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vagabondette 05-30-2011 09:09 AM

Does this sound like a realistic plan?
I have a plan in my head and I'm entering the research phase but before I dig in too much and potentially go down a wrong path, I'd like feedback from some experts and perhaps a smack upside the head with a "what, are you crazy woman?!" if there's something totally unrealistic. :)

First, I have limited sailing experience. I've done bay/river sailing/racing on 17-21' boats and never alone. When I start this journey I'll be flying solo so I thought I'd take a week or two and do a crash-course live-aboard training sail to get the basics and then teach myself from there. I've also considered heading down to Rio Dulce and seeing if I can hitch a ride for a while to get some additional experience.

I intend to purchase a boat in about the 26-28' range for my live aboard which I feel will suit me in size while not being *TOO* hard to sail alone while I'm learning. For the first 2-3 years I intend to do coastal cruising up and down North and South America and into the Caribbean which I feel like a boat of this size can easily handle. I figure 2-3 years will give me the experience I need/want to do a deep-water crossing. Whether I do that in my existing boat or upgrade will depend on the boat. One thing I considered with a smaller boat is the possibility of crossing in the N atlantic from Canada to Greenland to Iceland to the UK which would get me over to Europe without doing an extended deep-water crossing but I don't even know if that's possible in a boat like what I'll probably have...

My budget for my initial purchase is $20k which I intend to cover the boat itself and any refit. As per suggestions I read here, I plan on getting the most seaworthy boat I can get even if it's lacking in bells and whistles and then sailing it for a while and adding equipment as I need it rather than cramming it full from day 1 and potentially getting stuff I don't need or the wrong stuff.

So, given all that information, does it seem like my plan is realistic or is there a big gap that I'm missing somewhere?

Thanks for any feedback!

Oh, if it matters, I'm a female and I'll be about 39 when I buy my boat.

Dean101 05-30-2011 09:48 AM

It sounds to me like you have a reasonable plan. I'm not an old pro at sailing but I too am looking to voyage. From what I've seen of boat prices and judging from what others say on refitting, $20,000 may be a little low for doing both. But, then again, if you upgrade and refit as you go, doing a little at a time, I can see where that is do-able. I can't see where your gender would matter at all. It's the stuff you're made of that counts.

What type of traveling have you been doing, if it's not too forward of me to ask?

wingNwing 05-30-2011 10:06 AM

Smart move on the size pick. Just met a singlehander who came across the Atlantic in a 31 footer and blogged about that here. In your price range you'll have to be very discriminating in what you prioritze in your refit. (Examples: you don't 'need' an electric windlass, on a boat that size you can lift the anchor by hand. A kayak can serve as your dinghy instead of an inflatable plus outboard engine. Etc.) The 1-week liveaboard / learn-to-sail crash course will jumpstart your education and your plan, but will be pricey. Maybe there's another option for you - any friends or boatyard acquaintances whose brains you can pick? Read books, ask questions.

PBzeer 05-30-2011 10:11 AM

One thing I can tell both of you, it WILL take more money than you think. Not a lot necessarily, but more than you think.

Also, whatever the plan, it has to be one you're comfortable with.

PBzeer 05-30-2011 10:13 AM

Oh, and for that size, check out the Pearson 28-2. The -2 is a specific model.

tempest 05-30-2011 10:40 AM

Plans can have a way of changing, life sometimes simply unfolds...a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step.....and all that philosophical stuff..

$20,000 seems a little lite..but it's a place to start as you research what's out there that's potentially capable of doing what you want to do.
Sailing magazine, just did an article on the Pacific Seacraft's one.. 1981 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 sailboat for sale in

After you find a sound vessel the rest is up to you..anything is possible!
Gender is a non-issue imo.

I think the only gap might be whether or not single handed blue water sailing is a nice dream...or will it become a reality for you. If you've never sailed alone...and have never left sight of land alone on your own vessel the reality of that experience may offer a new or different perspective, or it may re-affirm your goals.

I might continue on your plan of gaining more experience in a livaboard training environment, then follow your thought of hitching a ride on an offshore trip or trips with an experienced crew....Then decide if your plan is reasonable for you before making a purchase.

Boats in that price range capable of blue water cruising can eat up savings accounts in repairs and maintenance before you leave the dock. I'm not saying your plan is unrealistic; rather, just continue your research, obtain more experience and kick a lot of tires...while you do that.

vagabondette 05-30-2011 10:55 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Just to be clear, I'm not planning on using this boat for deep-water. If/when I do that it's very likely I'll upgrade to a larger, more appropriate boat. That will be several years down the road.

I'm a bit surprised that so many are saying $20k is low for a used boat in that size range. I've been trolling the sales sites and I'm seeing a lot in that size-range in the $10k price range. We'll see when I start looking more closely. I do know that I don't plan on doing a full refit right away but will do things as I need them. I'll be earning income along the way so the $20k is just an entry point. My current income is about $1400 a month which is 3 times what I need and I anticipate it'll be double that by the end of the year which will give me plenty of extra.

@ Dean, I've been "backpacking" for over 2 years. I put backpacking in quotes because what started out as a traditional backpacking trip has pretty much turned into me living in Mexico. :) But I still use a backpack so...

PBzeer 05-30-2011 11:00 AM

It isn't the purchase price, it's what comes after, where the money starts flowing. And sometimes it's better to spend more to buy, to lessen the "what needs done" after the purchase.

That isn't meant to discourage you, just my experience.

On the plus side, you're thinking about the basics, and not just the "fun".

Dean101 05-30-2011 11:16 AM

I agree with John. From everything I've read so far the general concensus is that refitting a boat can cost much more than you think, even more than the purchase price, depending on what's wrong to begin with.

I asked about your travels because I use to do a great deal of hiking in the mountains and deserts of southern California. I absolutely loved it! The only cure for a roving foot is more of the same! Good luck in your search for your boat as well as pursuing your adventures!:D

Sailmon 06-01-2011 08:05 PM

Right on! But easy now...
What you're saying isn't impossible. There are ways to go about it and ways to throw money away, not to mention get in to trouble. For starters i would say don't be one of those people who disregards just how little our oceans care about you. A great number of people have lost their lives foolheartedly chasing their dreams of sailing the world. Now that the scary part of sailing is said...

Start with a good boat. Make a short list and wait poised like a cat to pounce on a good one because you...learned, read, then read some more. Not only about what makes a good boat, what keeps a boat maintained, how to manage a cruise, navigate, work a radio, and of course how to keep her afloat. It's estimated you need 1000 hours to become competent at anything, 100,000 hours to master it.

Be prepared to pay. Someone gave me a pretty good estimate, key word being estimate that you can spend roughly half of the value of your boat fixing her up. Buying a boat that's fixed up may be your gig, but other than the odd deal now and again, you're looking at paying more and spending less on gear, etc. Weighing those variables and foreseeing all those hidden expenses becomes nearly impossible. I can attest with a stack of West Marine receipts just how hidden those costs can be.

Then i would have to suggest taking a good look at avoiding going solo. Singlehanding is arguably extremely dangerous, especially for someone who could stand to log some miles. Way more than having crew or at least another hand. You may just want to start crewing. Either that or like you said, hit up a school and spend some time in classes. Either way jumping out there without the knowledge to get you there safely is pretty scary stuff.

As for's awesome our similarities. I am 38, male to be exact, and i am pretty much in your shoes several months, if not years later. I have just purchased a 1978 Morgan 382 and am in the process of refitting her and getting her ready to cruise. She's quite a bit bigger than your idea but it's what i figured would keep me sailing for the long-haul without giving up too many comforts. I waited...& when the time was right i paid $15k for her and she's a gem.

All this stuff is just what i've learned over the last 6 years getting ready. I would say go hang out at the docks, yacht clubs, and sailing events until you catch a groove. You will most certainly find one as people in the sailing community are usually truly helpful people.

:cool: Chris

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