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If I could go back in time I would give my 20 year old self a lot of good advice. Now I want my 80 year old self to give me some good advice today.

the vision
I have no/zero sailing experience to draw on, and thus anything I think I want out of sailing has no basis; but. This coming summer I will be taking classes (ASA 101 103 104 and 105). I hope to sail 1 or 2 times a year for 1 or 2 years then increase as needed with my own boat. I envision myself sailing either coast of Canada depending on the boat's home and eventually a crossing of the Pacific or Atlantic, again depending on home. My interests lead me to something in the 13 meter range with rather shallow draft less than 1.8 or 1.9. Metal boats are interesting to me but I don't know why. I think I will retire on a boat, but again???

the question
In the time you have been sailing what started out as important and turned out to be not so important?
What realizations (forehead slaps) did you have 3, 5, or 10 years into your sailing life?
Aside from "just get out there..." what would you tell me?
 

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Bigger is not better.
There is no place like home
Simple Simple Simple
oh, I think wine at the end of the day in mandatory
You being 20 years senior to me, I am sure it is I that should be asking life lessons.
 

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The goal is to sail.

Not to sail someplace grand, not to sail something big or small, not to have a boat that can break icebergs, not to have a boat that's faster than another, not to round cape horn, not to cross an ocean, not to have the best safety equipment, not to have the perfect electronics, not even to have the best anchor.

Just get yourself sailing as soon as possible by whatever means is possible. Let the experience lead you. You'll only know what you want from the experience when you do it. You will not know from hearing what I did, or anyone else did.

Don't listen to anyone else dream, have your own.

And don't wait. No matter what your age, the clock is ticking.
 

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Sailing is an experience... it's not a destination. Owning and sailing boat is almost a different universe to life on dirt. The goal for some may be speed and winning a race... for others it may be getting somewhere on your own with nothing but the wind and your smarts... for others it is being in nature in a marine environment. It can social or solitary or both. Sailing and boat ownership is a great teacher.. of more than sail trim.... it's navigation, mechanical competence, it's cooking, it's tourism... it's science, it's relaxing, it's stressful... it's more than you imagined.
 

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bell ringer
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there is WAY less dangerous and scary sailing stuff than you read about, and most of that is still under your control by making good decisions like not going out in bad conditions
 

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If you've never sailed before; just see how the lessons go to see if it's something you want to do going forward. Sailing only once or twice a year is a long way from crossing oceans. Knowng your limits would be my advice.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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1) The greatest luxury is the ability to voyage under sail- so learn to sail really well and make your highest priority buying a boat that sails well and is easy to handle in a broad range of conditions.
2) Buy the smallest displacement boat that will give you a reasonably comfortable place to sleep, prepare meals, lounge and deal with bodily functions while keeping the boat as simple as possible- Keep it small and simple in order to shift the ratio of time spent sailing relative to the time and money spent doing maintenance in favor of maximizing sailing time. Placing too much emphasis on 'all the comforts of home' is a no-win preposition since no matter what boat you buy, everything on a boat is harder to do and less comfortable than sitting in a house on shore.
3) Do not set "do-or-die" goals-Don't set goals to prove something to yourself or someone else. Sailing should not be seen as a means to an end or a cure all. Sailing is its own reward. While the voyage may change you, the simple act of sailing to somewhere else will not, since wherever you sail, you (and whatever problems you have) will still be with be there with you when you get there.

(and if I might add a fourth : Remember the people who helped you along the way and give back what you can to those traveling a similar path behind you.)
 

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S/V Interlude, PSC31
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I have so much less experience compared to many on this forum but do know what I hoped to get out of sailing ever since my 13 year old self read the National Geographic articles written by Robin Lee Graham starting in 1965. There was no sat phone, no weather router, yet in 1965, 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham began a solo around-the-world voyage from San Pedro, California, in a 24-foot sloop. Five years and 33,000 miles later, he returned to home port with a wife, daughter and stories. He once reflected that being alone at sea did not teach him how much he needed but rather how little. This reflection is what I have always hoped to get out of sailing. As I approach 70 and having returned to sailing late in life (4 years ago) I have no illusions of single handing around the world for the next 5 years, My wife of 42 years and I have carved out a different world since my dreams of such first occurred. We have a simple, not large boat, though quite capable of crossing any ocean and my dreams still do! Dreams are easy to care for and keep you alive, they don't have to all be realized. The fact we are sailing again is all that matters. Oh...and when we initially started sailing decades ago we bought a little sloop and a book! For the next ten years we sailed and dreamed.
 

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Old soul
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Go with the smallest, simplest boat that will do what you want to do. Don't get caught in the spiral of shinny new wants. Figure out what you actually need, and go from there.

There is wonder and beauty everywhere in this wide world. You don't have to chase over the horizon to find it. You don't need a "bucket list" to find joy. By all means, explore and travel, but do it because you want to, not because you must.

Long-duration self sufficiency is the goal, so the smallest boat should include sufficient storage and tankage space. You should also have enough skills and capabilities to manage most maintenance and repair issues yourself.

If you can, go with someone you love. This makes everything shine a bit brighter.

Mostly, "just get out there..." ;) Get out sooner, rather than later. Don't get trapped chasing the illusion of security. But don't leave without some ability to absorb shocks. Find the balance.
 

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Since I only started sailing in my mid-30s, I would tell my 20-something self to try sailing sooner. I didn't read sailing books, never dreamed of being a sailor before I was invited on a friend's sailboat for day sail out of Annapolis when I moved to DC. Honestly, that's the only thing I wish I had done differently.

With respect to your plan, you may want to space out the ASA courses over 2-3 years. Easier on the wallet and the brain. Get plenty of time on the water to reinforce what you learn or it fades fast. If you get your own boat with an engine, add a docking course (ASA 108).

The most important thing once you've mastered the basics is a good plan for getting on the water frequently enough to get better. Get your own boat, or (more affordable options) join a sailing club, take classes where you can rent boats, crew for races if you enjoy racing.
 

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1) The greatest luxury is the ability to voyage under sail- so learn to sail really well and make your highest priority buying a boat that sails well and is easy to handle in a broad range of conditions.
2) Buy the smallest displacement boat that will give you a reasonably comfortable place to sleep, prepare meals, lounge and deal with bodily functions while keeping the boat as simple as possible- Keep it small and simple in order to shift the ratio of time spent sailing to time and money spent doing maintenance in favor of maximizing sailing time. Placing too much emphasis on 'all the comforts of home' is a no-win preposition since no matter what boat you buy, everything on a boat is harder to do and less comfortable than sitting in a house on shore.
3) Do not set "do-or-die" goals-Don't set goals to prove something to yourself or someone else. Sailing should not be seen as a means to an end or a cure all. Sailing is its own reward. While the voyage may change you, the simple act of sailing to somewhere else will not, since wherever you sail, you (and whatever problems you have) will still be with be there with you when you get there.

(and if I might add a fourth : Remember the people who helped you along the way and give back what you can to those traveling a similar path behind you.)
This is perfect.... Thank you!
 

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For me, Sailing IS the destination. All the hassles that come with boat ownership ie maintenance , upgrades , slip rental, insurance etc etc etc are simply obstacles to reaching my destination.
When I was a much younger man and ventured out on an invitation to go sailing for the first time I told the fellow that was so gracious to invite me out that I thought this sailing business was way too much work and that if I was going to have to work this hard that I would be doing something that I would get paid for. Fast forward 25 years and the only reason that I would even consider going back to work would be to support my sailing habit..... go figure.
 

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Think before you act.
I've been doing this all my life (6 decades or so), pretty much full time, and I can't do things the way I did at 20, 30 or even 50. I've hurt myself pretty badly trying.
I would suggest a few simple things that I sincerely believe have extended my sailing life considerably. Electric winches w/self tailing are a real help. In Mast Furling and jib furling systems give you much more control over your sail area without needing to go on deck.
Remember that this boat will become your home, so it should be a comfortable place to live, with a good galley, a great bed and plenty of storage for your personal gear, spares, tools and provisions. If you are headed for the tropics, ventilation is also very important, unless you want to run a genset and AC.
As a friend once told me, "Any fool can make a boat go, but it takes a sailor to stop one." Sailing is the easy part. Concentrate on learning to anchor and secure the boat you choose to a dock.
Don't just go sailing in "nice" weather. You need to be comfortable when conditions deteriorate, if you are planning to go to sea. No amount of classes will make you a better sailor. The only way to do that is sail, a lot!
And most of all, remember this is supposed to be fun, so don't push it to the point you get all frustrated and unhappy. Good luck.
 
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Hello,

Thanks for bringing up an interesting, new, discussion topic.

My only addition is that, over time your wants and needs will change. Don't fight it, accept it and make decisions based on you want TODAY and not tomorrow.

I started sailing in 2003. My needs were simple: A CHEAP boat that my family of 5 could fit on. It needed a decent cabin so the kids (9, 6, 2) could get out of the sun, rest, nap, etc. A Catalina 22 was the right boat at the time. After a year I learned that I really REALLY loved sailing. The family was game too and now we wanted to do some simple cruising - a weekend aboard every now and then. The Catalina 22 was way too small for that. So I did some research and bought a Newport 28 - my first 'big' boat with a bunk for each person, inboard diesel engine, decent galley, hot and cold running water, etc. We happily sailed that boat for 3 years but then we (really just me) wanted to go further and spend more time aboard. The newport was fine for a weekend but too small for a week. So the Newport was replaced with an O'day 35. A nice comfortable cruising type boat with all the comforts we needed: Space for 5 people to spend a week or longer without having to stumble over each other when below. A good dodger and bimini for shade, more tankage for water, fuel, supplies. Refrigeration instead of icebox, two burner propane stove and oven, etc. We had great vacations going to New York City, Montauk Point, the Thimble Islands, etc. As my kids got older and turned into teenagers they didn't want to spend as much time on the boat. Weekends were spent on the soccer field, or other important activities and the week long sailing trips stopped. I started racing on other people's boats and became way more interested in racing and sailing performance. So the O'day, being a shoal draft cruiser, was no longer the right boat for me. I bought a different boat (C&C 110) that is a much better sailing vessel but still very comfortable. Now I'm older and thinking of retirement and spending a month or two onboard with my wife. The C&C may not be the right boat for that so I'm thinking of what type of boat I would want for that.

Times change, needs change, don't be afraid to change boats to meet your needs.

Barry
 

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Barquito
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Learning to sail and operate a boat that will cross oceans is a large undertaking. You will constantly be realizing that there were vital things that you didn't even know you needed to know until you did. Just keep at it.
 

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Sail, sail and sail some more. Better to buy a more modest boat and use it a ton than to go out once or twice a year (you seemed to be contemplating chartering?) As you sail, sail, and sail, you will learn a ton about boat handling, weather, navigation etc. and also what you do and don't really want in a boat. You will also break stuff or have things fail, and willl learn how to keep a boat operating (this is equally important to actually sailing if you want to cruise). And if you get the chance, do some racing. The attention racers pay to things like boat speed and sail trim are a great way to learn.
 

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In the time you have been sailing what started out as important and turned out to be not so important?
What realizations (forehead slaps) did you have 3, 5, or 10 years into your sailing life?
Turned out not important: I really wanted a beautiful old school boat, with teak interior and curved lines. I still love looking at those boats. But someone advised me "when you are on your boat you are too busy enjoying yourself to care what it looks like" and they were right.

Forehead slaps:
Year 3: I really need to find some new friends who like sailing. (My friends: this Saturday is no good, how is next weekend? Me: that's not how sailing works there's 12 knts from the south we go now.)
Year 5: I need to make more time for longer sailing trips or they are never going to happen.
Year 10: A lot of my problems would be solved with a boat that was easier to single-hand, had more cockpit seating for non-sailors, easier means of getting the dog off the boat, roller furling and windlass, and I begin to see more why modern cruisers look the way they do.
 
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