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Ajax_MD 04-02-2010 10:15 PM

It's nice to know...
Occasionally as I have shared my learning experiences here, some members have publicly and privately expressed concern, disagreement, and other feelings about the fact that I have attempted to learn to sail without formal instruction.

While I certainly don't owe anyone any explanations or justifications, I do take simple pleasure in relating a recent sailing experience to anyone interested in reading further.

Today, I invited two guests out for a sail in the Chesapeake. Winds were 15-25 kts, with waves building to 3 feet. One of my guests was a licensed sailing instructor with his master's license and both sail tall ships as well as their own recreational vessel.

As we sailed, I asked for brutal honesty about my boat and my skill or lack thereof. The short answer was that it is a solid boat needing little, and that I have a firm grasp of the fundamentals and that I am not a hazard to myself or others.

The rest of the time was spent chatting and with me asking a lot of questions and generally enjoying the ride.

It wasn't a formal evaluation but for me, it was nice to know.

bljones 04-02-2010 10:19 PM

It's always nice to get a little confirmation and affirmation, ain't it?

Good to hear you had (another) great day.

Meanwhile, my marina will not be open for another month. Grumble.

tempest 04-02-2010 10:33 PM


I sailed boats for 30 years, before I took my first formal clinic. Everyones route to knowledge is different. Sounds like your system works for you.
It sounds like a perfect day on the bay! I'm jealous, as I'm not wet yet!

Maine Sail 04-02-2010 10:48 PM

Most of the sailors I know have no "formal" training or classes and this included many excellent sailors & racers. I never took any "formal" classes, was in some race programs though, and have managed to survive into my 40's without them.

That being said I started very, very young when we absorb so much so rapidly that it becomes ingrained. There is nothing wrong with taking a class and it can and will speed up your learning curve and may make you more competent faster then being self taught at this stage in life. Necessary, no, a decent move, sure why not...

chef2sail 04-03-2010 01:59 AM

I never took a formal class either. We all have to be beginners and learn sometime. I raced hobie cats in NJ and had one in front of my house all the time on the beach and I think it was the great teacher i had in terms of how to sail with a jib and a main. Crewing on a racing boat in Annpolis over the years also taught me a lot

In reality I have learned more from the people I have gone sailing with on thier boats as welll as having them set up and sail mine when they go out on mine.

Most sailing is a function of experience and adjustment to changing conditions as well as a somewhat "undertsanding" of vectors.

Gain confidence from your successes and learn from your mistakes. You are doing it the right way.


imagine2frolic 04-03-2010 08:27 AM


You are such a whiner. Go ahead, and use my name. I advised that taking lessons reduces the learning curve, and to head out into the ocean on an adventure immediatley is asking for trouble. You wanted to debate my opinion of an asked question, and my answer. You got my point of view, and because you choose a different path. You now run for confirmation. As I typed after getting 2 PMs from you. Good luck with your choices. That we all get through life differently. If you want to debate my opinion that's one thing, but to sulk because I believe differently than you. That's pretty frikking childish. No one can deny that lessons, or a mentor will reduce the learning curve, and be safer. You are doing just what you claim not to do. You are seeking justification with this thread.......i2f

sailingdog 04-03-2010 09:09 AM

While many sailors I know are self-taught or learned through trial and error, I would point out that having a solid foundation to base your future sailing on, like an ASA 101 course, is not a bad idea. It can help improve your safety and prevent you from making at least the very basic errors, some of which can be quite dangerous.

Ajax_MD 04-03-2010 09:42 AM

i2f, you flatter yourself. Although you are included, you are hardly the only one. I wouldn't have bothered posting this over a single disagreement with just one person, there have been several since I started here. All my post was meant to do was show that despite the way I share my mistakes, I'm not crazy, and I'm not dangerous. It wasn't a sideways slam on anyone, or even an "I-told-you-so". It was also meant to show that I actively seek and accept experienced advice.

As you said in your PM to me, there are different paths, but some of these other individuals are pretty set that if you don't have an ASA or some other paper on your wall, then you don't know jack. I'm not going to name names. Personal attacks are forbidden by the forum rules and generally in bad taste.

Out of respect for you, I took our conversation offline and in the end, I said that we'll just have to be gentlemen and agree to disagree. and let it go at that. Again, out of respect for you, and others I've had disagreements with, I left names out of it here. You're not offering me the same respect by publicly blasting me, calling me a whiner, etc. You'll get away with it too, because you're a primary contributor and a pillar of the SN community.

We take take whatever path you'd like at this point. We can be gentlemen and agree to disagree, or we can continue our discussion publicly or privately and if you want to be ugly about it, I can do ugly. Other than trading insults, I don't really see what the point would be though. We're not going to change each others' minds.

bluwateronly 04-03-2010 10:00 AM

I never took any classes and have been sailing awhile now. I did my first race as crew on the bay last night and confirmed that I know what I am doing. Every thing just goes faster when racing, it was a blast. Go out every chance you can and enjoy, that's what's it's all about. :D

smackdaddy 04-03-2010 10:07 AM

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Bubble, I think that's just one of the inherent issues with talking about stuff on a forum. There's no way for anyone to know the real situation with someone else. So, in many cases, advice defaults to the most safe and sensible that can be given. And it's pretty damn hard to find a problem with that basic principle.

As long as that sound advice is balanced by boneheads like me (and most of SA) yelling "Go for it dude!", and as long as the recipient of all that advice has half a brain, he can probably make a very good decision. And it sounds like you're doing just that.

So how much did you pay those guys to give you a positive review?

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