Originally Posted by stephenbarns
Ok I will oblige you. First look in your local classifieds , craigslist, sailboat trader , to find a boat in your price range. call them up and tell them that you want to look at it. If it looks ok and you think that it is cool tell the seller that you like the boat, but in this buyers market you can't give a nickel over $650 less than the asking price. make sure that he shows you how to raise the sails and all of that type of stuff. On your way home buy a learn to sail book. If possible schedule a ASA basic sailing course , if not just go out on a decently windy day with one of your buddies and break a few things on your new boat, don't be a wimp you will figure it out. This is also the time that you will learn that the previous owner maybe got his $650 out of you. ABOVE ALL ELSE do not try to raise the sails without making sure that the sail is somehow connected to the halyard or you will have to find a new sailing buddy after the 2 of you have to step the mast. Make sure that your anchor rode (rope) is longer than 50 ft or you will just drag around while you are trying to relax. After each sail log on to the sailnet forum and tell us your troubles and someone that has been doing this since they were born will explain exactly how to correct your problem, unfortunatly you will not understand a word that he is saying. No you don't need a liscense to sail if you own the boat, yes you need a drivers liscense to pull one, a marina costs from $50-$300 in avg assuming first timers are not buying a 50 footer. Make sure that you have have all of your lights on and good anchoring overnight ,n case of an emergency press the red button.
While I can't call myself a sailor yet, I have done a bit of research ( probably lots more than the average guy who does own a boat ), gone to boatbuilding school, and talked to a few people who know, and over the years I've developed enough sense to say that the above is an excellent minimalist beginning. I would have mentioned the word scope-5:1 minimum
where possible. 75 feet might not touch bottom off the Maine coast for example. And point upwind when hoisting sail.
I definitely agree that there is a need for a quick source for reliable basic info, especially when you need it right away. The mistake here was the inclusion of the word "everything". For that the best answer might be 42.
Using the forum to start a discussion is a great way to get a lot of varied viewpoints, many of them based in learned knowledge, and it is a way to find that all things can be complicated when you really want all of the answers. If one has enough time then researching past threads can reveal almost an encyclopedic volume of info and opinions. Great when you are bored or if you just like sitting at a computer for hours. For myself, books are more relaxing and comfortable, but the problem is that they don't respond to questions.
Finally, there are decent books out there that explain what to watch out for when inspecting a used sailboat, but for an expensive one ( say over 15K ) to go without an experienced and well reputed surveyor is risky.