Join Date: Mar 2004
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My advice is that you should start learning how to sail on a one-man dinghy, something simple like a TOPPER. After a few hours, you will "feel" the wind direction and force and you will understand the balance of the boat on all three main situations: beating, reaching and running. Then you move to a more delicate/demanding boat, like a LASER (alternatively, you can team with someone else on a two-man racing dinghy). This will give you more confidence in your skills to harness the wind and react with your body position correctly to the forces on the sails. Then, you participate as a crew member to larger boats, where you experience a more confused sea and waves, stronger winds and the 'boy scout/camping in the nature' environment you have to organise on a yacht. You have safety/emergency lessons to learn, logistics/cooking lessons, basic mechanics/electrical circuit lessons etc., that go far beyond simple sailing, and to master all these you need time. When you feel that your knowledge allows you to be a helping hand on a boat, you follow a "competent crew" course, you add some hundred miles to your sailing life and you are ready to follow "skipper" courses. RYA has set three levels of skipper certification: day skipper, coastal and yachtmaster. Once you have gone through skipper level certification, sailed about 2000 NM and experienced force 7+ winds and seas, you start making night passages as a skipper and you dream of conquering the oceans SAFELY (for yourself and co-sailors)!
You can call the above an ideal "sea" map to learning how to sail.