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  #11  
Old 05-22-2011
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Right now some of it may seem kind of scary but you can get yourself to a nice comfortable level and be confident in your abilities. Keep your ultimate plan to cruise to the VI going but take baby steps for at least 6 months (or longer) after you first get your boat. This is what I did so far in a years time and its working great. For example, first try a few day sails for a couple hours in 5-10kt winds, then just step up to higher conditions until you feel comfortable. After this try a night sail, go out at night, sail a few hours and come back. Get the feel for night navigation, its a different world. Then try an overnight stay on the same area you been doing your day sails. For example, anchor in a harbor and see how well you sleep onboard. After this, you could try an overnight on anchor out off the coast or on a mooring, see how it goes. Next you might want to try a short weekend trip, see how things go and how much food, water, and supplies you go through on a weekend. Then throw in a few more day sails to take a break. Last, just increase the length and time you spend by taking longer and longer cruises. Rinse and repeat. Next thing you know, you will actually be cruising and saying, ok where next. While you are sleeping onboard, turn on a book light and read some good sailing books. This will get you a little bonus learning in, for example like the type of marine knots you will use to tie docks lines, etc. For a quick jump start, go take some sailing courses first and then start all of the above. I know there are some sailing schools that even offer cruising sailing courses where you actually go out on a boat and spend nights. The problem with this is last I looked the boats they had were just gorgeous, big and nice. I wanted to learn on my boat. Hope this helps!
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  #12  
Old 05-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailguy40 View Post
Right now some of it may seem kind of scary but you can get yourself to a nice comfortable level and be confident in your abilities. Keep your ultimate plan to cruise to the VI going but take baby steps for at least 6 months (or longer) after you first get your boat. This is what I did so far in a years time and its working great. For example, first try a few day sails for a couple hours in 5-10kt winds, then just step up to higher conditions until you feel comfortable. After this try a night sail, go out at night, sail a few hours and come back. Get the feel for night navigation, its a different world. Then try an overnight stay on the same area you been doing your day sails. For example, anchor in a harbor and see how well you sleep onboard. After this, you could try an overnight on anchor out off the coast or on a mooring, see how it goes. Next you might want to try a short weekend trip, see how things go and how much food, water, and supplies you go through on a weekend. Then throw in a few more day sails to take a break. Last, just increase the length and time you spend by taking longer and longer cruises. Rinse and repeat. Next thing you know, you will actually be cruising and saying, ok where next. While you are sleeping onboard, turn on a book light and read some good sailing books. This will get you a little bonus learning in, for example like the type of marine knots you will use to tie docks lines, etc. For a quick jump start, go take some sailing courses first and then start all of the above. I know there are some sailing schools that even offer cruising sailing courses where you actually go out on a boat and spend nights. The problem with this is last I looked the boats they had were just gorgeous, big and nice. I wanted to learn on my boat. Hope this helps!
This is pretty good advice. I would suggest doing your first night sail on a full-moon night; or getting up a few hours before sunrise, leaving your familiar dock in the dark, and tooling around your home waters and watch the sun come up (magical!). By the time you've traveled the ICW from the Chesapeake to Florida - and you can do the entire trip in daylight, anchoring every evening - you'll be overprepared for the one overnighter you'll probably have to do crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. When we did the trip in 2009 it took us exactly two months from Annapolis to clearing customs at Andros, moving smartly but not hurrying, and taking several breaks of 3-5 days to explore interesting cities - Elizabeth City, Charleston, St. Augustine, and the ever cruiser-friendly Vero Beach; or to hole up and wait out bad weather.
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  #13  
Old 05-22-2011
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Thanks for the kind word of advise guys.. They are great ideas.. So great in fact that Sailguy.. "Your entire post" just got Copied and pasted into my idea scrap book that i've been building up.. I've been grabbing book idea posts and other great suggestions/ideas and saving a file on them for quick reference. You guys rock!
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  #14  
Old 05-22-2011
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Piston,
Wingnwing mentions night sailing and it reminded me that whatever you do , do not choose a moonless or heavily clouded night for your first offshore night sail. Even after many years of sailing at night but always with a full moon my first sail in pitch black conditions was not a happy time. Like sailing into rain so heavy you cannot see a boats length away, pitch black at sea is not at all pleasant.
As for being unsettled by bad weather as such, in most cases it is light airs coupled with leftover waves and/or swell that are the most unpleasant conditions for me.
Properly set up a well found boat will plod along quite happily in all but seriously extreme conditions. Might be a bit wet but with the right gear you should be able to stay warm at least.
Light shifty conditions with a swell are simply a pain in the butt. The boom crashes around, the sails slat, the boat flops from side to side and for me those are the times when I wish I could be at home with a good book. Yeah you can motor on through but in sloppy conditions like that even under power its awful and if what wind you have is from astern you will be hard pressed to generate enough apparent wind to motor sail.
The chances of any of us getting weather that will knock the stuffing out of us is in reality extremely slight. Oh it might happen and we have to be prepared for it but it is after all a rare occurence. You will be largely port hopping so most times you can simply stay safe and snug if it looks ugly, no need to go looking for trouble.
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Last edited by tdw; 05-26-2011 at 07:02 PM.
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  #15  
Old 05-22-2011
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Good call tdw !
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  #16  
Old 05-23-2011
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I think there are a lot of people on the same plan that Sailguy40 describes. Only some are taking years (or decades), and some months.
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  #17  
Old 05-25-2011
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Find a copy of Shrimpy by Shane Acton and read a chapter anytime your boat size / preparedness / competance [ or lack of ] freaks you out.

He circumnavigated in a 18 foot plywood sailboat, engineless most of the time. He had never had the mast up when he left.

I am not suggesting you do the same but when the collywobbles strike it is a reminder that boats can be sailed without having numerous paper qualifications and oceans crossed without some steel behemoth.
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Old 05-26-2011
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Good advice here. Step-by-step is the answer. The questions you initally asked (how far, how long, how much fuel) are things that YOU need to find out based on YOUR boat. I can tell you, f'rinstance, that I use 0.483 gallons of fuel per hour on my boat. How? I keep track of it, and have over 14 years now. That said, some of my colleagues with the same boat have differing results. Why? Same engine, different throttle settings, same boat different (bigger) engines.

One thing not yet discussed: you NEED to be a jack-of-all-trades. Mechanic, electrician, plumber, cook and chief bottle washer.

Learn about these systems and learn how to do it yourself.

For example, many folks take diesel classes, but I for one wouldn't waste my $$ on that if the engine they used wasn't the one, single, only engine that I had on MY boat. Bleeding is different for different engines, so are starters and solenoids, etc.

Learn about spares - what you need, what you can carry, what's necessary and what's not.

Dream on, and read - a LOT!

All the best.
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