Originally Posted by multiboat
How long (years) would you say it would take a beginner to learn sailing and be able to handle a 40' along the coastlines of US?
Your question is a lot more like "How long is a piece of string?" than you probably realize. I'll let others chime in with more nuanced answers, but to answer your question directly, I'd say 1-3 years if you were FULL TIME dedicated to it, and 3-7 as a part time proposition depending on your effort and study, 6-15 as a background thing that you didn't devote a lot of time to, but did devote some.
BTW I'm assuming that you mean singlehanded since that's the title of this thread. Cut the times by 30-50% if you are taking COMPETENT crew with you.