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Where to get formal offshore training

Old 09-21-2020, 05:16 PM
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Default Where to get formal offshore training

I'm a long time fresh water lake boater/fisherman from upper midwest but no formal training on the ocean, tide navigation systems etc. Just bought a home in Naples and will be getting a boat (35-42'CC) but would like to get some formal training on open water navigation, safety, tides, reading charts etc. - looking for recommendations on types of training and certifications.

Thanks all - Olgy
Old 09-21-2020, 05:18 PM
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Hire a Captain to get started, not all Captians just fish.

I don't know anyone down that way, but someone will chime in.
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Old 09-21-2020, 05:28 PM
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Go through a USCG OUPV course. A lot of practical information. Get in your boat and fish it. Use your electronics and match your maps to buoys and other data on your GPS map. Learn to use your radar. Everybody has one, but not everybody uses it or knows how to use it. If you are investing in a big center console, you can afford the best and most idiot proof electronics you can buy. Start small and go find wrecks and other submerged objects on your map. Itís not hard, itís addictive.
Old 09-21-2020, 05:30 PM
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Not exactly near you but there is Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart, FL. You can also pay for them to come to you. I've never used them, but Chapman is certainly a good name to be associated with.
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Old 09-21-2020, 05:36 PM
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40 ft is a pretty big boat to start with
join a boat club for 6 mos and get comfortable with a 20 something footer first

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Old 09-21-2020, 06:08 PM
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Olgy, what size and type of vessel are you used to operating, if I may ask?
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Old 09-21-2020, 06:13 PM
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Old 09-21-2020, 06:38 PM
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There are three primary causes of offshore deaths.
1) Getting caught in bad weather
2) Lack of maintenance or being unprepared for things failing while offshore
3) Lack of safety equipment

Learn to read weather forecasts and be mindful of frontal systems.
Amazon Amazon

Learn the boat's systems and keep it maintained. Especially the 12v systems and motors (this means the fuel system as well)
Get a PLB.
Get a handheld radio
Get an AIS transponder and a radio with dsc and distress.
https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=4198686
Read this:
https://www.landfallnavigation.com/the-radar-book.html

Search ditch bag threads.
Old 09-21-2020, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 54bullwinkle View Post
40 ft is a pretty big boat to start with
join a boat club for 6 mos and get comfortable with a 20 something footer first
I've had a few bass boats and Sea Ray Cruisers up to 36' but never a multiple outboard or CC - so somewhat comfortable with the size but not the CC format and more importantly being on the open seas, from what I can tell joystick steering (which I have never used) helps quite a bit with maneuvering.
Old 09-22-2020, 05:54 AM
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United States Power Squadron is also a good group of folks with course work and a lot of experience to help you. I know they have a group in Cape Coral. Not sure if there is a group in Naples.
Old 09-22-2020, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by 54bullwinkle View Post
40 ft is a pretty big boat to start with
join a boat club for 6 mos and get comfortable with a 20 something footer first

I have very limited experience of helming a 40ft+ boats, but I'd say it's so different to a 20ft, that going from a 20ft to a 40ft is almost like starting again anyway (and if I was making that jump I would still want some own boat training no matter my length of experience on a 20ft boat), so given the OP's previous experience, if the cost is not an issue (like it would be for me!), he might as well go straight to the bigger boat.
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Old 09-22-2020, 10:10 AM
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The 36' sea ray you ran gives you plenty of experience to run a 40' CC. A good 40' CC will be easier to dock, more forgiving in sloppy water, and a hell of lot more fun.

Since you are a GL boater going the gulf you'll have some new navigation skills to work on. The hardest thing for me to get used to was the shallow water everywhere. We GL boaters are used to a lot of water under the boat, in the gulf it's shallow. When running around Naples you'll find sand banks 3 miles from land that you can walk on, it's cool, but don't assume just because you are 3 miles out that you'll have water.

All the rest of the navigating is pretty normal. Sure you'll have to learn a little about current and tide. Weather is weather, waves are waves, if it's windy it's likely to be rough, no wind, flat water.

Running the IC is fun, it's well marked and your chartplotter will show you what's obvious just to double check.

Power squadron classes are great, plus you'll meet some local boaters.

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Old 09-22-2020, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Olgy View Post
I've had a few bass boats and Sea Ray Cruisers up to 36' but never a multiple outboard or CC - so somewhat comfortable with the size but not the CC format and more importantly being on the open seas, from what I can tell joystick steering (which I have never used) helps quite a bit with maneuvering.
Some advice on the joystick, learn how to maneuver your boat without it first and try to only use it as a last resort. Like all things electronic/mechanical it may one day fail and you'll be happy knowing you can operate your boat without it. Multi engine boats are fairly easy to maneuver anyways at the dock and give you a lot of options and flexibility.

I almost never even turn on my bow thruster for the same reasons.
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ct Contender View Post
Some advice on the joystick, learn how to maneuver your boat without it first and try to only use it as a last resort. Like all things electronic/mechanical it may one day fail and you'll be happy knowing you can operate your boat without it. Multi engine boats are fairly easy to maneuver anyways at the dock and give you a lot of options and flexibility.

I almost never even turn on my bow thruster for the same reasons.
I understand learning to deal without the joystick in case of a failure but, after paying probably 15K for a tool (which is what a joystick is), there is absolutely no reason not to use it. That would be like turning off the power steering or ABS in your car (if you could) just because it made driving too easy.
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Steelers0355 View Post
I understand learning to deal without the joystick in case of a failure but, after paying probably 15K for a tool (which is what a joystick is), there is absolutely no reason not to use it. That would be like turning off the power steering or ABS in your car (if you could) just because it made driving too easy.
If thatís what they cost Iíd rather spend it on fishing tackle. But I guess if weíre talking about buying a new 40í center console saving money probably isnít much of a concern.
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:55 PM
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My .02, definitely start with a course. They became law in my state for boaters licenses when I was 18 (I had been on and around boats since I was a child) so took it and still learned a few things. I believe in Florida you need one (I could be wrong), but even if you donít take it. Itíll give you the basics and the difference between inland lakes and saltwater buoys etc. For book learning, the next thing Iíd suggest is Chapmanís piloting and seamanship. I graduated college 6 years ago and itís the only book I have read cover to cover in about 10 years...It has a lot of info, things you may not think of like basic knots etc.

When it comes to on the water fishing/driving, every single boat handles different and there are so many variables you need to just put the time in. I was shocked at what I didnít know going from being the ďfirst mateĒ on my parents boats and running the boat offshore or trolling with it vs when I bought my own and didnít have anyone there with me teaching me on it and had to dock or tie up to another boat etc. Now after ~140 engine hours behind the wheel Iím pretty comfortable in knowing how to handle in most situations. Other than that find a local captain and rent him out for a half day and learn as much you can from them.
Old 09-22-2020, 06:34 PM
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I also transitioned from Great Lakes to Gulf. I agree that itís the shallows, not the open gulf that will be hardest to learn.
weíre on Marco, south of Naples - where all the good boating is. Sand bars move too. So even though youíre in a marked channel and following your breadcrumbs from 3 weeks ago, you may touch bottom.
Ive learned that a decently newish chart plotter will find any wreck or reef. Itís not hard.
by the way, waterfront restaurants have limited slips that will accommodate a bigger beamier boat. Also going to sand bars (and getting off again) is more difficult. You donít really need 40 ft for the gulf unless your going 80 miles plus off shore.
I think 30 or 32 is the perfect size for Naples area.
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Pelagic295 View Post
I also transitioned from Great Lakes to Gulf. I agree that itís the shallows, not the open gulf that will be hardest to learn.
weíre on Marco, south of Naples - where all the good boating is. Sand bars move too. So even though youíre in a marked channel and following your breadcrumbs from 3 weeks ago, you may touch bottom.
Ive learned that a decently newish chart plotter will find any wreck or reef. Itís not hard.
by the way, waterfront restaurants have limited slips that will accommodate a bigger beamier boat. Also going to sand bars (and getting off again) is more difficult. You donít really need 40 ft for the gulf unless your going 80 miles plus off shore.
I think 30 or 32 is the perfect size for Naples area.
Maybe even 28 if inshore fishing is on the agenda. I also fish out of Marco and when I first started boating I thought I would be able to run offshore whenever I wanted to do so. I quickly learned that was not the case and those 10,000 islands offered much protection from wind and rough seas. No way would I own a 40 ft. boat as my only boat. Now a 40 and a 18 flats boat would be sweet.
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Olgy View Post
I'm a long time fresh water lake boater/fisherman from upper midwest but no formal training on the ocean, tide navigation systems etc. Just bought a home in Naples and will be getting a boat (35-42'CC) but would like to get some formal training on open water navigation, safety, tides, reading charts etc. - looking for recommendations on types of training and certifications.

Thanks all - Olgy
You missed one of the biggest items. Learning to interpret and predict what the weather will do in your new location. On a flat calm day with a functioning chart plotter and a cup full of common sense, most people get by ok. It's not getting compromised by weather you hadn't sllowed for that is one of the bigger risks.
Old 09-22-2020, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by SRQMynatt View Post
Hire a Captain to get started, not all Captians just fish.

I don't know anyone down that way, but someone will chime in.
This. Take the course(s) as suggested and then find a captain who does on the water instruction and who does fish as well so he understands where youíre coming from and can pass you all the right knowledge. I was in a somewhat similar situation as you a few years ago. Hire a captain who will go out with you on your boat. Tell them you want them to teach you everything and in particular you want practice in dealing with the tough stuff and things going wrongó fog, running at night, losing power in one motor or both, losing steering, all types of docking, anchoring, sandbars etc etc etc. Make checklists of what to do and memorize them and drill them. And in addition to all of the offshore safety equipment, get Sirius satellite weather, radar, a FLIR(fixed mount is fine), a lightbar, and never tempt fate with storms if you can avoid it.

If you have a bad feeling about something listen to your gut and know that discretion is the better part of valor offshore.
-Slight vibration in the boat that you havenít felt before and you canít find the source? Stay nearshore and fish instead of heading offshore, at least until you get it checked out.
-The forecast is for calm seas and youíre fifty miles out, but thereís suddenly a funny energy in the air and the winds starts to pick up a bit? Pull in the riggers, stow the rods, check your Sirius for nearby lightning strikes and hammer down out of the area.
-You have a nice fish boat side much faster than expected and itís big and green? Donít try and be a hero with the gaff. Consider backing down on the drag and letting the fish expend some energy. And get a harpoon for your next trip!
-Just got a new harpoon but never used it? Donít try it out the first time on a sea monster, try it out on a few smaller fish first to make sure it goes smoothly so no one gets killed.
(Some of these are a little over the top, but they are all from the capt I hired or other captains I chartered with when on vacation over the years)

Anyway, thereís so much to say, so much great advice from others here, and youíre going to have a blast. I grew up freshwater and inshore fishing and came to the offshore game later in life and thereís nothing like it! Just speaking for offshore, you want a big boat and even then youíll be picking your days carefully.

Man, Iím excited for you!


Last edited by rwp2101; 09-22-2020 at 08:17 PM.
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