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Old 11-30-2007, 06:15 PM   #1
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Hello,

It feels good to see all the helpful and positive responses that newbies get here, so I thought I'd introduce myself as well. I have a few quesions too, maybe someone can help me along.

My name is David, and I am 28 year old German national, right now working in Japan as an English teacher.

I have always dreamed of learning to sail the ocean, but unfortunately so far I had no chance to do so. This was either due to time / money reasons, or mostly because I was living in landlocked places.

Now the tides are finally turning, and starting next April I will be free to travel for a year (at least). I'm planing to start in California, moving down to Central America, and checking out organic farms on the way. That is the land part of my passion. As far as the sea goes, I would love to finally get some sailing experience and travel down to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama by hitching a ride as a deckhand on a sail boat. Maybe even on several boats, bit by bit, leg by leg.

Although my sailing experience is zero, I am willing to do whatever is expected of a deckhand, and eager to learn as much as possible. I've been told that I'm fun to be around, and I believe I can get along well with people. I don't smoke, I don't drink habitually, and generally my needs are rather spartan. I like to stretch and keep fit, and my stomach... well, so far I have had no experience with motion sickness. In any case, I welcome the challenge. Talking about stomach, living in Japan I've learned to cook in a cramped little kitchen, which I'm sure is useful skill on a boat. I also speak German, English, Spanish, and Hungarian.

From what I've heard and read, it seems to me that I mostly need to be in the right place at the right time. Question is, where are those right places, and when are the right times? From the table on this site ( http://www.cruiser.co.za/crewfinder1.asp ) I gathered that most boats leave California between January and March. Does that mean that throughout rest of the year chances are pretty slim? What about Mexico to Central America? Or just down the coast? The more important question would be where are the places to go? In California San Diego is recommended, but what about Mexico? Which marinas are my best bets?

I would welcome any suggestions and advice, either to my questions, or if you believe that what I want to do is way too outrageous. I know, just like with everything else, the first experience is the hardest one to get. So I would like to make sure that I'll learn as much as I can, and also be able to present it the next time I apply as a deckhand. How can I make sure my experience is officially documented?

Thank you all for your help in advance, and once again: This is a great forum. Keep up the good spirit!

Greetings to all,

David

(Landandsea)
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Old 11-30-2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard David - glad you enjoy the forum.

Quote:
From the table on this site ( http://www.cruiser.co.za/crewfinder1.asp ) I gathered that most boats leave California between January and March. Does that mean that throughout rest of the year chances are pretty slim? What about Mexico to Central America? Or just down the coast?
That table gives an idea of the movements of cruising yachts that take off for longer passages. There are always yachts sailing shorter passages locally during most of the year.

May I suggest that your first step towards your goal is to attend a deckhand course at a sailing school - this will go a long way towards being successful in finding a crewing position if you know the absolute basics about sailing.

Good luck with your dream.
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Old 11-30-2007, 08:02 PM   #3
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Ohayou gozaimasu Dabido san.

Hope you survived the Nova collapse. Which city are you in? I have some good sailing contacts around Osaka Bay. Welcome aboard.

David.
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:24 AM   #4
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From what I've heard and read, it seems to me that I mostly need to be in the right place at the right time. Question is, where are those right places, and when are the right times? From the table on this site ( http://www.cruiser.co.za/crewfinder1.asp ) I gathered that most boats leave California between January and March. Does that mean that throughout rest of the year chances are pretty slim? What about Mexico to Central America? Or just down the coast? The more important question would be where are the places to go? In California San Diego is recommended, but what about Mexico? Which marinas are my best bets?
Yes.

The greatest factor is weather. Boats don't usually travel during hurricane/cyclone season. (June 1 through November in the Northern hemisphere where the storms move to the NW (except for NorthWest Pacific, when it's 12 months/year), and December 1 through May in the Southern hemisphere, where the storms generally move to the SE). Californians will usually sail down to Mexico starting in October/November - check out Latitude 38 magazine (www.latitude38.com) for news of the annual Baja HaHa - you've missed it this year, though. Boats leave Panama, Mexico, or southern California for the South Pacific somewhere around March or April. Reading about these rallies will give you the information regarding what ports and marinas are the places to find yachts on the move.

On the East coast, where hurricanes are a real threat, boats will leave for the Bahamas around November with fingers crossed that there won't be any hurricanes, but they keep a weather eye out. Boats usually leave from Miami, Vero Beach, Palm Beach for the Bahamas.

They'll head for the Caribbean around the same time, or a bit later - December 1 or so, usually from Florida, but sometimes from further North, sometimes with a stop in Bermuda, sometimes down the "thorny path" through the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, then to Puerto Rico, etc. From Europe and the Med, the departure to the Caribbean is usually somewhat earlier, say the beginning of November. See the "Atlantic Rally for Cruisers" or ARC for short. Boats that cross the Atlantic earlier in hurricane season run a real risk of sailing right into a hurricane.

Crossing the Atlantic to Europe, usually the Med., sometimes the UK, is an annual migration for the European boats that spent the winter in the Caribbean. April is a bit early, May is the more traditional time for departures. Marigot Bay in St. Martin will have up to 200 sailboats in February, perhaps 10 or 20 in July. Another destination for Caribbean boats for hurricane season is south to Grenada, Trinidad or Venezuela.

I think this gives you a good idea of the reasons for the timing given in the Crewfinder. Boats follow the winds and the weather timing for making their transits to the various destinations. You'll get a feeling for this timing in the Crewfinder ads, and it's a good place to get more information about sailing timing, and perhaps a boat willing to take you on.

Most ports have gathering places for boats and crews. You'll find them fairly quickly - go to the local chandlery, the local bar where the yachties meet - you'll usually find lots of dinghies tied up - that's where you'll find the people. The St. Maarten Yacht Club is a couple tables and a kitchen working out of a ship's container. The main towns - Philipsburg, Charlotte-Amalie, Fort-de-France, etc. will be crawling with boats and the services, and the charter boats that are always short-handed.

Another place to find a crew position, and information and advice, is to look at the Triton, a newspaper for captains and crews. www.the-triton.com

That's a start.
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Old 12-02-2007, 07:28 AM   #5
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Thank you for the helpful info!

This is what I was talking about.

Auzee: Fortunately the Nova collapse didn't affect me, as I work for a small conversation school. Thank you also for the sailing connection in Osaka, although I don't think I will be doing too much traveling in the next months (except for the upcoming snowboarding weekends - I live in Nagano). Other than that I will be saving for next year's big trip.

Lighthouse: Thank you also for the advice. You are right, taking a sailing course is probably the best way to jump-start my life as a sailor. I haven't been able to find any deckhand-courses as such, instead*I*found various schools offering very similar pattern of courses, and certifications. I would like to ask you what you think about them:

Two levels I definitely wanna take are Basic Keelboat and Basic Cruising. This fits comfortably into my budget and my time-frame. Additionally, I think it would be good to take*Intermediate*Cruising*and Bareboat Cruising. The schools I've looked at also offer a certification*(US*Sailing*or*ASA) in Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and Bareboat Cruising. Now for some reason it seems like the schools that offer ASA are less expensive. The fees of some of the schools that offer US Sailing Certification are sometimes*twice as expensive as the ones who offer ASA. Does that mean that ASA is of a lesser quality?

The other question I have is: Would it make sense for my purposes to go all the way to Bareboat Sailing? Or should I even go further to Coastal Navigation,*or*even*higher, before I have a chance to hitch a ride on a boat down the coast? Would it make sense*for*me to get certified? I mean how widely is the certificate accepted internationally? Mind you, I will probably spend the least of my time in the US, be it on land or on sea.

Once again, I thank you for your help, and I look forward to the next posts.

-Landandsea
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by landandsea View Post
Two levels I definitely wanna take are Basic Keelboat and Basic Cruising. This fits comfortably into my budget and my time-frame. Additionally, I think it would be good to take*Intermediate*Cruising*and Bareboat Cruising. The schools I've looked at also offer a certification*(US*Sailing*or*ASA) in Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and Bareboat Cruising. Now for some reason it seems like the schools that offer ASA are less expensive. The fees of some of the schools that offer US Sailing Certification are sometimes*twice as expensive as the ones who offer ASA. Does that mean that ASA is of a lesser quality?

The other question I have is: Would it make sense for my purposes to go all the way to Bareboat Sailing? Or should I even go further to Coastal Navigation,*or*even*higher, before I have a chance to hitch a ride on a boat down the coast? Would it make sense*for*me to get certified? I mean how widely is the certificate accepted internationally? Mind you, I will probably spend the least of my time in the US, be it on land or on sea.

-Landandsea
Hi,

I don't want to preempt Lighthouse who is a mine of good and wise information but I would like to offer my few pennies worth.

Firstly, I should of course say, "Welcome to CL". I hope you enjoy our boards and become a regular contributor. Keep us posted as your sailing career develops!

OK - to your questions.

My first reaction is why choose a U.S. sailing qualification? You may well have a god reason for doing so but why rule out European cources and certification. Despite being truly international rules and regulations do differ between the US and Europe: the most noticable of the differences being in buoyage systems. I think, in your shoes, I would choose to get mysef RYA or better MCA qualified. Why MCA? Well, simply because the MCA qualifications are STCW qualifications which would entitle you to work professionally on yachts over 24 metres in length. US Coast Guard qualifications are also STCW recognised.

Of course, that is jumping the gun and also brings us to your second question. There is absolutely no point in investing lots of money in sailing training unless you know you are going to enjoy the life and not be chronicaly seasick. My advice here would be to take a beginers course, maybe up to the TYA Competent Crew level. Once you have that you should get some sea time in. If you enjoy the lifestyle, take it from there.

RYA courses are available in many parts of the world from Durban to Gibraltar, the UK (of course), Spain, Turkey, Thailand, New Zealand and many other places too.

Good luck to you. I hope you enjoy sailing!

Aye // Stephen
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:26 PM   #7
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Welcome,

Anything, and everything you can absorb in the way of sailing. Will make you that much more attractive as potential crew. Be CAREFUL though as many here can testify...IT MAY BECOME ADDICTIVE!
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