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glimmerglasspeg 08-06-2009 10:02 AM

Getting help sailing new boat without losing face
Hi, I've just jointed sailnet. I need help, and this seems to be the place to go!

I have limited, very old, sailing experience (2 summers at a sailing camp on the Cape in the 60's (anyone remember Quanset?), plus limited lake sailing in upstate NY.).

I am very lucky - significant other has a place on the water in Maine, and has just acquired a boat. 30 years ago his parents also had a boat in front of his place, and they took significant overnight sails on theirs. Now we have a 29' Catalina, it is finally moored out front, but frankly, he needs some training, more than the books he reads, and his old, limited experience. He picks things up pretty quickly, but really needs a very good mentor.

I have had enough to know that we do not have sufficient experience to sail this boat ourselves, especially along the coast of Maine. It also was acquired without first having a survey, and problems have shown up with the boat's engine, lights, plumbing, you name it. There is no way this boat could be used for any overnights - so far just for sailing around the bay. The problems are getting addressed slowly, but first and foremost, even the day sailing we've done shows us we could get into trouble.

Significant other has resisted my suggestions to get training. A friend of the previous owner "helped" us sail the boat to our current location, but it's obvious he also has limited experience, is frankly more of a liability than a help, and just using the opportunity for some free sailing. We are right next to a yacht club, but it has been suggested it will take another year to get through the waiting list.

I see forum listings for crew. I'd love to find someone familiar with our boat to help guide the way, do occasional daysails. How do I do this without causing significant other to lose face? Also, does one pay crew?

This is supposed to be a new beginning to another part of a great relationship, but so far it has only alienated us.

Thanks for getting us on the right track! I hope I haven't said or asked anything offensive. That is exactly what I'm trying to avoid, while staying safe.


doubleeboy 08-06-2009 10:56 AM


You might try heading down to the local Sail Loft, North, or other, and ask them if they know of anyone who could help you. Most employees in sail lofts are avid sailors and pretty well hooked into the local sailing community. Like wise, if there is a marine supply store, like West Marine, the manager might know of some people who do sailing instruction. You could also try the Coast Guard Auxiliary, or local community college, or Power Squadron.

Its quite possible that someone here could help you out. There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about in needing guidance and instruction. I would offer to help but am on wrong coast.


rikhall 08-12-2009 01:45 PM

there is help around

There are lots of people around who can probably help.

Yes, you can "pay" for help, but getting involved with a local club, Power Squadron (USPS) or others is very good. Offering to take a beginners boat course together - both of you going might be a good start.

He might "rationalize" that he already knows it but is going along to be with you. Hey - whatever works, right?

Linda has taken every Power Squadron course I have taken (about ten by now - taken together) and in addition to having learned a whole bunch - we have met some fantastic people.

Best of luck.

Where in Maine is the boat?


Selkirk 08-13-2009 10:26 AM

Reluctant to ask for local help?
Understandable. That happened to us.

So we went way far away to a sailing school. Had a great time, learned a whole lot, and came back ready to sail our boat.

jephotog 08-15-2009 02:09 PM

Try some racing
Hi Peg you are very wise to seek help in re-learning to sail. Based on the problems you already have maintenance wise with the new boat, you can tell owning and captaining a 29' boat is different than crewing four your parents or sailing a dingy at camp.

A couple of suggestions to improve your sailing skills

Try Racing OPB (other peoples boats)
This is how I got most of my sailing experience. You will see and participate with some impressive boat handling skills not possessed by your average cruiser, which you can take to your own boat. There will also be a lot of sailors around after the race in the yacht club where you will likely meet someone willing to go out with you on your boat. You can post something at the marina, yacht clubs or yacht clubs website saying you are willing to crew. On a windy night boats will pick up extra crew just to sit on the rail. Just walking the dock an hour or so before the race and ask if boats need crew will get you onboard a boat usually.

Post a sign "Need experienced crew" at Yacht Clubs, Sail Lofts, Web sites. The average racing boat has a crew of 3-8 and only a few of the participants have their own boat, so there are a lot of very experienced sailors looking for any opportunity to get out on a boat. If you provide lunch and beer you might get a lot of repeat offers of help sailing. It would be good to have some able bodied crew for your boat while re-learning how to sail.

Power Squadron, USCG, and ASA courses would also be a good start.

L124C 08-16-2009 12:49 AM

In San Francisco we have several on line crew lists (i.e., Latitude 38), and I assume Maine must as well. I used the lists to go sailing before I had a boat. When I bought the boat, I used the list to get experienced crew to help me. My title was " Bought a boat, need someone to show me how to sail it! In fact, I had a pretty good knowledge of sailing, having been an avid windsurfer and kayaker and sailing via the crew list, but was apprehensive about motoring a 5 ton boat in close quarters. I posted that the crew could bring some guests, but someone in the group had to have significant experience. Met some great people and learned a lot (though, I found out I knew more than I realized). I would encourage you to have the boat inspected by a knowledgeable person. If the boat isn't sound mechanically, any amount of experience may not be enough to help you if you get in a bad situation.

glimmerglasspeg 09-25-2009 07:20 AM

Great ideas
Hi, all,

Thanks so much for these ideas. I lost my way back to this forum, and finally after a half hour search last night, found you all again.

We were also tied up with other summer plans, and at the same time, our boat suffered some storm damage, which may/may not have been avoided with some more experience/common sense.

Unfortunately one of the issues we're also dealing with is someone who "crews" occasionally and is a new "friend", and knows all the techno goodies, even teaches a course on navigating. However, his knowledge seems very limited as well he is dead weight on the boat, he can't respond to questions, and is being relied on too heavily by sig other.

I thought the damage sustained by the boat was very unfortunate, but hopefully a good lesson learned. After another row about this last night, it's apparent it wasn't and I plan on implementing any or all of your above suggestions. We were looking into courses, but I also thought having someone on our boat with knowledge of her kind, or being on another similar boat would be a great example of how to do it right. I'm tired of being blamed for being too "scared" to do this. I'm capable novice crew, have no problem with someone in charge who has a handle on this, but not looking forward to sailing up the coast on multi-day cruises with the status quo. You've all given me something to move foward with. Thanks!

fendertweed 09-25-2009 02:55 PM

remember the real problem is not knowing what you don't know ... that could be part of the hurdle w/ the sig other and the reluctance to seek help/ thinking you're "afraid" (?) ...

in my experience moving up from day sailing 16-19 foot sloops to owning/single handing a Pearson 26, key elements are : 1) there are no stupid questions; 2) as you noted you have to kind of suss out the reliability of your "advisors" or "teachers", to know who knows what they're talking about; 3) the extra margin of safety is always worth the occasional disappointment when you take the conservative approach and then see that you didn't need to (come in early, fix this thing, do that, etc.); 4) a lot of the learning is just trial and error and a few bumps (as when I said to my friend the PO of Catalyst "how the heck do you get this thing (5,600 lbs. worth) in & out of the slip on your own?" (w/ wind & tide, etc.) -- and the answer was "trial & error: we haven't broken anything yet."

Good luck!

PCP777 09-25-2009 03:30 PM

First off, don't worry about saving face. It's sailing and at one time we were all just getting going.

The others here have some terrific advice.

I too took over a twenty year break from sailing ( I used to race 420's and lasers at tabor Academy and had some keel boat experience as a kid sailing with my dad in LI. ) and before I bought my Catalina 25 I bought a little 12' Escape Captiva and sailed it for a season in the bay to get my chops back. I found it was much like riding a bicycle, it's amazing how it all comes back. I did this for a year and then this year bought the C-25. Honestly, the toughest part of keel boat sailing for me was getting in and out of the marina and slip with the motor. If you're boat is moored then the greatest part of the battle doesn't even need to be fought IMHO.

If your bay is big enough stay in it, use less sail area than you need and keep it simple. The biggest dangers are weather, hitting other boats or running aground. remember, she can only sink once. ;) Keep your sailing plan simple. If you venture out of the bay, stay well within sight of land and stay on top of weather. On a light wind day, like 5 to 10 knts, it's pretty hard to get in trouble on a sailboat and you have the chance to learn from your mistakes. If everything goes wrong, fire up the motor and then pull the sails down.

Another thing I've done is I've been crewing every Wednesday in the beer can races which has provided a wealth of information.

Have a real guest skipper on board, find someone who has a C 30 or something comparable and let them show you the ropes, not someone who "thinks" they know how to sail. Probably all you'd need to do is buy the beer, I know I'd go for that. I've had a couple guest skippers on my boat when I tried to race her and when we first flew the spinnaker.

Honestly, I'm completely comfortable sailing my boat and I just bought her in March. Once the sails are up and you're underway, there's not much to it.

deniseO30 09-25-2009 03:40 PM

Peg don't feel bad.. there are people that pay 3-400K $ for boats but won't spring the few hundred for lessons! It's a guy thing. only a guy could explain I guess! A c29 should be pretty easy to sail but if it's not set up right it will difficult even with crew.
If your new using computers, and want to get back here quick you will find a button near the top left of the screen. "favorites (or bookmarks) " click on that and at the top of that window is "add to favorites" click on it and it will save any web page you happen to have open.

good luck.. Maine is a wonderful place to be.

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