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Joe206 01-14-2002 09:05 PM

Newbie question
Actually a couple questions. Me and my wife are both interested in sailing but have no sailboat (yet) or sailing experience. We both love diving and being on the water and are saving for a boat....our ideal retirement picture (15 or more years from now :) ) is to get a boat to live aboard and retire to that and we are starting now to work towards that goal. We are on a limited salary, but we are also patient and willing to work our way there. (even though I want a boat now Hehe) tap the vast knowledge of all you experienced boaters...

1) From what I''ve read, starting with a smaller day boat is the best way to learn...what make/model, lengths, etc are suggested for us? Perferably something that we can both ride/use at the same time.
We will be mainly sailing inland (Lakes and a large river)

2) We are a bit away''s from larger cities and I have yet to find any place that gives sailing lessons nearby. Not having the time to drive over 100 miles to get to lessons, any suggestions? And are there any good books that I should be reading prior to all this for ideas? :)

As you can see, I am a stranger in a strange land right now, but am trying to get my feet wet :) Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.


Jeff_H 01-15-2002 01:49 AM

Newbie question
If you are planning to retire in 15 years I assume that you are close in age to my own age (51). You are correct that it is generally considered easier to learn to sail in a small boat. For people under 20 or so, I usually suggest learning in a sailing dinghy (a small light open or semi-open boat). But last summer I was an instructer in a class for people who were a little older and trying to learn in dinghies and I found that they spent so muchg of their time tring to keep the boats on their feet, that they really were having a harder time learing to sail than I believe they might have if they were sailing a small keel boat.

So my general recommendation for someone with a little less dexterity than the average sub-20 something, is to learn on a small, responsive keel boat, say 21 to 26 feet. Given your limited resources I would definitely suggest getting a used boat, but one that is in reasonable shape and comparatively simple. Owning a small boat you will be exposed to many of the sailing joys, challenges and maintenance issues that you will need to own a larger boat. But small responsive boats also provide a good platfor to really learn sail trim, boat handling and the the finer level of skills that are harder to learn on a bigger and less communicative boat.

You have not said where in the country you are located and the size of the lakes that you will be sailing upon, but there are a number of ways to go depending on the facilities that are available. Most lakes that permit boats, have launch ramps and there are sailboats that are designed to be ramp launched. There are some compromises involved in the design of ramp launchable boats and while there certainly are some ramp launchable boats that sail quite well, as a general rule, ramp launchable boats do not sail as well as boats with fixed fin keels. A couple exceptions to this, both of which are good first boats, are the S2 6.9 and 7.9, and the Schock Santana 23 (also called a 235 I believe) from the 1970''s and 1980''s.

My all time favorite recomendation for a great inexpensive first boat is the Ranger 23. These unfortunately were only commonly available (Ranger apparently offered a centerboard version but depending on who you talk to they never actually built one) in fixed keel models. Many lakes have simple hoist launching facilities (Which is easier on the boat since it is easier to do minor damage a boat by ramp launching it.) If the lake or river you were sailing on offered hoist launching, then a boat like the Ranger 23 would make a good choice. Other really nice small fixed keel boats for a first boat might include an number of C&C designed 22 and 23 footers (such as the Grampian classic 22). A little more expensive but higher performance are the Sonar or J-22. Both are boats that you could really grow into.

Another way to go would be to visit the areas where you might sail and see what are used as ''one design race boats''. While you may never decide to take up race boats, race fleets will often nurture and help a beginner learn to sail. Race fleets generally pick types of boats that are suitable for the sailing conditions. And you can often buy used race boats that are in good sailing condition fairly inexpensively. Of course if teh local race fleets are sailing really high performance dinghies then you might find your self in over your head but most fleets will be considerate enough to tell a beginner if their boats are unsuitable.

My current favorite learning to sail book is Steve Colgate''s wife''s book called something like ''Sailing for Women''. She does a really good job of covering the basics and then going on with good clear explanations of the more sophisticated information.

One really good way to learn to sail is to take a week long imersion course in sailing while on vacation. There are a number of sailing schools around the country that are located near resorts and you can take a week''s vacation and come back with basic sailing skills.

Good luck

2) We are a bit away''s from larger cities and I have yet to find any place that gives sailing lessons
nearby. Not having the time to drive over 100 miles to get to lessons, any suggestions? And are
there any good books that I should be reading prior to all this for ideas? :)

Joe206 01-15-2002 07:17 AM

Newbie question
Thanks for the response. Actually I am 35 years old. I am a police officer and (with deferred comp) I should be able to retire at 50 if the retirement plan is changed in the next 15 years like they are still trying to. If it''s not changed I still will be able to retire at 53 years old (I''ll have more than my 20 in then).
We are in the Pacific Northwest and, along with the Columbia River, have many lakes in the area. I could be wrong but I believe the longest is about 30 miles long and up to 10 miles wide. There may be one larger, but I haven''t measured. :) Where we are at, unfortunately, is mainly power boat country especially in the summer and, while they can be fun, I am much more interested in sailing than power boating. Most of the area''s around here can get rather noisy and crowded with the power boats and jet ski''s during the week ends and I rarely see many sailboats due to the fact that the summer/transient population that we get on the lakes is mostly from over 100 miles away and they are the younger power boat set or the fishermen type. I am still looking around and I almost feel sorry for the next sailor I meet around here. They''d better be ready for a ton of questions :).

My wife and I loved the idea of the immersion sailing training for a week vacation! Thanks alot for that idea! Seattle had some sailing schools I know and, while it is a bit a ways, a week trip for school would be a fun vacation! Do these schools provide boats to learn on or do they expect you to bring your own?

Thanks again for the response, and thanks in advance for your patience with all my questions :)


Jeff_H 01-15-2002 07:58 AM

Newbie question

Welcome to the sport. Feel free to email me with questions or post them here.


paulk 01-15-2002 02:26 PM

Newbie question
One of the J/Boats weeklong sessions (or a similar one) in the Caribbean or Florida would probably be a good thing for you to learn with, and a fun time as well. Jeff forgot to mention the J/24 as a possible option. There are a lot of them around, generally, and they can be had for less than $10,000 if you''re just looking for one to learn on. You really would need a hoist to get it in & out though. FYI most sailors avoid lakes that are heavily frequented by powerboats because the wakes shake the wind from the sails and can stop you dead in the water.

Joe206 01-15-2002 08:29 PM

Newbie question
Thanks for the advice! I don''t know of any hoists in this area. I was fully intending to stay far away from the favored powerboat areas. They''re too darn noisy anyways, but thanks for letting me know about the wakes. I had never heard that before.

Drudgery 01-16-2002 06:40 AM

Newbie question
My Wife and I just got into Sailing this last summer, we went for a short ride, and got hooked! We found a Chrysler 22'', at a very good price. Do a lot of "book learning", and follow up with practice. I have found that other sailors are very glad to share their knowledge and experience. Good luck!!

Joe206 01-16-2002 06:58 AM

Newbie question
Thanks :) We always thought sailing was way too expensive for us even though we really wanted to start and then just playing around on the internet we found that it really isn''t. So instead of looking at getting a boat in 10 or 15 years we are looking at getting one in maybe a year or two. I''m trying to soak up all the information I can right now. Do you have any good books in mind that I should read? We are already looking into a week vacation and taking sailing lessons. So far the internet has been a great help to me. All the people I meet online at the sailing places are great and very helpful. Although I''m still trying to get all the termanology down.


BigRed56 01-17-2002 03:37 AM

Newbie question
Ahoy Joe 206, Big Red 56 here, I reccomend you buy anything you can get your hands on including a project boat that required you to work on it before you sail. Nothing is going to prepare you except experience. I suggest you start small and trailer what ever you buy. Centerboard is just fine however considering your age and marital status I suggest something two people can enjoy. Any sailing dinghy 16'' and up ought to do. Highlanders are nice, many small boats that are poor sailers by other people standards are just fine to start out with. The point is buy anything now and get started. I do not reccomend any thing as big as 25 + feet or any fixed keel boat because the problems and limitations in your travel restrictions will make the whole pross to cumbersome and less enjoyable.( Time and prep and expense) I have never spent more than One thousand dollars for any of the boats I own and there are plenty more where they come from. If you see something sitting in a yard covered with leaves stop and ask.You''d be suprised what great deals are just sitting there for the asking. To place anyone in your position in a "J" or similar racing class boat is ludicrous and expensive. You will be a poor sailor for the simple fact is you don''t know the difference and you''ll never learn starting off at the top. What you will become is another elitist arrogant and shallow sailor. If your plans for the future are sailing take my advise , otherwise you''d better have plenty of money to buy ,maintain and sail your dream. Big Red the Pirate of Pine Island.

jack54 01-17-2002 04:17 AM

Newbie question
We are looking for someone willing/qualified to give my family some sailing instruction. "We" includes myself, my wife, our 13 yr old and our 26 yr old if he can find the time. We bought our 23'' Paceship last May and went out several times w/ experienced sailors who helped us learn how to make the boat go. We also sailed by ourselves whenever we could but there are lots of basic things and finer points I still have questions about...anchoring, emergencies, etc. I am reluctant to practice such things w/o being shown the proper actions first. We dock on Lake Erie at Port Clinton, OH. We don''t expect it to be free, but hope it would be reasonable for a family group. Am I dreaming?

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