Advice on how and where to start Sailing - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-09-2012 Thread Starter
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Advice on how and where to start Sailing

Hi All,

I'm considering making a move to follow a dream, get a boat and learn how to sail. Admittedly I don't know much about sailing or the life, I have lived in Colorado for all 29 years of my life and have only spent a couple days sailing in the gulf. I've thought about this everyday for the last year so its not completely random, I've read some books and recently found this website so I'm trying to learn a little. Great website BTW!

I have come up with several different plans on how to approach moving and getting into sailing. Currently I'm thinking about starting by moving out east, Florida maybe, rent a house for a little while, try and find a part time job on a sailboat or golf course, and start learning to sail, find a comfortable marinara and eventually buy one. I'm thinking a liveaboard, start learning in one area, then eventually do some longer trips.

Any recommendations on a good sailing community to move to for a start? Friendly people and not overly expensive. What is a good boat for a beginner? I imagine there are sailing classes to learn about sailing or maybe even someone who'd be willing to show a newbie a thing or two? My goal is to get out there sometime in early February.

Any advice or help is greatly appreciated!

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post #2 of 13 Old 12-09-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

Wherever you choose to try as a location, by far the easiest way to get into sailing and learn lots quickly is to try to get on as volunteer crew for a local (not so serious) racing fleet. Boats are often shorthanded, and reliable, regular, eager and agile crewmembers are always in demand.

Even better, if you can manage to get rides on a variety of boats, then when it's time to start shopping for yourself you'll have a much better idea of what you'd like/need/want for yourself.

Best of luck.. and welcome to Sailnet!


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post #3 of 13 Old 12-09-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

There are many means to your dreams. But here are a few to start:

1. Don't put the buggy before the horse. Don't buy a boat to learn how to sail. It is not like buying a bicycle and learn to ride. Sail with other's boat from sailing school, volunteering, join a sailing club, be a slave for a week. etc. Be observant, you can learn what the right thing to do from good captain and you also learn what not to thing from a bad captain.

Of course, if money is not an issue, this approach is not so applicable.

2. Don't lean to sail from friends. Just like leaning skiing with friends, it usually sucks. Lean to ski from ski school. This is particular true in the beginning lesson. Sharpening your skills from sailing friends and other captains.

3. Don't forget about the basis science that you have learn from College, it helps you understand why the boat reacts this and that way. Use them to your advantage.

Be patient, and doing it right the first time is least expensive and most enjoyable.

Good Luck.

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post #4 of 13 Old 12-09-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

My first sailing experience was on a Sunfish. I suspect many here also started on small one-design boats. If you can find a small boat that has some decent performance characteristics, it will teach you a lot about sailing. Then move up to something with a headsail. My first real sailboat was a Lightning. Crewing on somebody's large boat is a great idea but you'll get better feel for what makes sailboats go on a smaller boat not to mention that sailing small one-designs is a blast! The best hands-on is in something you can tip over, jibe, pinch, get knocked down, etc. and sail 100% by yourself without any disastrous consequences. Just bail her out and go again. Transferring the skills to a larger keelboat is easy.
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post #5 of 13 Old 12-09-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

Colorado has quite a few sailors, some of whom we've sailed with. Are you in the Denver/front range area? The season is done but you can still be meeting local sailors; also Denver will have a boat show coming up early in the new year. The Colorado sailing foundation does some adult learn-to-sail, and the Victoria sailing school does lessons both locally and on big water, if I recall. And the folks at the sailing ship in Lyons can be fun to visit.
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post #6 of 13 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

"find a comfortable marinara and eventually buy one."
When it comes to a good marinara, the rule of thumb is no more than 7 ingredients.

FWIW, I did it pretty much the way you spelled it out, except in California. Now that's not to say that you should discount the advice mentioned above. I sailed my boat for over a year before ever crewing aboard another and was pleased that what the experienced guys did was not much different than what I did. A lot of that has to do with taking the sage (and free) advice of SNers. The main point is to just do it. Walk in to a yacht club, buy a beer and chat up a salty old codger and the rest will take care of itself.

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post #7 of 13 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

I envy you .... to understand that life is short and you have to grab all you can at such a young age gives me hope for the future. Well, maybe a bit over the top but it is nice to see.

As others have written...Just do it. If you can relocate go find a warm climate with some water nearby and in no time you will have many friends that sail I am sure. Go out with them and when you know what you want in a first boat(and can spend) get it and never look back. Be sure to post your progress so that I (and I'm sure many more) may live vicariously through you.

Rock on with your bad self!!
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post #8 of 13 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

While Rockdawgs advice is to not buy a boat right away, I would go halfway on that. I ld find a smaller trailerable boat not real expensive to learn on in the area in which you live either on lakes or rivers ( not knowing what is close to you). This way you can beguin to practice the science of sailing as well. A laser, sunfish or hobiecat would fit the bill. Inexpensive and easy to resell.

If you do move to the gulf than maybe move up to something that you can trailer or doesnt cost you a lot in terms of a slip. All this time you are learning making friends with boats and increasing your knowledge of boats in general as well as sailing techniques. L:earning from other experienced sailors is not a bad idea, buut if you can get in a club which has racing informal even) it will speed up your learning curve get you on the water a lot, and with people with more experience. Practice and time on a sailboat...big or small will be the key to learning. Whatever you do keep that in mind when you make boat purchasing decisions. The more you are sailing even if its a sunfish,,,the more you are learning.

I wont assume you went to college, if you have great. Its not a prerequisite for becomming a good sailor. I know a few pool sharks who are not even high school grads who are dynamite sailors as they understanf angles and vectors.

If somewhere you can take a course thats good too. Also read books, and read here as there is a lot of good information here.

Welcome to the site and what is one of my passions....sailing. Fel free to address any questions to me through a PM once you get to 15 posts.


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post #9 of 13 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

Starting by relocating? Really?
That is a huge step. I think I would start a little slower than that.
Dinghy sailing is a great first step if you ask me. I am sure you can find plenty of beautiful mountain lakes to sail in your area. I would think some even are ice free for about 2 months out of the year.
Sailing is sailing no matter where or on what. It's not so much the location or the boat, it's just the fact that you are out there. Sure nice scenery (which I bet you already have) and 50 feet LWL can help, but just being on the water on something simple is where a lot start.
I love small boat sailing, that is why I trailer a Sunfish down to my in-laws house every fall. If you were to ask me, a nice Flying Scot would be a great start.

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post #10 of 13 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Advice on how and where to start Sailing

All great advise. My dad bought a book, a sunfish, and tied me to the mast (6 yrs old!). He flipped the boat a lot (without me on it), and learned. He built a GP-14 and that's were I learned to sail. He eventually moved up in size as his skill and income allowed it. I strongly recommend this approach - too many people write to Sailnet asking how to sail the world in a $5000 boat. Your approach is achievable.

Buy a book, a small boat, and point the bow away from the beach. Take a few lessons too. You'll figure the rest out. Stay in bays for a couple of years and solo there. Find some friends with a larger vessel and dip your toe into bigger boats through them. Don't rush the big boat thing - it just complicates the whole experience (pumps, motors, mid-ship cleats, rotten cores, blah, blah ). After a year or so, do what Chef says - volunteer as rail meat on a race boat and move up from there.

Good luck to you and say goodbye to your wallet.

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Last edited by Sabreman; 12-10-2012 at 05:51 PM.
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