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Old 08-10-2009, 08:51 PM   #1
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Hi,

my name is Georgi, I am a guy from a country called Bulgaria. I hope this is the right place to post my plan and get some help from you professional guys.

Every since i was a little kid I had a dream - to explore parts of North America and all of South America by sea with a boat. To keep the long story short I will first post you the basics of my plan, and later get into the details.

Taking a plane to South America and then rent a yacht will be to easy. I want to cross the Atlantic Ocean with a yacht. I think the best starting point would be DAKAR in West-Africa as a starting point and from there get to CAYENNE in French Guiana.

From there I would travel north to Venezuela, Cuba, Bahamas etc. After the journey is over I would travel back to DAKAR and from there to Europe.

So, I know that idea sounds crazy for a man, who had never been more then 3 days on a boat but I want to do it.

I have almost 16 months to prepare for that journey. I won't be alone on that trip, 3 friends have agreed to join me. We will taking all sort of training, survival etc. in case anything goes wrong.

Since I am still in the beginning, I have some "funny questions":

1. I can hire an experienced captain for the transatlantic part - but what boat, yacht will i need? It's logical that e 15 feet boat is not enough.

2. Depending on the boat, how many days will we travel in the open sea (average) ?

3. What can go wrong? What should I be prepared for?

4. My budged so far is around 150.000 USD - Will it be enough to buy all the necessary things e.g. boat, taxes, insurances, food, fuel, other supply etc.?

Some advice from you will be greatly appreciated.

Greetings from Bulgaria,

Georgi Grancharov
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:45 AM   #2
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since there are no answers - Isn't that the right section of the forum to post that kinds of questions?
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:33 PM   #3
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- - It normally takes a few days for replies to build up, especially after a weekend. So be patient. Your plans for the adventure sound wonderful and it will certainly be a trip of a lifetime that you will always remember and treasure. But, first, here are a few of the ugly realities of the modern world to consider.

- - First and most critical - the days of "freedom" of the seas and world travel are over. As a Bulgarian must have pre-approved "visas" for most of the countries and islands of the world and especially in most of the Caribbean Sea, North & Central & South America. If you already have a long term valid USA Visitor Visa - or have a valid passport from a major country like USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, etc. - then this is not a real problem.

- - Without any prior approved current visas in your passport, you will have a lot of difficulty in getting visas and they are expensive both in money and time.

- - You need to go on-line and research the Visa requirements for each and every possible country you plan to stop at or pass by. There are about a half dozen islands in the Caribbean that are "open" to visitors from former "eastern European/Asian" countries but many more who are "closed" unless you have a pre-approved visa.

- - You will have to purchase a yacht/boat as "rentals" are normally restricted to staying in the "local area" of the rental company. You cannot take a rental outside the approved area of the rental company which definitely does not include crossing oceans. However, purchasing a sailboat/yacht should be within your budget. But bringing the boat up to safe standards to cross an ocean would normally add considerable cost to your plans. It is amazing what kinds of vessels people have crossed oceans with, but unless you are very young and fearless, you might want to be a bit more conservative which translate to quite a bit more expensive.

- - Once you have a boat - it has to have internationally recognized "documents of ownership and country" which are known as "Ship's Papers." This can be difficult if you are from one country and the boat is from another country. So you will have to find out how to get your vessel "documented" in your home country. There are various minor but important licenses for the boat for radios and radio operators that are necessary along with also purchasing such things as radios, radars, EPIRB's and other equipment necessary for modern safe passages by vessels. The days of sailing off on a wing and a prayer are gone. You must be able to communicate and navigate by modern standards of safety or countries will turn you away at best or confiscate your vessel at worst. These standard at not all that high so they can easily be met with minor expense. Normally all the required or recommended "extras" to bring your vessel up to "ocean cruising" standards will approximate what it cost your to purchase the vessel itself. So budget an amount of money for buying an outfitting a sailboat to twice the purchase price as a rough approximation.

- - If you do not have serious sailing experience in the ocean and storms, hiring a professional "experienced" captain would be highly advised. And that would be really expensive as you have to pay them for their time (several months) and the cost of getting them back home by airlines.

- - One way around this is to advertise/search for a crew position on a boat already planning to go where you want to go and join them. Or find a friend or friends or somebody who has ocean sailing experience and shares the same dream as you and then do it as a team. This would probably be your best way to do what you want with the least cost and hassles.

- - All the other questions are minor and not really a problem. South Africa to Trinidad varies from a month to two months out in the Atlantic - but there are a couple of places to stop along the route. You asked "What can go wrong?" Well, everything from getting killed to getting married - I won't say which one is the most dangerous . . . Or you can become addicted to cruising the world (like most of us out here doing it) and not really want to go back home. But once your get past the paperwork (governmental forms and permissions) and have sufficient money to support yourself (you cannot legally work (earn any money) in foreign countries without more permits) - then you will have a fabulous journey and really learn and appreciate the cultures and people of the world.

- - There are some websites for finding "crew positions" which you can do an internet search for and see who is going where and when.

- - If you have the patience and determination to work through the hassles and frustrations of modern life, then you will be able to join a worldwide group of sailing cruisers who are people of extreme good nature and rich in peace and fellowship. There is nothing like it anywhere else on this planet. And the experiences of visiting other places in the world while you live in your sailing "home" is priceless. Go for it, but go for it with logical, open eyes.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:21 AM   #4
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osirissailing, thanks for the warm welcome. I assume you had or have a similar dream, because you get into every detail. There are quite a lot things I wasn't aware of until your post.

So, in a time after 9/11 I assumed that I won't have the same freedom like 25 years ago for example. Visa's won't be a problem for me, at least for the former Soviet supporter countries like Cuba and Venezuela.

My plan would be to purchase a yacht, get some experience here at the Black Sea and then start my journey max. 2 years from now.

I am doing things in reorder, meaning, that I first want to buy the boat and do the training on the "original", rather then attend courses and after that buy my own boat. Same goes with the theory - learning by doing (under the eyes of professionals) will give me good experience in a short time. Please correct me if I am wrong, or if that is not the best thing to do in my position.

So, the big question would be what vessel to buy. First i thought I could buy a motor yacht and cross the Atlantic by motoring rather then sailing. But that idea was very fast rejected as "impossible unless I have millions of $" - Is that really so? i understand that the main problem would be the fuel tanks for let's say 3000nm without a stop, especially on a low-budged yacht for ~100k. So does that mean that sailing is the only way to make a trip do South America? I ask, because at least understanding how sailing works would slow down this journey at least a year, if I want to be safe in the Atlantic. Other option would be to pick a route f.e. Monrovia --> (873nm) Ascension Island --> (1109nm) Fernando de Noronha in order to have refuel points?

Please give me you opinion on this, because this is crucial for me in order to buy the right boat as well as for my whole planning of the trip.

Getting killed or getting married, ha ha I heard that getting killed is better then getting married, especially if you have a yacht and some pocket money Really, excluding the risks of the open sea like riffs, lightning or get lost in the Bermuda triangle - are there other risks, f.e. pirates or government vessels who just wait for the newbie go grab his boat in exchange for a bottle of rum? In that part - would it be safe to have some kind of weapons (registered) on board in case there is a real threat? Or would that cause me more problems with customs? After all getting married seems better

Working permits would be a problem, because this is exactly what I wanted to do. It's not only about living on a boat. My idea is to visit at least 120 places in South America on the mainland. Leaving the boat for 2 weeks and go to Peru for example and explore the Andes, then go back to the boat, travel 200 miles to a nice coast with a nice bar and work for example 2 weeks there. Not because of the money, it's about the experience, culture, make friends and understand all different kinds of people. After that hire some crew and explore some shipwrecks. Well, writing this sounds like a movie script, but this is what I want to do. Btw anyone who shares that dream is welcome to meet me when I am there

Anyway, money for normal expenses outside the budged would not be a problem, since for me to work I need only a laptop and internet, 2 hours a day to check and respond to my mails. This will grand an extra 7k - 12k USD per month witch have to be enough for food, fuel, taxes etc.

So, again to the first question - what kind of boat?

And again thanks for helping me out.

Greetings
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
My plan would be to purchase a yacht, get some experience here at the Black Sea and then start my journey max. 2 years from now.

I am doing things in reorder, meaning, that I first want to buy the boat and do the training on the "original", rather then attend courses and after that buy my own boat. Same goes with the theory - learning by doing (under the eyes of professionals) will give me good experience in a short time. Please correct me if I am wrong, or if that is not the best thing to do in my position.
My humble opinion is to do the sailing courses FIRST as this will then give you a better insight into the type of vessel you will want to suit your needs. The experience during the courses on a sailing school's (offshore) yacht would be invaluable.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:38 AM   #6
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I, too, would encourage you to learn as much about sailing as you possibly can. *Sailing is like any physical sport, the body has to learn before the mind knows what it's doing.

Navigating, as well, is something that you need to practice enough that you can see the results of your successes and mistakes before leaving sight of land.

A wise person once commented that there's nothing wrong with developing habits. *Habits are what the body does well even when the mind is otherwise engaged, and in sailing there are many occasions when the mind needs to be, or will be, otherwise occupied while the body takes care of the sailing, steering, raising sails or anchor. *

Although reasonably sized motor yachts cross oceans, if your engine(s) fail in the middle of one, you have no way to finish your journey. *A sailboat will get you to port even if you haven't got a drop of fuel left. *And sailboats are much more forgiving of mistakes than a power boat, especially in bad weather. *

Murphy's Law: * "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." *

Quoting from Wikipedia's entry about Murphy's Law, "Recent research in this area has been carried on to a significant extent by members of the American Dialect Society. ADS member Stephen Goranson has found a version of the law, not yet generalized or bearing that name, in a report by Alfred Holt at an 1877 meeting of an engineering society:

It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later, so it is not to be wondered that owners prefer the safe to the scientific.... Sufficient stress can hardly be laid on the advantages of simplicity. The human factor cannot be safely neglected in planning machinery. If attention is to be obtained, the engine must be such that the engineer will be disposed to attend to it."

Clearly, that does not mean that one should not attempt anything new, simply that one should be prepared for when (not if) things go wrong. *

I hope you didn't miss Osiris's very good suggestion of taking every opportunity to crew on another's sailboat. *You would have a good opportunity to learn more about what sailing around on the ocean is really about, and get a much better idea of what is needed - by you and by your eventual boat. *More than two or three cruising stints and you will have the firsthand opportunity to see how different people approach cruising and passage-making.

The more you learn, the more you will learn about what you do not yet know. *The greatest insult I can make of someone is "he doesn't know what he doesn't know."

Fair winds,

Jeanne
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:54 AM   #7
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there is lots on this forum that you could/should read. *Just from the most recent postings, you might find these informative and more ideas for questions to ask.

Women at the Helm

Should I call for help if I get in trouble?

Safety at Sea, more information

There are many, many more, so make yourself at home.

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Old 08-12-2009, 05:49 PM   #8
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Idea: Since you have maybe two years before you set out, buy a boat now. Not the boat you will take, just a boat. Something you can sail hard for a year and then sell for about what you paid for it.

This will give you a lot of experience with at least one boat and you will get to live with the shortcomings of one boat for a time. You can take weekend trips with your crew sailing 20 hours out to sea and then returning. This will give everyone experience standing night watches, being at sea, cooking at sea, etc.

Start small, though.

I'm not claiming this is a good idea, just that it is an idea.
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:51 PM   #9
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Georgi--

Your dream and your plan is similar to so many others. We have all the little details that must be dealt with--unique to our own situation--but the big picture is really the same: Get a boat and explore!

I would suggest that you start sailing ASAP! Get into dingy sailing (seriously great way to learn), find folks with boats who will take you along for a helping hand. Take some navigation classes. You've got lots of work to do between now and 2 years from now in order to prepare. I don't suggest that you buy a boat right off the bat but that rather you simply learn to sail. Once you've learned, you'll easily transfer the skills to another boat.

Like you, I have had the goal of sailing the perimeter of North and South America for many years. You will have a wonderful time, I'm sure. But--take the steps NOW not later to become a proficient sailor and navigator. After you've had a couple classes, you may consider posting on our crew finder as "available" so that you can spend some time on ocean going vessels.

Fair winds,
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Old 08-15-2009, 10:37 AM   #10
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Thanks all for your kind replies. I found some sailing courses here in Bulgaria, so I will start March 2010 practical learning. But what bothers me is just one question:

I understand from you, that sailing would be the best way to cross the Atlantic. But is there ANY chance in doing this in a motor boat? I am sure I can get much experience in repairing motors before the start if anything goes wrong. And there is always the "SOS" option - there is right?

The past two days I was reviewing boats - sail and motor boats. It seems that they are more or less at the same price, sail boats are even a little bit more expensive. For example, a 15 meter motor yacht is around $150k - $200k, with a 1500 litre fuel tank.

So can you please give me advise how to plan that trip in a motor yacht? I am aware that there have to be additional fuel tanks mounted in order to complete a trip to a refuel point. So even if there is a slight chance to do this on fuel - please tell me.

An other option what crosses my mind is using solar energy. My father has experience in that kind of business, so getting his help on that one wouldn't be a problem. Maybe combining motor and solar?

The reason why I want to do this on a motor are much. First off, it's easier to navigate and "drive", motor yachts have (reviewed over 500 boats in 150-200k price cat.) a little bit more comfortabilities and of course just look better in my opinion. Or maybe I am wrong? Please advise.

Greetings from Bulgaria

PS: redbopeep - You have had the goal of sailing the perimeter of North and South America, so did you do it?
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Old 08-15-2009, 11:38 AM   #11
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In general, I would guess, conservatively, that a 15 meter power boat would consume approximately 22 liters/hour, and travel at 8 knots. *The boat's range, then, would be about 550 nautical miles. *You would not be able to cross the Atlantic with so little fuel capacity.

We sailed from Ecuador to Easter Island, approximately a 2000 nm passage, and used no more than 100 liters. *A sailboat is generally a lot more seakindly than a power boat, primarily because of the hull configuration and that keel that sailboats have to keep them upright.

Electric motors, a great idea that we have been interested in for some time, but the technology doesn't seem to be there yet. *Jeanneau has installed electric engines in some of its Lagoon sailing catamarans, but I haven't seen that this has been a successful strategy. *Look here for a solar-powered sailboat crossing the Atlantic

A much, much slower trip than that catamaran would have done had it been sailed. *It made 5 to 6 knots under power (60 square meters of solar panels, no room for a mast and sails), and would have most likely sailed at 8 to 10 knots. *

The SOS option? *In the middle of the Atlantic, what you will get for an SOS would be a commercial freighter taking you off your boat and either scuttling (sinking) it or leaving it to drift aimlessly. *

Yes, power boats have circumnavigated - Krogen and Nordhavn power boats in the 15-meter range have successfully circumnavigated, but you aren't going to find one of them for less than about $250,000, probably a lot more.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgi View Post
PS: redbopeep - You have had the goal of sailing the perimeter of North and South America, so did you do it?
Oh, no, not yet! My husband and I sold our house in 7/2006 and purchased a boat in need of rebuild at that time and we spent 2-1/2 years rebuilding it. We have just this spring 4/09 relaunched it and now we are preparing it for our own "big journey".

We lived on the East Coast of the USA (Washington, DC) but we found a boat that suited us in San Diego, CA. So, we moved to San Diego to do the rebuild. While our original plan was to go up to Labrador and the East Coast of Canada before heading south...our "new plan" is to go up to the Pacific Northwest (and hopefully Alaska!) before coming back down the West Coast to Mexico, Central, and South America. One of our goals is to spend time sailing around Patagonia. If all goes well and we are pleased with our progress and the capabilities of us and the boat, we will eventually go around Cape Horn--to then sail on the Eastern part of our Americas voyage. If we are less confident or perhaps want to spend more time in the tropical climates, we'll go through the Panama Canal first and spend some time in the Caribbean before considering South America and all it has to offer. My husband dreams of also sailing the Northwest passage, but I do tell him that we'll need a lot more global warming or a different boat for THAT trip !

Regarding your desire to motor vs sail, once you have learned to sail and are sailing, you will very likely realize that it is no big deal to do your trip with sailing rather than motoring. The reliability of the sailing rig and the simplicity of fixing things yourself make it more ideal for cruising than motoring would be, IMHO. Cost-wise, you are correct to note that the power cruising yachts are similarly priced to sailing cruising yachts--they're just different.

+++

Using solar or wind generators to power electric drive motors is possible but the entire issue is that one cannot typically collect sufficient energy from the sun or wind generator to move the boat via a propeller at any reasonable pace. Much better to simply sail!

As Jeanne brought up the topic of electric drive limitations, it reminded me that while many people do think that the limiting factor is with the electric drive motors themselves, that actually isn't the problem at all. There are many electric drive motors out there which are capable of providing more than enough power, reliably, to move a good size sailboat or motor boat. They are quite an efficient thing to use. The problem is that one has to generate the energy to power the electric drive motor; many people want to use unique ways of doing that generation (Hydrogen fuel cels, solar cels, wind turbines, etc) which typically have a cost or capacity limitation that isn't ideally matched to the needs of the boat. If these people were willing to simply use the electric drive with a gen-set, they would have a very nice, reliable motoring set up that they would be pleased with.

I have a great interest in this topic because our boat, which was originally built in 1931, was built with an electric drive motor! Yes, way back in 1931! It is a large, heavy boat (29T gross) but it had a 25 kW electric drive motor that was capable of driving it at 7 to 8 knots. The "energy" supplied to the motor came from two gasoline gen-sets. They were rated at 10 kW each, so actually did not provide the full capacity of the electric drive motor. The boat was written about several times in Yachting magazine in the early 1930's and the topic of the electric drive was discussed alot. Though the boat had a big battery bank, the ideal way of operating it was to run the gensets and run with "zero float" on the battery bank and the owner said that if he had it to do all over again, he'd have not used batteries at all but simply relied on one or both gensets depending on desired speed.

These days, for recreational yachts, most electric drive systems which are marketed are overly costly and not really worthy of consideration, IMHO. If one were to decide to use an electric drive, one would likely be best served to simply work with an engineer to design a system for the particular boat. However, one must always keep in mind that there is nothing really special about an electric drive motor it is more-or-less just the means for getting the power to the prop. Think of it like a transmission on a regular engine. One still must have a combination of the power generation and storage system to meet the needs of powering the particular boat. Assuming that one is simply going to install a diesel gen-set and an electric drive and was making a benefit comparison vs a regular diesel engine the reasons to do so would be: Noise control (the gen-set can be isolated in the boat somewhere other than the required location of the electric drive/power transmittor to the propellor); Better space utilization (small drive motor to prop and locating the gen-set or gen-sets in out of the way locations can enhance the space utilization of the boat; Electric drive motors have better torque curve which enables better control when harbor maneuvering; finally, some "green" energy use with ability to draw from batteries/solar or wind powered IN ADDITION TO using gen-set while cruising.

+++

Back to your boat purchase plans--you may wish to read some of the blogs of cruisers to learn more about day-to-day experiences different people have with different kinds of cruising boats. You will absorb the information and begin to get a picture of what YOU would like in a cruising boat

Fair winds,
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