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post #2 of Old 03-09-2006
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A few years ago I taught a husband and wife how to sail my then 25' boat in an hour. They steered and tacked the boat and handled the sails with coordination, and I didn't have to help. By the next weekend, they had bought a new boat and trailer and tow vehicle, and got along fine.

It's not difficult to learn the basics that are necessary to sail the boat, but why tough it out, learning the hard way? Thirty years ago, I took two basic sailing courses from a good sailing school, and still made some dumb mistakes the first few times out.

But, you don't even need to go to a sailing school. Find an experienced sailor who is willing to let you crew for him, and teach you. You need to learn how and when to raise, lower and reef the sails, how to trim the sails in relation to the wind direction and wind speed, and how to steer the boat. Those things aren't difficult to learn, but if you try to figure it all out by yourself, it'll probably be so frustrating that it'll take the fun out of it.

Also, a person who knows how to sail can singlehand a 27 foot boat fairly easily, but it'll be a handful for a person who doesn't know how to sail, and it could be dangerous. You definitely don't want to get whacked by the boom.

If you don't have a sailing friend to teach you, check with any local sailing club. They're usually looking for volunteers to crew for them, no experience necessary. Learn some of the basics, such as how to raise, lower and put away the sails. Ask the skipper to allow you to sail the boat on the way to or from the racecourse, and to explain the basics of sail trim. Ask questions. After 3-4 times out, you should be much more able to sail a boat yourself. If you're not going to actually buy a boat for a couple of years, you have plenty of time to learn by crewing.
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