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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 09-09-2010
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32ft+ too big to learn?

Thinking of buying my first boat as a newbie with minimal sailing experience. Rather than starting on smaller boat and trading up after gaining some experience I just wanted one boat for long term keeps. Is this a sensible approach? I am likely to struggle to learn on a bigger boat?

Oh, the boat I want has a full length keel - will this factor make my learning curve very long?
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Old 09-09-2010
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Seems like today many people take the approach you are contemplating. - ie buying a substantial boat from the get-go and starting from there. I suppose it's in part due to some having more money/credit these days than maybe previously.

It is do-able. Today's boats are equipped with good gear and good systems by and large.. if you're contemplating a tired old boat then there may be some issues there.

And before you dive into the 'full keel' world, you should do a realistic assessment of what your sailing habits are likely to be. For daysailing and coastal cruising you may find such a boat sluggish, slow, frustrating compared to what you might experience with a lighter, more performance oriented type of boat.

Another big issue with full keel/heavy boats is not so much their sailing habits per se, but the difficulties they can present maneuvering in and out of tight moorage spaces and harbours - most notably close-quarter maneuvers under power in reverse.

Make the acquaintance of a variety of local boaters and get a broader range of impressions before you make your move. Also, if you're tempted by the price point of the "larger" boat... beware.....
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Old 09-09-2010
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Bigger boat means bigger problems but sometimes I wish
I had a bigger boat. Not sure if it helps but some people at my marina don't go out because it is too hard to handle a big boat meanwhile I get too go out every week solo on my 24'. Good luck.
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Old 09-09-2010
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I think the 32ft+ is fine to learn on. My issue is your buying a boat without having enough experience to really know what kind of boat you should have and what the tradeoffs are. Depending on where you live, there are fractional shares which might be a good way to start. I would also suggest taking a multi-day trip at a sailing school that uses somewhat larger boats. I disagree with the previous comments about bigger boats being bigger problems. In some respects a bigger boat can be more forgiving of your mistakes. Seriously consider getting a little more experience and sailing time before you make the commitment to a specific boat.
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Old 09-09-2010
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I'd point out that you really learn about sail trim and balance and such things far better on a small sailing dinghy... The sheer size and mass of a 32' cruising sailboat, especially a full-keel design, work against it being a very responsive learning platform.
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Old 09-09-2010
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There's a fellow on here called NiteFly who bought a Tartan 30. He had some dinghy sailing experience. He picked it up very quickly. I took him out on my 25'er for a day to get some practice before he sailed the Tartan.

I totally understand your desire not to have to buy and sell a range of boats before you arrive at "the" boat. How about a compromise? Buy your large boat, but make friends with some dinghy racers, or buy some lessons. Learn on the dinghy while you fix up your bigger boat, then sail the big boat after a month of dinghy runs.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Seems like today many people take the approach you are contemplating. - ie buying a substantial boat from the get-go and starting from there. I suppose it's in part due to some having more money/credit these days than maybe previously.

It is do-able. Today's boats are equipped with good gear and good systems by and large.. if you're contemplating a tired old boat then there may be some issues there.

And before you dive into the 'full keel' world, you should do a realistic assessment of what your sailing habits are likely to be. For daysailing and coastal cruising you may find such a boat sluggish, slow, frustrating compared to what you might experience with a lighter, more performance oriented type of boat.

Another big issue with full keel/heavy boats is not so much their sailing habits per se, but the difficulties they can present maneuvering in and out of tight moorage spaces and harbours - most notably close-quarter maneuvers under power in reverse.

Make the acquaintance of a variety of local boaters and get a broader range of impressions before you make your move. Also, if you're tempted by the price point of the "larger" boat... beware.....

This is great advice!!
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I just bought my first boat, a Gulfstar 37... My sailing experience consists solely of an 8-day ASA 101 & 103 course in the virgin islands aboard an Island Packet 440, and a number of days sailing on the Charles in Mercuries (15', IIRC). Sailing the IP during the class was a blast and I never felt like it was too big. The instructor was really good though. I haven't taken possession of my new boat yet, so I can't tell you whether or not the "starting big" thing actually works, but it seemed like the right thing to do My situation was somewhat complicated by wanting to live aboard, and you can't very well do that on a 22' boat.
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Old 09-09-2010
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I did the "buy smaller first" thing,, bought a really nice Hunter 23 with 10hp outboard, put roller furling on it.. and new motor mount and would have put a new outboard on too... but! I sold it because a realized in way less then a year that wanted a larger boat! Now my Oday 30 seems small.

I do agree with the others however, full keel boats are slugs out of their element, the ocean.
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I would say that your first boat shouldn't be your long term dream boat ,
you dont want your dream boat to :run aground, hit the pier, drag anchor into another boat, or any of the other mishaps that may happen.
Buy a boat to learn on, something you won't be too worried about if it gets a scratch, and you can also learn what you really want or need in your dream boat.
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