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Jef212 11-15-2001 08:08 AM

How big is too big to start out?
I plan on taking sailing lessons and purchasing my first sailboat next year, but wanted to read and research as much as possible between now and then... I have seen lots of reference concerning starting out in a very small boat and did not want to rob myself of the obvious educational benefits of that, but at the same time I want to make my purchase worth the investment and get as much fun as possible out of it. I''m sure there is no definitive size, but what is the biggest boat you would recommend to a starter? Oh, by the way I will be learning inland. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!

rmf1643 11-15-2001 08:33 AM

How big is too big to start out?
I took many lessons on 18-22'' sailboats. Then I bought a used catalina 30''. I read everything I can get my hands on on handling, sail trim, ect. Then I "practice" on my boat. There is ALOT to learn. My advice is to take alot of small steps and build knowledge and confidence. Good luck.

Jeff_H 11-15-2001 09:07 AM

How big is too big to start out?
The answer to this kind of question somewhat depends on your goals in learning to sail. It is not that hard to get by out on the water with a pretty basic and rudimentary understanding of sail trim and boat handling. I have met people who have done enormous amounts of offshore sailing who really understand very little about sail trim. If that is all that you want to accomplish, that is OK and you can start with a pretty big boat, 30-35 feet or so.

But if your goal is to really understand how to finese a boat and get the most out of the sails and boat, then I suggest that there are two ways to go. If you are physically fit, have reasonably good ballance and don''t mind getting wet, then a dinghy in the 12 to 18 foot range can''t be beat. But if you are and adult with perhaps slowed refexes, I have generally found it easier to teach sailing in a boat in the 25 to 28 foot range. The key here is to buy a boat that is light and responsive enough that you can get clear feedback on the success of your sail trimming efforts. I would further suggest that a fin keel/spade rudder boat with a tiller steering gives a lot more feel and so further provides input into the success of your efforts.

Good luck

Jef212 11-15-2001 09:49 AM

How big is too big to start out?
Hey thanks so much for the responses. I was hoping there would be a happy medium where I could really learn the fundamentals of sailing but still purchase a more "usable" craft I wouldn''t want to upgrade after a short while. I was thinking somewhere around 22''-27'' which I could trailer but would still be capable of some salt water navigation down the road - if set up properly. Any suggestions on makes/models, which fit the criteria described by Jeff?

Jeff_H 11-15-2001 04:55 PM

How big is too big to start out?
I happen to have a Laser 28 for sale. I''ll try to put up some more suggestions over the weekend.


paulk 11-16-2001 09:45 AM

How big is too big to start out?
In order to get the best value for your investment, it pays to look around in your area and see what boats are already popular that fit your criteria. You should be able to find a used one fairly easily at a reasonable price. Around here, J/24''s would be good candidates, but you''d need access to a hoist.

Jimq 11-18-2001 10:52 AM

How big is too big to start out?
When I first started sailing I bought a 16ft sloop with a fixed keel and a cabin and then got a book on sailing. Within a year I stepped up to a 28ft Columbia and had a great time with it. I lived in S.E. Alaska and sailed in some pretty rough weather and learned alot. When I moved south I sold the Columbia and bought an 11ft rowing/sailing skiff and found out it was alot more work sailing it than the bigger boat and I also found out that I wasn''t as good a sailor as I thought I was. It takes alot more skill to sail a dinghy than it does a bigger boat with a fixed keel, the dinghy is not as forgiving. My personal opinion, though, is that I''d start with the 28ft boat and not buy the dinghy at all. I guess it comes down to how much money you want to spend on boats and how soon you think you''re going to move up from a dinghy.

Jef212 11-19-2001 06:29 AM

How big is too big to start out?
Thanks again to all who responded. Along the same lines of new boat considerations - I don''t have any great knowledge of boat launches concering a boat with a keel... so let me ask if someone could give me an idea what the largest draft I could reasonably expect to launch from a trailor. I realize this may all depend upon the marina/park, but in general is doing this feasible?

Jeff_H 11-19-2001 07:54 AM

How big is too big to start out?
I would think that 18 inches to 2 feet is a reasonable max before you need special trailors and gear or specialized ramps. In many areas there are two and three ton lifts which are an easier, faster and gentler way to launch. It is also easier on the trailer since it never goes in the water with a hoist. Around here, hoists can often accomodate 5 to 6 feet of draft.


Jef212 11-19-2001 08:17 AM

How big is too big to start out?
Thanks Jeff. When you refer to a lift are you talking about a hoist, or a special launch ramp/area with a lift built for the trailor?? I''m thinking ahead to when I research launch areas as to what questions to ask. I live in upstate NY and there are plenty of areas to sail, but most are tailored to speed boats and I imagine I would have to dig a little to find specialized launch sites. I''d like to trailor but if it is more trouble than its worth I''ll just find a slip to rent. Hey don''t you get tired of answering questions from people like me who are newbies to all of this?

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