* Take sailing classes at a local school with cruising boats.
* Have this conversation with your instructor during a lunch break.
* When the class is over go on a captained trip using one of the cruising boats that is capable of such a voyage and get to sail it a little bit yourself.
The book will read much more authentically if the boat that you write about is one that you've sailed on. It isn't that important that it is a specific make and model, it's more important that when you write a little bit about sailing that it sounds like you've sailed similar boats before.
As I said somewhere else:
I am smiling because of the few comments that I've gotten along the lines of 'go sailing yourself' or 'get an instructor'. Who ever said I wasn't?
When I started on this story years ago I had done a bit of scuba diving in the med as a child. Since some of the story has to do with diving, I decided I didn't know enough about it. I left everything behind (job, friends, boyfriend, cats) and went to leave in South-East Asia and the Middle-East for two years. I trained as a scuba instructor so I could support myself. I ended up doing a lot of technical diving and some commercial too. No-one there called me a fraud and I'm hoping my readers won't either. I loved every day of it of course.
Now I'm getting to write another part of the book which has to do with a long sailing journey across the oceans. What do you think I'm going to do? Why would anyone automatically assume that I'm happy with just asking questions on the Internet? What makes these people think that I haven't yet started taking lessons at our local club? Is it lack of imagination, snobbery or arrogance that dominates their thinking pattern? How about we all stopped making assumptions and just got on instead?
The truth is that sailing is a much bigger subject than Scuba, although there probably would be some proud diver to disagree. One instructor, as good as they may be, will not hold all the answers. As Jeff has already pointed out, anyone's answer will only reflect their personality. Even if I wanted to spend another two years writing the book, it wouldn't be enough to give me the combined knowledge that all of you hold. A lifetime wouldn't be enough. So I have to ask, even if it means becoming the recipient of other people's negative, unimaginative projections and uncourteous manners. I don't care. What I'm doing matters too much and anyway and there are so many very good people to make up for the others.