Landlocked Novice NEEDS Advice
This site is phenomenal, I'm hoping good advice can be obtained from all of you. I thank you all in advance for your knowledge and your contributions.
Heres the deal:
I will graduate from the University of Colorado in 1 week. After that, I need an adventure. I have 1 sailing lesson under my belt and no NOTHING about sailing but I have 20K saved and I want to buy and live on a 35 footer until that money runs out. For all you financial advisors out there YES I do realize this is a bad move monetarily, but I don't care, I'm only this free and this young once, so I'm going to make the most of it.
I'm starting with the Annapolis book of Seamanship DVDs and US sailing school in Fort Meyers, FL. I've thoroughly searched boats and pricing but I still have questions.
1) The tricky one first: I am planning this to be a solo trip. Am I naive to think it is safe to be alone? I have no problem being alone for long periods of time, I'm very solitary, so that is not an issue. But IS IT SAFE? What do you all think?
2) After a week-long, live aboard sailing school and obtaining all certifications am I really prepared to man a vessel alone? or is more experience vital? If so, HOW DO I GET THAT EXPERIENCE without emptying my savings?
3) What size boat would be best for a beginner that is going to be spending six months aboard? is a 30' much more manageable than 40'?
The list of curiosities is endless, I would appreciate any advice you have to give. Thanks for listening and happy travels to all!
Dude, first, welcome aboard.
Second, SLOW THE CLUCK DOWN!!!! First rule of sailing- throw away the watch. You get there when you get there, and it doesn't matter because getting there is what it's all about. So, slow down, starting now.
If i was in your shoes, and i was, I'd look for a boat in the 27- 30' range- big enough to be comfortable, small enough to be manageable, cheap enough you can afford to fix the mistakes you're gonna make. Don't spend more than $12K, and set aside another $3K as a reserve fund for repairs, upgrades, etc...
Look for a Cherubini Hunter 30, a Catalina 30, an O'day 30. All of these are production boats from the mid-70s-early 80s that will serve you well. Don't get hung up on brands, buy the best boat you can afford.
Take your time shopping for a boat and keep saving your money. Buying a boat is just the cover charge, maintenance and mooring are the lap dances of the sailing world- before you know it you can blow a couple of grand, easy.
Take courses, read, watch DVDs, and then sail... with crew. You won't have any problem finding crew. Get some time under your belt with a crew before you decide to sail solo.
Keep asking questions, and keep absorbing the answers.
No -it is not safe, it may be illegal. Check ColRegs for watch requirements.
BTW - your budget is inadequate. There have been several threads on similar topics.
I am planning to take a one week medical course and go into solo practice...do you want to be my first patient?
We have been cruising full time in the Caribbean for 3 years and we meet quite a few people who went off half-cocked like you. They finish up struggling with inadequate skills and poorly equipped boats as they run out of money.
While many do go cruising with almost no experience they are the ones that get into the most trouble and put other people at risk...
I have a friend who spent 2 yrs fitting out a boat for cruising only to loose it in hurricane Wilma. He was in a hurricane hole on 3 anchors but the boat next to him on a single anchor dragged them both ashore.
Matt, Some of the less approving advice above comes with the assumption that you would be heading offshore to far away locations and their comments should be well received; however, if you plan to spend your fledgling sailing time in near and coastal waters it is likely that you will be very successful. Let's just take Florida as an eaxmple of where you might hone your skills. From Tarpon Springs, just north of Tampa Bay, south to the Keys and back up the east coast to Jacksonville at the St. Johns River, you have about a thousand miles of coastline with easy daysails from one safe port to the next. Some areas such as within Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound, Bayside Key Largo, Biscayne Bay, Indian River, & Saint Johns River have protected inland waters that will allow for plenty of safe novice sailing practice and short passages to the next safe harbor can be made with "buddy boats" that you encounter while cruising. A reliable outboard engine on a 27' to 30' boat would allow you to travel within the protected intracoastal waterway during times of poor weather. You could position yourself up the St. Johns River or the St. Lucie River during late august to early october when hurricane season is at it's peak and spend the winter cruising the Keys. After a season or two, you may decide to sail to the Bahamas where you will find another large area of pleasant sailing opportunities and choices to find protection in bad weather. I've been living aboard and making good weather choices and safe passages for forty years. There is a skill in managing risk that can reap great benefit. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
First off, congratulations on getting into sailing and planning a post-grad adventure. As you've probably already gathered from this forum, cruising is an amazing way to see the world.
But since you are new to sailing, I would strongly suggest that you go a different route than trying to buy and sail your own boat. Owning a boat is a MAJOR responsibility. It's not like a car - it breaks a lot more frequently and you can't take it to the nearest dealership to fix. It requires a ton of hands-on maintenance, from bottom paint to varnishing to diesel maintenance to plumbing systems, all of which take a lot of time to learn and understand. You also have to understand that you'll be spending 20% of the boat's cost EACH YEAR in maintenance work. Can you afford that?
And then there's sailing. Sure, you may learn the proper way to set the sails pretty quickly, but what about reading charts? Understanding current? Do you know how to enter a harbor when wind and current are opposing one another and creating breaking waves? Can you get in and out of a dock? Do you know how to properly tie or anchor your boat in a storm? How to read a GRIB file? How to use GPS, SSB, VHS, and other electronics? Again, there's a lot to learn and it takes time and experience.
I would recommend saving that money and crewing for a more experienced captain. It's safer, you'll learn a ton, and you'll still get to have amazing adventures in exotic places. There are a ton of places online where you can find people looking for crew someone as eager as you will have no problem getting signed up.
I would add that it is important to spend some time crewing with an experienced hand even for the small things that you learn, and also to find out if you really do like it. Some people who love saiing on paper find that they are always seasick. Or they don't like the long periods of quiet (I love them). Nice to know before you sink your life savings into it.
An awful lot of sailing involves getting a feel for things and knowing how to react quickly and correctly in a situation that develops suddenly. These tend to come from experience.
Lessons are not everything, I have sailed for more than 50 years (yeesh) and learned from watching and doing, not formal lessons. Reading helps, but it will not dock a boat in a crosswind. You should (and it sounds like you have) read as much as possible, but take it slow and build your skills in bite size segments. Solo sailing can be tricky, it should not be your sole plan.
And I agree that your budget is not enough for that size boat.
Great advice! Do you all think that if he looked into perhaps a 24' to 25' boat that his budget would be better off? Should be enough room for a single guy making his way to the Bahamas... :D
My suggestion is that you look for paid or unpaid crewing opportunities available here
Offshore Passage Opportunities: Halesite, New York
3-4 weeks at sea on a sailboat and you will be well up the curve.
when you buy your boat, you'll do yourself a big favor if you buy a "needs nothing" boat, especially as a first time buyer. otherwise you are likely to have many expensive learning opportunities (as opposed to just a few). Go smaller if your budget requires, versus buying a bigger 'fix-er-upper".
Sorry I'm so late on the response- out of town and beyond busy.
Thank you all so much for the criticisms and advice, all were taken to heart. I've decided to take the lessons, study profusely, then crew with an experienced captain before pursuing my dream. Hearing both encouragements and warnings has both solidified my mindset and adjusted it for the best. I'll keep yall updated and wish you the best!
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