Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: New Mexico, USA (Heron, Elephant Butte lakes); Arizona (Lake Pleasant)
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Welcome, Claire. You live in a wonderful part of the world for trying out sailing. Books and videos can only give you a pale ghost of what it's like to be sailing on your own, and even the trips on big boats have only the smallest connection to sailing on all but the largest yachts.
The best thing for you to do is hang around sailors, watch them, get some tips, and try it. Places like the Mission Bay Sports Center would be a nice way to get a taste of sailing. And once you have a little bit of experience, you can try signing up for crew bulletin boards at sailing and yacht clubs, joining some sort of club, taking lessons, etc. Lots of communities and marine businesses also put on safety lessons and basic boating classes that are cheap or free.
Many sailors believe that the best way to become a skillful boat handler is to practice, crew, and take lessons on small boats. Things happen fast on small boats and little boats generally tell you very quickly if you mess up. And you don't have to worry much about breaking any thing!
Then, once you have the basics down, try different kinds of sailing. Sailing is many different things to different people. Before spending much money on a boat, it's usually a fantastic idea to get experience with lots of boats so you know what kinds of sailing you do and don't like, what things you do and don't like in a boat ... and to be sure you don't miss out on what may turn out to be your favorite kind of sailing.
Now tell us about what kind of sailing and boats you think you might like and how sailing might relate to the kinds of things you already like to do. Do your personality and interests, for example, lean more toward performance, excitement, escapism, comfort, puzzle-solving, nature, kinetic, artistic, or social activities?