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ponycakes 08-03-2011 03:49 PM

Amateur Sailor Seeks Advice
I am a very amateur sailor. My boyfriend and I have been practicing sailing about one day per week on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers for the last year on our Newport 27. We have read a few books and watched some videos. Our plan is to sail from Portland, Oregon, to Cabo San Lucas and then up in to the Sea of Cortez. Neither of us have been on the ocean in a boat before. Our Newport is from 1972; we got it very cheap and have made some upgrades, but have pretty basic gear in general. We've often heard that you need at least a 30 foot boat to cruise the Pacific. Thoughts? Advice? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!

dabnis 08-03-2011 04:09 PM

Not familiar with your particular boat, but some things in general: Do a very thorough inspection of everything. If it has an inboard double check all the hose connections, wiring, fuel filters, belts, and so on. if possible, inspect the inside of the tank, especially if it is diesel. My biggest recommendation is to find and hire, if necessary, an experienced person and do some trial runs inside and then outside. If you haven't already done so take a navigation course and use all of the navigation tools you can afford. Generally the best weather along the coast is from about the first of July to about the last of September. Even going "downhill" it can be really rough at any time of year but especially so in the winter months. Watch the weather as the ports you may want to come in to can break when it is rough. Be carefully, not a trip to be taken lightly, at any time of the year.


Donna_F 08-03-2011 05:16 PM


Originally Posted by ponycakes (Post 758181)
We've often heard that you need at least a 30 foot boat to cruise the Pacific.

There have been 20-footers that circumnavigated but they were either built for open ocean or heavily reinforced for the trip as far as I know. So it has been done on smaller boats.

You couldn't pay me enough to be in a boat that small, especially in the Pacific, but that's just me. My personal line is drawn way before that point.

I suggest that you read John Vigor's The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat and anything by Bernard Moitessier but especially A Sea Vagabond's World. Also, Tania Aebi. She circumnavigated in a Contesa 26, documented in Maiden Voyage.

Good luck!

erps 08-03-2011 05:29 PM

There's a list of blue water boats here on sailnet here

We spoke to an older cruising couple who cruised in a Fraser 30 back in the 70's. Before they left, they used to go out and sail when the wind was blowing hard and everyone else was staying in. They thought they were pretty well prepared. When they left Vancouver B.C. for San Francisco, they did it in one haul. She was sea sick for days. He was afraid that her feet were going to rot off, because she didn't take her boots off the entire trip. When they came in to San Francisco, the harbormaster asked where they were going next. She told him "I don't know where he's going, but I'm going home." She was ready to give it up, but changed her mind after a hot shower and some rest. They continued cruising for several years after that.

tomperanteau 08-05-2011 12:01 AM

I agree with all, and can empathize with DRFerron in the size thing. We sailing a bit in the Pacific in a 26 footer, and quickly decided that we wanted something bigger for our plans. I wouldn't do it in shorter than a 30, but personal preference plays a big role. If a 27 is big enough for your plans and you have properly modified her or you have a boat that is already blue water ready, go for it.

sidney777 08-05-2011 02:11 AM

You need to upgrade your sailing knowledge/experience/storm tactics. Need to find out if you or crew PANIC in bad weather or other critical situations ??
Many sailors will tell you that you need to "UPGRADE" the sailboat for offshore, BUT, don't tell you or don't know what to do.... I don't know anyone who can just tell you in one conversation what should be done to make a sailboat upgraded or just changed to make it safer and more seaworthy for Long Distance Offshore Sailing..... You will have to Read and DO physical items to the boat. i.e. "Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat". Many other books and many,many opinions on what to do.
If a 25/27 ft Catalina can officially be upgraded for circumnavigaton (as seen on internet), then my money is on a Newport 27. *I don't pretend to remember or *know all the items that can be done to make the boat safer and more seaworthy. You can do some or none of the recommended items that you find (priorities or lazyness may guide you).
.....Some things I would like additional forestay,babystay,backstay,lock down all lockers & items ,Batteries,inside & outside boat. Imagine you boat turning upside down and what happens ? Add strength to Hull with stringers or whatever is recommended.
Make water tight compartments throughout boat, as in under v-birth,under any area you can. Review sails needed,,reefing, drogues,fuel tank management,spare parts. Worst
case scenarios. Food ,water,medical, how much weight your boat can sail with.

Minnewaska 08-05-2011 06:34 AM

Some of the best ocean sailors have perished in very capable boats and Tinkerbelle, a 13 foot wooden makeshift boat, crossed the Atlantic with a skipper that had never been on the ocean before.

Luck has a bigger role in offshore sailing than many of us want to admit.

That said, one must assess the boat's and crew's ability to deal with bad luck to make this decision. For me, I want a boat that I can crawl below, strap in and ride out bad luck, or I want to be absolutely sure there is none on the horizon.

Ajax_MD 08-05-2011 06:54 AM

I'm not one of those people who thinks you absolutely must have a 50' ketch to go cruising, but the Newport 27 seems like a small, inefficient boat for what you want to do, even if it is tough and reliable.

I have a Coronado 25, and this boat looks a lot like that, only a little bigger. The cabin layout is inefficient, the sail area/displacement ratio is low, and the boat doesn't displace much. Like the Coronado, it appears that they pushed the cabin out to the hull, so you don't have a side deck which can be a real inconvenience.

I submit to you that the Newport is a great training sailboat but that you shouldn't put another penny into her, and start looking for something at 30 feet. The boat market is pretty bad right now, and if you can unload your Newport, you'll be in the driver's seat when you purchase.

On another forum I frequent, we were discussing the Columbia River, and what happens when you sail "outside the bar". From what I've been told, it's not for the faint of heart, and you want a solid boat that you can trust.

In my opinion, 30 feet is the magic number. It'll have enough storage, enough wateline to go fast, enough displacement to sail comfortably, yet small enough to keep maintenance costs affordable, and small enough for either of you to handle alone. Of course, these are all generalizations, I'm sure that there are crappy 30 footers out there that don't meet these criteria.
Do your research and figure out which boats are good for offshore, so that you don't have to do a lot of "beefing up". Look for a cabin layout that makes smart use of space. Where is the galley? Where is the storage? Is there a lot of wasted space? You'd be surprised what 3 extra feet will get you: Standing headroom throughout the boat, 3,000lbs more displacement, more tankage, 2 more feet of waterline, more sail area.

While you're boat shopping, like others have said, learn "dead-reckoning" navigation (using paper charts), some engine repair, how to splice lines, basic damage control procedures, man-overboard recovery, etc, etc. Basic seamanship stuff.

Face it- when you're out in the Pacifc, pulling over and calling AAA when things go sour isn't going to work.;)

Good luck!

Minnewaska 08-05-2011 07:13 AM

It just occurred to me that the inventory of safety stuff that I have aboard is a limiter for the size boat I could comfortably cruise in.

Offshore capable life rafts are huge. My ditchbag must be 2x2x1. Tools, spare parts, EPIRB, spare radios, spare vhf antenna, rig cutter, spare lines, on and on. Sooner or later, one doesn't know where to put all this stuff. What you think is necessary will influence this, of course.

Just another random thought. Be sure to secure every hatch, cover and floorboard and anything under the floorboard, such as batteries. If you get knocked over, you don't want the problem to be made worse by having no floor and heavy stuff becoming projectiles. Some just lock their drawers and doors and think they're good.

Sublime 08-05-2011 09:35 AM


Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd (Post 758789)
Like the Coronado, it appears that they pushed the cabin out to the hull, so you don't have a side deck which can be a real inconvenience.

I'd say side decks are a necessity. My boat has a cabin pushed out to the rail. Climbing up and on deck every time I need to go forward in anything but comfortable weather would be down right scary.
That may be part of the magic 30 ft number because you've got decent size side decks and foredeck.

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