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Old 08-17-2012, 02:54 PM   #1
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Introducing the family via a charter vacation?

Hello all! Got a question for ya:

I would love to someday liveaboard with my wife and travel the world - we have already traveled extensively, but the idea of doing it for an extended periods via the sea holds great nearly unexplainable appeal to me! Unfortunately we've got about 20 to 25 years before we can jettison shore duties completely. My wife and I have one 18month old girl, will likely have more kids, and both have high-paced, good-paying careers.

Rather than wait 20-25 years to begin to enjoy the dream, I'd like to introduce my wife to trawlering and get her as hooked on the idea as I am. In about ten years or so I'd love to take a one year sabbatical to do the Great Loop while my family is young. Ten years still seems a ways off though....

Between now and then, I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on when/where we could start with one-week bareboat trawler charters. I know there are many one week sailing "school" vacations that qualify you for bareboat sailing charters. Do most bareboat trawler charters require a similar training/qualification prior to casting off? I'm sure there are numerous charter opportunities in the Caribbean/Floria regions, but how about PNW or Great Lakes? Any suggestions on types of boats to start with for a one week trawler charter to introduce a small young family to trawlering?

Thanks in advance for your responses,
Andy
St Louis, MO
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:19 PM   #2
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Hello all! Got a question for ya:

I would love to someday liveaboard with my wife and travel the world - we have already traveled extensively, but the idea of doing it for an extended periods via the sea holds great nearly unexplainable appeal to me! Unfortunately we've got about 20 to 25 years before we can jettison shore duties completely. My wife and I have one 18month old girl, will likely have more kids, and both have high-paced, good-paying careers.

Rather than wait 20-25 years to begin to enjoy the dream, I'd like to introduce my wife to trawlering and get her as hooked on the idea as I am. In about ten years or so I'd love to take a one year sabbatical to do the Great Loop while my family is young. Ten years still seems a ways off though....

Between now and then, I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on when/where we could start with one-week bareboat trawler charters. I know there are many one week sailing "school" vacations that qualify you for bareboat sailing charters. Do most bareboat trawler charters require a similar training/qualification prior to casting off? I'm sure there are numerous charter opportunities in the Caribbean/Floria regions, but how about PNW or Great Lakes? Any suggestions on types of boats to start with for a one week trawler charter to introduce a small young family to trawlering?

Thanks in advance for your responses,
Andy
St Louis, MO
Welcome Andy, you have picked a great way to introduce you wife and yourself to trawlering. Your living in St. Louis puts you in the center between coasts. I suggest you start off with an easy cruise or two. Then you can go for some more adventurous sfuff. Probably the easiest cruising would be the Chesapeake Bay area or Southwest Florida. Any can provide training and a captain for a few days if needed. Blue Goose Charters in Baltimore or Southwest Florida Yachts would be a couple of places to start.

After that you could try the Pacific Northwest, Maine, the Bahamas, or the Virgin Islands. You will find out quickly if cruising is for you. Good luck.
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:40 PM   #3
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The charter company in Bellingham, WA where we charted a GB36 to see if we even liked cruising this area by boat required a certain degree of boating experience before they would let a boat out on a bareboat charter. They have checkout skippers who will run you through the boat's systems and, in our case, give us a couple of hours of docking instruction. But while we had not had any experience with this type of boat, we had a fair amount of boating experience in general, which they wanted to know about on the application and that they used to determine if we "qualified" for a bareboat charter or not.

But a lot of charter companies also provide skippered charters, where you run the boat but under the supervision and instruction of one of the company's captains. At this point, that might be the best way for you to go. It will cost more than a bareboat charter, of course, but if you are unfamiliar with this kind of boating it is probably the best, most valuable, and safest way for you to get into it. Think of it as dual instruction in an airplane.

The company we chartered with has a fleet of Grand Banks boats exclusively from 36 feet on up through 52 feet. The name of the company today is Northwest Explorations, NW Explorations | Yacht Sales, Charters & Services in the Pacific NW
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:52 PM   #4
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Check out Swouthwest Florida Yacht
Yacht Charters Florida Trawler Charters - Sailboat Powerboat Bareboat, Grand Banks, Krogen, and Mainship Yacht Charters
in Ft Myers, FL you can charter a trawler on your own or take a hands on course with one of their captains. There are many good cruising grounds in the area good beaches, anchorages or marinas take your pick.
Good luck,
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:22 PM   #5
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My wife and I (and three teenage kids) just returned from a one week charter on a 37' Nordic Tug from a different charter company out of Bellingham, Washington. We have similar dreams but maybe closer to chasing them since my kids are older. We have essentially no experience so might be a helpful data point for you.

We took a USPS boater safety course in February. Then in April did a weekend training course on a 36' Selene out of Anacortes. Last week, our 7 day charter began with a live-aboard captain/instructor for the first two days. He was terrific. Instructor was great at involving all my kids; they all had jobs and enjoyed it. Did lots of docking practice, anchoring, navigation etc. At the end of the second day, we dropped him in Friday Harbor and he flew back to Bellingham. Then we were on our own.

We had an amazing week. I'm not kidding; amazing. I may be starting to 'get' this boating thing. Anyway, the training added $500 to the cost of the charter plus another $100 to fly him to Bellingham. We were probably lucky, but the week transpired without incident. I wouldn't begin to sell myself as an experienced boater but i'm not dangerous any longer. The charter company is San Juan Islands Power Boat Instruction San Juan Power Boat Instruction San Juan Yacht Instruction San Juan Islands Charters Boat Instruction and they provided an overall excellent experience. Can say more in private mail but will look like i'm a plant to go on and on here.

Like I said above, I now have a better idea of why people pour time and money into their boats, and I suspect that this will ultimately turn in to the most expensive vacation I've ever taken.

Marty
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:30 AM   #6
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I suggest a steel narrow boat charter in the Erie Canal.

No navigation , no cares , many many historic towns with Wi Fi and tons of fine eateries., to keep the bride on vacation.3 towns a day if thats your pleasure.

Best of all after a week in a comfortable narrow 40fter , she wont require a 65 ft copy of her dirt house sized boat to feel "comfortable".

Docking is usually free , boat handling is a breeze after the free hour of instruction.

Take a look.

http://www.eccboating.com/

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Old 08-18-2012, 02:56 PM   #7
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Meanwhile, you could learn about trawlers ridding with Arctic Traveller who is a member of this forum. They have a very nice and highly recommended program

Welcome and have fun
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Old 08-19-2012, 06:08 PM   #8
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We did our first bare boat from St Thomas USVI thru "trawlers in paradise" on a 46 GB. Not sure if they are still there but we loved the boat and found the VI to be boating for "dummies" with all the moorings and a dinghy. We were hooked.
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:04 PM   #9
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Several years ago we did a "Learn & Cruise" with San Juan Sailing out of Bellingham. Although we decided we would stick with powerboats the program was quite good and the instructor excellent. He instructed because he enjoyed it, not just building days on the water. I'd recommend them, they have good boats and have been in the business for a long time and pay attention to matching students and instructors.
Anacortes has several operators, but we've noticed over the years the names change fairly regularly, even though the same people seem to be there.
We like the PNW a lot, even though you need a dry suit to go swimming.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:42 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for the responses! It has given me several more options to look into that I had previously been aware of.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:44 PM   #11
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I suggest a steel narrow boat charter in the Erie Canal.

No navigation , no cares , many many historic towns with Wi Fi and tons of fine eateries., to keep the bride on vacation.3 towns a day if thats your pleasure.

Best of all after a week in a comfortable narrow 40fter , she wont require a 65 ft copy of her dirt house sized boat to feel "comfortable".

Docking is usually free , boat handling is a breeze after the free hour of instruction.

Take a look.

Erie-Champlain Canal Boat Company, Inc.

FF
Very interesting!! Sounds like the initial requirements might be lower than other charter outfits, and might build my experience/resume while still having an enjoyable vacation (though I plan to also take the USPS Boaters Safety course). Anyone else used this outfit or cruised the Erie canal?
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:44 AM   #12
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very interesting thread.

heather and i are looking to swap our uk boating to maybe florida and if all goes well retire part year there.

steve
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:10 PM   #13
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Ok, let me narrow my original request down....

Anyone have any suggestions for a charter IVO the Florida Panhandle? Specifically looking for a chance to put the family on a boat for a few days around the holidays, spend some time enjoying deserted beaches on the barrier islands somewhere.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:31 AM   #14
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Ok, let me narrow my original request down....

Anyone have any suggestions for a charter IVO the Florida Panhandle? Specifically looking for a chance to put the family on a boat for a few days around the holidays, spend some time enjoying deserted beaches on the barrier islands somewhere.
Andy, I boated out of Orange Beach, AL for quite a few years. I know of no charter operations in the Panhandle.

There is one or two in Sarasota, but probably the best cruising for what you are doing is farther South. You can charter from SW FL Yachts or a house boat charter outfit that I think is in Cape Coral. The area around Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound are very cruiser friendly with stops that should keep the family interested. Here are the stops that I recommend.

Boca Grande, great village atmosphere. rent a cart or bikes to go everywhere
Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa Island, a great state park with miles of beach
Cabbage Key, Funky laid back old Florida atmosphere
Captiva Island, South Seas is best, but Tween Waters is also good.
Sanibel Island

They are all within about 30 miles of each other. It should be a week of very leisurely cruising.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:33 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Animal

Very interesting!! Sounds like the initial requirements might be lower than other charter outfits, and might build my experience/resume while still having an enjoyable vacation (though I plan to also take the USPS Boaters Safety course). Anyone else used this outfit or cruised the Erie canal?
I've seen these boats and I've cruised the Erie. They look like a lot of fun. Book early - they only have a few boats!

Also you can rent boats in Canada and they have a very nice canal system too.

Here's a link to our old website of our trip in 2000. http://www.alormaria.com/trip2000/welcome.htm

It's an old site. Use Explorer to view and hover over the pictures for comments.

Good luck. Go now.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:17 AM   #16
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Andy, I boated out of Orange Beach, AL for quite a few years. I know of no charter operations in the Panhandle.

There is one or two in Sarasota, but probably the best cruising for what you are doing is farther South. You can charter from SW FL Yachts or a house boat charter outfit that I think is in Cape Coral. The area around Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound are very cruiser friendly with stops that should keep the family interested. Here are the stops that I recommend.

Boca Grande, great village atmosphere. rent a cart or bikes to go everywhere
Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa Island, a great state park with miles of beach
Cabbage Key, Funky laid back old Florida atmosphere
Captiva Island, South Seas is best, but Tween Waters is also good.
Sanibel Island

They are all within about 30 miles of each other. It should be a week of very leisurely cruising.
Thanks, Moonstruck! Looks like SW Florida has many more options! Anyone chartered with SW FL Yachts? Have some small boat experience, but nothing substantial. From their website it sounds like we could charter one of their smaller boats with nothing more than a couple hours of checkout, no?
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:47 AM   #17
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Thanks, Moonstruck! Looks like SW Florida has many more options! Anyone chartered with SW FL Yachts? Have some small boat experience, but nothing substantial. From their website it sounds like we could charter one of their smaller boats with nothing more than a couple hours of checkout, no?
I guess that depends on the definition of smaller boat. The smallest one I have seen from them is about 32'. They will probably put a captain on board for a day (at your expense), but you will be a lot farther ahead and more comfortable with your handling. If he thinks you have gotten it, they would turn you loose. If not there probably would be another day of hands on instruction. You know what your level of skill is. I would talk with them to see what they think. I have never chartered with them, but have seen and talked with many that have. The ones I have seen are having a great time. That area is probably one of the most cruiser friendly around, but there is shallow water out of the channels, so pay close attention to your piloting.

Here are a couple of links. One is to a slide show that shows the beach at Cayo Costa. About 5 miles of beach with hardly anyone there.



The other is in a runabout approaching Cayo Costa from the South.



Here is a link to some images of Boca Grande. I recommend Boca Grande Marina. They also rent carts. Reserve a cart when you make your reservation. Ask for slip 2-4 or an along side tie. You do not want to be with no finger pier.

https://www.google.com/search?q=boca...w=1092&bih=451

Happy cruising.
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Old 10-24-2012, 12:55 PM   #18
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Andy, There are many charter outfits in the PNW. If you wanted to charter up here I would suggest you find one close to the San Juan's. You don't want to spend alot of hours getting to your destination. There are several state parks here in the islands with docks, beaches, and hiking trails.
The most important thing is that the wife and kids have a really good time. There needs to be plenty of things for them to do and see. And for heavens sake you don't want to get into some bad weather and scare them. Your boating days will be over for sure!! There are lots of cases where the new captain, not knowing any better, frightened his wife early on in the boating experience and boat was sold shortly afterward.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:21 PM   #19
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The most important thing is that the wife and kids have a really good time. There needs to be plenty of things for them to do and see. And for heavens sake you don't want to get into some bad weather and scare them. Your boating days will be over for sure!! There are lots of cases where the new captain, not knowing any better, frightened his wife early on in the boating experience and boat was sold shortly afterward.
Wise advice!

One of the bigger challenges here is our location smack dab in the middle far from any major bodies of water. It's a journey just to get to the starting point! I've suggested renting a houseboat locally before in the summertime, but for some reason summer seems to fly by. Winter break in a warm clime is presenting itself as a near term opportunity to make this happen.

I've crewed on some sailboats, owned a 22' bowrider for a couple years, and rented some pontoon boats... all in the Pensacola area. I feel pretty comfortable in the Panhandle ICW, but it sounds likes Ft Meyers might be the closest point of approach with some charter opportunities - houseboat, trawler or other liveaboard options.

Work takes me to SEA frequently. I need to bring the Admiral with me on one of those trips, but I'm afraid once she sees the PNW we'll be packing our bags upon return to STL!!
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:26 PM   #20
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Wise advice!

One of the bigger challenges here is our location smack dab in the middle far from any major bodies of water. It's a journey just to get to the starting point! I've suggested renting a houseboat locally before in the summertime, but for some reason summer seems to fly by. Winter break in a warm clime is presenting itself as a near term opportunity to make this happen.

I've crewed on some sailboats, owned a 22' bowrider for a couple years, and rented some pontoon boats... all in the Pensacola area. I feel pretty comfortable in the Panhandle ICW, but it sounds likes Ft Meyers might be the closest point of approach with some charter opportunities - houseboat, trawler or other liveaboard options.

Work takes me to SEA frequently. I need to bring the Admiral with me on one of those trips, but I'm afraid once she sees the PNW we'll be packing our bags upon return to STL!!
...and the problem with that is.......

Let's see-
  • No hard freezes
  • beautiful boating, year round if you wish
  • the local "aliens" are friendly and will enjoy a beer with you

Shall I go on?
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