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Old 03-09-2012
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First sail issue (?) - need advice

Hello all,

As some of you may know, I pick up my first sailboat in 7 days, and am sailing her out of her old harbor to her new home at sunrise on the 17th, traveling from Boot Key to Islamorada. This is a sail of about 45 miles my my calculation.

This is not my first sail by any means, but is my first sail as the master of a boat.

My concerns are that the winds are predicted to be 20 knots coming from the East, so I will need to sail very close hauled the whole way, aside from some likely tacking in the beginning.

Does anyone have any advice or thoughts?
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

Try not to have a set schedule. The weather can do anything between now and seven days from now. If you're concerned about the winds, reef before you leave the slip. Easier to let it out later than get it back in.

Leave a float plan with someone.

Other than that, you probably are already aware of the required and recommended safety equipment.

Congratulations and best of luck!
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

New boat, 45 miles in the ocean, 20 knots - bring crew, no matter how experienced you may be, you never know if you will need some help along the way.
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

Reef early, don't rush, relax and enjoy the trip. Plan for a ditch location if you can about half way in case it is more wind or weather than you are comfortable with. Make sure you have all your safety gear on board and check out the ground tackle and know how to use if before you head out. You are going to be in shallow water with the possibility to drop a hook if you have a problem that you can't sail away from. Take plenty of food and water and if you will be solo keep them close by as you never know what your auto pilot may decide to do. Forty-five miles can be a long day for a maiden voyage if you are close hauled the entire way. Stay hydrated and well fed.

Other than that and what Donna said above, CONGRATULATIONS!!! have a great trip. i will be down your way the first week of June or so, keep us posted and I'll look for you as I pass through!
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

I know you are excited but after 10,000 + miles of cruising my advice is wait for more favorable weather - in particular wind direction. A 45 mile uphill slog is no fun.

Also, almost everyone I know has had unexpected breakage on their first couple of trips. My last experience was 11 months ago when we brought a surveyed and sea trialed sailboat from Charlevoix to Milwaukee. Engine packed up 6 hours in - we could not charge the batteries. 43 hours in 40 degree temperatures hand steering all the way. Not a fun experience (I plead abject stupidity to planning a passage with water temps in the low 40's and air temps to match. It seemed a good idea at the time.)
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

Ditto on the wait for more favorable conditions. It's not going to be nice, and first sails are notorious for breakdowns and problems. Whenever you go, have at least one, preferably two people aboard who are knowledgeable about sailing and boat systems so that if/when something breaks, you've got extra -- and experienced -- hands.

My husband and I are small boat sailors, and love heavy air sailing. The first time we heard a forecast for 20+ on the nose, we thought nothing of it -- if we could handle that in our sailing dinghy, it'd be no sweat in a cruising boat. WRONG! Beating into ocean waves is absolutely no fun -- we've now done at least four passages that I can think of where it ended up being like that, and each time we swear never again. Twice we've had self-steering give way, just to complicate matters. Hand steering in those conditions is no fun and exhausting.

That said, have a great time with the new boat!
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

If you have a chance, at least do one shake-down sail a few days before. Don't leave w/o a strong working engine, and all the recommended safety do-dads.
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

Heed the good advice here about waiting for better weather, BreakAway.....if you don't know the boat and it's hidden weaknesses you're courting disaster. With an east wind you'll end up on the coral if anything goes wrong and you can't get an anchor out to stop you from getting driven into the shallows. When you do go, make sure you take some time to test the rig, engine, and ground tackle, take at least a handheld GPS with you, and get a Seatow membership. I've made that trip several times and it is aswesome when the weather cooperates and a wet nasty slog when the wind's out of the east or north.
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

If you must make the move, try for something 20-25 miles distance... more easily done in windier conditions, esp if waves will be an issue, and even then try to have a fall back plan in case something unexpected crops up - even returning to the departure point if need be...
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Old 03-09-2012
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Re: First sail issue (?) - need advice

Set your sails accordingly, and do it up. Crew is good on the new ride watch every thing on board, and take care. It's 10 hours of good wet sailin.
Good luck have fun and be safe!!!!!
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