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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 09-03-2006
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Learning to Sail: my plan & how was for you

Hello to all,

Sailing was allways one of my dreams but due to a number of circumstances I never had the chance to learn how to sail. Now, I intend to start learning to sail.

The type of boats that I want to have someday are small cruisers that permit me to make some Ocean trips.

I will soon start to have sailing classes in a Elan 295 cruiser to learn the basics. After that I intend to get more sailing experience maybe by renting sometimes a small cruiser at the weekends where I can train my skills. This way it should much cheaper than owning and mantain a boat, right.

I tought that it would very interesting to have some advices from experienced sailors about learning how to sail. Also I think it would be excelent for newcomers like me to know how other people has learned how to sail as it can give ideas for our future learning plans.

Thanks to all.

Cheers,
Mário
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Old 09-03-2006
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Mario...your plan is a good one, but if ocean trips are your dream I would do two things:
1. Once you have some sailing knowledge, volunteer as crew on large boats for races and perhaps the ARC across the Atlantic. This will give you the EXPERIENCE to know if your dream is a fantasy or what you really WANT to do based on knowledge of the sea and cruising.
2. Once you KNOW this is what you want to do...buy a boat. Yes it will cost more then renting once in a while but it will give you evperience in maintaining a boat and systems yourself.
Good luck!
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Old 09-04-2006
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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.
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Old 09-04-2006
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Hi,

First of all, thank you all for your advices.

I know that it will take me a lot of time to be able to sail in the oceans. I have to sail lots of miles before I consider myself prepared to even own a ship. The plan I have posted is for the start of my sailing experience.

I agree 100% with you and your advices. Thanks

I hope one day to have a boat of my own but first I need to have the knowledge to keep one.

Thanks,
Regards,

Mário
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Old 09-04-2006
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learning to sail

well why not do what my dad did spend fives on a dingy once year at lake winermere then in the sixth hire a yacht take his down and tell me that my only transport for the week is legs or the hired yacht that dont have an engine and also start me of in the middle of the lake and say see you in a week at the other end also no getting a tow i am watching
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rock on dude have a good en
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Old 09-04-2006
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Mario,
your reaction was incredibly cautious and down to earth, a very promising sign for your future sailing career. Being wise at the beginning is a real virtue, but time runs fast and you should go NOW to the nearest sailing club, so that next year you start moving from dinghy into yacht class. Once you have acquired the basic knowledge, you are allowed to serve as a crew in bigger boats (where you learn navigation, anchoring, troubleshooting and all sorts of useful tips) while in parallel you improve your sailing skills by sailing/racing on dinghies.
Good luck and fair winds
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Old 09-05-2006
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Novice to Novice

Mario,

I am in the same boat as you with the same goals. Learn from my mistakes. Take the course that has been recommended above. I bought my boat and taught my self for the first two years after minimal professional instructions. Looking back I was a risk to myself and others around me. Since then I have been through over 200 hrs of professional instruction, and crewed on as many racing boats as I could. I am now 4 years into it...and still a rookie.

A few suggestions that I would recommend.

1) Sail with as many different captains as possible. They all have different styles. It allows you to watch and pick the methods that fit you the best.

2) Once you gain the respect of the captain ask them to tutor you on their boat. You can learn a lot by watching but you never know the feel until you are in command.

3) Once you buy your boat, have experienced captains come with you on your vessel and walk you through different situations. This helps to transfer the knowledge into your actual situation.

4) Start small. I was shocked the first time I sailed a big boat (35' C&C) to feel how smooth it was while sailing. I personally don't think you can really learn the intricacies of the wind and point of sail on a boat that size. It may seem like a cheep way out, but it is amazing how much you can learn from small boat sailing. (Sunfish, Laser, 22 Catalina)

5) Always be respectful of the situation but push your self at the same time. By this I mean don't only take your boat out in optimal conditions. Always be safe, but sometimes you have to stretch yourself a little to learn more about the sport. (#3 helps a lot here)

Hopefully we will get there someday. I have cooled my jets from my first two years and am looking at the long term goal.

Good luck!!
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