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Flexible 01-26-2008 06:16 PM

Where should I start?
Hello all. I’m sure someone can help me here. I just inherited a 31’ sailboat and would like to learn to sail it. I have been on the boat a few (four) times and have a very basic understanding of sailing. My question is how should I approach learning to sail this boat? I have been told everything from go by a book to hire an instructor for a few days. I have also been told that this is too much boat to handle for a beginner and I should learn on something half the size. I just want to get some input from some people who know sailing. Thanks.

Giulietta 01-26-2008 06:24 PM

Start here, I know the guy that made those...he is a reaaly nice guy, too.


Jump the first one and start on the second video. The first video is for a more "advanced" level.

You can see the first one later.

asivesind 01-26-2008 06:48 PM

I can tell you that I started out by trial and error. This is NOT the way to learn. Especially on a bigger boat. Things can go wrong fast. Take some basic sailing classes. They are usually quite affordable and really informative. I had been sailing quite a bit and took a class, I was surprised by how much I took away from that class. Just learning to dock 31 feet in the wind is worth the class. Make sure your having fun also!!

tenuki 01-26-2008 06:55 PM

Flexible, I would recommend starting in optis at age 7 as the ideal way to learn to sail. But I'm assuming that age has passed you by eh?

Since you have the boat you have, and you are the age you are I would recommend getting an instructor or experienced sailor to show you the ropes for a few days as the fastest/safest path to sailing nirvana. I'm not saying you can't learn to sail on your own, or that that isn't hella fun, just that in your current position getting good instruction is gonna be the fastest/safest path. The advantage of an instructor is that you may be able to get a certificate from ASA or USSailing at the end of it, which is actually helpful for insurance, or chartering (not required, helpful). The advantage of a experience sailor is they may bring beer and have other good qualities. Both will be able to teach you the four things you absolutely need to know - getting in and out of the marina safetly, anchoring, not going out in bad weather or what to do if you get caught out in it (reef early, reef deep), and what to do in COB situations.

I would also recommend making lots of boating friends, these are the people you will sail with, as you will soon discover that most people in your life will like the _idea_ of sailing, but aren't that keen on actually _doing_ it.

gonesailin40 01-26-2008 06:58 PM

Buy a book/video/dvd and just get out there and learn would be 1 option.

I would suggest taking one weekend class and getting a book/video etc.

Take your time. Do not try to impress anyone. Practice the awkward stuff.

Docking can be enough of an emotional strain to ruin a day of sailing. So practice leaving the slip and coming back into the slip.Same with raising and lowering your sails,anchoring, etc. If you get comfortable with these thing I think it will make learning the good stuff easier.

The gentleman with the #2 post has some good videos. Wear a PFD until you get comfortable with sailing and always assume the other boaters do not know you have the right of way.

Welcome to the seas.Enjoy!

bogdog 01-26-2008 07:01 PM

What kind of (31 footer)?
The four times you were out did you (do) anything related to sailing the boat? Or were you just along for the ride?
Getting out of the marina or off the mooring and docking when coming back are the touchiest times. Reading the weather/wind are also very important BEFORE you go out are something you need to learn. They are best learned from an experienced sailor.
Checking out the advise from this forum is a good start. Watching the above videos will also be very helpful
Good luck. DS

sailingdog 01-26-2008 07:04 PM

No reason you shouldn't be able to learn to sail on a boat that size. A smaller boat would give you a bit better feedback in terms of sail trim and boat balance, but that shouldn't affect your ability to learn on your boat. I'd highly recommend that you take, at minimum, an ASA 101 type basic keelboat handling course, since that will give you the basics and give you a pretty good idea of what you need to learn to at least get safely started.

I'd also recommend you get Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor, which is by far one of the best books for novice sailors, and is quite easy to read, yet covers a fairly broad range of sailing topics.

I'd also recommend you read this post get the most out of your time on sailnet.

tenuki 01-26-2008 07:06 PM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 256226)
I'd also recommend you get Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor, which is by far one of the best books for novice sailors, and is quite easy to read, yet covers a fairly broad range of sailing topics.

I second this, the book at first glance looks a bit strange, not like the others. And it is different, it is much better.. ;)

artbyjody 01-27-2008 03:47 AM

I recommend having the "Chapman Piloting & Seamanship book, above any. It is the bible so to say...

I taught myself how to sail when I bought my Catalina 27. My approach was learning the systems so that I could answer basic "my life is threatened" questions such as - flooding, where are the cut-off valves for the seacocks all at, fire - where are the extinguishers and other safety issues. Followed by understanding the maintenance required..

Then came the docking and un-docking and getting to know the boat under power...

Then came learning how to sail....

It can be done - plenty of books out there and if you are willing to make friends with other sailors - its ok to ask them - "hey could you come along and show me a few things" or ask to sail with them and supplement and question your knowledge based on what you read and other experiences...

Know your boat, do not be afraid of making a mistake (you'll panic at times, and get it all wrong, but you'd do that anyway with a new to you boat)..- and most of all enjoy the experience...

sailingdog 01-27-2008 06:53 AM

While Chapman's is a great reference book, it's not very readable. The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is probably a bit more applicable to sailors IMHO. Seidman's book, The Complete Sailor, is far more readable than either, and explains things much better at a basic level IMHO.

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