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Hello everyone,

I''m finally at that point where I am ready to move up from day sailing and start some short cruises. I have had my 25'' O''Day for about a year now, and feel as if every time I take it out it is the equivalent of driving your car up and down the driveway at age 15, only dreaming about taking it out on the road. I am excited about moving up to this level, but also a bit nervous- it''s a lot different than driving and staying in a hotel!

I keep my boat on the West coast of Florida in Yankeetown, just north of Cedar Key. I figure I''ll start out with a simple overnighter, leaving on a Friday.

Any suggestions, tips, words of wisdom for a first timer? I appreciate any suggestions.

Paul
Dot Calm
 

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Hi - i think you''re getting ready for some fun. Have an idea where you''re headed, but have alternatives in case there is no wind or too much wind. Leave early enough to get there before dark. Take an anchor light and tie off your halyards. Take beer and coffee. Have fun!!
 

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I started out on Folsom Lake (California) then graduated to the S.F. Bay and eventually to open water sailing. Visit my site at http://morgansailing.tripod.com to read about my experiences and correspond with me. Also, I have a forum there where others can share their experiences.
Claude
 

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DotCalm,

As one goldfish said to the other: "Think outside the bowl!"

My experience was like yours. 22'' boat, and after a season of daysailing, I knew I wanted to try to GO somewhere. I just read, read, read, and threw myself into it. Here are the important things I learned:
1) I was perfectly capable of handling a small boat over many miles of coastline, and even channel crossing to island-hop. The sense of self-reliance was exhilarating!
2) I stowed too much food. I was in a marina every few days, and there was always a local market or supermarket within walking distance of the marina. Now I load staples and canned food, and then hop-and-shop for perishables.
3) STOW EVERYTHING AS IF THE BOAT WILL BE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND SHAKEN VIOLENTLY. This was my biggest lesson. Wind and waves heeled me over much more than I had experienced within my local breakwater, and everything I owned at one time or another spilled onto the decksole, and I got to watch it all flying off its perches through the companionway as I was fighting weather helm at the tiller. I learned to pack everything away securely and to put everything back after I''d used it. Besides loose items sitting on the setee, here is the short list of major things I forgot to secure:
a. ice chest (spilled everything onto the decksole)
b. gas can (tumbled over, spilled 2 gal. gas into bilge. Nasty cleanup)
c. battery (excessive heeling threw it out of its topless box; I went without electricity (autopilot, lights, VHF) until I made port AFTER sunset and had to re-connect it using a flashlight to see. Good thing the filler caps didn''t come off...)
4) After having to climb out onto the foredeck and douse the jib by hand in a strong wind (I did know enough to harness myself to the boat), I added a downhaul line, and now I can get the sail down without all that drama, and just scramble out to shock-cord it to the deck. Stuff it later.
5) Reduce canvass EARLY as the wind builds in the afternoon. Small boats sail more efficiently standing up.
6) Spare parts and tools are more important than food.
7) I single-handed: I needed a break from the tiller, if only to be able to relieve myself or make a sandwich. I had an auto pilot, but when the battery went, I lashed the tiller in place and she pointed into the wind wonderfully. You can''t spend 12 uninterrputed hours on the stick.
8) I was wetter and colder than I expected: I didn''t bring enough warm/waterproof clothing. It was August: who knew?
9) My outboard became my best friend a few times: make sure yours is running perfectly before you leave, and that you have spare parts.

I look back and laugh, but I was having the time of my life, and I learned more about sailing (and about myself) in those two weeks than I had all the previous summer. Go for it, try to anticipate, but be ready for the unexpected! You will conquer all the challenges in the end, using your skill and wits, and when you make port, you will sleep the exhausted-but-satisfied sleep of the man who has met the challenges of the day.
 
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