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post #1 of 5 Old 09-12-2003 Thread Starter
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Formal Instruction

I am a rank neophyte when it comes to sailing, but I''m going to spend my retirement years sailing around the world until I die. I''ve had a lot of feedback from fellow SailNet message boarders that I should just skip all the formail instruction and go do it. But I spent several years whitewating canoeing and am convinced I survived it and enjoyed it so much because I invested in courses taught by some of the best paddlers in the world.

I''ve surveyed the courses sanctioned by both the American Sailing Association and U.S. Sailing, and they seem pretty much congruent. Any opinions on which is best for a "senior" neophyte who wants to learn all there is to know about cruising?
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-12-2003
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Formal Instruction

Epiphany,

Take in all the advice, suggestions and/or wisdom of others...digest it, put it all in your "pocket" and then go do it the way it feels comfortable to you...and if that means courses then go with it.
The most important part of what you want to do is to enjoy living a dream...and you are the only one that can decide what are the best steps to take for your journey.
May all your dreams come true.
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-12-2003
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Formal Instruction

"Any opinions on which is best for a "senior" neophyte who wants to learn all there is to know about cruising? "

a) Volunteer when other people are going out for a cruise to tag along as a deck hand

b) Volunteer as a deck hand for people that need crew to move a boat

These two instances, if done often enough, will give years of experience in knowing what it takes to cruise......but more importantly.....it will show you even more about what NOT to do.....

Sometimes lessons learned are always better on other peoples boats..:-)
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post #4 of 5 Old 09-12-2003
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Formal Instruction

Sorry....I wanted to add. If you hang around a marina or yacht club enough there is always *somebody* that needs help or someone needs to do something like move a boat or go to a rendezvous or go somewhere. Most people would really welcome an unassuming, helpful volunteer. (cheerful, upbeat outlook/personality doesn''t hurt)
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post #5 of 5 Old 09-12-2003
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Formal Instruction

I guess it depends on what you want to accomplish, how easy it is for your to pick up new ideas, how adept you are at being self taught, and how quickly and in how much depth you want to learn to sail. There is no doubt that given enough time most reasonably intelligent people can learn to sail to one degree or another without the benefit of a formal course. If you have the apptitude for self- education for sailing, your progress can be reasonably quick. BUT in general trying to teach yourself to sail is the slow way to go and there are many things that you may never be able to learn on your own.

Courses are a good way to develop the basic understanding of sailing. I have been quite impressed with Steve Colgates School at least from conversations that I have had with recent graduates and from the printed materials that are from the Colgates. In many areas of the country the US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxillary offers high quality navigation and boat safety course.

By the same token, courses can only teach so much so to really learn to sail well you also need a lot of reading and a lot of time on the water. If you are in reasonably good shape and you care to accellerate the learning process, nothing teaches the finer points of sailing than sailing a dinghy or responsive small keel boat (less than 28 or so feet with less than 26 feet being more ideal). Another way to accelerate skills building is to do a bit of racing with a knowledgeable crew.

You just about can''t learn to sail well on a cruising boat that is much over 30 feet or a boat with wheel steering. There just is not enough feel to develop skilled boat handling and sail trim.

That said, not everyone needs or wants to learn to sail beyond the basics. There are a lot of folks out there who get by on comparatively poor sailing skills. There is no one right answer here. I will say that in my experience, as you get older better skills are required because you can no longer count on being able to manhandle the boat like you could in your youth.

Good luck
Jeff
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