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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 05-31-2011
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Dinghy Sailing

From a newbie.

I've heard from many that the best sailors are ones that come from small boats first.

With that thought in mind (its prob debatable) what would be a reasonable purchase? I have seen used Lasers and others on the market at fairly reasonable prices.

So, question is lenght? brand? and does it need 2 sails? to optimize learning.

I appreciate the input.
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Old 05-31-2011
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Any dinghy will be good to learn to sail on whether 2 sails or just the 1.
A lot of your choice should be tempered by how you plan to transport it. Bigger then a Laser or Sunfish would likely require a trailer which requires a towing hitch.
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Old 06-01-2011
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I vote Laser. It's a little high-performance for a beginner, but you'll learn to love it, and will never sell it. And once you've gotten good on a Laser, you'll have a "feel" for sailing and weight placement that you just won't get on a bigger, heavier boat. So I agree with what "many" have told you on that point. Plus you can race the Laser just about anywhere if you get into racing. It will also keep you in good shape, since body-english and hiking out is a big part of sailing a lightweight board-type boat like this.

Alternative is a two-person boat, like a Flying Junior, an old used Blue Jay or Snipe, O'Day Day Sailor, in the 15-17-foot range. But then as Caleb said you've moved from car-top or slide-in a truck or station wagon and launch from the beach, to needing a trailer and a launch ramp.

Last edited by nolatom; 06-01-2011 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 06-03-2011
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Agree. Yes, I think there are some lessons that are learned much faster on a small boat. The exact boat depends on storage, transport, and what you want to do with it. Do you want to be able to take a friend along? Maybe do some single design racing when you get faster? If racing does not matter, around here, the boats that fit class rules are more expensive for what you get than the designs that do not need to fit class rules.
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Old 06-03-2011
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I crewed with two others in a Corsair 16ft before moving onto a Laser to sail for/by myself. Whilst I still sail the Laser (a good boat to learn quick balance & tacking skills), I would recommend finding a slightly larger one if you (like me) intend to use it for learning skills intended for a larger vessel.

The Laser is a cat-rigged dinghy meaning that if you want to sail with a jib and spinnaker (again, like me), you need to find another class of dinghy to sail. That said, they are very quick and simple to rig & launch, alot of fun in decent wind (not really worth it in light wind though), and can be sailed almost anywhere.
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Old 06-03-2011
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Regarding Laser.

How hard is it to transport. Can one carry it to the beach? How would it be in the ocean (NC), just off the surf?

Thanks for info
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Old 06-03-2011
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The Laser isn't a surf-board, so if you're carrying it - you'll need at least another person on the other side. I use a dolly to walk it down to the beach myself and pulling it off that is an easy job for a 30yr old (me). Rigging it is a one person job too.

As for transport, I simply use the club's Laser, so I cannot speak from experience. That said, she packs up pretty well and is relatively small & light (compared to other dinghys), so with a trailer it would be quite simple. Apparently it was designed to be possible to stick on one's roof racks as well. Given the light weight and small size, I reckon (with another person to help you get it off & on) this would work well too.

I'm a lake-sailor at the moment, so cannot speak about how well she sails in the ocean. That said, everyone of the promo videos I've seen of the Laser is with a guy sailing it in/through the surf. That said, they look far fitter than me, so your mileage on that might vary.
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Old 06-03-2011
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Lido 14 - designed as a forgiving entry level boat in 1958, thousands built. You can pick up a used one for pennies. Still One of top 10 fleets in the country.
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Old 06-03-2011
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Lido 14' would require a trailer and hitch: www.lido14.org
and might be cheaper then a Holder 14': Holder Vagabond 14 sailboat for sale

I have sailed a Laser on the ocean down in Guadaloupe from a Club Med many, many moons ago. They had a protected lagoon we put in at and sailed through a 'hole' in the reef out into the Carribean with maybe 3' swells. It was a blast and I'm pretty sure I pissed off the Frenchy waterfront guy who did not want us to leave the lagoon area in the first place.
You can launch a Laser from an ocean beach in small surf; that will be your judgement call. Better to start out in a semi-protected area near the ocean that you could retreat to if needed. Some of your NC inlets to the ocean have some nasty reputations for currents and waves though.
Pamlico and Abemarle Sounds not big enough water for you?
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Old 06-04-2011
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Thanks for the note Caleb.

Indeed the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds are big. But we vacation south near the SC border. No sound there, below Wilmington.

I will look in to your suggestions.

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