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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 08-16-2010
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If you're just about to start now, you don't really know what kind of boat you might like. So it's better to start without a boat of your own and with help and advice of an experienced sailor. Read some book during the time you can't sail (night, winter etc.) which gives you a clue about what you're doing. Start with a small boat that allows you to make mistakes without ending up in serious trouble. And you _will_ make mistakes. Take any chance to sail and do something by yourself, and try to get on different boats. Ask fellow sailors about how they handle things, try it by yourself and find out how much truth is behind their advice

After a while, you will know which boat to buy: keelboat or yacht, racer or cruiser, mono or cat, wood or RFC etc.

Happy sailing and good luck! You will like it!
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  #12  
Old 08-16-2010
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Start with dinghy sailing. Small boat skills, and knowing how to control a boat with your bare hands, a single line on a single sail, and a tiller, will teach you a lot.
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  #13  
Old 08-23-2010
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the best way to learn how to sail

The best way to learn how to sail is to know your boat. And it is not necessary to be with your boat all of the time to know it. I am just a newbie myself, but I am struggling to learn, and the main thing that is holding me back from learning is not having a comprehensive owner's manual that I can go to learn what every part and fitting is used for, and how everything is rigged when sailing and when docked. If I knew an experienced sailor who owns the same model that I do, then the ideal thing would be to have that person take the time to go over the entire boat with me and take pictures of how everything is rigged when sailing and when not sailing. The actual sailing techniques can be learned from a few good sources on the internet. But the first thing to do is to get someone you know who is a good sailor and have them take you out on your boat a few times and take you through all of the motions so you know what to do. And if you can have those three lesson done within a week's time, that would be better. And then what you do, while the boat is on the trailer or on blocks for the winter, you study all of those photographs of how everything is rigged and tied up, and try to learn as much about those parts and rigging as you possibly can, and then in the next year, you do the same thing over again with someone taking you out about a couple of times until you are comfortable in your boat and know your boat. Before that time, ask as many questions as you possibly can from the largest number of people. If there is contradiction between what people are telling you on one particular thing, you want to know why that is the case. But the chant to keep running through your boat is Know your boat. By the way, if any of the administrators are listening, I suggest that everyone on here who knows their boat (especially older boat models) fairly well, should be asked by you to write up a sailor's manual with photographs for their particular boat model. That way, when someone like you Dave just buys their first sailboat, they can go directly to the manual page and download it with pictures and instruction. The idea probably won't fly, but, eh, for what it's worth.

Last edited by ThrillerDillerSchwill; 08-23-2010 at 11:49 PM.
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  #14  
Old 08-29-2010
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I would also recommend that you take a course in learning to cruise, after you have mastered the sailing basics. I took both a learning to sail and a learning to cruise in Miami, and the cruising course was specific to longer adventures (provisioning, galley, etc.). Very helpful if you intend to do any cruising. Good luck!
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  #15  
Old 08-29-2010
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Time on the water is good

Once you've been out a few times, met other sailors, and gotten "hooked", here are some more ideas.

Most states offer "boating safety" basic classes that are about a day long. Usually these are free (commercial on-line versions have fees but they aren't terribly expensive). They won't make you a sailor, but they will teach you the safety laws, equipment requirements, introduce you to navigation buoys, lights, whistle signals, etc.

For a more thorough introduction to seamanship, navigation, rules, etc., you could take courses from the US Power Squadrons or US Coast Guard Auxiliary. These generally are generic boating courses rather than sailing, but still have plenty of good stuff.

Urban areas like San Diego will generally have sailing co-ops, community sailing programs, sailing clubs affiliated with commercial sailing schools or charter companies, or sharable boats owned by some sailing and yacht clubs, etc., that will give you a discount on boat rentals or some of them, for your membership dues, give you unlimited sailing time on their boats. Some of these charge a joining/initiation fee, but then give you a two- or three-day sailing class and certification in exchange. Some boat rental companies honor the "club memberships" from other boat rental companies for giving charter discounts. And sometimes charter companies can be talked into giving you a discount if it's a slow week in the off-season and you seem to be a responsible, low-hassle customer.

Of course, crewing on race boats is fine way to get time for people who don't mind a little stress or pressure. Alternatives include helping out on race committee boats, where you get to see lots of sailing close up, and, once you have a bit of blue water experience, getting on crew lists for longer-distance cruising rallies and races such as the Newport to Ensenada, Baja HaHa, etc.
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  #16  
Old 08-29-2010
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I have to agree on the USCG Sailing and Seamanship classes! My diploma as a newbie got me 10% off my insurance premiums on my first boat.
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  #17  
Old 09-06-2010
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You are in a good spot to learn. I am guessing with the weather in SD there is year round sailing available. The easiest way to get on a boat is to show up at the marina on Wednesday nights or other nights when racing occurs and "walk the docks" asking if they need crew. Almost every boat needs extra crew when its windy. Tell them you are "moveable ballast" and you have heavy legs. That just means you can move the the windward side of the boat and lean over the lifelines to keep the boat flat. Where white soled shoes. My guess is you could sail 75 days a year in SD without owning a boat by becoming a proficient racer.

Read as much as you can before you get there, the more you know before you arrive the more you will be able to learn.I agree with SD as the Complete Sailor is a good start, then maybe Annapolis Book of Seamanship, it is like an encyclopedia on sailing. Buy 6 feet of rope and learn some knots and when to use them at least know the cleat hitch and maybe a bowline to start. Get some sailing vocabulary down as well before you show up at the dock.

Hanging out at marinas, yacht clubs and local sailing forums will present opportunities to you. The more you know knowledge and skill wise the more opportunities you will come by.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center- sailing seems to be the best deal in classes in the area to learn the basics. The ASA classes in your area are a bit on the expensive side. One thing you may consider is taking the basic sailing course locally then traveling to Seattle to take a course here. Anacortes Yacht Charters - Best Power and Sail Boat Chartering in the San Juan Islands and Pacific Northwest. I doubt you could learn to sail through those levels in just 4 days but if you know some before you arrive and study leading up to it you will walk away with a lot of knowledge and the ratings.

One last option is to buy a boat, I will teach you to sail it in October when I am on vacation there, it will at least save me from charter expenses for a day or two. Actually if you can afford it owning a small keelboat is not too expensive at least it wasn't in New Orleans, I think SD is in another tax bracket though. 20-22 footers can usually be found for $2-3K a little more if they are newer or well equipped. The slip fees there is what may pose a problem. But it would give you something to learn to sail on, sleep in the marina on, pour money into.
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  #18  
Old 09-06-2010
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Start with $. At least $1000 for a SunFish unless you can shell out 4K or more for a Catalina or Hunter type boat. Unfortunately, money makes the world go round, even on the water. The good news is once you GET on the water and have your boat you can live on pennies a day in certain places as well as enjoy a sense of freedom few people experience. I myself can't wait to be a sailing hobo. Good luck.
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  #19  
Old 09-06-2010
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Oh and books. forgive me for forgetting that. Books do help tremendously.
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  #20  
Old 09-10-2010
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Wow, Mission Bay would be a great place to learn! Just look for days when the wind is fairly constant (rather than gusty).

My first experience after windsurfing a little, was steering a 40' sailboat. Totally different and much more what I wanted. My stepson learned on that boat.

The perfect thing would be to crew for someone who would like to teach you. You could help clean the boat up when you get back. There are some great folks out there that love to teach.

For me, it's not just the sailing, but the camping on the boat that I love. We just bought our 1st boat: my husband is in his 70s, and I just turned 60. We taught ourselves by reading many books and asking questions of anyone interested in a conversation.

Look at lots of boats. Hang out on this forum or the TrailerSailor -- I'm sure there are many others.

Have a great time with your new adventure!
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