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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 03-23-2011
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Seeking input to go from Scratch to Captaining

I'm sure there are a ton of 'recommendations' on here but I was hoping for some unbiased input into where to go/look or what to buy that will be most helpful in starting from scratch to being able to captain a small (40 foot or under) boat.

I know getting some hands on experience is probably ke, but there has to be some sound information one can study if my circumstances limit my hands on experience right at the moment.

Does anyone have a suggestion?

Thanks in advance
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Old 03-23-2011
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There are numerous books out there to help you get started, even the "Sailing for Dummies" book is a good start.
Hand-on experience is more important, though. You should check out clubs and organizations in your area to get some familiarity and training without having to spend too much money.

If there are a lot of sailboats around then going to the docks before races and regattas and asking if anyone is looking for inexperienced crew ("rail meat") will get you started, once you've done that you'll be able to make contacts and get even more time on the water.

Personally I would prefer going to an accredited school and taking a class - the curriculum will be put together by professionals and the class taught by one as well. It might be more expensive than the other options, but will most certainly get you to your goal faster.
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Last edited by Zanshin; 03-23-2011 at 10:09 AM. Reason: Added text
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Old 03-23-2011
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Take a CG Auxiliary course. It will give you a basic idea of what you need to know and then take some lessons if possible. Read all you can(Bowditch), get Chart 1 and learn how to read a chart. Read a lot of the threads here on SN.
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Old 03-23-2011
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Try hanging around any local marinas or yachtclubs esp if they run the typically 'casual' racing programs on weekends or evenings. It's usually not that difficult to 'get a ride' and once you prove reliable your responsibilities on board will grow with your abilities.

This may also allow you to sail on a variety of boats over a season or two and when it comes time to buy your own you'll have a much better idea of what you'd consider a good boat for what you plan.

You really can 'learn to sail' for free this way.
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Old 03-23-2011
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Great Ideas

I like that there is need for inexperienced crew...'rail meat'...lets me know that I'm not the first person to want to do this and there can be a level of expectation from experienced crews for guys like me.

I'll look into all those suggestions and follow where they lead.

Thanks for the quick and informative responses.
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Old 03-23-2011
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Or Power Squadron course, if that's closer to home than the CG Auxiliary course.

If by "Captaining" you mean being able to sail your own boat, that's one thing.

If you meant being able to take paying passengers as a charter boat (or on someone else's charter boat), that requires a certain number of years' experience, an exam, and a Coast Guard license. See 46 CFR Part 12.
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Old 03-23-2011
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At some point that second option is what is desired, but I'm a realist so I can't say I want that as a goal until I know for sure I'm going to love sailing as much as I think I will.

So for no just to be able to skillfully maneuver my own boat for personal use.
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Old 03-23-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingFred View Post

Does anyone have a suggestion?
A quick question - where are you?

That might help with suggestions.
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Old 03-23-2011
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Yeah, your location would help. We have some great schools and clubs at our marina and I think just about everyone who races is always looking for someone to sit on the rail for Friday evening races =) Also you may want to look into your local community college. Ours offers beginner to advanced sailing and navigating courses. Yesterday someone also mentioned netfilx.
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I'm in between SO CAL and VEGAS...depending on the day...so not a whole lot of water sports occurring on Lake Mead so Im leaning toward something in Orange County/San Diego
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