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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 08-06-2010
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Small lake, a Sunfish, and a lot of swimmming. Then came the book reading, sailing with others, and practice. 30 years later I am still learning, but I am not swimming anymore.
Newport 17, Old Town Canoe "Otter"
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Old 08-06-2010
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I really think the best way to learn is a quick reading of a simple learn to sail book then jump on board a small cat or lateen rigged dinghy or sunfish type of boat and just play around on a light wind day all by yourself. Over time you will develop the skills you will need. Learning this way on a small boat and working your way up will make you a better and more confident sailor. I learned this way as a kid and I have no problem now sailing my 40' sloop all by lonesome right up to a mooring without the engine. I see too many folks who never spent the time learning to sail on a small boat and now lack the skill or more importantly the confidence to due a similar thing. There is a great book out here called "First you have to row a little boat" by Richard Bode. There is much truth in that title.
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Old 08-06-2010
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sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice
Another really good book to read as someone learning to sail is Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor.

BTW, self-taught starting at about the age of 10 at Boy Scout camp one summer..

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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 08-06-2010
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Self taught if you don't count reading books first. Synopsis was; I read a couple of books, rented a small boat, bought Far Cry and learned how to make it go where I wanted. About six months later I started racing with others and then "really" learned a lot about sailing in a very short period of time. I still learn whenever I'm on the water, especially in different boats. They all seem to have individual preferences to make them happy. Is that why boats are referred to as females?
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Old 08-06-2010
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Racing will greatly accelerate your learning curve.

I definitely agree that you can learn to sail in 30 minutes, but that you'll spend the rest of your life mastering it. As a late-comer to the sport, I'm very behind and burning the candle to catch up.
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Old 08-06-2010
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I bought my first sailboat (an 8.0 S2 center cockpit with a 2.5 foot fixed keel) having never been on a sailboat before in my life. Up until that time I'ld always enjoyed the water and had owned a 16 ft AL fishing boat with 25 hp outboard which I used to explore a large lake in south central Va. When I got a government job in DC and moved to the Cheaspeake Bay area the best means to explore those waters was by sail and thus my adventure into sailing begin. After buying the sailboat the prior owners helped us sail the boat from Annapolis to Herrington Harbour and that was my first sail...ever. During the next year I read as many books as possible and explored many creeks along the Cheaspeake going aground many times with that 2.5 foot draft. After a couple of years, I sold the S2 and bought a larger sailboat and still have that same boat today some 25 years latter and have expanded my cruising area to the east coast of the US even though my home base remains the Cheaspeake. Plus you never stop learning.
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Old 08-06-2010
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I read the book and built the dinghy. Study and practice.
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Old 08-06-2010
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First tought myself how to work on a boat and then just dropped it in the water that was about a yr ago. Yes I think some say we have learned the hard way. This is from the start sail boat pictures, photos, and videos, from friends & fun on webshots

You should never question if you can do it or not.
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Old 08-06-2010
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As a child we had an old row-boat with pinned oars (so we wouldn't loose them over the side) that we'd row around the end of the lake near my grandmother's house (the water there was all of 2' deep so if you fell overboard you just got up an walked). When I was 8, one of my pals and I decided to make a sailboat with a bed sheet and a couple of the bamboo poles that my grandmother used to prop up the clothes-line when she was drying wash. One pole became the Yard and one the mast, lashed together with....clothes-line!--using the best knots we'd learned at Cub Scouts. Two corners of the sheet were lashed to the Yard and the other two were tied to lines for sheets. We proped the mast up with...clothes-line! A fore-stay, back-stay and two shrouds. So fitted out, we launched ourselves off the dock and unfurled our "sail" with a hand painted "pirate flag" made from a pillow case flying from the mast head and using an oar in the sculling oar-lock (on the transom) as a rudder.

It worked great...As long as we went down wind. Of course, we were promptly blown the length of the lake and landed in the bramble bushes at the edge of the mud-flat at that point. The pain we suffered getting un-stuck (we "struck" our sail) and then rowing a mile back up wind--one kid per oar--was nothing compared to the thrashing we got when we finally got back and discovered the Sheriff's had been called out to help find us. But we did sail!
"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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Old 08-06-2010
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Not only did I teach myself how to sail, BUT, I did it UP HILL, IN THE SNOW,
and BAREFOOT! You young folks today are soft I tell you!

But, yeah, I read a "How to sail" book, joined a couple of forums (ahem), listened, looked, learned, tried, failed and I'm still here to talk about it. Of
course, the learning never ceases as "When you're green, you're growing...when you're ripe you're rotting". Cease to learn and you cease to exist. (wow, that's a lot of deep thinking for the a.m., eh?)
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