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Old 04-10-2017, 04:10 PM   #1
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New Member with No Ocean Boating Experience

Hi,

My wife, two younger boys, and I have a goal to cruise the Caribbean for a year in five years. This would put my boys at 10 years old and 15 years old. We have no ocean boating experience but we do own a power boat that we use on the lakes here in Idaho. I have grown up around these types of boats and love using ours.
If you are a long distance cruiser, my question to you is, if you had to start all over again, what do you wish you would have done differently? What would you have liked a person to tell you that would change your experience? What would you have changed on the boat you purchased? Is it worth it to go a sailing school to learn to drive a larger boat? The largest I have piloted is about 22 feet.
I am excited to glean as much information as possible from this forum since I have some time. My wife is really excited about this and she is on board to learn as well. Any information will help. We have already started to buy books to read and we plan to start chartering boats to learn more about them. However, I have found that a lot of companies will not charter a boat unless you know how to sail, so I need ideas with that too.
Thank you very much! I look forward to any responses!
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Old 04-10-2017, 04:18 PM   #2
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No amount of reading makes up for actual experience. Take your family on a one week vacation where you rent a trawler or other boat. After the week, you will know what you don't know now, and everyone will know whether or not it's a good idea.

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Old 04-10-2017, 04:24 PM   #3
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Go to the seattle area and charter boats along with some instruction. Have fun and learn what you and your family like in boat types and cruising.
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Old 04-10-2017, 05:05 PM   #4
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. What do I wish in hindsight? I wish I had started earlier so start chartering now. Rent with a captain until you can rent on your own AND watch Captain Ron.

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Old 04-10-2017, 06:41 PM   #5
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Go to the seattle area and charter boats along with some instruction. Have fun and learn what you and your family like in boat types and cruising.

Great idea. You can charter from Seattle, Anacortes, or Bellingham and get some boating experience. Some vacations doing that will give you some insight into what you may be looking for. Granted, the PNW is cold water boating instead of warm water, but you will learn a lot.
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Old 04-10-2017, 06:57 PM   #6
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Its a moving target, things that scared me years ago, I no longer worry about. Things I took for granted thousands of miles ago, are now priorities. The boat I started with was great for just that, wouldn't want it now. Couldn't imagine starting with the boat I have now though.

It is a journey of learning and experience. So jump right in, no amount of "perspective or opinion" seldom will help. What is tolerable or bad or great or otherwise is a very personal decision.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dolbycat View Post
Hi,

My wife, two younger boys, and I have a goal to cruise the Caribbean for a year in five years. This would put my boys at 10 years old and 15 years old. We have no ocean boating experience but we do own a power boat that we use on the lakes here in Idaho. I have grown up around these types of boats and love using ours.
If you are a long distance cruiser, my question to you is, if you had to start all over again, what do you wish you would have done differently? What would you have liked a person to tell you that would change your experience? What would you have changed on the boat you purchased? Is it worth it to go a sailing school to learn to drive a larger boat? The largest I have piloted is about 22 feet.
I am excited to glean as much information as possible from this forum since I have some time. My wife is really excited about this and she is on board to learn as well. Any information will help. We have already started to buy books to read and we plan to start chartering boats to learn more about them. However, I have found that a lot of companies will not charter a boat unless you know how to sail, so I need ideas with that too.
Thank you very much! I look forward to any responses!
You talked about sailing school and knowing how to sail. Are you talking power or sail?
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Old 04-10-2017, 08:11 PM   #8
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Take the PS sailing course and include the kids in the junior PS course. Puget Sound is a very forgiving body of water for beginers...take a radio course as well.
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Old 04-11-2017, 10:28 AM   #9
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You talked about sailing school and knowing how to sail. Are you talking power or sail?
Sorry, when I said sailing school, I meant something to teach me how to drive larger trawlers or power boats. I used "sailing" as a generic term for all forms of boating-which apparently I need to not do. I don't have an interest in sail boats. I don't know how to do it very well and I don't know that I would enjoy it as a full time thing.
I'm definitely going to start to charter as soon as possible. I have been researching charter companies that do instruction as well. If anyone has any recommendations for charter companies in the Seattle area, please let me know. I am also open to San Diego or anywhere on the west coast.
Thanks.
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Old 04-11-2017, 11:58 AM   #10
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This might be short notice for you but if possible, you could go to the Trawlerfest mid-May in Bremerton, WA. you'd see a lot of nice trawlers and if they're not all booked up, you can also attend some of the seminars.
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Old 04-11-2017, 11:58 AM   #11
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We bought our first with zero large-format experience. We found a boat we liked and bought it. We figured everything else out along the way with the help of dockmasters, brokers, previous owner, and people in the marina. If you think too hard about it, you will never do it. Start shopping. Find a broker you trust. Some will provide you a little training and advice, or will steer you to someone who will.

Look, operating trawlers ain't rocket surgery. It's like golf. Playing the game is easy, perfecting it takes a lifetime. Much of what you already know about boating will transfer over, but there are some big things you will need to learn like channel markers and rules of the road. Stuff that previous boaters will pick up quickly.

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Old 04-11-2017, 12:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by dolbycat View Post
Sorry, when I said sailing school, I meant something to teach me how to drive larger trawlers or power boats. I used "sailing" as a generic term for all forms of boating-which apparently I need to not do. I don't have an interest in sail boats. I don't know how to do it very well and I don't know that I would enjoy it as a full time thing.
I'm definitely going to start to charter as soon as possible. I have been researching charter companies that do instruction as well. If anyone has any recommendations for charter companies in the Seattle area, please let me know. I am also open to San Diego or anywhere on the west coast.
Thanks.
Northwest Explorations would be my recommendation in your area.

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Old 04-11-2017, 05:21 PM   #13
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To go to the PNW you would have to fly so why not fly to the Caribbean and charter there? Sailboats are more common but you may be able to find a trawler. They actually handle about the same (kinda). Hire a captain for a few days and let him know you want to help/learn to run the boat.

After you have done this a few times, you may find you don't really need the hassle of owning one of these beasts and just keep on chartering. Either way you'll have great vacations and you'll have the real world experience to make an informed decision on what does and doesn't work for you.

Oh, just don't fly United...
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Old 04-11-2017, 05:46 PM   #14
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To go to the PNW you would have to fly so why not fly to the Caribbean and charter there? ..
He is in Boise, Idaho. He doesn't have to fly to get to the PNW. Now with the Caribbean his eventual goal, chartering there might make sense.
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Old 04-11-2017, 08:48 PM   #15
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Feels good to be part of a group! Hello Everyone! The Caribbean sounds like a great idea!
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:33 AM   #16
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He is in Boise, Idaho. He doesn't have to fly to get to the PNW. Now with the Caribbean his eventual goal, chartering there might make sense.
Yeah, Seattle is within driving distance. Even California is within driving distance but a lot farther. I like the idea of chartering in the Puget Sound for a little bit and then when I get closer to making the leap to do it full time, I would charter in the Caribbean. My boys would love fishing and crabbing in the Puget Sound.
Thank you everyone for your input. I will start to look into chartering. I really liked the comment about Trawlerfest but this year is probably too short of notice for us. I see that they have a Trawlerfest in the PNW frequently though and it seems like it would be something I would really enjoy going to with my wife.
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:01 AM   #17
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Hello Dolbycat,
There are a lot of good answers posted to your question. My wife, daughter and I have been cruisers for about 7 yrs and the only thing I would have changed is starting earlier. We started on a 36' Marine Trader trawler and have moved up to a Gulfstar MY49. If you plan on cruising the Caribbean then you should do you "training" in similar waters. There are lots of charters to be found in the lower Keys that would help you learn the ropes. Mostly sailboat charters (catamaran or mono-hull), but you will still learn things like reading the water, navigation, reading the weather etc. These are vital skills in the Caribbean. Getting your OUPV (six pack) Captains license will teach you tons of needed info. There are a ton of apps that will aid you also, Seabook being a great source for info. The actual driving of a power yacht can be learned fairly quickly and time will just make you better.
Your plan is great! Your boys will love it! Just don't wait to long...that was the only thing I would change. You are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Best wishes and safe boating!
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:05 AM   #18
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Greetings,
Mr. F. Welcome aboard.
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Old 04-13-2017, 11:32 AM   #19
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Hello Dolbycat,
There are a lot of good answers posted to your question. My wife, daughter and I have been cruisers for about 7 yrs and the only thing I would have changed is starting earlier. We started on a 36' Marine Trader trawler and have moved up to a Gulfstar MY49. If you plan on cruising the Caribbean then you should do you "training" in similar waters. There are lots of charters to be found in the lower Keys that would help you learn the ropes. Mostly sailboat charters (catamaran or mono-hull), but you will still learn things like reading the water, navigation, reading the weather etc. These are vital skills in the Caribbean. Getting your OUPV (six pack) Captains license will teach you tons of needed info. There are a ton of apps that will aid you also, Seabook being a great source for info. The actual driving of a power yacht can be learned fairly quickly and time will just make you better.
Your plan is great! Your boys will love it! Just don't wait to long...that was the only thing I would change. You are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Best wishes and safe boating!
Todd
Thank you very much for your insight. I wish we could go now but financially it won't happen unless I get some sort of windfall. I look forward to meeting people in different ports and enjoying time with other cruisers. I really appreciate all the help that has been given on this forum.
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Old 04-13-2017, 12:56 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by dolbycat View Post
Sorry, when I said sailing school, I meant something to teach me how to drive larger trawlers or power boats. I used "sailing" as a generic term for all forms of boating-which apparently I need to not do. I don't have an interest in sail boats. I don't know how to do it very well and I don't know that I would enjoy it as a full time thing.
I'm definitely going to start to charter as soon as possible. I have been researching charter companies that do instruction as well. If anyone has any recommendations for charter companies in the Seattle area, please let me know. I am also open to San Diego or anywhere on the west coast.
Thanks.
When we were in your situation 9 years ago, we took a weekend course at Anacortes Yacht Charters. This was a single screw trawler training course. The course was Friday afternoon, Saturday all day, Sunday until about 3PM. They sent out a book ahead of time to read up on. Then, we spent about 2 hours going over the book (mainly rules of the road type if thing) on Friday afternoon. We spent the night on the boat in the harbor both Friday and Saturday. Saturday morning we spent the morning practicing docking, docking, And them more docking. Then took the boat over to an anchorage in the San Juan islands to practice anchoring. Then, back to the marina for another night aboard. Sunday morning we practiced docking to make sure we had actually remembered the training from the day before. Then, took 6 hours navigating within the San Juan Islands. At lunch, we anchored out to make sure we remembered it. Then, brought the boat back to the fuel dock, fueled up, pumped the head holding tank and then back the boat's slip. This was all done on a Grand Banks 36 with a single engine.

We ended up with a certificate to be able to charter anywhere in the world on a like boat AND it made sure to us that my wife was on board purchasing a boat. We have since chartered in the Caribbean. And are on our second boat since that training.

The weekend in Anacortes getting trained made my wife comfortable in knowing she could handle a boat. She was stressed about it at first. On the way home from that weekend she spend 5 hours looking at boats to purchase on her iPad.

There are many courses like the one I mention here at charter companies all around the world. Find one and give it a try is my advise. You can also do a week or more charter with a training captain with you all the time. These cost more, but not much more than just bare boat chartering over the same time.
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