Courses and Theory:
We both started out by taking the Canadian Yachting Association (CYA) Basic Cruising certification. We did the theory in Lethbridge and the practical on the BC coast with three other crew and our examining skipper. It was definitely crowded on that Beneteau 33, pictured below! Our next goal was to achieve the CYA Coastal Navigation standard and finally the CYA Intermediate Cruising certification. It took two sailing seasons to achieve these results with as much practical experience in between them as possible. During this time we also took our Restricted Operator's Certificate for VHF Radio communication and secured our Pleasure Craft Operator's cards. Now we were qualified to charter boats worldwide. In addition, Judy bought a sextant and passed her CYA Celestial Navigation Theory - practice has yet to happen! In May 2005, while in North Carolina, she wrote and passed her Amateur Radio Technician exams (US equivalent of the Basic in Canada). She will continue to work on her Morse code rating so she can transmit more freely on the single sideband radio (SSB) we have on our boat.
Querencia in Desolation Sound
For three years now we have been members of the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club on Salt Spring Island off the British Columbia coast. Since we live in the Canadian Prairies (Lethbridge, Alberta), we have limited exposure to ocean sailing and spend many weeks throughout the summers visiting family on the island and practicing our sailing skills. We sail with neighbours and friends on the island and take part in race nights and regatta weekends. This picture was taken on our neighbour's boat "Vectis". "Vectis" is a 1975 Douglas 32, full cutaway keel bluewater boat. We really enjoyed our day sailing on her. Her skipper, David, was by far one of the best instructor's we've had. Last summer we participated in the Round Salt Spring Race aboard "Vectis" - which was fun even though we were unable to finish (approximately 50 boats out of 60 ended up DNF - NO WIND!) It was the strangest feeling at the mouth of Sansun Narrows when the tide was running against us and we were sailing backwards because we had no wind.
Ron and Judy at the helm of Vectis in the Gulf Islands
We read everything we can on the adventures of people who live aboard their boats or sail around the world. We also have learned a lot from the more technical books such as Chapman Piloting, Complete Sailing Manual, Cooks Afloat, The Practical Pilot, Basic Coastal Navigation, Ocean Sailing, Handling Troubles Afloat, Kitchen Afloat, Repairs At Sea, Your Offshore Doctor, Cruising Under Sail, Living Off The Sea, How to Cope With Storms and The Essential Knot Book. The internet also contains many websites with stories of live-aboard sailors and their experiences. Check out www.twogypsies.com (you will see our new boat "Pioneer" on that site), www.bruadair.us/index.html , www.jimages.com and www.bondcar.com .
"Soft" reads on sailing adventures are a MUST. They are all good but we found one especially intriguing - a real page turner "Sailing Promise" by Alayne Main. Others that have also been great include: Godforsaken Sea, The Biggest Boat I Could Afford, Alone At Sea, Gypsy Moth Circles the World, The Seventh Wave, and A World to the West.
Finding The Right Boat:
We knew the type of sailing we wanted to do - coastal, Caribbean, and possibly some serious offshore adventures. With that in mind we searched for the best boats in the areas of seaworthiness, sailing comfort, low capsize ratio, roominess, easy to handle by two people, good reputation. We narrowed our choice to the Alberg 37, the Whitby 42, the Pacific Seacraft Crealock 37 and the Cabo Rico 38. It became abundantly clear that with the exception of the Alberg 37 we had chosen very expensive boats! Once we accepted the fact that this boat was going to be our home, we felt a little better about the cost involved - after all we were going to sell our house and most of our worldly possessions! After two years of searching, we narrowed our choices to two boats; the PS Crealock 37 and the Cabo Rico 38. We monitored the Sailnet chat groups of both owner's groups, trying to learn as much as we could about issues/problems with the boats. Aesthetically, we favoured the CR38 but it came down to which of the two boats could be found for sale privately. Both boats are few and far between on the boat market. In our boat shopping, we had attended boats listed privately and boats listed with a broker. For us, there was no question. We learned so much more about the boat through a private sale and direct contact with the owners. When dealing with a broker, we felt like we were dealing with a used car salesperson. We were also conscious of the sailing attributes of the boats. Some boats we saw we rejected because they had been modified for motor-sailing and we only want to use the motor if we have to.
This is "Good Winds" - one of the two CR38's we were going to North Carolina to see.
The CR38 market was hard to break into, however, on Sailnet this year (2005) we noticed three of them were coming into the market privately. Two of those three were in the right location - North Carolina. One was there already and the other was on her way there. In a few weeks we will be there to see both boats. We favour "Pioneer" just because she is better equipped and less work for us to prepare for cruising. "Good Winds" is priced well, however. We still have to decide which boat we want to go with. "Pioneer" is a Plan B, "Good Winds" is a Plan A. "Pioneer's" equipment is up to date, "Good Winds" equipment would have to be replaced. We would probably have to put at least fifty thousand dollars of equipment into "Good Winds". At least the search is coming to an end. We will purchase one of these two boats in the merry, merry month of May 2005!.
"Pioneer" on the travel lift in Oriental, preparing for a survey under the watchfuleyes of her owners, Don Hardy and Rebecca Hill.
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