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  #21  
Old 12-18-2012
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Re: Best Beginners sailing grounds?

Without knowing more details from OP's objective, I would say Chesapeake Bay would be a good place to start for mere learning and practice sailing skills. Plenty of sailing at the bay and countless sailing clubs and with many good sailing school that meet various budget.

One characteristic that Chesapeake wins over other sailing areas in the States is its late afternoon summer storm. It is the best preparation if one thinking about going off shore in the future. The storm will come fast and be gone in 15 to 20 minutes. When you think your are going to die and a moment later, it is blue sky. When you driving home, you can review in your head what you had done right and what you need to prepare more. Think about how the boat reacted in the storm, think about the HS physics he learned about vector and moment acted on the CG, read more books, talk to other captains for their advices, and repeat this again until it becomes your second nature. I found this is the quickest way to learn to be self reliant, if this is what you are seeking.

At the beginning, make sure you have lot of sea room or bring on another sailor to help you in case you need help. Once everything hunker down properly, the sailboat will take care her own. I just stand on the companion way to enjoy the storm to pass.

This is not for everyone obviously, My wife hates it. But this is the best what Chesapeake has to offer to prepare the sailors before going to the big Pond. The problem in the Big Pond is that the storm lasts for days. It sucks when you don't know if you ever will see you family again.

As always, YMMV
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  #22  
Old 12-19-2012
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Re: Best Beginners sailing grounds?

I'll give another vote to the west coast of FL. We sail year round out of St. Petersburg. There are active sailing communities from Clearwater down to Naples.

We've been making two and three day trips from Tampa Bay down to Charlotte Harbor the last couple years and made one offshore trip to the dry tortugas. Once you get bored of that you can head to Mexico, the Bahamas or just get drunk in Key West for a while.
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Old 12-19-2012
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Re: Best Beginners sailing grounds?

Quote:
Originally Posted by capta View Post
You know, the OP did not ask about cost of living, nor about how crowded the area is; he asked about sailing.
I have sailed the Chesapeake, (didn't live there; just cruised it a half dozen times) and frankly I found it pretty boring. Certainly a lot of lovely anchorages and great places to anchor, moor or dock after a day on the water, but it seemed conditions are pretty mild if it's not a blustery day. If there isn't a front coming through, then what you go out into is pretty much what you'll be sailing that day. Mostly?
The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers add to the diversity of Bay sailing giving an untold amount of inland cruising grounds.
Bay sailing is year round, and it's not got those hot, sticky and windless summers of the mid-Atlantic states.
First of all sailing anywhere is a great experience.

Boring...you must be quite easily bored. I would think youd get more easily bored in the small confines of Bay area vrs the huge diversity of the Chesapeake with the many historical rivers to enjoy. You dont have to spend you day dodging tankers, sightseeing boats and ferries either.

Most of the Bay is not crowded at all just around Annapolis and Baltimore. Part of the fun of sailing the Chesapeake is going up the Rivers like the Chester, Wye, Choptank, Pauauxet, Potomac,Rhappahanick to name a few.

The weather conditions in the SF Bay are definately more varied unless you are down near the mouth of the Chessie near the Atlantic. No fog on the Chessie either.

The nice thing about the Chessie is that you are also close to New England, Long Island Sound and North Carolina so there are many of new places to go to if you want to expand your horizons some. We travel to New England every year when its hot in the Chessie In SF you can do some ocean sailing, but going north along the coast is difficult and south the options are few and far till you get down near Long beach/ Catalina

Both are great places to sail. I have sailed in SF Bay a number of times and loved it.

We are looking to retire in a few years and are also thinking about changing and have visited areas in the last two years and sailed like SF and San Diego. We have decided to stay here in the Chesapeake and cruise south to the carribean/ Florida when winter comes for 5 months.

For me personally I prefer to sail in peace and quiet though and not feel I am on the Freeway. And when my feet hit land...I dont have to worry its going to move under them.
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Last edited by chef2sail; 12-19-2012 at 11:28 AM.
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  #24  
Old 12-21-2012
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Re: Best Beginners sailing grounds?

From a beginner: I started in 2010 with ASA 101, 103 & 104 lessons in Santa Barbara within an 8-day period. Slept on the boat; sailed during the day. Terrific experience! During the 2011 season we time-shared a sailboat out of Belmont Harbor in Chicago. Another great experience - but everything said above about the perils of Lake Michigan is true. We learned a lot! Last January we rented a cottage for a week in the Florida Keys that came with a 23' Com-Pac. We sailed most every day on the bay side. Great time! This past June we spent two weeks in the San Juan Islands; first week was with an instructor so my spouse could complete ASA 101, 103 & 104; second week it was just the two of us hopping from harbor to anchorage. Fantastic!

What I am saying is that it is hard to go wrong - every experience we have had has been challenging and immensely satisfying. Plus, I think we have gained by sailing in different waters.

But if I were to pick one of these spots, it would be the San Juans. The land masses of the Islands buffer the winds and wave heights of the Pacific, so it is rare to have to manage anything over 15 knots (though I do remember being out on the deck reefing the main in 24+ knots). The scenery is spectacular. You can alternate between harbors one night (with showers) and anchorages/moorings the next. As a beginner, you'll learn currents and tides in ways you won't on Lake Michigan; every day is a different docking or mooring/anchoring experience, and that's good experience.

Enjoy!
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Old 12-21-2012
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Re: Best Beginners sailing grounds?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparrowe View Post
From a beginner:

But if I were to pick one of these spots, it would be the San Juans. The land masses of the Islands buffer the winds and wave heights of the Pacific, so it is rare to have to manage anything over 15 knots (though I do remember being out on the deck reefing the main in 24+ knots). The scenery is spectacular. You can alternate between harbors one night (with showers) and anchorages/moorings the next. As a beginner, you'll learn currents and tides in ways you won't on Lake Michigan; every day is a different docking or mooring/anchoring experience, and that's good experience.

Enjoy!
The tidal current in the SJ's is serious business. I am not sure that would be the best for a beginners training ground. You need to be spot on with the charts also as there are numerous areas with rock outcroppings. No such thing as a "soft grounding" in the SJ's, very hard around the edges. The winds are also very inconsistent in the summer. Even though I am from Puget Sound area I might cast my vote for west coast Florida as good training ground if the OP is serious about re-locating for learning. Otherwise, I would stay in OP's local cruising area for sailing and do it often.

But man o' man it is beautiful up in the San Juans, can't wait 'till summer gets here and head up. When I was over in the NE, I was amazed how similar Penobscot Bay was to the San Juan's. Albeit, Penobscot was much more crowded.
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Old 12-21-2012
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Re: Best Beginners sailing grounds?

Southern California is pretty gentle and there are lots of destinations but it's expensive and there are lots of rules and lots of law enforcement. The Banderas Bay around Puerto Vallata is really consistent and again lots of destinations, anywhere from 5 miles to hundreds of miles and it's a LOT cheaper and a lot warmer than California.
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