Boat to learn on
The towing capacity of your S10 is going to determine a lot here. The newest <a href="http://www.catalinayachts.com/yachts.cfm?act=model&id=15">Catalina 22</a> with swing keel weighs 2,300 lbs. Add 500 lbs. of trailer, outboard, fuel & equipment, and you''re pulling 1 1/2 tons. Is that Chevy rated for 3,000 lbs.? Do you want to pull 3,000 lbs? If this sounds like fun, make sure you have a <em>double-axle</em> trailer with good brakes. How old is your master cylinder? (I wonder how many feet it would take that S10 to go from 55mph to a stop on a 5% grade w/ 3,000 lbs. of pleasure craft that <em>really</em> wants to get to the lake pushing your rear bumper? Just wondering. How''s your insurance?)<P>I believe learning on a 14'' centerboard dinghy will make you a more competent, confident sailor faster, and isn''t that the whole point early in the game? Let me try to sell you on the advantages:<ol><li> Without a ballasted keel, a dinghy''s light weight makes it very responsive.</li><li>A tiller gives you more feedback than a wheeled keelboat.</li><li>Without a ballasted keel, the need to distribute crew weight effectively to counter heeling forces keeps all your senses, including kinesthetic, focused on all the basic interacting forces affecting your boat: wind, wave, heel, hull and sail balance, and hull and sail trim.</li><li>Crew must communicate and work as a team. Since your wife is a woman (presumably), she will feel involved and valued. What''s that word they use? "Partner"? They like that.<P>The above 4 factors, combined, create the synergy that propels the steeper learning curve. (The spouse is a separate learning curve that transects every other expression as the function W(T)/M=X, where W equals Wife, T equals Time, M equals Money, and X equals either wisdom or confusion, depending on the polarity of W.</li><P><li>No outboard motor and its attendant operating and maintenance hassles (anyone ever get to the ramp & discover you''d forgotton to stop for gasoline for the OB? Or pre-mix? Or can''t get it started?). Then there are impellers, shear pins, oil changes, winterizing…<li>You can''t get into as much trouble as fast in a dinghy, relatively speaking, and when you do, you will instinctively rely on your burgeoning sailing skill, not some lawnmower strapped to the transom, to get you out.</li><li>It is easy to maintain and store: hose it off, drain it, cover it, in the driveway. And the neighbors won''t shake their heads and mutter as they pass. Try that with a C22, which on the trailer hits 25 ft. in length, over 9 ft. in height, and <em>thousands</em> of pounds of curb weight. That''s the cubic volume & weight of a small travel trailer. You have to store it <em>somewhere</em>, and your wife had better like it. Do you have kids? The tongue weight on that trailer is about 100-150 lbs. What about the neighbor kids?</li><li>Because it''s so easy to hook up, pull, rig and launch, and recover, you will take it out more often. Don''t underestimate this factor. I live 5 minutes from the water, but my C22 always took two strong men and two hours to hook up the trailer @ the storage yard, tow to the ramp across town, step the mast, rig, and launch, and two more to get it home. That was on days the trailer lights worked. I used a Ford F250 5.0 liter V8. Acceleration & braking was no problem, but I was anxious towing it every yard on the street, esp. approaching stale green lights. I started to avoid four hours of worry and work for a daysail, after a couple of launches. With the dinghy, it was 30 minutes from inspiration to filling the sails, and my 1600cc VW Golf never knew it was there. And you have several miles of hills to cover every time? </li><li>Good luck pulling a boat the weight of a C22 up a wet, slimy ramp with an S10. How much of that V6 translates into traction with so little weight over the rear axle? I don''t know. Anyone out there want to give a thumbs up/down on this?</li><li>Light air days still make for enjoyable sails and satisfying learning, and so puts your sailing more on your schedule. For weekenders, this is priceless.</ol>
Sure, there are some disadvantages. You will likely, but not necessarily, flip it over. You will get wet & lose some gear that wasn''t tied to the boat. The wife might not <em>want</em> to get wet. If the wind dies completely, you will row it in. You will have to sell it to move up sooner, since you''ve learned faster. But if you bought a one-design in good condition with an active fleet nearby, and didn''t thrash it, that money goes right back into the big boat kitty, you''ve basically rented it for next to nothing except the registration tags, and you have knowledge about what type of keelboat might suit your sailing style and tastes (is this really a disadvantage?)<P>If you have miles to travel to sail in a small truck, <em>any</em> storage issue, really want to learn what you''re doing quickly instead of just look cool on the lake, interact with your spouse, are young and agile enough to right it after a spill, and have the temperment to climb back in, laugh, and continue without your sunglasses, then a centerboard dinghy is for you. Even one season with it is a great investment for a beginning sailor.<P>Now having said all that, a <em>ballasted</em> daysailor might make a lot of sense for you. The S10 will pull it comfortably, it''s a relatively dry ride, storage @ home is more reasonable, one man can rig, launch and recover it, and the learning curve is still steep. For performance, the previously mentioned <a href="http://www.r19fleet5.org">Rhodes 19</a> is a daysailor with a fixed ballasted keel ready to carry a picnic lunch (curb weight around 1325lbs). A <a href="http://www.flyingscot.com">Flying Scot 19</a>, at 1200 lbs. incl. trailer, will plane in 15 kts w/ a swing keel. Though not a performance boat, the <a href="http://www.wwpotter.com">West Wight Potter</a> (15'' @ 850 lbs. curb weight; 19" @ 1725 lbs.) is a swing-keel micro-cruiser that sleeps two in a small cabin: add an anchor & tackle, an ice chest, camp stove and porta-potty and maybe a small outboard to stay the weekend on the water. Paulk, can the R19 launch from a trailer with that fixed keel? I''ve only seen pics of them on lifts.<P>I hope my biases are obvious. Take this post for what it''s worth. Whatever you decide on, just make sure there is an active fleet nearby for ease of resale.