Don't even know where to start
In short: 54-y-o woman, currently in Ohio, soon to be moving to Saipan.
I want to get back into sailing, but as a Navy vet, most of my bluewater time has been haze grey and underweigh.
The prolem is that I can't find any info at all about the sailing situation on Saipan. Once there, I'd like a boat that I could take down to Guam maybe a couple of times a month, or to the other islands. Single-handed.
Should I wait until I get there and see what's available?
If I find a good boat in Hawaii, what would be the best way to get it to Saipan? What other questions should I be asking?
As an aside, I'm left-handed, which is hell in learning rigging and basic marlinspike seamanship. Anyone else? Any advice?
Thanks--I'm so glad I found this site!
There is basically no sailing situation in Saipan other than wind-surfing. You can anchor in the harbor. If there are any type of marina facilities they're very new and unknown to me. You may find a boat for sale in Guam but I wouldn't count on a wide selection or them being plentiful.
Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan all have harbors with Guam being the only one of significant size. Once outside each of those harbors there is no other harbor or shelter to be found on any of the islands. You'll be sailing exclusively in open ocean outside the harbor and you'll find little room for sailing an ocean-going boat inside any of those harbors. It's one hundred miles approximately, if memory serves me right, from Guam to Saipan with no place to hide if the weather comes up. You'd definitely want a blue water capable boat for such voyaging.
Alternatively, you'd likely be very happy with some type of day sailer you can keep moored in Saipan and sail in the harbor and outside the harbor on the vast majority of days as well. Day trips down to Tinian, which is uninhabited, would be quite easily done. The wind is a reliable 15 knots day in and day out. The temperature an equally reliable 85 degrees as well. The cost of living is quite cheap and the beaches and the scuba diving are world class. A thoroughly miserable existence awaits you! (g)
Another reason a day sailer might be better is that, given the absence of marina facilities, you might find it easier to pull out of the water during typhoon season. While the Marianas do not get hit quite as often as say, the Phillipines, when they do it's a doozy! You'd have no way to pull a good sized boat from the water and anything left in the water is likely to be absolutely pulverized after a typhoon comes through. There is no real shelter and everywhere becomes a lee shore eventually during typhoon passage. Even in Guam all the ships put to sea to ride out a typhoon.
If you found a good boat in Hawaii, and I'd think that a trailer-sailer would be best, you could have it shipped to Guam, and then up to Saipan, in a 40' container. But you'd likely pay a premium in Hawaii so you might as well look in Ohio for one and ship it from there.
Living is cheap enough in Saipan that you should resist any urge to live on board a boat. While I'd not recommend sailing a small boat down to Guam or Rota from there, there are a couple of airline flights daily that are just a hop.
If you want to "go native" yet still deal with US dollars and be in a safe locale you cannot do much better than Saipan. Take one pair of flip-flops, a couple pair of shirts and shorts, and a swimsuit. You'll be all set for about five years or until the swimsuit wears out.
If you do not scuba dive don't worry about it. Look up Ben, or his son, on Saipan and you can take lessons from one of the best instructors around. And, instead of some swimming pool, your first dive will be in crystal clear water over a sunken Japanese Zero. At fifty four you might get the majority of good dives available on Guam and Saipan in before you leave this earthly realm.
Thanks for the response.
I was stationed on Guam for five years, and the reasons I can't wait to return include world-class diving--and a temperate climate, and tropical beauty, and great people, and... (I went through Supertyphoon Pamela on Guam. Leaves memories.) Actually, Tinian's got a substantial population, and there's even a large casino now, catering to the Japanese. A ferry runs twice a day between Saipan and Tinian.
Saipan's economy has tanked, especially with the loss of the garment manufacturers and the loss of several airline routes. The cost of living is significantly higher there, which is one reason I'm trying to factor in ways to get to Guam reasonably often--to stock up at the Navy Exchange and Air Force commissary. On the other hand, with so many people leaving the island, rent is cheap for wonderful oceanfront properties.
Guam's got a couple of pretty nice sailing clubs, but the population has almost doubled from when I was there.
I was perusing some listings and came across this boat, which could certainly handle the ocean conditions in the area:
1977 Pacific Seacraft Mariah 31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
If nothing else, it suggests that there may be a few suitable boats in the vicinity once you've relocated. Good luck!
Re: Don't even know where to start
Here is a good boat that can get you around the islands.
To clarify the marina situation, Saipan has the Smiling Cove marina with all new floating docks and transient dock area with water, power and sewage pump station.
Tinian has new floating docks with no water or power at the 'marina' area. The breakwater has been eroded to nothing so this area is completely exposed to westerly winds, swells and storms... not too good.
Rota has a nice dock/marina area in their small harbor, next to the small commercial port. Looks like it would be fairly well protected from storms. Typhoons could be another story.
Guam has a few different marinas with the marina in Agat the most sail friendly. Power and water at the dock with a small surcharge for live aboard. The floating docks are in dire need of repair/replacement
I should also mention that Guam has a Yacht Club that's at the inner Apra Harbor. They have moorings available at a nominal cost per month and I think are free for the first two weeks for visiting sailors. Search for Marianas Yacht Club to get more info.
Matt from Saipan
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