First Sailboat Key West

Bmill

New member
7
3
Iowa
Link to gif. Need to get smarter on posting.

Since I know a lot about flying and jack about sailing, I choose an aviation related gif as my newbie gift to the forum. 

Here's the story. My wife and I are 62 and still very mobile. We've inland power boated on the big Missouri River Reservoirs in the Dakota's for years. I'm a 30 year retired military pilot and the wife's a retired nurse. We've always been intrigued with sailing. A few months ago I had an opportunity to rent a 35' long / 12' beam slip at Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West. I did it it on a whim. Here's a link on Google Earth to the marina location. I'm including it because this is where I'm going to learn and thought it might make a difference on what boat to get.

https://earth.google.com/web/@24.57630103,-81.70923344,-0.7511477a,1120.03876156d,35y,-0h,0t,0r

I'm not the sharpest pencil in the drawer but I'm pretty sure I need a "learning boat" for 6 or so months before I move up. Budget isn't the big concern since I ASSume I'll get a bit bigger boat once I figure this out. I'll sell the first boat and likely lose a little and move on. I'd like my starter boat to be able to get to the Sand Key Lighthouse area eventually for some diving and snorkeling. 

We'll stay on the boat for a few weeks in Feb,Mar,Apr,May for starters figure it out from there.  We still tent camp sometimes and living for a few weeks on a small boat is fine. The end goal is to get the skills and experience (and the right boat) to do the Bahamas in the future. I'm a pretty handy mechanic and have been around both outboards and farm diesels for decades. 

Bottom Line: I've got "paralysis from over analysis" and would greatly appreciate any input. This is the only no bullshit sailing site I've found.  I'm ready for the incoming....

 
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@last

Anarchist
900
40
Catalina 30 something? (There’s several lengths, not sure about beams.)
+1 on the Catalina 30 idea.  The boat is located right in the center of the market/where you want to be.  By definition you are telling us the next one will be different (say perhaps the Pacific Seacraft 34 linked above).  For a variety of reasons, there will be a lot more Catalina 30 buyers out there than Bluewater Cruisers (Such as the P/S 34) when it comes time to cash out.  Good luck, shopping is a fun part of the process and keep us posted and what you decide to get.

 

Bmill

New member
7
3
Iowa
Contrary to what I thought I'd hear, those of you who've chimed in think a 30' boat isn't too big to learn on. Also a quality 30 footer (under the right weather conditions with proper experience) is adequate for a Bahamas trip. I figured I'd need a smaller boat to start with. Well this changes everything. A 30 footer has all the space we'll ever need as we have no plans to make it our permanent home. A few weeks here and there and maybe a month long stretch when winter hits hard. We've got grand kids and elderly family here in Iowa plus we have a small "hobby farm" that we enjoy spending time at.

Time to start burning electrons on my cheap ass laptop looking at 30-32 footers. Thanks for the inputs so far! 

 
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Sail4beer

Super Anarchist
9,680
3,189
Toms River,NJ
If it isn’t a year round home, then the 30’ is more than spacious enough for cruising weeks at a time with no problem. Now call that broker and get your boat sold!

 

bridhb

Super Anarchist
3,386
934
Jax, FL
Contrary to what I thought I'd hear, those of you who've chimed in think a 30' boat isn't too big to learn on. Also a quality 30 footer (under the right weather conditions with proper experience) is adequate for a Bahamas trip. I figured I'd need a smaller boat to start with. Well this changes everything. A 30 footer has all the space we'll ever need as we have no plans to make it our permanent home. A few weeks here and there and maybe a month long stretch when winter hits hard. We've got grand kids and elderly family here in Iowa plus we have a small "hobby farm" that we enjoy spending time at.

Time to start burning electrons on my cheap ass laptop looking at 30-32 footers. Thanks for the inputs so far! 
Consider getting a two person moderate sailing dingy with a jib to learn on with your partner.  Key West area has nice warm clear water so it will be really fun to get wet.  Sailing skills will develop quicker and transfer to your 30 footer.  They don't cost much and can be sold quickly.  Your marina probably has a place to keep it.

There are a bunch of pre owned 30ish footers out there that would meet your requirements.  Catalina 30's are not very exciting to look at but they are wholesome boats.  Guy here in Jax sails the crap out of his (several trips to the Bahamas) and has owned it for at least 30 years.

 

Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
41,230
8,120
Eastern NC
Huge +1 on the dinghy.  Maybe the base where your slip is has a sailing club or rents dinghies?  Absolutely the best and easiest way to learn basic sailing quickly.
There's a Key West Sailing Center which used to be a community non-profit. Never been there myself but I know a bunch of people who have, and seemed like a good start. It's has been a few years though and MUCH has changed in the world during that time!

- DSK

 

eric1207

Anarchist
784
250
Seattle
Looks like that sailing center has lessons too.  If its close I'd start there and then as above; either sail their boats or get a dinghy yourself.  Trailer sail or maybe you can sail out of your slip if its close to good daysailing.  Heck your slip is big enough to dry moor the dinghy on a cheap "swim" float you screw together (and can disassemble) out of lumber.  Here's a guy on CL with some big styrofoam blocks.  Double wrap & tape em up in heavy garbage sacks so they don't pollute the water (they degrade to duck bite size chunks).  In the mean time shop for the right big boat.

 
If you and your wife are mobile as you say and don't mind bashing around in a little day sailor for a short while then I would absolutely do this -- whether through a club environment or even taking a  couple of lessons. The feedback on a small boat is immediate and once you develop your feel for you will never lose it. That feel will transfer well to bigger more comfortable boats suitable for your slip size, where you will begin to accommodate for the increased loads on sails/controls and momentum from the bigger displacement.

You could in theory start right at 32 ft and learn it all at once : the art of sailing + keel boat dynamics, but you would be robbing yourself and your wife of one of life's truly pure and immensely satisfying pleasures - that of zipping across the water unfettered on warm small boat with only the wind, your weight, and a little bit of tiller action to help you. 

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
9,131
5,044
Canada
"I want to fly across the country and maybe to Mexico. Just see the country etc.  Should I buy a RV-7 or a Cessna 172"

That's your sort of question. Let's take a few smart steps:

0. Read, read, read. Go to Steve Dashew's site and download his free books.  https://setsail.com/free-books/ Start with Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia. It's ~1000 pages and oriented to offshore cruising in bigger boats but a TON of free knowledge. Then read the Weather book and Practical Seamanship. Save the "Surviving the Storm" for evenings in front of a fire... This way when you take a sailing course you'll have some background. Probably a good idea to learn the names of a sailboat parts too BEFORE the course. Otherwise the terminology can feel like a firehose of stupid words coming at you.

1. Learn to sail. Small daysailors (or dinghies depending on your knees). Take lessons. Maybe these guys. https://southernmostsailingschool.com/ who offer lessons on a 26' boat. The ASA 101 and 103 courses, while not cheap, are probably what you need. Because it's a small 2 person operation, they can probably tailor their lessons to your specific goals.

2. Evaluate:  "Do I like to sail"? "Does my wife like to sail?"  "Are my cruising plans compatible with what I've learned so far?"

3. THEN buy a boat. A Catalina 30 or other cheap plain jane cruising boat is fine for cruising the Bahamas or similar and can be a good starter boat (look for one with a 18 HP motor or bigger. Some have smaller engines and are underpowered). The Pacific Seacraft 34, while well built and capable of getting you across an ocean safely is probably 3-4x the cost and less room.

Welcome. 

 

freewheelin

Anarchist
611
122
WLIS
A few months ago I had an opportunity to rent a 35' long / 12' beam slip at Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West. I did it it on a whim. Here's a link on Google Earth to the marina location. I'm including it because this is where I'm
Does the marina have any facilities - bathroom, showers, ice, etc? That makes quite a difference when you are looking at what kind of starter boat will be enjoyable for you.

 

Bmill

New member
7
3
Iowa
The marina has bathrooms, showers, laundry, ice, a little restaurant and a great bar. Shore power and water are included in the slip rental. The previous RV-7 vs 172 analogy is painfully spot on. We're going dinghy sailing. Plane tickets in the very near future. Will post a few pics or a video of a 62 year old novice on one. It should be good for a couple of laughs. Thanks for the sage advice all. I'm undeterred with my objective but I'll break it down to some manageable goals. If I drown in the dinghy, I'm coming back to haunt this forum......

 
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