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AbelCasillas1 08-12-2004 07:33 PM

Best way to learn how to sail?
I have dreams of sailing off and cruising to far away places becoming one with the elements. I have two problems: I don''t have a boat and I don''t know anything about sailing. The first one I am in the process of researching the right one to purchase thats suits my needs and budget. Now the second problem how and where do I learn to sail? How do I go about finding a good instructor, coarse or class? Which brings me an interesting question. Can someone teach themself to sail?

sailingfool 08-12-2004 07:39 PM

Best way to learn how to sail?
54 Attachment(s)
My opinion is that YES one can teach themself to sail, provided you are carefully and fortunate enough not to kill yourself by accident.

good luck.

Jeff_H 08-13-2004 03:22 AM

Best way to learn how to sail?
Having taught probably hundreds of people to sail over the years, it is posible to teach yourself to sail by reading and spending a lot of time on the water, but it is much easier to either have an introductory course or to have someone coaching you a little during the process. Depending on where you are based there are often low cost courses covering many of the aspects of boat operation offered through Community Colleges, the Red Cross, Power Squadron, and Coast Guard Auxillary.

There are a whole range of sailing schools out there. Steve Colgate''s schools always gets high marks. J-world offers a more performance oriented program. Boat shows will sometimes have intro to sailing seminars.

You can also often get to sail with other, more knowledgeable sailors. Local sailing magazines and websites often have the names of people looking for crew. Local sailing clubs will often have members who are looking for crew. Here on the Chesapeake, local municipalities sometimes run one day intro to sailing days.

Then there is the issue of how well you wish to sail. As Ihave said quite a few times on this BB, we each decide how good a sailor we would like to be. Some of us prefer to really understand how to sail well. Others only want to know enough to get the boat out of a slip and sail her home safely.

If you really want to learn to sail well, I would suggest that your first boat either be a small daysailor or dinghy (13-16 feet) if you are athletic or else a 23 to 28 foot, responsive fin keel-spade rudder sloop. These types of boats will give the kind of feedback that will greatly accellerate your learning process.

In the end,learning to sail comes down to how well you want to learn, reading, getting lots of time on the water, and that other intangible quality, whether you have an aptitude for sailing.


AbelCasillas1 08-14-2004 10:03 AM

Best way to learn how to sail?
Jeff again thank you sharing your knowledge and time with me I really appreciate it. You are contributing to my growing passion for sailing and I know some day some will come to pass.

lgsailor19 08-16-2004 03:39 AM

Best way to learn how to sail?
Abel, I would start with getting some time as crew on sailboats in your area, and enrolling in a beginner''s class. There are many sailing schools available, such as the Annapolis Sailing School, Colgate, etc. You may also find local sailing classes/schools at the high school or university in your area. I learned the basics at a county lake that had a great sailing school, and rental sailboats. Start by going to the area near your home where there are sailboats, and asking about crewing. Happy Sailing!!

penthink 08-19-2004 09:20 AM

Best way to learn how to sail?
Congratulations on your interest. I say that as a relatively new sailor - I have been doing it now for about five years, and approached it exactly the same way you did. Woke up one day and wanted to sail. Two things I can say are, just try to get on board boats, and definitely attend some sort of school. I would not necessarily advise crewing on a raceboat just yet, as there is a great deal of screaming in some instances and that could scare you away from the pursuit. Walk the docks. Talk with people. Almost every boat owner you meet, if you show a little interest, will invite you to sail with him or her. And in my opinion, most sailors love to tell you what they are doing and why they are doing it. Secondly, I had the good fortune to attend a J World learn to sail course this past spring, and it was amazing how much better of a sailor it made me. They are not inexpensive, but in my opinion, they are a better investment than a boat in the beginning. I bought the boat first and scared myself and those sailing with me almost to death before I knew what I was doing. Now, with a bit of experience and that course under my belt, I am a better, and perhaps more importantly SAFER sailor than I otherwise would have been for years. I now cruise with my better half and we both thoroughly enjoy it. There are many ways to learn, but those are my suggestions. Most of all, have fun. It is the greatest sport on earth, in my opinion.

mikehoyt 08-19-2004 09:42 AM

Best way to learn how to sail?
I will echo others opinions here.

1. take an adult sailing class.

2. crew on a boat in your local club''s wednesday (or whatever) night races. There is always someone looking for a crew.

You will learn more about sailing while racing (sail handling, trim, etc...) racing than just about any other way.

Once you know how to sail then it is time to learn boat handling ... which is not always a s easy. Power Squadron courses are good as is experience. Start on a small boat and build up also.

Sailing is a lot of fun while learning .. enjoy!



Busdrver 08-19-2004 12:41 PM

Best way to learn how to sail?
I''m 48 and have taking up sailing just this year after having never sailed before (To speak of). We purchased a very used Cal25 back in May and sail it on a lake. Even though my wife and I dearly love the Cal and feel that it is stable, fairly responsive, comfortable and easy to sail, in hindsight, I really wish we had bought a smaller day sailer, for all the reasons Jeff mentioned, to start with then move to the big cruiser after gaining experience.


BarryL 08-22-2004 06:56 PM

Best way to learn how to sail?

Last year, after sitting in another traffic jam returning from a weekend camping trip with our family, my wife said "you know, we live on an island, we should get a boat." At first I scoffed at the idea. A power boat didn''t appeal to either of us, but the thought of sail boat was interesting. Years ago (more than I care to admit) in high school, I did some sailing on friend''s parent''s boats, and I had fond memories from it.

Anyway, to shorten this, we ended up buying a 1981 Catalina 22. I read a lot of books, watched a few videos, and took a 1 hour sailing class. Basically, I learned by reading and doing.

Take your time, start sailing in only good conditions (wind in the 5-10 kt range), read lots of books, practice practice practice, ask questions here, and you CAN learn to sail.

This year we sold the C22 (and the motorhome) and bought a Newport 28, and I hope to do some overnight - weekend trips.

In case anyone is interested, I live on Long Island, NY, I am 40 years old, married, and have 3 kids, 3, 6, 10.


ooll 09-03-2004 06:39 AM

Best way to learn how to sail?
My husband and I want to learn how to sail, but we have been receiving mixed messages on the best way to go about it. Our long term goal is offshore sailing. We have been told with this goal not to take lesssons in a lake but go directly to the coast. Also not to buy and boat and cruise on a lake but buy at the coast to get to learn sailing with a current. Also just to take a basic course and not bother with the intermediate as you can learn that on your own. I feel if we buy a small keel boat on a lake it must give us some valuable experience????? Plus we could get out more often as we live inland not near the coast? The argument to this was learning in a lake doesn''t give you much experience for offshore??? Your opinions would be appreciated. thankyou

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