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  #1  
Old 08-23-2009
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My plan, your thoughts

Howdy All!

After reading a ton of threads, I thought I would start a new one here to share my plans, ask a question and gather some input...So here it goes...

The Plan: Finish my last 4 years in the Army, during this time develop a realistic budget, time line for learning and gaining experience, and put together a shopping list to include my first sailboat, in preparation to circumnavigate in a true cruiser, however long it takes, see the world at my own pace style.

Let it be known, I have no sailing experience/knowledge whatsoever, I probably won't use the correct terminology. What I do have is a dream and the determination to make it a reality. To learn and gain experience I plan to complete ASA 101 thru 108 courses, which leads to my first question in regards to budgeting...

Does anyone know if I can use my G.I. Bill to attend a sailing school?

... Every school I have looked into seems to advertise these courses as a vacation in which you learn to sail. I have emailed the ASA contact on their website and received no reply. I am pretty frugal and don't want to shell out the dough if I don't have to. Let you taxpayers do that for me

After I complete the Offshore Passage making course (ASA 108), I will purchase my first sailboat, used of course; Island Packet, Cape Dory, Pacific Seacraft, Yankee, Westerly, Westsail, Pearson Triton are all what I am looking at right now. I will do any restoration I can myself, hopefully I will have a few sailing buddies by then to lend a hand. Then I will outfit her properly, want to hold at least 120 gallons of fresh water, convert V berth into a storage area for backup sails/lines/hardware as I have seen in some photos of racing boats and use the smaller aft berth to sleep, makes more sense to me to be near the VHF/Radar and cockpit in case I am woken up in a hurry.

Since I touched on the gadgetry, I will say that I do plan to have VHF, Radar, Depth Sounder, Wind/Weather station, Life Raft, Autopilot (windvane), Solar Kit. As far as I can tell, we are talking about $12,000 right there, add in some foul weather gear, thats another $1000. Hopefully most of these gadgets come with the boat I purchase.

So, to close my rambling, I get out of the Army in 4 years; plan to learn to sail and gain some experience over 2 years; restore and outfit my newly purchased boat in the course of 1 year, during which time I should be an active member of the sailing community; when I feel confident in my own abilities to sail, begin to live the dream.

Please Answer, Comment, Question and/or Criticize, I really am interested in your thoughts, thanks for your time.

Ben
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Old 08-23-2009
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Buy or borrow a sailing dinghy and a book on sailing basics now. Start learning and see how you like it. Nothing in your plan is impossible, but it may not be what you hope.
An old rule: sail for a day, if you like it, sail for a week, then for a month......
I started in a dinghy 22 years ago. I still love it.
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Old 08-23-2009
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I doubt the G.I. Bill will pay for ASA courses. I have worked with a number of people learn to fly using the GI Bill. In aviation you had to pay for your private training yourself then the GI bill would pay for most of the rest of your education if you were enrolled in a part 141 school, which means professional oriented school. I imagine if you attend some type of maritime academy the GI bill would help you out.

You can learn to sail for free. Move to an active sailing town with a year around active fleet and start crewing on race boats. Get on some longer cruises, and longer races. There are also courses that are very cheap like Power Squadron and Coast Guard courses available. Also in taking these courses you can meet local people with boats in need of crew. When you are stateside see if you can be stationed in a base next to sailing, like Fort Lewis in Washington.

In the mean time read a ton to educate yourself (you can learn a lot from the right library), keep feeding the dream, and save lots of money.
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It might be difficult to learn sailing / sailing related skills in such a short time well enough to go circumnavigating. But it is not impossible. There has been sailors that left with zero skills in less than perfect boats and they made it. Dream big, achieve big.

Project-management wise - why not split your plan into 'packets' then lay them out in what you consider realistic time-frame from now. Then keep eye on progress and move the packets around, in necessary. Re-adjust, tune, but keep focus.

Finally, why not get yourself a sailing dinghy and sail it until you can do it blindfolded? It will not interfere with your plans and being able to control a small sailing boat with complete confidence will go a long way towards making you circumnavigation a succes.

Rgds,
b.
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Thanks for the replies. I figured I would have to flip the bill for the ASA courses, just wanted to confirm.

I would love to start small, buy a sailing dinghy and learn like most people I have spoken to that love to sail. But this is not realistic right now, I don't think the Army would appreciate me learning to sail a dinghy on the Tigris or Euphrates. That would be a spectacle though.

When I get back stateside, the El Paso desert doesn't strike me as a place that would have much of a sailing community, but I could be wrong. The main point here is I don't have the luxury of leisure time, I am very much in the active Army and my time and priorities are spent on my soldiers and missions, little idle time, however, my sister is mailing me a big box of sailing books compiled from a suggested reading list found on SN, which I will read over this next year in what little idle time I will have. Then I have three years left till I retire, hopefully move to a more sailor friendly post and can involve myself in the sailing community.

I think after attending ASA 101 thru 108, I would have somewhere in there realize whether or not sailing is for me and decide to continue or quit; since quitting is about the same to me as suicide, I believe after the offshore passage making course, I will really know how much experience I have at the moment and how much I need before attempting to circumnavigate. I don't just train my soldiers enough to build overconfidence, I train them to succeed. Why would I treat this any different?

Realistically, there is very little I can physically do to learn to sail other than read and correspond with you fine people for the next few years, but that doesn't mean I cant learn, plan, learn a bit more, scrap the old plan, re-plan with some better Intel until I actually take the first real action and learn by doing. Then the Plan is in action and I can adjust accordingly.

Please continue to comment, question, criticize.

Take Care!

Ben
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Hey Ben,

Your plan is solid. It was almost exactly six years for me from the day I decided I'd set sail on a circumnavigation to the day I actually left on my cruise. I grew up in the midwest and had zero sailing knowledge when I decided it was what I wanted to accomplish. I started with ASA as well, but only completed 101 - 104. After that reading and sailing on my own boats was how I learned the rest. No other way to do it, but jump in and start making the mistakes that teach you the lessons you'll need to do it properly.

As for sailing around El Paso, don't give up so quick. I spent two of those six years in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Just north of you is a Elephant Butte Lake and a great place for weekend sailing. I picked up a Catalina 22 for $2,000 and learned a ton sailing on the small inland lakes in that area.

As for the budget, it's an old cliche, but sadly comes true more often that not. Do the best back of the envelope calculation you can to determine the cost of your boat and and the refit. Then double it. I started like you doing all my own work and still believe it is the only way to go, but without the knowledge that comes from doing it once there will be many costly mistakes along the way. My only real advise is to keep the cruise and the boat as simple as you can safely and comfortable do so. That will make it happen all the faster.

There are a million books out there on how to make it happen. One I like is The Voyagers Handbook by Leonard. It's a good technical walk through even if I don't agree with all of her opinions. Everyone has their own way of doing things and you'll eventually find yours as well. Best of luck,

Lee
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Thanks for the encouragement

Quote:
Originally Posted by LWinters View Post
Just north of you is a Elephant Butte Lake and a great place for weekend sailing. Do the best back of the envelope calculation you can to determine the cost of your boat and and the refit. Then double it. My only real advise is to keep the cruise and the boat as simple as you can safely and comfortable do so. That will make it happen all the faster. Everyone has their own way of doing things and you'll eventually find yours as well. Best of luck,

Lee
Truth is, half the people that are aware of my plan think I'm crazy, which is par for the course with them. The other half, close friends and family, have complete faith that I will be successful in making this dream a reality. A few people have suggested trying Elephant Butte when I get to El Paso next year, good to hear that you have had some experience there. I think it would not be too much of an effect on my budget to rent or maybe even purchase a sailing dinghy and trailer to spend holidays and leave time (30 days a year) to begin learning on.

When I do get out of the service, 99.9% of my time will be involved in learning to sail, preparing myself and my boat. I have spent an entire career using equipment made by the lowest bidder, so keeping things as simple and safe as possible is a way of life. Again, thanks for the input Lee.

Take Care!

Ben
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