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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 04-29-2010
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I bought and stated racing J-24s about 20 years ago and got a Laser a few years after that. My experience and observations are this: I learned more in one summer on my laser than I did in 4 years in the J-24. Remember I was racing the J, too, so I was very dialed in to maximizing speed, weight placement of the crew, perfect sail trim, etc., but the Laser just taught me even more about boathandling. Over the years I've had different crew racing with me and I'd way rather have a dinghy sailor than a big boat sailor as they have more refined skills. You'll learn more from any sailing mistakes you make on a dinghy than on a bigger boat that is less responsive and more forgiving, so you'll be a better sailor and know more about how to handle your boat in different conditions.
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sck5 View Post
It is a faster learning curve than on a big boat (also you get dumped in the drink if you get it wrong).
Most important reason imo
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  #13  
Old 05-09-2010
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Dear Smack:
As you premise, learning on a bigger boat can have its attractions. While most posters on this thread tout the positive aspects of learning first on dinghies, I'd like to add a negative one. Big boats can be exponentially more dangerous. Getting someone to go along with you on your cruiser may be easier after a few Dark & Stormies, but when you hit something, it's going to be a LOT more expensive to fix, and your insurance is going to cost a LOT more shortly thereafter. Getting knocked on your head with a dinghy boom in a surprise jybe teaches you a lesson. On a cruising boat, your widow may be the student. A sailor at our club is a case in point. If you can find knowledgable people willing to go out with you to teach you, a cruising boat can work, but that can be a tall order.
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Old 05-09-2010
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I like the dinghy learning, but I can agree with Smakdaddy when he suggests starting on a keel boat in the 20 to 30 foot range; however, if someone begins with a boat over 40' with hydraulic steering, they may not sense the boat's dynamic responses to the elements and might not gain the ability to make their boat perform well. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 05-09-2010
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For smack, start on a dinghy in a gale.
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  #16  
Old 05-11-2010
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A vote for bigger.

"The big boats get the glory but the little boats make the sailor". You may recognize the quote from the movie "Wind". I don't doubt the truth of the statement in the least. I guess you could say that I slipped in somewhere in the middle. I knew from the start that I had absolutely zero interest in racing. What I did want was the ability to go out and stay aboard on weekends so I never even considered a dinghie. I bought a South Coast 22 with a swing keel and a copy of "The Annapolis Book of Seamanship". The lake was my classroom. Twenty-some-odd years and several boats later I have my first true keel boat, a Ranger 29. I probably shouldn't tempt fate by saying this but I have never hit anything or anybody despite the fact that I still have not set foot in a dinghie. I think which boat is "best" to start in depends on what the individual sailor wants.

John
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  #17  
Old 05-12-2010
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Honestly, 99% of what I know about driving a boat came from sailing dinghies as a kid and young adult. That's not saying much, but I do think it has been very very helpful. Feed back, both positive and negative, is immediate. One design racing (keel or dinghy, but preferably dinghy) will hone your trimming, boat handling, and tactics. Weekend outings and day sails address anchoring, man overboard practice, etc... Owning a boat is the best introduction to maintenance and boat systems. (all of the above is IMHO only... your mileage may vary.
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  #18  
Old 05-12-2010
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I like the dinghy route myself, however, I have unlimited summer access to an inland lake which will be a good place to learn and teach my kids the basics. I found a 14' Oday Javelin on Craigslist in great shape and am just waiting for the first trip up to the cottage over memorial day to get it on the water (I think they just got some snow in Northern MI this past weekend). My philosophy is sail the dinghy and take some ASA classes over the next few years. Once the kids get a little older, start chartering keel boats.
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Old 05-30-2010
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Dinghy broad

New (at 50 yoa) to sailing, and thinking I wanted to crew on a friend's 25 foot race boat (and perhaps get a 25 foot boat of my own some day), I did as the skipper requested of all his new crew and took a basic sailing class at the local small sailboat club, in dinghies. At the end of the course, I had an entirely new perspective - I realized that nothing about sailing was instinctive to me. Every sport I've ever loved, I have worked to develop the automaticity that allows you to fine-tune, focus, and explore limits. I was surprised (& humbled) by my complete lack of natural ability. I knew after 3 weeks, I did not have the skills/autamaticity that I wanted to bring onto a boat (certainly not someone else's under race conditions). Ended up buying a dinghy, and now a Laser with no regrets. Having fun learning has become an end in itself.

Arguments in favor of dinghies that I haven't seen mentioned is that a person with a smaller boat is more liable to get out and actually sail it, and the generally smaller $ investment to get started (are you folks all trust-funders? retired bankers? you lucky SOB's!).
Cheers-Andy
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  #20  
Old 05-30-2010
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I'm in the dinghy camp generally, but one thing that hasn't really been mentioned so far is that there are some good small keel boats that are great to learn on for those far enough advanced in age to not want a dunking anytime they make a mistake. As an example, our club has a small fleet of Ideal 18s. I think they are great teaching boats, as they respond quickly to crew movements and tiller movements, yet they won't dump you in the water (if you are careful). I grew up racing dinghies, and think that is the best way to learn about boat handling, but for my wife who is new to sailing, the Ideal 18s have been a good start. Even though we own a 34 foot keel boat, I made it a priority to get her out in the Ideal 18s (without me) to get her started.
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