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shuntphl 07-13-2008 10:07 AM

Chesapeake Newbie Advice
25 years have past since I have stepped onto a sailboat. The last time, I acted as overly enthousiastic 12 yo. crew sailing with family in Sweden and some of the bigger Bavarian lakes.

Well, a lot of time has passed and now I have finally the time, funds and (hopefully) passion to do something more productive with my free time than spending weekends in front of the TV or in the bars in Philadelphia.

I have signed up for the ASA101 class (on the Delaware, yuk, but that's the most convenient place to get started), hope to get my ASA103 shortly after that and then, of course, want to go sailing! Initially, I thought it would be a good idea to look for my own boat (preferably a 25"-30" cruiser, like a 20-yo. affordable Catalina 25), but I think I might be better off feeling the waters first by chartering for the first year to see, if the enthusiasm "sticks".

I live between Philadelphia and Wilmington, so the distance to get to the nearest port is a problem. My best bet is probably a charter from Havre De Grace, but I realized that you have to motor for about a hour until you even can set sails and I am questioning, if that HdG is a good starting point for day trips or, if I should rather travel more south to the Annapolis area or the Eastern part (Easton, MD) of the Bay.

The other option would be the Jersey shores and I am aware that there's probably a huge difference between sailing in the Bay and coastal cruising, but I think for starters the Bay looks just more attractive (and easier?) to learn, however I do realize that the Bay, especially in the far North, is relatively shallow. And there is probably a lot more "to do" as far as destinations compared to coastal cruising, where you're also more dependent on wind direction.

Does anyone have any advise for the best areas in the Bay to get started? I am looking primarily for daysails to practice. Overnight and weekends can come later, because I think that you need at least the "Bareboat chartering" course to charter.

Thank you!!

speciald 07-13-2008 10:35 AM

Annapolis Sailing School has a "become a sailor in one weekend" course for about $400. They then have a series of Mini-vacation" corses on the Bay where a fleet sails from place to place. These courses are great introductions to sailing and the Chesapeake Bay. My wife and I did the courses 30 years ago and have had a sailboat of our own since then. We currently live on our boat in Baltimore and will move back to the Caribbean after hurricaine season.

SVAuspicious 07-13-2008 11:07 AM

I believe a lot of Philadelphia folks drive down to Rock Hall. Lot's of places to keep boats and some charter opportunities.

shuntphl 07-13-2008 12:23 PM

Thanks for the "mini-vacation" courses and Rock Hall.

It seems that the fees for ASA vary by a wide margin, because I can get the ASA courses in Philadelphia for exactly half the price. I don't mean to offend, but are some schools ripping off students by offering the exact same ASA courses for almost twice as much? I have the ASA-101 and 103 ranging from $300 up to $900(!), all of them providing more or less the same (entire weekend, 20+" boat). Or do the "bargain" fees equal less quality. I wouldn't think so, because the standard for certification seem to be well defined.

Another question: What level of certification (if any) is expected by chartering daysailers. Do all bareboat charters require ASA-104? What exactly is the difference between chartering a daysailer vs. bareboat, except for the size?


sailaway21 07-13-2008 12:51 PM

My advise might be a bit different from some of the cruiser oriented types here. I'd say that you should get a trailer-sailer, probably for well under $5000 and then see if the allure sticks. You can slip it, moor it, or trailer it as you choose. If life interrupts, you can park it in your driveway. And if you decide that sailing isn't for you, you'll likely sell it for what you bought it for. And you'll also do more sailing due to size, shallow draft, and lack of need for crew.

chuck5499 07-13-2008 01:09 PM

any time you take a sailing course you learn something and the more course the more you learn - instead of 104 next you may want to consider 105 - at this stage in your learning nav may be more important as you toolbox of information increases -
just my thoughts
chuck and svsoulmates
fulltime curiser now - in hampton river for a few days

shuntphl 07-13-2008 01:09 PM

Well, a trailer sailer is out of the question, because my car (Mini Cooper) cannot tow anything and my backyard is not designed for boat storage (not accessible). And, of course, with the current (and future) gas prices, trailing (70-100m to Chesapeake) is mostly likely even more expensive than just leasing a slip somewhere.

I think I just go with a few daysails and later bareboat charters for a while and then decide, if it economically makes sense to become a boat owner.


T37Chef 07-13-2008 01:23 PM


Originally Posted by shuntphl (Post 340764)
then decide, if it economically makes sense to become a boat owner.


Good Luck with that decision :D!

I would have to second Sway's suggestion, a trailer sailor gives you more options. There is no reason you couldn't keep the boat in a slip during the season. When you want to move it with the trailer you have options as well, a friend with a truck? tow truck? rent a truck? etc....

You may even be able to store the boat in a Hi & Dry, if light enough they can use the forklift to drop it in the water when you want to go out

Catalina makes a nice trailer sailor.

T37Chef 07-13-2008 01:27 PM

In addition, I would look at some of the marinas around Rockhall Maryland. Swan Creek Marina for example.

shuntphl 07-13-2008 01:35 PM

Well, I figured that you can do a quite a bit chartering when you add up the initial price of a starter boat (20 yo. C-25 ~$5-10k), the slip ($2-4k), insurance, etc. This all adds up to about $500/month and for that price you can do quite a bit of chartering considering that a bareboat is about $100/day, if you take a few friends along and split the cost. That means that you can do a good 5 sails/month - and have to do about 60 days of sailing a year to break (economically) even.

Of course, you don't really own a boat, but it'll give me the advantage of trying different ports and different boats without having the need to "settle down", only to find out later that I should have gone with a bigger/different boat or should have chosen a more accessible and interesting port for day/weekend trips.

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