COMPLETELY NEW AT THIS - Please help me with my education

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Oct 17, 2011

I'm really new at this -- I want a Trawler just for coastal cruising; but the problem is - I dont know a darn thing about boating. LOL

But all I know is I want one.

Where in the world do I start this education?
** Buy Chapman's Piloting and take a safe boating course, go out with a friend or better yet chater a boat with a captain.
There's a start - looking at the ad on youtube and the book on amazon. In fact I may run out to barns and noble this evening.

Thank you.
You can do what many of us did, which is buy a small boat, a trailer boat, take a boating course from the USCG Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron, and start boating.* Make all your first mistakes on a smaller, much less expensive boat and then when you've gotten a pretty good handle on this "boating thing,"buy a larger boat if you find you want one.

If you want to jump right into cruising boats of the type most of us on TF have, probably the smartest way is to charter one for a few years.* It's doubtful whether a charter company will rent a boat to someone with no experience, but you might be able to split a boat with a friend who has sufficient experience, or charter a captained boat the first few times.

If you are determined to purchase a cruising boat right off the bat and simply have at it, there are a few reasons why this is okay and about a zillion why it isn't.* All I will say at this point is that you will face a VERY steep learning curve with multiple opportunities to make fairly major mistakes, some of which will cost you huge amounts of money.

Our story is similar to many people's on this forum.* My initial power boating experience was in the later 1970s on a friend's 28' Uniflite fishing boat in Hawaii were I grew up.* I rarely drove the boat and our navigation was totally visual, but out in the open Pacific I learned a fair amount about the boating environment.* I also did some crewing on co-workers' sailboats interisland.

Later, in the early 80s after moving to the Seattle area my girlfriend/later wife started with a used 12' Sears aluminum skiff and a 6hp outboard.* Carried it in the back of a Ford F250 Supercab pickup and used it for fishing on lakes up in BC.* Then in 1987 we bought a new 17' Arima which we towed behind the pickup and used for salmon and halibut fishing on Puget Sound and in BC.* We still own and use this boat (see photo).* My wife and I took the USCG Auxiliary course immediatly after buying the boat which is something I highly recommend taking.* But with the Arima we learned a lot about navigation (Loran-C) and added a whole bunch to our "boating common sense" files.

During all this time we were flying floatplanes in the Puget Sound area and up the Inside Passage in BC to SE Alaska.* Not the same as boating per se, but we got REAL familiar with the whole region.

After looking down on all these fabulous bodies of water from the plane, we*thought it would be great to have*a boat that we could someday cruise and explore the area with, but before we took the plunge we followed a good friend's advice and chartered a 36' Grand Banks to see if we really liked this kind of boating.* We did, so in 1998 we acquired our own*(old) Grand Banks.

So, an evoutionary process rather than a revolutionary one.* I personally feel it is the smartest, safest, and most enjoyable way to approach the whole thing, but others will have other opinions.

PS-- Chapman's is a good reference book--- and there are many others--- but I myself would not recommend you start with it.* Way too much information, much of which won't make much sense to you until you already have a basic grasp of what boats are all about.* So I personally would not bother with Chapmans at this point but either take the USCG Auxilliary or Power Squadron course or charter a boat.* Best of*all at this point, I think,*is to start going out with friends who have boats (if you have friends who have boats).



-- Edited by Marin on Monday 17th of October 2011 05:40:25 PM


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Join a yacht club. You will gain many new friends who are into boats. Ask questions. Make friends with your local book store and learn, learn, learn. Used books are great for anything except for electronics for the most part. Keep in mind that man has been working for centuries perfecting seaworthiness. It was not until about 30 years ago did we starting catering to what attracts the lady of the house in boat designs, sometimes at the expense of safety. So be open minded.
Don't listen to Superdiver! But I would say he's right to find someone to take you out for a weekend. I would go hang at a marina on a weekend and just ask around. If there is one thing boaters like to do is talk about their boats. You'll learn a TON!

-- Edited by GonzoF1 on Monday 17th of October 2011 08:10:52 PM


My wife and I started by taking a bareboat charter class in Anacortes.* It was a 3 day class that taught us a lot about running a single screw boat.* We knew we wanted a single screw so took that instead of a twin engine class.* It was a fantastic wekend for us.* Learned a lot and put a lot of what we had already read from books into practice.* Our next plan was to then charter a boat but we ended up buying a trailerable pocket trawler, an Albin 25.* Applied what we learned, boated with USCG friends and cruised a lot in our Albin.* I highly recommend the class as a starting point. Cheaper than a Charter, skipper on board, hands on training, introduction to various systems and lots of practice under a good coach.


Keith Olive

Willard 30
Everyone is offering so much VALUABLE advice.

This is a wonderful forum...
Don't limit yourself to powerboats.* Take every opportunity to boat (rent, hitch a ride, etcetera) in any kind of boat, at least initially.* Even get yourself a sailing dinghy or a small "putt, putt" to get the feel of it.


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google "trawler training school"

This will give you a ton of places that offer hands-on courses. Depending on where you live you may have to make a vacation out of it. If you are truly a total newbie PLEASE start with a small boat. You can find small boats that will mimick larger boat's behaviors so that you can become familiar with windage AND tidal influence on your handling. These are not toys, you can easily cause lots of property damage, bodily harm, be "kilt" or even worse! Ranger tugs 21'-25' and Shamrocks with keeled hulls and cabins are an excellent trailerable starter boat. Inboard, single screw, cabin cruisers can be had "relatively" cheaply these days. After a couple of years you should have been caught in bad weather, tight quarters docking, anchoring etc to have gotten a realistic albeit small dose of trawler ownership. Then if you have taken good care of the trainer model and used the opportunity to maintain and update it you should be able to sell it and not lose your shirt, esp. if you take into acct. the education it afforded you.
When I first moved to Cape Coral I went to the local fuel dock with my 26' Shamrock Hardtop and watched a brand new (as of about 30 minutes before) upper 20 something foot cabin cruiser proceed to crunch the bow of his boat not once but three times into a concrete dock! He had managed to shove the bow eye through the hull! I couldn't believe it, then he started heading toward the fuel dock yelling to the fuel guy that he had just bought the boat and hadn't figured out how to "park" it yet! I over paid by $10 and threw the dock lines off and got out of the way in time to watch Mario Andretti bump into the dock for what should have been a pretty nice side to docking and then shove the throttle forward tear off one of the dock's bumpers and put a gouge down the back half of his boat before the dock hand got him to just turn it off and pull him in with ropes.
khalil wrote:
Everyone is offering so much VALUABLE advice.

This is a wonderful forum...
*Amen. Everytime I visit something new is learned.


*"go home and stand in the shower running only the cold water while throwing $100 bills down the drain and ask yourself if you want to take on boating again"


Thanks for the visual Superdiver, good buddy told me the other day boat stands for bust out another thousand.
khalil wrote:
Everyone is offering so much VALUABLE advice.
*"go home and stand in the shower running only the cold water while throwing $100 bills down the drain and ask yourself if you want to take on boating again"


*You forgot to add turning on a high speed fan while in the shower to simulate boating in all it's forms.

Then come on up to Alaska and I will take you out on my boat.

You will survive honest.


Walk the docks at local marinas. Ask people about their boats. What do they like and dislike? Be careful though, some of them will be thinking of selling.

Every boat has its problems, even new ones. Actually owning a boat is NOT practical but many of us have to have one anyway. Do you like to work with your hands, problem solving, difficult access and awkward postitions? Or can you afford to hire GOOD help to do this for you? Don't try to save money with cheap labor - it will cost you more in the end when you have to redo the work.

Most of us have a love for boats and the water that gets us through the difficult times. But how we came by that love can be mysterious. I was an Ohio farm boy watching Adventures in Paradise and reading sea novels. How did you become inspired?
GarryP wrote:
*How did you become inspired?
*My parents had a large flatbottom boat for shrimping in the marshes of Louisiana when I was little. *By little, I mean they would wrap me up in blankets and put me under the deck of the bow when they were working! *I've literally grown up on boats and get rather miserable when I don't own one, financially better though when I don't
. *One down side is that the roar of a diesel engine is like a sleeping pill for me!
I wholeheartedly agree with several posters - start with a smaller boat.* You don't have to have a big cruiser to start learning and do some serious cruising.* We did much of the Inside Passage including Southeast Alaska in our 22' C-Dory cruiser, and it was a
blast.* A few small boats are well designed and equipped for cruising, and some are really affordable, like the C-Dory 22.*

If you'd like a bit of our experience and thoughts on affordable small cruisers, and how you might get started in boating/cruising, you might take a look at my book, "Cruising in a Big Way".*

Here's a link to it.* Select Preview if you'd like to peruse the first 27-28 pages.
Most insurance companies will not insure a beginner in a larger boat. So take some courses, get some experience with other boaters and think about a starter boat to use for a year or more with a plan to move up in size as you gain experience.
I am dealing with a client now who never had a boat before, he is now looking at larger boat than he originally thought to have room for a crew cabin as all of the insurance companies required crew for boats over 55 feet.
We did the same thing with the charter class on a single screw in Anacortes last summer. I would recommend it even if you have a smaller boat. A lot to be learned from a USCG Licensed Captian (who does the hands on teaching)... I have been on boats my whole life and still learned quite a bit over the three days. PLUS (ant this is the BIG thing to me), my lovely lady learned she could handle a large boat and it was something we REALLY enjoyed together.*
What part of what country are you from?
All the advice you have recieved so far is great, the best of which is to just get out and spend time on the water.* Take advantage of every educational opportunity you can find,* Power Squadron and Coast Guard Aux classes have lots to offer for very little money.* Books are great, chartering is good, but actual on the water training may be the best teacher yet.* You can also take a look at our trawler training school at * We offer very affordable spring and fall training classes.* Feel free to contact me through the web site for more information......Arctic Traveller
First post ever from a wannabe here! My husband and I are probably a decade from retirement, but we have a home on the ICW in Swansboro NC and see trawlers go by daily, and sigh...

We have taken our first step by signing up for a trawler school for 4 days next spring. Next step is to win the lottery. And reading reading reading! -SB
I started out in canoes and moved onto Jboats and trihulls.Then fishing boats up to 18ft.Next I switched over to water sport boats to 20 feet and threw in a few pontoons that stretched to 24 feet.Have I mentioned that I hate pontoons lately?I got my experience from friends and their parents.When I build my big boat next year,I will take the USCG Aux course or PS course that has already been mentioned in this thread.
While everyone's situation is different, there is no law that says one must wait until retiring before getting into cruising. In fact, my wife and I are major proponents of doing what one really wants to do as soon as one can afford to do it. We know too many people who put off doing things, be it travel, getting a boat, whatever, because they wanted to wait until they were completely ready. And when that day came, either health or other reasons prevented them from doing it.

So our philosophy is if doing something we really want to do isn't going to force us to live in a box under the freeway, we'll do it. So floatplane flying, narrowboating in the UK, getting first a trailer fishing boat and then 14 years ago adding the old Grand Banks are all things we started doing as early as we possibly could do them.

I have a number of years to go before I can retire. But if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, we will have done all these cool things we so much wanted to do.

You don't want to put yourself in financial jeopardy. But I think waiting until "the time is right" can be just as detrimental. Maybe get a smaller boat to start with if you've not had much or any experience on the water. And the trawler school is a great idea, too. And try a USCG Auxiliary or Power Squadron course if you haven't already.
Welcome, NC. You have come to the right place.

By the way, I love Swansboro. I have had two friends that had places on Queens Creek. Another friend I think still has a place at Shell Rock Landing. We used to fish that area down around Bogue and Bear Inlets. Had a few scares in Bogue Inlet.
Welcome khalil! Great to have you here. There are many great things to learn here, in a trawler school and right in your own back yard. I always look out for deals on little outboards or little runabouts that will fit on my boat. Even when I don't have the money to....let's say rebuild a transmission or buy all my wiring...I can still tinker with a $100 outboard to get working for a skiff that I will be pulling or hauling on my cabin. Look at it this way, every time you work on something you familiarize yourself with another item in your cruising collection. Good luck
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Welcome khalil,
Forum responses to khalil, presenting a blank page, are quite different to someone with pre formed ideas.
On top of the excellent pointers, I`d say keep in mind owning a boat presents a pastime,a pleasure,a hobby,a way of life,and a level of devotion and responsibility. It will happily claim any unused money, and time. Above all,it is entirely worthwhile. Hasten slowly,learn, get to crew regularly on a boat or boats,do some study courses;these things plus just being exposed to the boating world, absorbing information almost by osmosis (there`s a subject to learn about before you buy!) should get you safely along the path toward boat owning. BruceK
I'm in the "don't know anything" and "taking it in steps" club. My wife and I took a weekend course out of Anacortes in April. We are chartering with a captain aboard in August. And going out on friends' boats when we can. And hope to charter in future without a captain if all goes well. Really appreciating the community to learn from here.

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