discouraging, but do use them to generate your own, more comprehensive list. Then answer them all to ensure you are ready before you go.

1) What about man overboard situations? In the open ocean, waves are higher and people harder to see. Do you use GPS to mark the spot? Do you toss a float? What about search patterns? Does everyone wear coastal-rated PFDs? Do they have a light and a whistle? Have you and your crew practiced it? What will the water temperature be like? Can you get the person aboard if they are helpless from cold or injury?

2) What will the weather be like? Do you watch the marine forecast for a weather window? Can you afford to vary your timing? What will you do if you encounter unexpected heavy weather anyway?

3) If you will be out of sight of land you cannot use piloting skills. Do you have a plan in case you encounter a navigational equipment casualty, such as loss of your GPS? Maybe it is dead batteries, maybe it is loss of your hand-held overboard ... whatever. Do you plot your position on charts and compare it to your intended track (and make course corrections to counter set and drift)? Do you use a sextant? Will you sail towards land by magnetic compass, find where you are, and then sail home? Will you dead reckon to home from your last known position?

4) How will you communicate? If all else fails, you need to be able to call for help. VHF is mostly line of sight as are cell telephones. Do you plan to stay within range or do something else?

5) Winds on the open ocean are typically stronger than in protected waters but also steadier and more directed, which helps. How do you do in 20-30 kts winds? How does your boat do? What is your plan for shortening sail on a heaving deck? Will you have jack lines, do you have a favorite technique?

6) Stronger winds produce more strain on your sails and rigging. Are they in good shape? Are you prepared to repair your sails if you see a tear? What about repairing mechanical systems, especially engine-related? What if your water pump breaks? Do you have a manual pump, or do you carry bottled water?

7) How knowledgeable and skilled are the prospective members of your crew? You are responsible for them and the boat. You are responsible for everything that happens. Are they familiar with your boat? If they lack skills and knowledge, how do you plan to train them? Do they know how you like to do things? Perhaps a few trips together in protected waters might be in order if y'all have never sailed together before.

8) Have you inventoried and inspected your equipment lately? Is it all in working order? Have you replaced anything that has expired, such as flares and medicines? Do you have all the recommended equipment for coastal cruising? Do you have foul weather gear on board? Enough for everyone, or must they bring their own?

9) How is your first aid knowledge? What is the state of your first aid kit? Does it include seasickness treatment? What about your crew if you are the casualty?

10) Can you handle a severe casualty? What happens if you are dismasted? What if you are holed, such as a hose breaking, or a seacock or through-hull failing? Do you have soft wood plugs and a hammer? Do you have a tarp and a lot of spare line? Do you know how to rig a sea patch? What shape are your bilge pumps in, especially your manual pumps? It can take a while to get in to port, so your electric pump can drain a battery if your engine also fails to start.

11) What happens if your house and starting batteries die? Can you start your engine manually?

12) How many people will be on watch at one time? If only one person, how will you ensure he can't go overboard when everyone else is asleep?

13) How are you at heaving to? It is a useful technique when you need to fix something or need all hands to do something not involving sailing.

14) Think through handling multiple things going wrong at once. That is when most people get into serious trouble.

I'm a big believer in schools, too. If you plan to make a habit of this I strongly recommend you take the ASA course on basic coastal cruising or its equivalent.

Think it through, get prepared, then go have fun in confidence!

Regards,

Tom
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Last edited by dacap06; 04-27-2011 at 07:52 AM.
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