I'm 23 years old. My girlfriend and I are bored and looking for a tropical adventure.
I've come up with a few ideas but the one I'm most seriously looking into the feasibility of, is buying a sailboat and spending like 6-12mth just cruising down the Bahamas; gaining more experience along the way and heading further South towards the Turks & Caicos, Dominican, Puerto Rico, BVI's, St. Lucia, etc..
SO, the two biggest questions I have are:
- Can I find a comfortable, used sailboat - qualified for the trip - for under $20k, all in?(preferably closer to $15k).
- How long would it take/what would I have to do, to learn enough so that we could safely embark on the initial journey from Florida to Grand Bahama?
I'm thinking I could spend a solid month reading and researching the basics of sailing, then buy the boat in Florida and spend another few weeks/month practicing and learning on the water with someone locally. Then be ready to hit the 'road' with my girlfriend and our dog. Is this at all accurate or am I dreaming?
I'm a very optimistic person and although a bit naive perhaps, I'm pretty confident I can do this given the right advise and guidence.
Thanks so much for any and all input!
Dude, you definitely got some good advice thrown your way! I think you have a great idea for an epic adventure. I say go for it and enjoy. For whatever it's worth though, I'll mention a few things I've learned.
Pay attention to scheduling. I've read several accounts of people who got in a rush to get to their next destination only to be too optimistic and run into bad weather or mechanical failures with disasterous results. The reverse of that is true too. "When" is sometimes more important than "Can". I don't think many will argue with me on that. A 6 - 12 month cruise through that area is liable to see you into hurricane season down there. Just don't be tied to any set schedule so tightly that you can't alter it if you need to. This applies to my next comment.
Make sure that both you and your girlfriend are comfortable with your ability to handle the boat. I never pay too much attention to time limits for learning. It all depends on how receptive you are to new ideas, how much you apply yourself, and how much you practice. If you expect to learn from reading, be prepared for a LOT of practice, trial, and possibly expensive error. The basics are pretty easy but, as others have mentioned, there is a lot you need to know other than just the basics.
I won't comment on what boat you should buy. That's all up to you. I will say that some research and a good survey will serve you well and will probably get you started on your adventure much quicker than picking one just because you like it. Your lack of experience has been a strong point in many of the posts here. The more time you spend sailing, the more experience you will gain. I'll add that I've never tasted a breakfast so fine as the first one I ate sitting in the cockpit of my first boat, after my first night on the hook, watching the sunrise! DAMN, that was good! Yachtworld.com is a great place to look at boats. It's got a good search function and there are usually a lot of pictures in the adds. Look at reviews, ask questions here, and make a list of those that fit your needs.
Noonsite.com is a great resource to start looking at the entry requirements for the countries you plan to visit.
If you've never sailed before, learning can be an adventure in itself. I agree with the idea of cruising through the Keys.
I don't know if you read much but one thing all epic adventure novels have in common is that the "adventure" part only ends at the final destination of the story. That's why that part is called "The End".
I hope you realize by now that your plan is completely do-able. I would suggest that you start researching boats, ask lots of questions, and be specific. The more information you provide, the more help you are likely to receive here. It's your (and girlfriend) adventure. It's up to you to make it happen or to just keep dreaming.
Do it right and Good luck!