Advice for a complete nOOb. - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-05-2008
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Advice for a complete nOOb.

Hello all:

First of all, what a fantastic site; an overwhelming amount of information on an easy-to-navigate page with a community that seems unusually tolerant of newbies! I'd like to take advantage of that tolerance and ask the following:

I live in Las Vegas, NV, and have been completely infatuated with wind-powered sports for most of my life. I own a 17-foot ocean kayak and the recent addition of a couple of outriggers and a sail has turned my head toward sailing and toward bigger boats. I've been gliding around the lake for the past year or so, trying to develop a feel for the basic dynamics of sailing (I'm a P3-rated paraglider pilot so I have some small affinity with wind!). Which brings me to my question: how foolish would I be to purchase a used boat (probably in the 25-27 foot range) and continue to try to teach myself to sail? ASA classes are in short supply around here, but I'm certain I can find a group of recreational boat owners to tag along with. Am I learning any useful skills in the single-sail kayak; skills that will translate to a larger boat? Or should I just suck it up, spend a weekend in San Diego or Marina Del Rey and find an ASA-1 class?

Any advice or slaps to the head will be greatly appreciated.

bfg
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2008
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Welcome to Sailnet!

While taking the various ASA classes is a great idea, there are thousands out there that did just what you are contemplating - as did we - and it's easy to do .

There is so much literature, boards like this one, video and other resources that with patience and common sense you can certainly find your own way.

Should you decide to venture further afield and charter or own in more significant bodies of water, at that point you should consider taking courses on charting, navigation, learn the meaning of the aids to navigation so as to avoid accidentaly groundings and unnecessarily adverse currents. The Power and Sail Squadron courses are excellent in this regard, and are usually available on a widespread basis.

27-28 feet is a very good size for starting as it allows you to quickly branch out into relatively comfortable overnight/weekend cruising in sheltered waters as you learn.
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Old 09-05-2008
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I would highly recommend taking an ASA 101 course... I'd also recommend you get Dave Seidman's book, The Complete Sailor, which is required reading for my crew.

You will get some benefits from sailing a single sail kayak, but would be much better off sailing a more traditionally rigged sailboat. Buying one in the 25-28' range is an excellent idea and would also give you some experience with the basic cruising boat systems, like plumbing, electrical, engine, etc.
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Old 09-05-2008
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USPirate lives in Vegas, has a boat, and has a hot wife (but thats neither here nor there). Maybe you can PM him and he'll take you out one day.
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Old 09-06-2008
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While it is possible and very achievable to teach yourself to sail, if I were you I'd head over to marina del ray for a week and do a basic course there. I'm not sure what courses are like over in the US but if you feel you'd be better off just hiring a coach for 2 days then that would be a better option. Whatever you do, make sure you do get a bit of theory done as it will speed up learning on the water.

Being honest though, I'd advise you to spend a week trying out sailing in different types of boats before taking the plunge and buying a boat. No point buying something to find out that no, you don't like it or no, it's not challenging/exciting/just doesn't grab me enough. Or you may find out that gosh, you LOVE dinghy sailing but aren't so mad about cruiser sailing.

Dinghy sailing might even suit you better as being confined to a lake will limit the amount you can learn on a cruiser (in terms of passage making etc) and you won't experience the thrill and exhilleraiton of high seas and high winds. Naturally as a dinghy is smaller it takes less for the weather to be exhillerating.
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Old 09-06-2008
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If you can,crew for someone on a racing sailboat.It is the fastest way to learn to sail.Pay attention to everything thats happening and do everything you can to make the boat operate efficiently and go fast.
Racing is a hoot and builds your skills for cruising or racing on your own boat.

Phil,
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Old 09-08-2008
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That's actually very very good advice, racing boats over cruisers being raced. I learnt more racing for two seasons on a corby 25 than I did in years of dinghy sailing. Mind you, I was lucky enough to have a team full of olympic coaches and americas cup winners on board :-o

Keelboats plus, designed for racing, are very responsive and will let you know about it if you screw up and you'll certainly enjoy the thrill if you don't! Admittedly some of them are quite unstable and can be fun and games on a broad reach with spinny up but you will learn phenomenal amounts.
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Old 09-11-2008
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Not to be a party pooper but if you do go to MDR, stay away from California Sailing Academy. Several of us had bad experiences with them. I recommend Tradewinds up in San Francisco if you can get up there.
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