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post #2 of Old 02-17-2012
killarney_sailor
Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
 
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Sailing a dinghy will make you more aware of the interactions of boat, waves, and wind than a keelboat and you could some dinghy sailing for that purpose but it is unlikely to be a big deal in preparing you for extended cruising. What you could do is really pay attention to how your boat feels and experiment with adjusting your sails (eg traveller or outhaul) one thing at a time in consistent conditions to see what effect it has on boat speed, heeling, general feel of the boat - approach this very systematically and keep notes.

Don't know the curriculum of the courses in the US, others may comment on this. One other way to improve is to crew for people who are knowledgeable - for example, crew on a trip to or from Bermuda to get some offshore experience. Different skippers, different boats, lots to learn and you will get different takes on how to approach the whole experience - again keep notes.

After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.
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