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Old 03-23-2014
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Sailing By Way of Power Boating

I'm curious.

For those of you who knew how to operate a power boat before learning how to sail, when you decided to learn to sail, did you feel like sailing would be easy based on already being a power boater? And, in retrospect, were you right?

I learned how to operate a power boat before I stepped foot on a sailboat. Carver 28 with fly bridge and twin screws. Learning to dock was still a challenge but easier compared to the sailboat. The boats were so different that I don't consciously remember thinking "I learned how to operate the Carver, how hard could operating a sailboat be?"

I think the only thing that carried over was confidence in the thought that "I learned how to operate the Carver, with enough time, help, and practice I should be able to learn how to operate a new boat."

I'm just wondering about this in regards to operating the boat, not having knowledge of currents, tides, rules of the road, etc.
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Old 03-23-2014
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

For me, power boating helped me learn the rules of the road and general boating safety. When I started sailing I was able to focus on the actual sailing, because I already had a good feel for general seamanship. In my experience, sailing takes more patience, a wider range of skills, and greater confidence.
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Old 03-23-2014
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

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Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
I'm curious.

For those of you who knew how to operate a power boat before learning how to sail, when you decided to learn to sail, did you feel like sailing would be easy based on already being a power boater?
I felt the operating portion would be as easy. Sailing is more demanding than stepping on to a boat & turning a set of keys but so much more peaceful.
I don't miss the drone of twin inboards or pulling up to a fuel dock to fill twin 125 fuel tanks...
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

Great question, Donna. My family had both, but as a young child, I learned the basics aboard a powerboat. Navigation, knots, anchoring, rules of the road, systems, etc, were all well understood before I knew how sails powered a vessel, at least a large one. We had a family friend that was a Merchant Marine Captain and "doing it right" was commonly referred to how Capt Bob would do something. You tied off correctly, logged correctly, navigated correctly, left no wake when required and did everything with a sense of purpose and professionalism. Then you drank like it was your job at anchor. Yes, that was his standard too. I only watched in my younger years, now I'm pretty good at it.

I think it actually made the transition to a cruising sailboat much easier. When one moves up from a Laser to a cruiser, the fact that you understand how sails work is only half the job of the captain, maybe less. The art of seamanship is substantially more vast than sail trim.

In the end, our family is split between sailboats and stinkpots, but everyone meets in the middle with good seamanship and learns something new on each voyage.
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Old 03-23-2014
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

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Originally Posted by kwaltersmi View Post
For me, power boating helped me learn the rules of the road and general boating safety. When I started sailing I was able to focus on the actual sailing, because I already had a good feel for general seamanship. In my experience, sailing takes more patience, a wider range of skills, and greater confidence.
Pretty much what I would have said. My first boat was a 15' runabout, then I bought a 22' Sea Ray and that got me into cruising and gunk holing. But growing up around sailboats I knew I always wanted one. Bought a 20' POS and when I hooked the wife on sailing I knew it was time to go bigger, hence our T37
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Old 03-23-2014
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

I grew up on small power boats in Florida. 20 years in the US Navy, driving nuclear subs and 27' patrol boats. I learned about charts, radar, comms and navigation.

So, when I was trying to learn how to sail, all I had to focus on, was learning how to make the boat move. I didn't have to juggle that on top of trying to understand the COLREGS, charts, GPS, etc.

I feel that my past experiences mean that I had to divide my attention less.
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

Thanks for the replies. It was just something I was thinking about as I contemplated yet another potential snow storm. I wondered if it was considered something that people felt gave them a leg up or didn't matter much.
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

Wife was a summer live aboard with her folks for years in a power boat. She says no significant impact on her learning to sail. I say she is an amazing lady and fearless. I think that comes from her prior time on the water. Yes it helps. Any time on the water in anything helps.
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

I went from being a long time sailor to also having a power boat and I am always trying to get the power boat to steer like a sailboat. A sailboat has huge momentum and responds to the helm with no power whereas many power boats need the engine running in order to turn.
Sailing and powerboating are entirely diff experiences. A powerboater can see much more of the area quickly and go places inshore where a sailboat cannot.
However, days that powerboaters hate, sailors like. Sustained wind even if it is only 10 mph is bad for powerboats but great for sailors. Sailboats handle waves better. My Tolman Skiff (20') is very seaworthy but is also very fuel efficient. I rarely use more than 8 gallons of fuel in a days boating.
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Old 03-23-2014
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Re: Sailing By Way of Power Boating

I thought docking would be as easy as it was on my father's sea ray 20 years ago.
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