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Old 09-15-2014, 10:01 PM   #1
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Wanna be coastal & inland lake cruiser...HELP

I have always wanted to be a boater, how many times have you heard that? I can't drive by a marina without stopping and looking over the boats and saying to myself "how great would it be to have a boat like that one" I'm 59 now and finally retired last year and my dream is still intact. At some point Over the last five years, a thought creeped into my mind, I can't shake it, 'a trawler was the way to go."
I don't have any experience with boats, navigation, chart reading, setting an anchor for Pete's sake. I really need your help and guidance from you savvy seaman. Safety and economics are my initial primary concerns. Do you advise on schools, courses, trawler training, etc that I should be taking now, before buying a boat. To give you an idea, I'd like a small trawler to start, say a Ranger R-25 or 27. My thought is, take two years and study, investigate, research the basics, then by a boat and cruise inland lakes to gain experience before coastal cruising. Am I mad or on the right track? Please, any advise?
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:09 PM   #2
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I have always wanted to be a boater, how many times have you heard that? I can't drive by a marina without stopping and looking over the boats and saying to myself "how great would it be to have a boat like that one" I'm 59 now and finally retired last year and my dream is still intact. At some point Over the last five years, a thought creeped into my mind, I can't shake it, 'a trawler was the way to go."
I don't have any experience with boats, navigation, chart reading, setting an anchor for Pete's sake. I really need your help and guidance from you savvy seaman. Safety and economics are my initial primary concerns. Do you advise on schools, courses, trawler training, etc that I should be taking now, before buying a boat. To give you an idea, I'd like a small trawler to start, say a Ranger R-25 or 27. My thought is, take two years and study, investigate, research the basics, then by a boat and cruise inland lakes to gain experience before coastal cruising. Am I mad or on the right track? Please, any advise?
Are you in Durango, Colorado? If so, where are these marinas whereof you speak? Where are you thinking about boating? I'm asking as that does play a role in our answers. All lakes and rivers are not created equal.
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Old 09-15-2014, 11:03 PM   #3
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I've always thought a great vacation idea would be to book a trip with Jeff. He is a member here screen name Arctic Traveler though I haven't seen him around the forum much the last couple of years. A week with him should tune you up just fine and also provide memories of a lifetime in a beautiful cruising ground. You'll certainly come away with the skills and confidence to have a respectable shot at shrinking your learning curve.

http://www.arctictraveller.com
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:10 AM   #4
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Do you advise on schools, courses, trawler training, etc that I should be taking now, before buying a boat.

USCG Auxiliary offers the basic course Boating Skills and Seamanship.

Introduces many boating sub-topics. Material is often (usually?) spread out over several weeks, so you have time to digest and grasp new material. Doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

US Power Squadrons offer something similar.

In the meantime, memorize Chapman's Piloting and Seamanship.

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Old 09-16-2014, 07:42 AM   #5
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Your on an OK track. A boat that size is really a big load on a trailer, so the right tow vehicle and training on all the aspects of towing and launching have to added into your thinking. You might have so much fun exploring all the inland lakes and rivers, you never see saltwater. There was a couple who did that with their C-Dory for many years,and they saw a lot of places bigger boats never go to. Their blog may still be somewhere on the web or perhaps someone here knows them.

If you haven't done any boating, then on-the water training is needed. Most charter companies will offer training, and there are formal schools like SeaSense and Chapman that can cover all the bases for you. Have fun, and the sooner you can get started, the better!
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Old 09-16-2014, 08:04 AM   #6
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Most folks start with a smaller boat, say 18' and get experience, then move up to larger boats but you don't have to do it this way. If you find you don't like it as much as you thought you would, you don't lose as much money.

Buy some boating instruction books, subscribe to boating magazines, take classes and participate in boating web forums.
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Old 09-16-2014, 08:57 AM   #7
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Your on an OK track. A boat that size is really a big load on a trailer, so the right tow vehicle and training on all the aspects of towing and launching have to added into your thinking. You might have so much fun exploring all the inland lakes and rivers, you never see saltwater. There was a couple who did that with their C-Dory for many years,and they saw a lot of places bigger boats never go to. Their blog may still be somewhere on the web or perhaps someone here knows them.

If you haven't done any boating, then on-the water training is needed. Most charter companies will offer training, and there are formal schools like SeaSense and Chapman that can cover all the bases for you. Have fun, and the sooner you can get started, the better!
This^^^^^^

Theoretical knowledge is great, but nothing beats some instruction time behind the helm of your vessel. From the insurance standpoint; most insurers like to see some operational or ownership experience on a similar sized vessel. In lieu of the above, underwriting will generally agree to covering the boat with a provision that the owner has a training period with a USCG licensed shipper, and be signed off as competent before any solo operations are permitted.

Ranger tug- great boat
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:03 AM   #8
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This^^^^^^

Theoretical knowledge is great, but nothing beats some instruction time behind the helm of your vessel. ........
"Theoretical knowledge" makes it far easier to understand what you see or are being taught on the water.

Take turning a single screw trawler by the back and fill method. Someone can show you a dozen times but it makes more sense if you understand what the boat is doing.
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Old 09-16-2014, 10:31 AM   #9
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Yes, Durango, Co....in the Rockies. Lake Powell, Lake Havasu would be my 'local waters' and where I envision learning boat handling, boat camping, gaining systems knowledge, etc. in a couple of years the plan is to trailer a boat to the northwest.
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Old 09-16-2014, 10:48 AM   #10
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Your on an OK track. A boat that size is really a big load on a trailer, so the right tow vehicle and training on all the aspects of towing and launching have to added into your thinking. You might have so much fun exploring all the inland lakes and rivers, you never see saltwater. There was a couple who did that with their C-Dory for many years,and they saw a lot of places bigger boats never go to. Their blog may still be somewhere on the web or perhaps someone here knows them.

If you haven't done any boating, then on-the water training is needed. Most charter companies will offer training, and there are formal schools like SeaSense and Chapman that can cover all the bases for you. Have fun, and the sooner you can get started, the better!
Thanks for the feedback. Safe trailering is a priority. I have GMC 3500 (1ton) HD truck with Duramax diesel and Allison trans. Currently truck camper 4500lbs in the bed and tow jeep. Tow vehicle should be fine but I'm concerned about launching and takeout. As part of my learning, training, I'm sure I will be traveling to some of the schools you have mentioned. Should make for great trips and holidays.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:06 PM   #11
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I have always wanted to be a boater, how many times have you heard that? I can't drive by a marina without stopping and looking over the boats and saying to myself "how great would it be to have a boat like that one" I'm 59 now and finally retired last year and my dream is still intact. At some point Over the last five years, a thought creeped into my mind, I can't shake it, 'a trawler was the way to go."
I don't have any experience with boats, navigation, chart reading, setting an anchor for Pete's sake. I really need your help and guidance from you savvy seaman. Safety and economics are my initial primary concerns. Do you advise on schools, courses, trawler training, etc that I should be taking now, before buying a boat. To give you an idea, I'd like a small trawler to start, say a Ranger R-25 or 27. My thought is, take two years and study, investigate, research the basics, then by a boat and cruise inland lakes to gain experience before coastal cruising. Am I mad or on the right track? Please, any advise?
The easiest way to get experience is go hang out a big marina. Sooner or later someone will trust you enough to take you out but even dockside you'll learn a lot about the coming's and goings of cruisers...and what it is lie and what it takes.

You would be amazed at people always looking to have someone to go out with....especially if you seem like you would be pleasant crew....even without experience.

Inland lakes or coastal...either is a good starter as lakes big enough to cruise can be even more complicated and dangerous than coastal cruising.

Trailering a bigger boat is a PIA...even just launching everytime you want to use it. Better off with a slip and using it a lot and gaining experience as opposed to gaining experience trailering and launching.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:22 PM   #12
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I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest something SO bizarre it may just make sense.

Go to a local marina or two and get to know some of the people there. Hang around and ASK if they need any help on their boats. Like as in basic grunt work, to get to know the 'drudge work' involved with boat ownership. THEN when you have shown some interest, broach the topic of getting a ride some afternoon while they go out. Even if it's for an hour spin. I would bet, you would find an older gentleman (who actually needs some help getting the stuff done) would be an excellent target.

If you are bashful asking outright, ask the marina if there are any folks there who want to go out, but need 'crew' to help with the evolution. Just showing up at a launching ramp and offering to help will probably get you LOTS of information. (and probably a few offers to ride for a day.

Then again, I learned a WHOLE lot just sitting at boat ramps in Florida watching (to see what NOT to do when launching/ hauling a boat)

From my (not so humble) experience, about half the boaters seen on a given day are relatively inexperienced, lack finesse, and are generally one slip away from being towed home, or sinking. So, this is proof you don't need to be perfect to go boating, just use a little common sense, and practice. Learning what IS the norm helps. But practice by rote is how you get good at the sport.
And, I don't mean the half are totally clueless. Just that they don't spend enough time perfecting their 'craft' to be "Good" at it! Most people can't afford to go boating often enough to get really good at it. Some who do it a lot are quite superb in the operations of their boats.

Start little, and work your way big. (Little crunches are easier and cheaper to repair than big crunches)
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:43 PM   #13
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There are charter companies that will supply a captain to teach you. Located in m any areas.

Don't buy a boat until you have the ability to run it and have been on 100 boats to learn the differences And decide what you really want. Anything else just makes boat salesmen rich and slows down your progress.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:47 PM   #14
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Don't let looks and dock talk get you to buy about to cross oceans if you are doing coastal cruising.
Much of the boat market is caused by people buying the wrong boat and only discovering that too late.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:58 PM   #15
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Go to a local marina or two and get to know some of the people there.
I think the most local marina to Durango CO is about 4 hours away...

And I may be wrong because my experience is limited to charters, but I haven't seen people hanging out at the docks at Lake Powell like they do at coastal marinas. Maybe it's because it's 120 outside?

I trailer my boat all over the place, and yes sometimes it's a PITA. But in the end I love the flexibility of cruising in a wide range of waters and gaining broader experience. A lot of our cruising is on the Great Lakes, and that's valuable experience. That said, I've invested in professional training in coastal waters, and I'm continuing to do so. I'm also investing in chartering in coastal waters to gain experience on singles, twins, displacement, SD, flybridge, pilothouse, even galley up and down (). When you live in the middle of the country like I do, you need to think differently about how you are going to get the experience you need to do it on your own later.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:40 PM   #16
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If the call of the sea has hit...living in the middle of the country without temp quarters nearby the cruisin' grounds can be a real issue.

It's not like the reverse where a boater wants to learn to ski...it's more like a coastal guy wants to become a mountain man....there's just too much involved with serious cruising to learn from afar, like livin' in the rural mountains.

Once experience starts to sink in...sure spending time away from it won't hurt...but this guy has zero experience if I read post #1 correctly.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:56 PM   #17
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If the call of the sea has hit...living in the middle of the country without temp quarters nearby the cruisin' grounds can be a real issue.

It's not like the reverse where a boater wants to learn to ski...it's more like a coastal guy wants to become a mountain man....there's just too much involved with serious cruising to learn from afar, like livin' in the rural mountains.

Once experience starts to sink in...sure spending time away from it won't hurt...but this guy has zero experience if I read post #1 correctly.
That's the way I read it too and he could hate it. There are boat rentals on the lakes and charters in the PNW and that's how I'd recommend he start. That will help him then figure out what is right for him. But I certainly wouldn't jump into buying a boat.
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Old 10-08-2014, 03:01 PM   #18
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Many thanks to everyone for your information, wisdom, encouragement. I know I have a long road ahead of me and many hours of training, studying, instruction and required time on the water but I also have 2 years time before making a move toward buying a boat. Thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful comments/advise
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Old 10-08-2014, 03:46 PM   #19
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Coalman--- As one example of a path to follow, I built up a fair amount of non-owner boating experience in Hawaii, where I grew up.

The first boat I owned was acquired after I moved to the Seattle area in 1979. It was a very well-used 12' Sears aluminum skiff. I put a 6hp outboard on it and used it in lakes here and in BC.

In 1987, my wife and I bought a "real" boat, a brand new 17' Arima Sea Ranger (photos). It has a V-berth cabin that, believe it or not, we can both stretch out and sleep in, and I'm 6'2". We used this boat for cruising in the San Juan Islands as well as fishing in Puget Sound and up in BC. We still have this boat although the only thing we use it for anymore is fishing.

After years of flying floatplanes up and down the Inside Passage to and from SE Alaska and looking down on all those wonderful bays and islands, we first chartered a Grand Banks 36 and then in 1998 decided to buy one of our own. So now we have the best of both worlds--- a trailer boat, and a diesel cruiser.

So as others have pointed out in the earlier posts, it's been an evolutionary process. There are people who jumped in with both feet and bought a big cruising boat right off the bat with zero experience. Sometimes it was a successful move. Other times, not so much. And on a few occasions, the venture ended very badly, fatally in a couple of incidents I'm aware of.

A cruising boat like those most people on this forum have is not an inexpensive undertaking. The purchase price just gets you the admission ticket. The annual ownership costs of a cruising boat can be pretty stunning to someone who isn't expecting them.

I am in the camp that everything, be it skiing, fishing, flying, boating, you name it, is most successfully, and most enjoyably done in an evolutionary fashion. Master crawling before attempting walking.

Starting with a good trailer boat and learning the basics in the waters you have ready access to, seems to make the most sense to me. Assuming you find you enjoy boating, when you have some experience under your belt, try a saltwater charter in an area you're interested in, be it the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern seaboard, southern California, or the Pacific Northwest.

Then, if like us you find you like it and want to do more, either keep chartering if you're not going to actually live in that are, or if you are, buy a boat and start using it.

But you've got to start crawling first, so figure out the best way to do that and then get started. You can have a lot of fun in a small trailer boat, no matter how experienced one might be.
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Old 10-08-2014, 04:37 PM   #20
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Coalman

You're talking too entirely different areas and forms of boating. The only thing those two areas have in common is they both have water, but it's not even of the same composition.

I grew up spending time on a lake. My wife joined me there when we were married. From small fishing boats to our last boat there was a 30' bowrider. It would have been a great Lake Havasu boat but was not the boat for Fort Lauderdale. So we started over learning. A good bit of our experience did transfer. Basic boat handling was easy for us, including twins which we had on the lake. We'd even "played" a bit with radar. However, we had a lot to learn. We went to school to learn and we engaged a captain to teach us on the water.

The boat we had for the lake wasn't designed for the coast. The boats we have now would be very out of place on the lake we lived on. So, I'm back to my advice to rent a boat on Lake Havasu or Lake Powell. See if you want to boat there. If so, maybe buy a boat that's for the lake, not the ocean. Enjoy while you live there. If you want to do coastal cruising, then charter there. Learn more about boating there.

One more thing. Boating is no fun when it becomes too much work and not enough play. When the trip to use the boat takes longer there and back than a day of boating, it loses it's pleasure quotient. Figure up how many days a year you might use a boat. If it's just a few, then rent a boat. People who live long distances from their boats find themselves using them less and less. And trailering to the coast? You'd do that one time if you're typical.

Now I'm not trying to discourage you from boating, just from owning and from thinking a single boat works for those two locations. In fact, my recommendation would be to start as soon as possible. Take some courses. Plan a weekend on Lake Havasu, taking a friend who is experienced. Take a charter in the PNW if you want. But don't try to just figure it all out online or on land. Get on the water anyway you can and then it will come to you.
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