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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 12-11-2011
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How good of a sailor you become is more dependent on your aptitude combined with the quality of your instruction, then the boat you use.

Starting small and working your way up is great and most of did so out of necessity, more than as a plan. However, there are many excellent sailors that have never put the sail up on a dinghy, ever. I'm sure they had a natural aptitude for sailing. Spacial orientation, athleticism, comfort on the water, ability to think fast and others can be innate. If so, your learning curve will be faster. If not, and you push too fast, you would most likely just quit the sport.
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  #12  
Old 12-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryL View Post
Hey,

I think it depends on what your sailing goals are. If you plan on racing a keel boat, then learning to sail on a dinghy would be helpful. If you plan on living aboard and doing long distance sailing, then I'm not convinced that learning how to handle the sails on a real small boat will offer much value. There is much more to 'sailing' then just handling the sails on a small boat. Docking, anchoring, engine usage, maintenance, are all skills that you need to operate a 'yacht' that you can't get from sailing a dinghy.

Barry
(Hi Barry, great minds work alike and all that; and even post at the same time! I was composing my post before I saw yours. )
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  #13  
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I windsurfed when I was younger. Last year I purchased a fraction of a 33 Hunter. Next year, I'll renew the Hunter and join a local club that teaches and races Albacores.

All decisions were based on what I thought might be fun. I know a lot of people encourage starting on a dinghy, but if it's not something you want to do, the brain sponge doesn't absorb as well as it might otherwise.

So next year I'm looking forward to being on the other side of the traffic jam that ensues outside of my marina when 50 odd little boats start tacking all over the channel like drunken squirrels, while big not very maneuverable keel boats try not to squash them.
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If you have the opportunity to sail dinghys I would take it and sail every chance you get. You will learn a whole lot more in a much shorter period of time. Sail trim, mechanics of maneuvers, how the boat handles, seamanship...the list goes on.

The thing I have noticed after sailing for 37 years... is dinghy sailors do things instinctively or anticipate and people who started sailing on large displacement type boats tend to REACT to things. This is a generalization and there are degrees of how much and to what extent it's true but most really good sailors either started in dinghys or spent some time in them.

My wife has made the comment that when I'm sailing it's like the boat is a part of me or vice versa. I'm just that tuned in to how the boat is moving. And after I've been on a boat for a while and get used to it's motion I can usually tell how fast the boat is going to within a couple of tenths of a knot. I just feel more aware.

But hey, don't let this stop you; if you only have access to a big boat or you just don't like the idea of having to scramble around on a little boat and duck the boom do what works for you.
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Two ways work for most people.

Join a dinghy club with a sail training program and spend the time to learn on the club boats. Then do some training on a keel boat course to learn the ropes and winches (literally)

Go do a sail training course on a keel boat. Sometimes even experienced skippers should do a keelboat training course.
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Dinghies first, if you have a choice.
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Old 01-19-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yacht Lady View Post
Its true, I learned so much by dinghy sailing first that I believe it makes me the sailor I am today.
I agree.Anyone can steer a barge around.Sailing something you have to think about every moment is a lot different.Like learning to drive a car.learn a manual first. then get an auto.Learn in a real boat then buy a fixed keeler or ballasted yacht.
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Old 01-19-2012
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Quote:
when 50 odd little boats start tacking all over the channel like drunken squirrels
Haha! That's the best part. Those are so much more fun to watch than a 50' yacht motoring off to a distant destination.

I'm definitely in the dinghy camp. Something with low consequences for disastrous failure will encourage you to take more chances -- which is how you learn. Also, an unpowered boat forces you to learn how to read light air and work with it, instead of just taking the easy out and firing up the inboard. Then work your way up from Sunfish/Snark (well, depending on your size and mobility. Some adults are just too big to handle a Sunfish) to Laser to Flying Scot over the course of a summer. You can and should learn how to dock them, too.
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Old 01-30-2012
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There's more than one way to skin a cat, so they say. You can learn either way.

I'll tell you that I learned about unnecessary stress on rigging by sailing dinghies. It'll wear your arms out. Hooked up to winches and cleats, you might not learn about that.

It is a different type of sailing though and requires you to be more limber. Someone with a fused neck could get hit in the head.
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Old 01-30-2012
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All of the very best sailors that I personally know started out in smaller boats. I know what conclusion I have drawn from that. You can draw your own.
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