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Creative_Solitude
02-02-2012, 10:42 PM
The hero in my current WIP is a sailboat enthusiast and owns his own sailboat. Iím looking for more information on the culture of sail boating in general. Iíve looked around and dug up some useful info, but if anyone has anything could tell me about their own personal sailboat experiences it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)

Drachen Jager
02-02-2012, 11:05 PM
What kind of boating are you talking about? Cruising, racing, casual weekend day-trips or blue-water? There are many different kinds of sailing, each has its own culture.

I can answer questions about cruising, both blue-water and shore-hugging. I know a bit about racing as well.

Creative_Solitude
02-02-2012, 11:24 PM
What kind of boating are you talking about? Cruising, racing, casual weekend day-trips or blue-water? There are many different kinds of sailing, each has its own culture.

I can answer questions about cruising, both blue-water and shore-hugging. I know a bit about racing as well.

Thanks for your reply.

I picture my hero being someone who might go sailing on a random Saturday or Sunday as a way to unwind after a long work week and take seven year old son along with him. What’s the difference between cruising and racing? I’m thinking I may also have him dabbling in either of those on the side.

Drachen Jager
02-02-2012, 11:37 PM
Cruising is where you live on the boat and often go for longer trips. Blue-water cruising is open-ocean, out of sight of land. Cruisers and racers are completely different types of boat, if he does both he'd need two boats. Most cruisers are pathetically slow in comparison and it would be a joke to try to race one.

If it's just day-trips he could make excursions in a racing boat, for a few thousand dollars you can get a Laser class boat that easily holds two passengers and they're probably the most common type of racing boat. If he's more serious he might take a catamaran or a Fireball or similar larger boat. Lots of people around here take their cats out on the weekend to nearby parks, because of the dual-hull design they're good for outings because the deck is large. Any of the above can be bought for under 10k, but if you wanted a nice, new one it might go up to 20k or so.

A Laser barely fits two (normally its a one person vessel when racing) but it would be fine for an adult and a seven year old. A Fireball is normally crewed by two adults when racing, but it's impractical for more than two. A cat is normally crewed by two, but because of the large deck can fit four to five people for a casual excursion.

For a two person crew, and only one adult you wouldn't want to go much larger.

All these boat classes have extensive information on the web if you search them. A catamaran is not a specific class, but a group of boats by hull type, the most common I know if is a Hobie Cat.

Creative_Solitude
02-02-2012, 11:53 PM
Thanks. Extremely helpful info. It sounds like a catamaran or a fireball would be perfect since his father would occasionally go along as well. I will Google both of them.


One other question, is there a specific time of year when people go sailing more frequently than other times of the year? Would one go sailing in April?

Drachen Jager
02-03-2012, 12:09 AM
That really depends on the weather. People race year-round but they generally only do day-trips and such when the weather is nice, and turnout at races tends to be higher when the weather is good as well.

Creative_Solitude
02-03-2012, 01:17 AM
That really depends on the weather. People race year-round but they generally only do day-trips and such when the weather is nice, and turnout at races tends to be higher when the weather is good as well.

Thanks again for the insight. It will be very helpful for me when doing further research.

Mark G
02-03-2012, 04:38 AM
My father started a sailboating club when I was 5 or so. I lived what you're talking about, growing up around sailboats and weekender sailing adventures.

We had a Venture 21 (Google "Venture Sailboat" images).

I can't imagine cruising in a small catamaran, because you're out in the weather with no shelter. Big Cats with cabins can't be trailered (at least not with your typical car/truck), meaning lots of maintenance to keep the hull clean if you want to race them. I'd definitely rather be on a big cat in rough water, because seasickness isn't fun.

I have some mixed memories (good/bad) about those times. I'd be happy to share and answer any questions you have.

Creative_Solitude
02-03-2012, 06:01 AM
My father started a sailboating club when I was 5 or so. I lived what you're talking about, growing up around sailboats and weekender sailing adventures.

We had a Venture 21 (Google "Venture Sailboat" images).

I can't imagine cruising in a small catamaran, because you're out in the weather with no shelter. Big Cats with cabins can't be trailered (at least not with your typical car/truck), meaning lots of maintenance to keep the hull clean if you want to race them. I'd definitely rather be on a big cat in rough water, because seasickness isn't fun.

I have some mixed memories (good/bad) about those times. I'd be happy to share and answer any questions you have.

Thanks for this information. And please DO, elaborate on both the good and bad of your experiences for me. I want to convey this aspect of my hero as realistically as possible and as someone who has never even laid a hand on a sail boat let alone sailed in one, I have no frame of reference to draw on so anything you could tell me would be most helpful. You can PM me if you'd like. Thanks again!

Creative_Solitude
02-07-2012, 07:51 PM
I have another question, albeit, a dumb one :) regarding sail boats. I notice that sail boats usually have names, like Mary Jane, for instance. Do they come with names or do their owners simply name the boat themselves?

Drachen Jager
02-07-2012, 09:18 PM
The owner names the boat, but has to find a name that is not already in use in the zone where the boat is registered. It serves a similar function to a license plate, so must be unique.

However, in the US you can register in any state, and each state has a different registry, so you see a lot of boats registered in Arizona or similar, because the owner wanted a name that was already taken in, say California.

Actually, come to think of it, it's more important than a license plate, because that is the name used for radio communications.

Devil Ledbetter
02-07-2012, 09:36 PM
The owner names the boat, but has to find a name that is not already in use in the zone where the boat is registered. It serves a similar function to a license plate, so must be unique.

However, in the US you can register in any state, and each state has a different registry, so you see a lot of boats registered in Arizona or similar, because the owner wanted a name that was already taken in, say California.

Actually, come to think of it, it's more important than a license plate, because that is the name used for radio communications.I'm not certain about that. It seems like every third boat I see is either named Osprey, Serenity or Therapy, and they're not all hailing from different ports. Here's Boat U.S.'s list of most popular boat names by year. (http://www.boatus.com/boatgraphics/names_top10.asp)

In Michigan at least, boats are registered like cars, with with a number prominently displayed (http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10365_10884-34770--,00.html). You can name them whatever you want or nothing at all. There is no dibbing of names.

I agree that racing v. cruising culture is very different in sailboating. For a good picture of the cruising culture, check these magazines out at the library or find their web sites:

Cruising World
Latitudes & Attitudes
Sailing
Sail
Bluewater Sailing

There are also further niches withing cruising sailboaters. Look into Multihulls or Woodenboat to learn more about those.

In general, casual sailors usually are either wealthy or they own used boats and do most of the work themselves. Boats require a lot of maintenance. We have a saying in the industry that a boat is hole in the water where you throw your money. And another saying: Second best day of my life, the day I bought my boat. Best day of my life, the day I sold it.

Sailors have a long history of looking down their nose at powerboats and powerboaters. Their nickname for powerboats stinkpots.

Sailing has a ton of jargon and special names for things. They should be easy enough to find online.

Good luck with this.

Drachen Jager
02-07-2012, 10:06 PM
Ahh, I just looked it up, it's by port, not by state. So each municipality can register boats. That's a bit confusing, most jurisdictions (here in Canada, Europe, some other places I know of) require unique names. It could be quite hazardous to have two vessels answering to the same call in some circumstances, so I'm a bit surprised the US is so lax in this regard. (imagine a hypothetical, two boats named "Leo from Seattle" one is sinking, and loses radio contact, the Coast Guard comes out and contacts "Leo from Seattle" who says, "No, we're fine, no need for help here." CG turns back for home while the other "Leo from Seattle"'s crew drowns).

From the US Coast Guard:

"Documented vessels do not display their official numbers on the outside of the hull, but are identified by the name and hailing port. The application for documentation must include a name for the vessel composed of letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals and may not exceed 33 characters. The name may not be identical, actually or phonetically, to any word or words used to solicit assistance at sea; may not contain or be phonetically identical to obscene, indecent, or profane language, or to racial or ethnic epithets. Once established, a vessel's name may not be changed without application, fees, and the consent of the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center. There is no rule against duplication of names for documented vessels, so hailing ports are helpful in identifying vessels."

Brickcommajason
02-07-2012, 10:16 PM
Just a quick reminder about writing what you know. You can always tell when a virgin writes a love scene, or when a guy who's never done drugs writes about a junkie.

Get yourself on a boat, dude. It will make a world of difference in the final product.

Creative_Solitude
02-07-2012, 10:40 PM
Thanks for your help everyone. I suppose it does make sense that having a unique boat name, or any name would come in handy in case of a rescue

Yes, I do agree that in addition to the research I'm doing it would be good to actually experience sailing to get a feel for it. But as far as writing strictly what one knows, that would make for a pretty boring writing career. I do plenty of things, I sing, I play piano, I run, I lift weights, I sew clothes like nobody's business etc., but am not terribly excited by the idea of writing characters who only do those kinds of things.

My story is not about him as sailor, per se. He just so happens to own his own sailboat and likes to go sailing on occasion. I just want to be able to go into enough detail to capture the nuances of the sailing culture in the chapter I feature him sailing. l plan to reference him sailing in other chapters but in far lesser detail.

Drachen Jager
02-07-2012, 11:33 PM
By the way, all this vessel naming applies to larger craft. Under a certain size boats do not need names, registrations, or radios (although if he races he would have an ID number on his sails). Probably the size you're talking would be below that threshold, but you'd need to check the local laws. If he's concerned about safety your MC might carry a walkie-talkie sized radio, but if that doesn't figure into the plot it's not really a detail worth mentioning. If a nameless boat needs to communicate through official channels (say with the Coast Guard) they would refer to themselves by size (length in feet) or hull classification.

Mark G
02-08-2012, 09:20 PM
FYI, This week one of the writers in our Read & Critique group submitted pages from her memoir about a sailboat race from Long Beach CA to Hawaii. In the story, their radio communication referenced hull number, not name, when they called in on short wave to report their position.

I was too young when we had our sailboat to pay attention to the rules around naming the boat, but I recall being intrigued by boat names. We did not name our 21' boat.