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Old 08-24-2010
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Essentially self taught after a brief introduction by a knowledgeable and experienced friend. Read books, and just went out and did it.

Given the windy area we lived in, there were plenty of days early on that we stuck our nose out of the harbour and decided - well, not today... but we soon worked out all the reefing gear, gained confidence and once we discovered cruising and our local race fleet we were on our way.

All that said, this started nearly 30 years ago now, and we're still learning....

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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Old 08-24-2010
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Hi, my wife and I took an RYA training course-entry level competent crew in Menorca.This gave us the basics.Ten years later we have chartered,owned a third share in a (British) Hunter 27 OOD, owned a Gibsea 96 and subsequently an Island Packet 350.We both took further courses and found that an ounce of practical is worth a ton of theory.We are never shy about asking advice from more experienced sailors.We learn something every time we sail and try to be better at what we do.As we share the skippers job we both get to keep our nav skills up and check each others work as neccessary.We have recently installed a Kiwi Prop on "JESS" and have taught ourselves to be more competent at reversing and close quarter manouvering.I have read up and taught myself splicing and ropework as well as rigging and marine electrical skills.It is a never ending process!
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Old 08-24-2010
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I started with an English DIY kit boat called a Mirror Dinghy. It came with two books: one was how to put together all of the pieces (I had never built anything either). When the little boat was done went to a reservoir and the second book - how to sail. I still remember (after almost 40 years) the instructions: {Sit with your back to the wind, hold the tiller with one hand, hold the mainsheet with the other and pull it toward you.} After that it was just fine-tuning my skills - still happening today.
Finished the circumnavigation in early February in Grenada. Have to work on a book project for the next several months so the boat will be waiting for next year.
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Old 08-24-2010
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I took a couple Power Squadron classes, did a bit of Singles Sailing as noob, then bought a Hobie 18. A year later, I bought my first big boat, an Endeavour 37, prepped the boat, and three months later set sail - for the next 8 years.

I'm still learning, boats are still teaching me, and I'm loving every minute.
Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/C.I./M.I. 500-ton Oceans

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Old 08-24-2010
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Moe, Larry & Curley? Wrong popular culture reference man! That quote (at least the first part) is attributed to Popeye the sailor man. The last bit is, well, if you donít know Heinholdís, then you donít know Jack (London that is.)

But to get back to your original thought, yes you can be self taught, however, sailing is one of those endeavors where it is relatively easy to get started, but take a lot of effort to get good. The guys who rose through the ranks of junior sailing may have an edge over the rest of us, but with a little additional training and mentoring you too, can become a compulsive sting puller. I would recommend on getting a little mentoring and sailing with other (more experienced) skippers to get the finer edges honed. The downside of being completely self taught is that it is easy to unknowingly develop a bad habit that may become hard to break.
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Old 08-24-2010
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Self-taught. Started as a kid on inland lakes in Michigan. Pretty much sail to the end of the lake and try to turn without capsizing. Worked once in a while. Years later sailed a few times with a friend on his Sabre 30 and fell in love. I believe sailing is something you either get... or don't. You can learn the mechanics by reading and practicing, but the 'love' part of sailing...that's not learned. Luckily my wife shares the passion for sailing and we seldom miss a weekend aboard. I'll echo that racing accelerates the learning process and winning once in a while is great too. I find anytime I'm on the water with another sailboat it is "race on." Just for fun of course, but I love to catch and pass another boat.

Learn the rules, know when you are the stand-on boat and when you're not! Act accordingly and be predictable in your course.

You'll spend the rest of your life honing your skills.
s/v Rhythm
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Rock Hall, MD
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Old 09-02-2010
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Originally Posted by Death3 View Post
Just wondering who taught themselves and how hard is it to sail
I did in the beginning of this year, bought a Cal 25 and now have a much nicer Oday 22. Learning how to actually sail was not very difficult for me as I have now nearly mastered my particular boat. I probably should not say "mastered" but I mean I just know the basics of it pretty well and comfortable with it even single handing which I do a lot. I have NOT mastered sailing yet, more to learn.
What I did during my first day out with it, I was solo and I motored out and back in, no sails. Next time out, I hoisted the main and sailed under that only, done well. The third time, I had a couple friends with me and I hoisted my main and genoa, all went ok. I made a few mystakes that just caused me extra work, nothing major. In time I learned to "prep" my boat before leaving the dock. By doing this, once I get out in the open water and wind and waves are kicking, I can hoist my main right away and get under sail.

I have a certain routine I now do when I single hand and I have it running smoothly doing this. I think a lot of my success in learning on my own has to go to my boat (and all the helpful people on this forum) because its just in such good condition inside out. Everything works well and its just easy to handle. I sometimes just go out and drop my anchor to watch and film the sunset. I once even had the nerve to anchor, put my swim ladder down and go swimming. No big deal but seems kind of crazy when you do it solo. It was a calm pretty day though and I was able to go around my hull with a spong and wipe the bottom of the hull. Oh and no, no sharks here I remember thinking, the boat looks huge when I am out of it swimming around it. Talk about scary if you can't get back aboard for some reason. Anyone ever seen open water 2? This is why just for extra safety, next time I decide to take a solo dip, I will put 2 swim ladders down just incase. Anyway, as I mention in another post, it is learning how to do general maintenance, fixing, or working on the boat that was and still is difficult for me. I am going to get a manual for this that I heard was really good. At last, been there, done that and doing well so far. Hopefully I will be taking my first mini cruise this October which will be a big step for me.
s/v Pirates Lady
Hunter 33

"The sound of the sea, is becoming very familiar to me."
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Old 09-02-2010
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That idea sounds great GeorgeB but even me being in the sail capital of NC have had a hard time to find a mentor. I do how ever sail my boat alot and think I'm learning thru experiance. I get from point A to point B with most of the fun is getting there.

I'm not blameing anyone but myself, I have a group sail comming up. maybe I can find someone to crew for/or crew for me.
I hope to have many years to learn more, but the fumbling thru is fine.
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Old 09-02-2010
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I taught myself to sail over 45 years ago when I was serving with Search & Rescue in Comox on Vancouver Island. I bought a 16-foot clinker rowboat with a rotten transom for $25, and over the winter I cut away the rot and converted it into a 14-footer. Using books from the library as inspiration, I riged it into a sloop with lumberyard materials and a cut-down canvas tarp. Later I added a small mizzen way aft and sewed-up some lighter cotton duck.

I couldn't get it to sail very well as a sloop, and as a yawl, it did only a bit better, but it was a start. However, from the experience I learned the three basics of sailing: keep the pointy-end to the front, keep the stick pointing upwards, and keep the water out. I'm still learning.

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Old 09-02-2010
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I learned how to sail on a lateen-rigged Sunfish style boat as a 9-10 year old boy. Sailed through my early 20's on a variety of boats large and small, crewing for friends in races, etc. Sailing was simply a part of life where I grew up on Lake Michigan. Haven't sailed much in the 20 years that have transpired since then though. We just bought a Nor'Sea 27 and are going to be getting back out on the water. Hopefully my skills haven't gotten too rusty! But I'll be learning a new boat and new waters here in Alaska. My big issue is whether or not to try to teach my wife to sail myself (I'm thinking that's NOT the best idea!). I'd like to get her to take a dinghy sailing course - that's the best way to learn how to sail IMO. Ideally she'll learn the basics and then we can learn our new boat together.

Juneau, AK

Last edited by dgseng; 09-02-2010 at 05:04 PM. Reason: can't type worth a darn
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