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  #21  
Old 09-26-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

I was in a similar position to you a couple of months back, not knowing quite where to start. I took a 3-day (4 hours each) keel boat crew course for A$420 in Melbourne, which have me the *very* basics, e.g. sheets, halyards, bowlines, different crew jobs, winches, different sails, etc.

I then turned up down the Yacht Club having done this course, and offered myself as crew. I got snapped up, turns out there are more skippers looking for crew than crew looking for skippers. I'm now semi-regular on a racing boat going out every Saturday. The good thing about learning in a racing environment is that you repeat stuff over and over. Two weeks ago we did a race which involved getting the spinnaker up and down four times in 2 hours. It's the repetition which makes you good at anything, throw enough hours at it and you'll improve. Being gopher on a racing yacht provides that, as the jobs I'm doing are mundane but all still new to me. And I learn a lot from the skipper and the other crew members, some of whom have been sailing for years.

Finally, you get to drink beer in the club bar afterwards.
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Old 09-26-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

Classes are expensive, but they fill gaps on things you might not learn by yourself. That said, I think the information you can get out of a class is better once you have learned the basics. Everything you need to know to do this has been posted already (get on a racing boat, help crew for day sailing, join the Auxiliary and a yacht club, learn to sail a dinghy, just get out there). It might not seem so obvious, but once you start on this path -- provided you are quick to learn and easy to get along with -- the opportunities will be there for the picking and in no time your weekends will be all booked up. Slip fees are highly variable. The best way to figure out what it might cost is to ask different marinas what they charge per foot. If it's small enough, yard space for trailering a boat might also be an option.
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  #23  
Old 10-04-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

To the original poster...

I think we're probably pretty similar; I've always learned by doing. With me, however, that's always been hampered/tempered by an almost unhealthy obsession for researching things prior to doing; I'm hesitant to do ANYTHING until I completely understand it and know ALL of the options available. Honestly, that sucks. Recently, however, I've finally figured out that I get the most done, and get it done most successfully, when I'm up against the wall and simply don't have the time to obsess any more. Jump into the task, DO it, and 80% of the time stuff just almost figures ITSELF out. I've been wrestling with this for decades, and now in my early 50s I'm finally learning to tell myself to GET GOING once I have enough background knowledge, instead of waiting until I'm an expert to do something.

Anyway.. back to learning to sail.. which I am STILL very much doing....(learning, that is)..

Here was my path.

1. Always dug water. As a kid, only experience was in a 12' fiberglass Sears Gamefisher w/ a 9.9hp Merc.

2. Always wanted to sail. Bought a cheap inflatable catamaran used when I was about 30. Don't ask. It sailed a lot like a bean bag chair. It went downwind... period.

3. Bought a cheap beat up Sunfish with a waterlogged hull when i was 43. Sailed it maybe 10 times before the hull started behaving more like a submarine. Did get to the point where I felt comfortable knowing I could always get back to the dock after a few pleasant hours on the lake.

4. My wife and I got serious about taking the plunge last year. Went to the local marina just to browse around the boats, met a few nice folks from the club, and got invited to go racing on "Open" night. Had a GREAT time on a 30' S2, with a great skipper. Still didn't really learn much about sailing, i.e., when we left the boat, I didn't feel that much more ready to take one out myself. Not to be expected, of course.

5. One month later, knowing pretty much nothing, bought a 1972 Pearson 26 for $2500, which seemed to be a steal compared to other boats out there. Unfortunately, my research obsession didn't kick in until AFTER we had bought the boat. I probably overpaid by about $1500.

6. About 100 -150 self-labor hours, $1000-$1500 in materials (bottom paint, white oak, running rigging, plumbing, electrical, lights, bulbs, epoxy, Don Casey books, parts to rebuild the complete bottom end of the 8hp Sailmaster, blah blah blah....), $2000 in new sails (the old ones were... well... useable, but not in public.. ) and 8 months later, we had a pretty decent, solid boat that still isn't beautiful outside but we love her. She's ours, she's paid for, she sails nice, and she's a great, comfortable starter boat for the two of us to spend a night, a weekend, or a week or two on.

7. Went sailing ONCE on my boat with a very experienced friend of mine who was kind enough to take me and my boat out for about three hours on its first post-neglect-period voyage. He answered all of my questions and showed me what to do. I still knew so little that, while I understood the actions he was telling me to execute, I really didn't understand his explanations of the reasons for those actions, or for the results of those actions. He'd point out the draft in the sails, twist, wrinkles in the luff, and a host of other things that I couldn't see although they were obvious to him. I thought I was an idiot... I'm really logical, but felt like a total dummy.

8. My wife and I have been out maybe 10 times since that one sail, always on our own. Now, just by being out there, DOING it (and still doing my obsessive reading here at sailnet, magazines, and some great books), all the stuff that my friend showed me is becoming increasingly obvious to my eye. Don't get me wrong; compared to 99% of the folks here, I'm still a dummy. However, what I have learned is LEARNED. I've done it, I know what it feels like. I've made mistakes, but for me, mistakes are the BEST teacher... as long as you recognize them and don't get hurt.

The hardest part and scariest is backing out of the nightmare of a slip we have. There's a big pad of lilies about 10 feet behind us that I HAVE to to back through, and they foul my motor every time. Sooo... we have to push off, carefully pole our way past another boat, then drop the motor FAST, start it on one pull, spin the boat 90 deg, back up into another area, then turn another 90 deg sharply forward, then finally we can relax and head out. Sucks. Surrounded by boats, and not much clearance. We've never had a close call, but it's by far the scariest part of learning to sail (and it's not even sailing) we've experienced. The first time we went out, my wife freaked and just sat down at the bow, buried her head in her hands, and shook. Worse than childbirth. She's getting better..

Mistakes?

1. Not keeping enough speed on while motoring into the wind. My wife was at the helm while I was at the mast about to hoist the mainsail. The boat spun, and she couldn't hold the tiller. My fault entirely. The wind was strong enough that the boat was pretty much standing still, so the tiller was useless unless the engine was at least at 1/2 throttle. On our first two calm-day sails, I had the engine just above idle when headed in to the wind for raising the sails. Believe me, I'll never do that again on a breezy day.

2. Not respecting the motion of the boat in 2-3 foot swells. In the cockpit, it didn't feel like much. This was a different day than #1 above; we had gained a bit more experience by now, and felt that we could handle 15 knot winds and a few feet of swell. We were wrong. W/ my wife at the helm, I went forward to the mast to hoist the mainsail. That went OK, but I had one sobering moment when the boat pitched up pretty good and I didn't have a hand on the mast. I hugged it and smashed my face against it (accidentally) and didn't fall over board, but it happened FAST and it was a sobering experience. Going forward to release the jib (we had it tied down so it wouldn't blow overboard on the way out; we have hanked-on headsails).. well... it made the movement felt at the mast seem gentle and calming. I wasn't tied in (we don't have a tether system or anything other than basic legal lifejackets), and I chickened out. We headed back to the dock, then to the nearest beer.

We've since been out in winds slightly over 15 knots and had a great time. Dropping the sails in chop and windy conditions is still not my favorite thing to do... so we don't push it. We're very careful, and don't take anyone else out on anything other than very benign, perfect days. We have a VHF radio, and use it. We sail where there's always SOME people and other boats within eyesight, and usually within "shouting distance." I've asked my friend to go out with me on a "challenging" day soon so I can get some more confidence, but right now, well... we're just loving the adventure, learning a ton, and are grateful for all the help and encouragement friends, both locally and here on SailNet, have given us.

There isn't a "right way" to learn. Just don't be real stupid, safety-wise. As everyone else has said, go sailing... a lot... somehow.

All my best,

Barry
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Last edited by bblument; 10-04-2013 at 04:52 PM.
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  #24  
Old 10-06-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblument View Post
To the original poster...

I think we're probably pretty similar; I've always learned by doing. With me, however, that's always been hampered/tempered by an almost unhealthy obsession for researching things prior to doing; I'm hesitant to do ANYTHING until I completely understand it and know ALL of the options available. Honestly, that sucks. Recently, however, I've finally figured out that I get the most done, and get it done most successfully, when I'm up against the wall and simply don't have the time to obsess any more. Jump into the task, DO it, and 80% of the time stuff just almost figures ITSELF out. I've been wrestling with this for decades, and now in my early 50s I'm finally learning to tell myself to GET GOING once I have enough background knowledge, instead of waiting until I'm an expert to do something.

Anyway.. back to learning to sail.. which I am STILL very much doing....(learning, that is)..

Here was my path.

1. Always dug water. As a kid, only experience was in a 12' fiberglass Sears Gamefisher w/ a 9.9hp Merc.

2. Always wanted to sail. Bought a cheap inflatable catamaran used when I was about 30. Don't ask. It sailed a lot like a bean bag chair. It went downwind... period.

3. Bought a cheap beat up Sunfish with a waterlogged hull when i was 43. Sailed it maybe 10 times before the hull started behaving more like a submarine. Did get to the point where I felt comfortable knowing I could always get back to the dock after a few pleasant hours on the lake.

4. My wife and I got serious about taking the plunge last year. Went to the local marina just to browse around the boats, met a few nice folks from the club, and got invited to go racing on "Open" night. Had a GREAT time on a 30' S2, with a great skipper. Still didn't really learn much about sailing, i.e., when we left the boat, I didn't feel that much more ready to take one out myself. Not to be expected, of course.

5. One month later, knowing pretty much nothing, bought a 1972 Pearson 26 for $2500, which seemed to be a steal compared to other boats out there. Unfortunately, my research obsession didn't kick in until AFTER we had bought the boat. I probably overpaid by about $1500.

6. About 100 -150 self-labor hours, $1000-$1500 in materials (bottom paint, white oak, running rigging, plumbing, electrical, lights, bulbs, epoxy, Don Casey books, parts to rebuild the complete bottom end of the 8hp Sailmaster, blah blah blah....), $2000 in new sails (the old ones were... well... useable, but not in public.. ) and 8 months later, we had a pretty decent, solid boat that still isn't beautiful outside but we love her. She's ours, she's paid for, she sails nice, and she's a great, comfortable starter boat for the two of us to spend a night, a weekend, or a week or two on.

7. Went sailing ONCE on my boat with a very experienced friend of mine who was kind enough to take me and my boat out for about three hours on its first post-neglect-period voyage. He answered all of my questions and showed me what to do. I still knew so little that, while I understood the actions he was telling me to execute, I really didn't understand his explanations of the reasons for those actions, or for the results of those actions. He'd point out the draft in the sails, twist, wrinkles in the luff, and a host of other things that I couldn't see although they were obvious to him. I thought I was an idiot... I'm really logical, but felt like a total dummy.

8. My wife and I have been out maybe 10 times since that one sail, always on our own. Now, just by being out there, DOING it (and still doing my obsessive reading here at sailnet, magazines, and some great books), all the stuff that my friend showed me is becoming increasingly obvious to my eye. Don't get me wrong; compared to 99% of the folks here, I'm still a dummy. However, what I have learned is LEARNED. I've done it, I know what it feels like. I've made mistakes, but for me, mistakes are the BEST teacher... as long as you recognize them and don't get hurt.

The hardest part and scariest is backing out of the nightmare of a slip we have. There's a big pad of lilies about 10 feet behind us that I HAVE to to back through, and they foul my motor every time. Sooo... we have to push off, carefully pole our way past another boat, then drop the motor FAST, start it on one pull, spin the boat 90 deg, back up into another area, then turn another 90 deg sharply forward, then finally we can relax and head out. Sucks. Surrounded by boats, and not much clearance. We've never had a close call, but it's by far the scariest part of learning to sail (and it's not even sailing) we've experienced. The first time we went out, my wife freaked and just sat down at the bow, buried her head in her hands, and shook. Worse than childbirth. She's getting better..

Mistakes?

1. Not keeping enough speed on while motoring into the wind. My wife was at the helm while I was at the mast about to hoist the mainsail. The boat spun, and she couldn't hold the tiller. My fault entirely. The wind was strong enough that the boat was pretty much standing still, so the tiller was useless unless the engine was at least at 1/2 throttle. On our first two calm-day sails, I had the engine just above idle when headed in to the wind for raising the sails. Believe me, I'll never do that again on a breezy day.

2. Not respecting the motion of the boat in 2-3 foot swells. In the cockpit, it didn't feel like much. This was a different day than #1 above; we had gained a bit more experience by now, and felt that we could handle 15 knot winds and a few feet of swell. We were wrong. W/ my wife at the helm, I went forward to the mast to hoist the mainsail. That went OK, but I had one sobering moment when the boat pitched up pretty good and I didn't have a hand on the mast. I hugged it and smashed my face against it (accidentally) and didn't fall over board, but it happened FAST and it was a sobering experience. Going forward to release the jib (we had it tied down so it wouldn't blow overboard on the way out; we have hanked-on headsails).. well... it made the movement felt at the mast seem gentle and calming. I wasn't tied in (we don't have a tether system or anything other than basic legal lifejackets), and I chickened out. We headed back to the dock, then to the nearest beer.

We've since been out in winds slightly over 15 knots and had a great time. Dropping the sails in chop and windy conditions is still not my favorite thing to do... so we don't push it. We're very careful, and don't take anyone else out on anything other than very benign, perfect days. We have a VHF radio, and use it. We sail where there's always SOME people and other boats within eyesight, and usually within "shouting distance." I've asked my friend to go out with me on a "challenging" day soon so I can get some more confidence, but right now, well... we're just loving the adventure, learning a ton, and are grateful for all the help and encouragement friends, both locally and here on SailNet, have given us.

There isn't a "right way" to learn. Just don't be real stupid, safety-wise. As everyone else has said, go sailing... a lot... somehow.

All my best,

Barry
I can honestly say thats one of the best replies ive gotten. I know theres ALWAYS more to learn, and i think you fixing parts of your boat helped you understand the boat more. I really appreciate you sharing that experiance with me. =)
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  #25  
Old 10-06-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

Everyone learns best by doing. That is why sailing classes are taught on the water and on a boat, with only a little bit of time in a classroom.

I've certainly learned the most by doing it myself. However classes should teach you some important but boring things that are rarely practiced without them. It's a great way to learn how to hove-to (which is simple but the sail configuration that works best can be subtle), doing various man overboard routines under sail, steering with the sails, and working on sail trim. It's possible to learn all of these things from books and youtube, it just takes a lot more work on part of the student and in some cases may not know if you are doing it right.

Not all sailing classes are the same. I personally recommend looking for one that has the lowest number of students per teacher and which concentrates the most on sailing. I took my classes in a format that had 12 hours of on-water time with 2 students and 1 teacher. The boat was motorless so the focus was all on sailing. I learned a ton in that time.

Joining a club and getting out on a lot of boats is a great way to learn and to see if you like sailing. It will also help you see what a lot of boats look, feel, and sail like. It may not help you really learn how to sail or some of the more mundane stuff like giving you lots of docking practice.

Buying a boat is just the tip of what sailing really costs. On an inexpensive boat (under $5k) moorage and repairs will quickly eclipse the cost of the boat. In the grand scheme of things a $500 sailing class is a pretty minor expense and money well spent. Trailer sailing can be a good way to keep it on a tighter budget, but if you want to do it frequently it also limits you to smaller boats.
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  #26  
Old 10-06-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

bblum, that was a great answer.
well done.
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Old 10-07-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

101 courses in the Northeast range from about $400 to $600.

It is money well spent.

great advice here on how to get experience on the cheap. But, truth is, boating costs $$$$$. Accept that fact, join the club and enjoy!!!!
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Old 10-07-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

Thermophile and Jones..

Shucks, guys. I'm glad I was finally able to start paying back an infinitesimal percentage of all the help folks have given me here. Heck, if anyone can benefit from my mistakes besides me, then I'm all the more encouraged to go make some more!

Best to you both,

Barry
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

The best piece of advice i ever heard, I think I heard here:
When yo decide to become a sailor, you start with a full barrel of luck and an empty cup of experience. The trick is to fill your cup before the barrel runs dry.
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Old 10-08-2013
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Re: Very n00b questions from a prospective sailor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike21070 View Post
Therm,

I'm also new to the sport, but at age 43 I've finally started chasing the dream. While I'm quite a ways away from you (I'm in Abu Dhabi), I took a few basic RYA courses in Dubai with a club. After 3 weekend courses, I saved up some cash and bought a 16 foot Topper dinghy for about $2700. I go out now by myself at least once a week, sometimes more...I will go even more once the insane heat drops. I love going out by myself in my own little boat, knowing that it's all up to me.

Best advice I can give, for what it's worth: take a class or two, and then just buy yourself something to learn in. I liken it to driving: you learn the basics from someone, but to really learn you just have to get in a car and drive.

And follow smackdaddy's advice...he sounds like a wise man...
Mike
Mike, I was in Abu Dhabi for almost two years and left there last year. There is this sailing school just putside AD on the way to Dubai They sail Hobies and will also rent them to you. Also if you want to get into dragon boats drop me a line.

Jerry
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