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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, for starters I'll let you all know I'm beyond a novices. Iv been reading every sailing book in can find and have been reading this forum for awhile and hope you wonderful people could point me in the right direction.
I've ah the dream to live aboard since I was 5, but have past it off as a just an idea till recently when I can now make it a reality. My goal is this I work 3 weeks on 3 weeks off. So in my off time I can live aboard anywhere I want in the USA. I'd like to get to the point to live on the hook for that time moving from port to port and docking for three weeks and then coming back and moving around again. So that is question number 1. Is it possible to dock a boat for 3 weeks then move it again? Or would I be better off getting a year slip and just sail it for 3 weeks and come back?
Next is I'm currently land locked in alaska. I don't really have the opportunity to go out and actually see and talk with sailors. I've read the terms coastal cruisers and blue water cruisers all over but haven't ran across a good definition. I want to live aboard, I'd also like once I am confident to sail around the gulf and up east coast and island hope around the Caribbean. What boat would be best?
 

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Yes you can stay at a slip for three weeks then move but it will cost you.
Season rate in Westbrook CT for a 30' boat is 3,800 for 6 months while daily rate for a month would be I would guess about 2,000

90% of the boats you will see are coastal cruisers.

The blue water cruisers will have a much larger percentage of their interior space dedicated to tankage and other storage among other things.
You are right there are lots of opinions and no real answers. The reason is that defining a particular boat as coastal or blue-water has no practical effect on your decision making.

Each boat has to be evaluated independently based on what you can and are willing to do to change it. How you will use the boat and your skills and tolerance for a particular imperfection. And of course how much money you have.

When people ask your question the implication is that if they get a bw boat they will be OK.
That is just not valid which is why it is fundamentally a bad question and speaks to the lack of experience of the person asking.

There are numerous threads here and other places that talk about the difference.
Google site:sailnet.com blue water boats and it will keep you busy for weeks.

Sadly their are just some things you can't figure out by reading.
I doubt if you would make a marriage proposal based on a match.com profile.

You will be well served to do what you have to and get your but on a boat before you buy one.
Offshore Passage Opportunities: Halesite, New York is one option
An ASA.com class or two is a way.
Any crewed opportunity would be great for you.

A very minor point as a matter of style.
If your experience is limited to reading you will be better served to refer to yourself as a novice rather than "beyond a novice". It is just a silly definition and you have obviously worked hard to get the knowledge you have so far but when it comes to sailing I have found that it is always better to downplay ones ability rather than to embellish it.

I've been sailing on and off for 30 year, have my captions license and have an ASA teachers certificate and compared to some folks on this form I'm still a novice.

Just like blue water and coastal the terms novice and expert are probably best not used.::)
 

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If you have never actually sailed a boat of any kind you are most surely a novice, if not a pre novice! Not being cruel just realistic. What your saying in essence is that because you have read every book on banking youb are now a banker! Books don't teach hands on or real world conditions and problems with misunderstanding what you have read for concepts or instruction. You may comprehend the literature, but how do you know if you get it in the real world!? That being said you would be better off with a yr long slip, so you can get acquainted with you new boat to you. Raise the sails lower them let a little wind push them around. Get some guidence from some people around where the boat will be kept to take out and learn the systems and characteristics of your boat. Then go out longer and longer day sailing etc, until you are completely at ease with handling it. Then you can decide to migratew from 1 marina to another. Part of being out there is to be self reliant, but also not to endanger or be a burden to others around you! Hope this helps you GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR ENDEAVORS!
 

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Why don't you spend some of those three week blocks of time building your sailing experience? The first thing that I did was hire a captain with his boat to take my wife and me out for a four hour cruise. There was a hurricane not far away, so we cut it down to two hours and he refunded half of my money.
I always like to walk marinas where it is allowed. Some people might put you down if you ask about their boats because you don't have their vast, wonderful experience, but most will love to talk to you about their boat.
 

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With your type of schedule I would agree with some of the above. The first thing you want to find out is if you like it or not. First to sail, second to live on the boat for a time. Try the ASA classes. 101/103 last 4 days, most let you stay on board (and if not find one that does). Class and sailing during the day, study and play after class.

104/105 is usually a 6 day class that you live and cruise on the boat. In both this and the first class you are always going to be at the mercy of a good/bad captain/teacher, but I find most are very good. With 1-3 other students you will most likely have the normal mix of personalities you are living with, but hey...thats life.

If you hit it off with some of the instructors they can steer you to ways of sailing on other peoples boats. Learn, have fun, and bring beer!

If after a few sessions you find it is your passion, you will have at least sailed on a few different boats, and be on your way to making a purchase. Talking to people in your general planned geography will also give you a better idea of your options. Transient slips when you are gone for three weeks can be quite expensive....most anywhere.

Good Luck, hope you love it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for the input so far. First to clear up that beyond novice part I was meaning pre novice as in no experience and not claiming any. I've found book knowledge is nice but nothing compares to hands on. :) Yes I'm looking into class's now and using a lot of my block time for the next year take those.
Thank you for answering the slip question mikedryver. I wasn't sure if I should start looking for a place to set up and stay for awhile.
 

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I wasn't sure if I should start looking for a place to set up and stay for awhile.
Don't even think about that for now. That's something like Step 40 and you're on Step 2. What tomandchris and Stepford suggest is what you should do - use some of your 3 weeks "off" and take a class somewhere. Just get on the water, think about a boat of your own later.
 

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Lake Hack
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Classes, classes, classes. Take as many as you can, you'll get a feel for the boats you like/don't like.

If you have a home base, then a daysailer or trailer-sailer may help build skills/time on the water. As a novice you can singlehand a 40+' boat. As a novice, I get concerned singlehanding my 19' pocket cruiser when the wind gets out of control. Add in any failure, and you'll start thinking smaller is better.

Don't discount lakes either, you get to avoid tide and current effects, and working with shore breeze variations will improve your trimming skills.

Whatever you decide, have fun with it!
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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You have gotten some very good suggestions. The title question to this thread is closely akin to the question, "How long is a piece of string?". I mean you no disrespect at all, but the right boat for any of us probably isn't the right boat for most of us. You describe a situation where a well constructed coastal cruiser could do pretty much everything you need it to, but it would not necessarily be a one size fits all- off the shelf selection because over time we all develop tastes, prejudices and preferences that are unique to ourselves. I apologize that this is a bit long, and was written for another discussion, but it gets to many of the points that I would have written in response to your post.

The dream of voyaging under sail can be a powerful one. There was a period when several times a month I would receive an email from someone who is considering doing just what you are proposing. I have watched literally dozens of folks go through this. Some are successful in getting 'out there', some discover that they really enjoy sailing and find that they really have no need to 'go out there’; some have discovered that the sailing life is just not for them, and others have not even gotten past the dreaming stage.

From what I have seen, the most successful (especially when children are involved) have been the ones who have been somewhat systematic about going. There is a lot to learn before one can safely venture offshore. No one would assume that they could buy a jet airliner take a few lessons and be able to fly around the world. I think most rational people would expect to start with a small plane and work their way up. But for some reason people assume that they can just go out and buy a big boat, take a couple lessons, read a few books, and then go safely cruising.

While there are people who literally taken a few lessons, read a few books and went out cruising, those that were successful following that route are far more rare than those who have done some kind of apprenticeship. Learning to sail and learning to cruise involves a lot of knowledge and no matter how much you know, there will always be more to learn, but I suggest that you at least take the time to learn the basics, and that just about can’t happen if you buy ‘a big sailboat’ and move your family aboard.

I find myself saying this a lot lately but here I go again. We all come to sailing with our own specific needs, our own specific goals and our own specific capabilities. The neat thing about sailing is that we all don’t have to agree that there is only one right way to go sailing. There is no more truth in expecting that there is one universally right answer about many aspects of sailing than there is in trying to prove that vanilla ice cream is universally better than strawberry ice cream. One area of sailing for which there is no one universally right answer involves the amount of knowledge one requires to go sailing.

For some, all they need or want to know about sailing is just enough knowledge to safely leave the slip sail where they want and get back safely. There is nothing inherently wrong with that approach. Lack of knowledge will impact the level of risk, cost, comfort, and performance, but if you want to get out there with minimal knowledge it can be done. But for others, like myself, there is much more to sailing than simply developing a rudimentary knowledge of sailing basics. If you fall into that camp, it is next to impossible to learn to sail really well on a boat as large as the one in question.

While I am in no way suggesting that this makes sense for everyone, for those who really want to learn to sail well, I strongly suggest that they start out owning a used 23 to 27 foot, responsive, light-weight, tiller steered, fin keel/spade rudder (ideally fractionally rigged) sloop (or if they are athletically inclined then a dinghy.) Boats like these provide the kind of feedback that is so necessary to teach a newcomer how to really sail well. Boats like these have small enough loads on lines and the helm that you and your children can all participate and learn together. Being able to learn and participate, the children will be more engaged and less likely to be bored and feel kidnapped.

By sailing well, I mean understanding the nuances of boat handling and sail trim in a way that cannot be learned on a larger boat. Used small boats generally hold their values quite well so that after a year or even few years or so of learning, you should be able to get most of your money out of the small boat and move on to a bigger boat actually knowing something about which specific desirable characteristics of a boat appeal to you as an experienced sailor rather than the preferences of some stranger on some Internet discussion group.

From the advice that you have already gotten you can tell that there will not be a consensus of opinion on how to go distance cruising. With all due respect to the EU gentlemen’s well-meaning advice, in my opinion it is exactly the wrong advice for what you are proposing to do. It is nearly impossible to learn to sail well on a catamaran that is large enough for a family of five, and without highly developed sailing skills, a cat that large is pretty dangerous offshore.

In any event, I think that you have the right idea about taking sailing lessons. If I were in your shoes, I would sit down and put together a list of all of the things that I would want to know before I set off voyaging such as:
• Boat handling
• Sail trim
• Rules of the road
• Weather
• Routing
• Boat husbandry, repair and maintenance
• Diesel/ gas engine maintenance and repair
• First aid
• Heavy weather tactics
• Legal restrictions on leaving and entering foreign countries
• Navigation, (Piloting, Celestial, dead reckoning and electronic)
• Provisioning
• Radio operators license exam requirements
• Safe and dangerous fish to eat
• Sail trim
• Survival skills
• Etc………..

Once I had what I thought was a complete list, I would set up a schedule to try to develop those areas of skill that I was currently lacking. As much as possible I would try to involve all those involved in as many of those aspects as each is capable of understanding. This process could take as little as a year, but more often takes two to three years. The process itself can be very rewarding and can build the kind of bonds that are required to be cast away on that oh so small island that a boat underway represents.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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When you do a liveaboard you have two aspects to consider: 1) finding a boat you like living in and 2) how well does it sail for the type of sailing you will be doing. These items are not mutually exclusive but they can be.

As others have pointed out until you get some experience it's hard to make good choices. If for no other reason we all have different priorities.

Until you've hit your head enough times some of the lessons you'll have to learn may take longer than others.
 

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Time on the water will give you wisdom and give you what it takes to make sailing part of you. Owning a boat and taking formal lessons are two options, but not the only options for getting time on the water. Hanging out with sailors and joining a club or co-op, bumming rides on day cruisers and racers (especially once you learn the basics), helping out with sailing events, all are good ways to get out there. And, with yet more experience, you can likely get in on long-distance passage cruises as volunteer crew.
 

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I offer this recommendation that's parallel to all the excellent advice given so far:

I think that you are on the right tack by defining what type of experience you are aiming for and asking for advice on how to achieve it. While you are developing the skills you need, it is wise to start learning about and considering what features you will want in your boat (and which features you can live without), eventually. Consider your experience to be the 'job' and the boat to be the 'tool.' You want the right tool for the job as well as the skills needed to use the tool.

Most sailors will tell you that the best tool for learning to sail is not the tool that you would use for three-week cruises. So you might want to think about buying a learning boat and later buying a cruising boat.

Here are two books that will help you on boat selection. I imagine there are other good ones; I own these two and can vouch for their usefulness:

Your First Sailboat - How to Find and Sail the Right Boat for You, by Daniel Spurr. This book also has several how-to-sail sections.

Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere by John Vigor.
 
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