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Old 11-18-2009
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Don't discount any of the advice offered...

It is all a different part of what you will experience.

Racing is not bad, if you are new to sailing and want to learn fast:
* Need to claw off a lee shore in bad weather?
* Need to get the chute down fast?
* Want to make good time to the next port to beat weather or night?
* Want to learn differnt ways to sail many boats?
You will learn these things better and faster sailing on multiple race boats. I hate racing, but I know how. It is VITAL that a cruiser know how to ring every knot out of their boat, even if they don't often choose to.

Buy dingy and sell it in the fall. Something with a jib (Precision 15, Albacor) that you can go out and push to the edge of the envelope. You will get back what you paid for it and learn a ton about how a bigger boat will handle conditions you hope to never see. I am amazed how many big boat sailors freeze up when the engine fails, because they never learned how to sail without a motor. I've actually sailed into my slip twice (different boats - engine failures).

Have fun and don't focus on equipment until you learn more.
(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")

"Well, I just climb up to them."

by Joe Brown, English rock climber

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Old 11-18-2009
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Remember, you don't need to take huge steps.....Get the boat in a slip that has good access to daysailing. After gaining that experience take a few short cruises. We cruise with the seasons on the East Coast,- there is no downside! 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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