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  #71  
Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

Living on a boat I won't touch on because I don't know much about it, except this - It's not for everyone. Some couples can spend years on a 22 footer, other couples can barely manage a three day weekend on a 42. Buy your boat and try it for a month "at home."

Your budget. Absolutely. You can find a great boat in that price range that can handle the task, but be sure to budget for your safety gear first. Even if it adds a few months delay, DO NOT skimp on safety gear. I pick up my boat in a week (yay), and when I get to her I'll have a trunk load of equipment that cost me MORE than the boat. (although my boat was less expensive than your range) GPIRB ($600), heavy weather gear ($600), depth finder ($200), chart plotter ($700), comfortable always on life vests ($300), waterproof portable VHF radio ($150), offshore signal kit ($300!), charts ($120 SO FAR), BoatUS membership ($135), spare lines and rigging ($400)... and MANY more items... Not to mention the niceties...

As far as your transit... Yes. You can do it. Or die trying.

I just bought a boat, and I already have my first two transits planned. But the first one is 6 months away and only a 40 mile hop to Bimini, and the second isn't much farther.

A very very old and hopefully wise sailor told me that the only thing a sailor needs to know is to respect the power of the sea. Once you know that, you'll realize that you will want to know so much more, and you will be so much more cautious.

Please absolutely follow your dream and do this. Just slow down a little bit and do it safely. And when you make it down to South Florida look me up and maybe we'll sail along with you for your first leg. Just not yet.
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Last edited by BreakAwayFL; 03-13-2012 at 02:24 PM. Reason: typo
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  #72  
Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

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Originally Posted by Aac View Post
Do you know what 'experience' means. An inexperienced person reacts in an irrational manner when confronted with fear. This is well known by generals through out the ages and thats where the term battle hardened comes from. You cannot learn this from books nor speaking to people; only being there in a 45 knot blow will teach you that you should have experienced 20, and 30 knots first.
I will choose to disagree with this. I believe your personality and your previous life experience will shape how you react when confronted with fear. A mentally strong person will be able to identify they are experiencing fear, and set that aside to make rational decisions. I saw a VHS video of a sailboat that was rolled over in the surf as it approached the harbour entrance. 4 men in the cockpit, 3 of whom were ejected. The experienced and capable skipper miraculously went right under water and back up... still sitting in place holding the tiller! 2 of the crewman had no choice but to swim for shore, the 3rd held onto the boat... the skipper at the tiller was in shock and you could see in the video, he was just frozen in place and didn't help the 3rd crewman back onboard. I say again that your reaction to fear or sudden misfortune is not dictated by your experience on a sailboat but your ability to cope with the situation.

It is true, that you will never understand what 45knots feels like until you are in it. I sailed for probably 7 years, but the biggest wind I had experienced was 25knots with a good skipper and full crew. I was alone (with my wife) this summer and we hit 35+ knots. Let me tell you, 20 knots doesn't prepare you for it. Just as I suspect 35 knots doesn't prepare you for 45. You can avoid 45 knot wind storms with planning so this is not really a road block.

Through sailing, you will gain experience over time and learn what your boat can take, and how to deal with things when they go sideways. You will learn what works and what doesn't work. But the biggest thing it will teach you is when you should be scared as opposed to when it only feels scary.

One thing I mentioned to the OP in private, is that he lives mere hours from incredible cruising grounds. A big dream often is imagined far from home, but when you have Great Lakes nearby, you can live big dreams without going very far at all.
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Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

here is my advice:
- Move somewhere near the water and get a job that will allow you to support the above goals (ie to buy a boat and go cruising someday).
- Join a local yacht club and get involved racing on a crew / boat with folks that will get your feet wet in the sport. There are plenty of Wed nite races and weekend regattas to keep you busy as you learn. Eventually venture out into overnight-race destinations.
- If you are ready to take things to the next level - explore buying a boat to live on at a marina while you still have a job and continue to participate in local races and such. Here you can do 3 things; save more money, learn as much as you can about sailing and learn as much as you can on the boat you live on.
- Then, when you know and feel timing is right - take a break from your job and venture out on the cruising front and base it on where you are at that time in your life and overall knowledge and experience.

Good luck!

- Rob
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Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

I am in the "Yes it can be done" column. I also think there has been some good advice given in this thread and some comments that may not have answered your questions but are some things to think about. My advice is to take some classes. This will cut your learning curve dramatically. Get somebody to help you find a boat that is in good enough shape for what you want to do with it. Your price range is low but reasonable for a young couple. I would also suggest that you consider some local cruising before you make the jump to the Bahamas. This will shake both you and the boat out a bit and it will be easy to fix or change anything that is needed before you head over there.

I hope it works out for you.
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

One more recco here if you want to do this...read this book by Cpt Fatty Goodlander - Fatty Goodlander, S/V Wild Card - Home

He is a feature writer in Cruising World magazine and wrote a book (several books) on the subject. Very talented writer. He's been living on a boat for over 50 yrs and ~40yr cruising globally with his wife. If anyone has advice to do this on a budget its this guy...

- Rob
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  #76  
Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

Do it. You can. Check out Windtraveler site for a young couple who started last year in Chicago and ended up in Trinidad. They were well outfitted and had resources, but they met up with other young couples doing the same thing on old, cheap, capable rigs. Some have web sites I believe. Windtraveler will answer your questions re: the dream, the reality, being young, being less experienced if you e-mail them on their site. Do it.
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Old 03-08-2012
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My first post was nearly identical to yours. I was given the same good advise as well as the belittling comments. I just went for it I spent some time searching and bought a boat. I have been humbled by the experience the first time out on the water I nearly took out two boats the mechanics of driving a ski boat and sailboat are not the same. I also have learned of the maintenance required and that if you add the word marine before another word the price is doubled. My plans haven't changed only the timeframe in which I plan to achieve them. I say go for it but spend some time on the water preparing there is a ton of experience on this site don't let the harsh remarks discourage you from asking questions
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

I think the question out to be rephrased as can I do this confidently and competently. Those two qualifications are not implicit in the original, and many responders will differ according to the emphasis they put on them.
Having trained a few it takes a while to learn the absolute basics. It takes a lot more to acquire the experience and judgment to learn to avoid where possible potential difficulties. Inevitably difficulties will arise. Very often when one does what one thinks will be okay but which is not the most prudent and seamanlike course. The usual outcome is that one would not repeat that, i.e. one learns by experience, that may be costly.
Also invariably things go wrong - even a furler jamming can be a source of problems when you really need to furl. Unjamming it or lowering the sail on a heaving deck is no fun even assuming your partner can hold the boat head to wind. Surprisingly most newbies cannot especially faced with a tiller. They need to do these things sufficiently often that they become routine.
The ASA syllabi will how you some of the things you need to learn, like collision regulations, lights, navigation passage planning, presumably knots, radio etc. Thats the theory then you need the practical in reefing docking anchoring etc. Yes there are tricks or knowledge involved in anchoring properly. Doing most of the practical things you need repetition like 30 times to get basic competence.
You will also need some basic skills in repair and maintenance. That includes engine troubleshooting, oil and filter changes - not just the simple but electrical fault tracing and making connections etc. While these may not be that difficult there are catches for the unwary.
To an extent you will learn some of these things in the first year or so of ownership, because inevitably with an older boat there will be many things that need repair replacement or maintenance. A very good and not cheap surveyor will help detect many of the more expensive things like rigging standing and running and sail condition but the motor is usually extra. You won't have the knowledge to detect most problems nor to accurately estimate the time and cost required to fix them. Multiply by four is a good rule of thumb.
Add the costs for the safety gear as most local boats are not well equipped and you could well find your costs double .
I think you said early on you have a high risk tolerance. I don't think most good sailors do. Because they are aware of the risks and that sea will find them out they they to be seamanlike, that is do things properly and prudently.
Oh yeah as a starter go out together when it is a bit rough and see how you like it. Seasickness generally means that death would be welcome as a relief.
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Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

For an Immersion course in Sailing, Join a yacht club, at the Miami Yacht club (where I'm a member) you'll spend all day and all night around boats and sailors with tons of knowledge.
When you find a boat, you can learn to sail it in the protected waters of biscayne bay, there are plenty of people willing to go for a daysail and willing to teach how to handle your boat, before having to venture offshore.
When the time comes to cross, there's always someone coming or going that you can buddy with.
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Old 03-08-2012
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Re: Can I sail to the Bahamas with NO experience?

Quote:
Originally Posted by delan View Post
For an Immersion course in Sailing, Join a yacht club, at the Miami Yacht club (where I'm a member) you'll spend all day and all night around boats and sailors with tons of knowledge.
When you find a boat, you can learn to sail it in the protected waters of biscayne bay, there are plenty of people willing to go for a daysail and willing to teach how to handle your boat, before having to venture offshore.
When the time comes to cross, there's always someone coming or going that you can buddy with.
I agree with *almost* all of this. Biscayne Bay is very crowded, and navigating a sailboat through it can be a challenge. That being said, cruising the Florida Keys is excellent practice, and there is a very active liveaboard community.
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