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Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 01:20 PM   #1
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Question for past & present cruisers

Dory, et al.:

How did you get started sailing/cruising? Take some lessons and so day trips at first? Something else?

I have been reading the logs at bumfuzzle.com and I am struck by how little the authors seemed to know about sailing before they set off on a circumnavigation.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 01:21 PM   #2
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

It all started with a three hour cruise...

a three hour cruise....
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 01:27 PM   #3
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
I am struck by how little the authors seemed to know about sailing before they set off on a circumnavigation.
Dennis O'Connor used to say that the only thing you needed to know about sailing was how to stand fully dressed in a cold shower tearing up bales of $100 bills.

It's hard to teach that stuff in a classroom and awful expensive to practice it going up & down the coast. At some point impatience triumphs over fiscal prudence, and the rest is up to Darwin.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 01:34 PM   #4
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

I am plenty welll aware of the spendy-ness of boats. At least up to this point, I have restrained myself to a canoe and admire boats in others. I doubt this will change in the near future, especially with a 1 year-old toddling around the house. In the meantime, some of our friends are members of the local yacht club and are always in need of crewmembers (even clueless ones). If I ever have the time, I might start to take them up on it just to see what I think of it.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 01:46 PM   #5
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Learning to sail isn't that hard. It's like learning how to hike, whereas learning how to cruise is more like learning how to camp. It takes practice.

It seems odd, but sleeping comfortably in a boat can be much, much harder than sailing a boat.

I started sailing in 1998 in Boston at an outfit on the Charles River. You bought a family membership and got unlimited access to their fleet of 15' Mercurys, etc. After a year of this I took a week-long offshore class from an old salt and her husband, and at the end of the class I asked them what the biggest boat I could reasonably handle was. They said something around thirty feet, and I wound up buying a 32-foot C&C sloop and weekend-cruising it for several years.

I finally flipped out of her when I realized I was sailing more on my friends' boats than on my own.

The best sailing advice I ever got was: "Go slowly."

The best cruising advice I ever got was: "No boat has more than two of the following three characteristics: speed, comfort, and affordability. Choose carefully."

And both of those little epigrams turned out to be true. I picked a slow, comfortable, affordable cruiser, and I couldn't have been happier.

Ed
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 02:43 PM   #6
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Hmmm I have read of "active" vacations where you learn to sail & spend 4-5 days out on the water. Didn't seem unreasonable to me. If you were interested I may be able to find it. Have considered it myself.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 02:58 PM   #7
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by gratefuled
I started sailing in 1998 in Boston at an outfit on the Charles River. You bought a family membership and got unlimited access to their fleet of 15' Mercurys, etc.
Hah...I used to teach sailing in mercuries first in the chahhhhles in the back bay and then later down on the cape. Times way off though, this was in the 70's.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 04:05 PM   #8
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
Dory, et al.:

How did you get started sailing/cruising? Take some lessons and so day trips at first? Something else?

I have been reading the logs at bumfuzzle.com and I am struck by how little the authors seemed to know about sailing before they set off on a circumnavigation.
I'm not there yet (meaning not full time cruising yet, this needs to wait for FI), but my story goes like this:
As a small kid (7yo) I was invited few times to sail and I loved it.
When I was old enough and had enough earned cash (15 at this time I think?) I started taking lessons.
Than through the high school and university years doing few weeks cruises every summer cruises on small charter boats.
Than some coastal sailing in Florida in bigger boats (shorter trips - full time work interfered )
Now I own a small trailerable sailboat with a cabin. It's cheap (as a sailboat goes) and lets me sail (mostly day sails and overnighters, but a week or two is possible), while working towards FI.

Learning to sail is the easy part.
If you have sailing friends try to bum a ride - most of sailors are quite happy to show you the ropes. Another frugal sailing opportunity is to sign up as a crew at a local yacht club. Most racers are looking for commited crews.

If you are planning to be in Atlanta, let me know and we'll take you sailing on Lake Lanier if the weather cooperates.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 04:24 PM   #9
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
Dory, et al.:

How did you get started sailing/cruising?* Take some lessons and so day trips at first?* Something else?

I have been reading the logs at bumfuzzle.com and I am struck by how little the authors seemed to know about sailing before they set off on a circumnavigation.
Practically speaking, we had no useful knowledge when we started either. I spent perhaps 3-4 hours total with the former owner, 2/3 in learning such things as changing fuel filters and other such stuff, and 1/3 on how to maneuver the beast in tight quarters. We took two trips during vacations. The first was a 3 day cruise south down the Intracoastal Waterway, with stops at docks for each overnight, then a two week stay, then a return trip. *The second was a trip up the Chesapeake, then up the Potomac, and a stay in Washington DC for a week, before returning.

Those were all of our exposure before we retired onto the boat. (We were overseas when we bought the boat, so weekends on the boat weren't possible.)

After retiring onto the boat, we took two weekend trips before setting off full time.

The fundamental knowledge needed to do this is not all that great. Learn to read the charts (nautical maps) so you have a reasonable idea of which way to go, and which areas have shallow water to be avoided. *Learn how to drop the anchor so it will hold when the current switches with the tide change.

Pretty much all the rest of the knowledge you pick up as you go.

Hopefully, you learn from listening to others to stay in a protected cove until the weather forecast is good for at least 2-3 times as long as it will take you to get to the next protected anchorage. It was rare for us to hear of people having weather related problems who were exercising such prudence. The ones who had problems were the ones on short vacations who had to go-go-go. Only the luckiest of those had fun - most had miserable times and didn't stay with cruising. *

(In fact, we heard from a guy who used to deliver yachts for their owners, that bargains were to be had in the Virgin Islands and other such destinations, where new boatowners had taken their boats on a vacation, rushed down there despite unfavorable weather, and having arrived there, disembarked, flew home, and swore off boating altogether. Meanwhile, those willing to wait a week for better weather had calm and wonderful crossings.)

Contrary to the experiences of some others, we found the boat quite comfortable to sleep on, especially when we were at anchor instead of at a dock. The boat will generally point into the wind, and it is easy to have a nice breeze and air circulation through the boat, and whatever motion there is will be much more calm and comfortable. Plus, you get lots of privacy. At a dock, your orientation to the wind is random, and likely you won't get good air plow, and the motion will often be side-to-side (urp!) and uncomfortable.

It is less spacious than most other forms of living, except perhaps an RV. We had what boat manufacturers call a "Queen Bed" but it exactly fit a fitted double bed sheet. But that was OK for us.

Dory36
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 04:59 PM   #10
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by th
Hah...I used to teach sailing in mercuries first in the chahhhhles in the back bay and then later down on the cape.* Times way off though, this was in the 70's.
The chahls is wicked mhoa cleena now than it yousta be.* I hope ya neva fell in the whadda back in yaw days.* I'm thinkinabout takin some sailin classes myself eitha this summa oha nex summa, dependen on numba one, if they have any openings, an numba two, if those openings fit my schedule.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 06:38 PM   #11
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

You gaht thaht right...it was just stahhting to cleah up then.

We went out on my power boat on one fourth of july (huge mistake) and ran out of ice about 2am. One guy offered to swim in from 10' out and pick some up at the convenience store. We tied a rope around his waist in case it became necessary to pull up a corroded corpse a minute or two later. As it turned out he didnt die, but he didnt smell very good the rest of the day.

Dow chemical, among others, used to pour waste directly into this river, and sewage was dumped in it as well, as it wound down through boston and out to the hahhhbah. After a while people started pulling up muta-fish and they found the mud bottom contained extensive amounts of arsenic, mercury and lead. Swimming was disallowed for many decades. Its probably still a good idea to stay out of it.

Yep. sailing isnt hard at all. A while to learn which line does what, the basic maneuvers, learning to keep your head down when you hear 'jibe ho!'. After that you just have to learn how not to hit things, to stay away from rocks, and that your best bet when you dont know what to do is not to jump overboard. Providing you dont have a particularly windy or windless day, you're good to go. Given the above strategy, you'll enjoy good sailing about 2 days of the year.

I remember watching some yahoo in a mercury run full tilt into the side of a big powerboat in the chaaahhles at the back bay. Jumped overboard just before he hit the boat. I dont know what he was thinking or why he didnt just let go of the rudder. Punched a big hole in the powerboat, after which he started swimming towards shore. I hope that wasnt his sailer as I dont think he was going to get it back...
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 08:00 PM   #12
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

The newbies who seemed to really do poorly were those who were afraid to try anything. Those who did well just jumped in with both feet.

Alternator belt broke, and you've never dealt with such a thing? Some will call for a free tow (if you have the cruisers' equivalent of AAA) to the nearest marina, and have someone fix it. Others will climb into the engine room and just figure out how to get the new one on, using trial and error.

Head (toilet) plugged up? (This will separate the serious from the faint-at-heart.) Nothing pretty about it, but it's not rocket science -- just disassemble piece by piece and pipe by pipe, clean out the tampon that some guest tried to flush, and reassemble.

We found that one standard screwdriver, one Phillips, and two nutdrivers were sufficient for 90% of the tasks aboard, even though we had a pretty full toolkit.

There are 1001 things that can and will go wrong on a cruising boat, simply because of the number of different systems. Almost all are readily dealt with by the owner, at sea, if necessary.

If you are willing to just tackle the problem, you'll do fine.

Dory36
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-03-2005, 11:16 PM   #13
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

A pair of womens panty hose, tied really really snugly, will replace a broken alternator belt...for a little while anyway.

If that breaks before you make it back to dock, you have other things to talk about, i suppose...

Dory, throw in a pair of vice grips and a 5lb mallet, and you've got my basic emergency tool kit.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-04-2005, 07:36 AM   #14
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Panty hose aren't too common on board, so we substituted a . . . spare alternator belt.

The mallet, the vise grips, and a handful of "disaster plugs" -- 6" long wood cones, about 2" diameter at one end and about 1/4" at the other - made up most of the remainder of our kit. (Never had to use them, but those cones were to be driven into the opening that would remain should a cooling water hose fail, and the shutoff valve on the through-hull fitting fail at the same time.)

The two other essential parts to any emergency kit . . . duct tape and bungee cords.
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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-04-2005, 08:15 AM   #15
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Hmmm

Try very hard to avoid boat ownership. As to fish camps:

Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape, - vise grips - 5 lb mallet.

And then the lessor stuff - screwdrivers, etc.
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers
Old 06-04-2005, 08:49 AM   #16
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Re: Question for past & present cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by th
A pair of womens panty hose, tied really really snugly, will replace a broken alternator belt...for a little while anyway.

If that breaks before you make it back to dock, you have other things to talk about, i suppose...

Dory, throw in a pair of vice grips and a 5lb mallet, and you've got my basic emergency tool kit.
As opposed to men's panty hose...

Though I digress (cross dress?)

Get a bigger hammer!!
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