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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 12-13-2011
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The challenge of experience

Everyone always says to get more experience and it is of course good advise. The problem is that it is not that easy to do.

I know some very experienced sailors who have sailed the same boat from the same marina in the same 20 mile radius for decades. They are obviously experienced but within narrow confines.

The most striking example is a gentleman that asked me to help move his boat from RI to NYC. He explained how he had the boat for three years but just didn't want to move the boat by himself. After about five minutes on the boat I figured out he wasn't really a sailor. He drove from NYC to the boat a couple times a month and was so tired he often just slept overnight on the boat and drive home. His "experience" was probably some motoring and maybe sailing with only the jib up in 8 knots of wind for a total of 4 hours the whole time he owned the boat.

But just how much different are any of us? If you sail in FL, Maine would be a big change. LIS is vastly different from Norway.

The best I've been able to come up with it to purposely put myself in as many varied conditions as possible. Charter in other states when possible. Volunteer for deliveries whenever possible. Go out when the weather is a little more problematic than I would wish.
When conditions are normal I try maneuvers in different ways than I usually do them.

It is always a judgement call. I would prefer to not die, kill someone else, or destroy any property but to call it a challenge it has to have some element of danger.

What do you do to get more real experience or do you play it safe all the time and just have a good time?
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Old 12-13-2011
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What do you do to get more real experience or do you play it safe all the time and just have a good time?
My wife and I keep talking about heading out to Neah Bay one of these summers (instead of Desolation Sound which is our usual trip) and sailing a couple days towards Hawaii and then turning around and sailing back. We keep putting it off though, but I'd like for her to experience it before we put too much more money into the boat for our planned full time cruising retirement.
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Old 12-13-2011
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I just started sailing. I live on a smallish lake and have a Cal21 tied to my dock and ready to go at the drop of a hat. I sail all the time and probably have as many hours in the last few months as most do in their first few years...but even though I have played in some pretty stiff breeze, there is little to no fetch here so the thought of big waves, tides, current and open water is daunting.
I like to push the limits though so after a repainting in the spring I will be headed to some of the bigger lakes and the Puget Sound next season. My stomach does flips just thinking about it.
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Old 12-13-2011
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Nice topic!

I've been on the water for 43 years and know exactly what davidpm is talking about. It's very easy to stay in the comfort zone. I too have done some of what he's done. We basically set sights on a new goal that is achievable and then plan toward it. One year, the Dismal Swamp Canal & Ablemarle Sound looked interesting, another year it was a trip nearly the length of the Bay. In between, it's setting off at sunset for a 15 mile cruise to a new anchorage because I was bored. Just something different whenever the opportunity arose. With more time on the water comes more variety which leads to experience. I'm now confident in me and the boat to sail in wind up to 33-35 kts (sustained) on the Chesapeake Bay and 6' square wave faces.

A few years ago, when our daughter reached teen years and inevitably began to distance herself from the boat, we started racing again, after 20 years. I did it because we were spending too much time tied pierside. I felt that my night skills were atrophying so I entered overnight races. In 4 years of racing, my sail trim skills have improved, I'm far more sensitive to tactics (which translate to more efficient cruising), and the boat operates much more smoothly. We still suck but I'm pushing myself and that's what it's about. Maybe this is too pedestrian for the hard core cruisers, but they can eat my varnish.

Next year is Down the Bay Race (135 mi) and soon the Annapolis-Newport race. Maybe travel to the UK for around the Isle of Wight race (if I can find a boat). Gonna happen.
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Old 12-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erps View Post
My wife and I keep talking about heading out to Neah Bay one of these summers (instead of Desolation Sound which is our usual trip) and sailing a couple days towards Hawaii and then turning around and sailing back. We keep putting it off though, but I'd like for her to experience it before we put too much more money into the boat for our planned full time cruising retirement.
That sounds like a pretty good idea.
There are so many basic firsts with the accompanying challenges.

Watch schedule for 2 days, 4 days, 8 days.
Cooking underway
Cooking in 30k, 40k
30k for 24, 48 hours
40k for 24, 48 hours

All of this stuff is pretty much expected for folks who are crossing oceans but hard for coastal folks to experience.
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Old 12-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabreman View Post
We still suck but I'm pushing myself and that's what it's about. Maybe this is too pedestrian for the hard core cruisers, but they can eat my varnish.
Good idea, Racing.
I've done that a few times too.
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Old 12-13-2011
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I'm planning a trip to the canyon, 100 miles offshore. It will be the first time I'm really away from land. I plan to stay and fish for awhile and then sail back.

I'm also planning Montauk to Nantucket direct and return. Just need to find the time. So it's little increments for me.

Regards,
Brad
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Old 12-13-2011
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And I want to make myself clear. If someone wants to enjoy their boat in some particular way I'm not in any way belittling their choice. It's just a boat and hobby and what ever makes a person happy is what counts.
It is just that years and decades of experience don't necessarily translate when the venue changes.

I remember an experienced delivery captain who turned down a job. I believe it was a long east cost delivery run, something like Florida to Maine.
The owner was a very experienced coastal sailor and wanted to move his boat staying close to shore figuring it was safer. The delivery captain wanted to take a route that gave him more sea room.
The owner tried it himself and lost his boat. Thankfully was rescued. His skills and judgement and or stamina weren't quite enough for that particular trip despite years of experience.
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Old 12-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bene505 View Post
I'm planning a trip to the canyon, 100 miles offshore. It will be the first time I'm really away from land. I plan to stay and fish for awhile and then sail back.

I'm also planning Montauk to Nantucket direct and return. Just need to find the time. So it's little increments for me.

Regards,
Brad
I know, I know you have been talking about that for a while.
When are we going?
We bringing dive gear?

Last edited by davidpm; 12-14-2011 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 12-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JedNeck View Post
I just started sailing. I live on a smallish lake and have a Cal21 tied to my dock and ready to go at the drop of a hat. I sail all the time and probably have as many hours in the last few months as most do in their first few years...but even though I have played in some pretty stiff breeze, there is little to no fetch here so the thought of big waves, tides, current and open water is daunting.
I like to push the limits though so after a repainting in the spring I will be headed to some of the bigger lakes and the Puget Sound next season. My stomach does flips just thinking about it.
Yes indeed.
What will the stomach do that is another issue.
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