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Old 07-11-2012
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Re: new to sailing

Lake Norman is a great place to learn!

CREW! is my suggestion. Everyone needs crew for Sunday races (or beercan races). Pick keelboat cruisers to crew on first (make sure to tell them you are a newbie, but willing to learn). They'll likely be more willing to teach, and more forgiving to a newbie. I think Lake Norman Yacht Club is the best place to start, they seem to have the most active fleets.

You'll find out quickly what boats you like and which ones you don't by crewing. You'll learn fast, just like the lessons, and generally it won't cost you a penny (they might even provide soda/beer, offer to bring beer/soda, be prepared to cough up money for either or even for food just in case). Wear decent shoes for the boat (no black soles or the like).

Most of all have fun! So many people buy a boat THEN learn to sail. Crewing allows you to learn to sail on boats that might be out of reach (now) from people who know them (hopefully) well. It allows you to figure out what you like and don't. As you get better crewing, you'll likely work your way up to all aspects of crewing, including basic navigation, helmsman, trimmer, and bow work.

Finally stick around to help "clean up." You'll learn as much about boat ownership with the cleanup, as you will sailing.
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