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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #21  
Old 01-30-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
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.
I started sailing as crew member on a racing keelboat. I have done pretty well. Am I going to say that the best sailors are racers and that is how you should start?

Small boats and race boats will both provide platforms for learning to sail.

Now if you want to learn to cruise ....
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  #22  
Old 01-30-2012
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You can certainly learn to sail on an opti or a laser... but that doesn't do much for learning about engines, systems, heads, holding tanks, bottom painting, travel lifts, docking a heavier vessel, why it's such a bad idea to run aground, what to do if you do get stuck, anchoring, serious navigation....

As Jack alluded to above, sailing is just a part of all that, and not even the biggest part...
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  #23  
Old 01-30-2012
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In the beginning of one of his books Bernard Moitessier writes about his recommendation to his friends to sail optimists before larger boats. He mentioned how after a day of having fun and getting wet, they were miles ahead of others who learned on larger boats. When they stepped onto larger boats they understood the physics of what was going on a lot better.

When learning anything start small and work your way up. When my wife and I bought our first cruising boat, she was so uncomfortable sailing it. She went for sailing lessons on small boats, and after she had a whole new look upon sailing and was much more comfortable handling the larger boat.

I think the real bonus to dinghies is the fact that you are the only one on the boat. You are responsible for everything, you are the decision maker, so you pick it up quickly. Sometimes it's hard to learn when someone else is the captain.
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  #24  
Old 01-31-2012
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I learned to sail on a Laser. I found it very difficult at first but was determined to learn. I was told at the time that if I could sail that boat, that I could sail anything.. There is nothing nice about a jibe done incorrectly, in four foot swells, a strong current and sharks on a Laser.

I just bought my first boat. An S2 7.3. I haven't sailed her yet but I'm interested in seeing if what I was told is true. Someone mentioned being in tune with the rig. From my experience when sailing a laser, you and the boat do become one. I can't speak for larger boats because like I said, I haven't sailed it yet but I'm taking her out as soon as I can. I hope my laser skills transfer to the S2.
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Old 01-31-2012
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Dinghy or Yacht Sailing First?

Conventional wisdom has it that you start on dinghies (to learn interactions of wind, waves, sails and hull while getting wet) and then you upgrade to yachts while you expand to the wider nautical world (of navigation, motoring, anchoring and mooring, logistics, cooking, meteorology etc. etc.) to be able to cruise safely. This is the road travelled by most sailors and I don't think that we regret it!
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Old 01-31-2012
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Small sailboats are a hoot. They give you hands-on experience of what NOT to do without the danger of a major catastrophe. I think the first sailboat I was ever on was a Sunfish. It did about everything a keelboat does (except for the headsail). I had a sailboard for a while. They are a lot of fun and can fly but I don't think they are a good way to learn how to sail. They are far removed from a standard rig being that moving the mast and weighting the board are what creates turning. You are creating forward movement by the same aerodynamic means but that's about where the similarity ends. They also can be dangerous in many ways, not the least, going far from shore very fast and not being able to get back. I once rescued a newbie to sailboarding who was being forced farther and farther offshore and was entirely terrified and exhausted. They are also dangerous in any traffic because they are small and move fast, sometimes into other objects.
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Old 02-01-2012
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Perhaps the "right" answer rests with the learner. If you are uncomfortable on a small sailboat because you may not be able to right it and clamber back on board, you might feel more comfortable on a keelboat. If you are uncomfortable with the size of a keelboat, you might try consider some small boat sailing. There are likely lots of factors to be considered in making the choice. Where I sail, the water is bloody cold.

Overgeneralizing about the abilities and skills of one type of sailor versus another is not going to beneficial for those who have no experience of sailing.
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Old 02-03-2012
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There is no 'right' answer...

...but the OP asked our opinions; mine is 'dinghy first'.

The less displacement a boat has, the faster things happen. Then you can make several mistakes in a single afternoon and really learn (how to sail or how to swim; you'll get better at one of them!)

A smaller boat also means less damage when (not if; not when you're learning) you hit something. My first 2 minutes as captain of a Sunfish ended with a collision (my wife was not impressed). If I'd hopped into a 19' keelboat and done that, it would have been the end of the day.

You might have 2 or 3 bad days in a row and get discouraged; don't. The moment will come when you've got the angle to the wind just right, the sheets are tuned 'pretty close' to optimum and your butt is in just the right place. You will realise that you have found 'the groove' and you will never want to leave it.

Enjoy.

Ken
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  #29  
Old 02-04-2012
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I have never out grown my love for small boats.
I just recently rehabbed the original Sunfish that my Father bought in '75. It was the boat I learned on.
Than I went out and bought a project boat. I didn't buy a 40 foot project, no I bought a 14 foot O'Day Javelin.
When we go to Boat Shows now I am always drawn to the small boat section. I would love to add a Flying Scot to the fleet.
Small boats are a lot of fun and yes you do learn a lot on them and if you are like me you never stop loving them.
I like to think of it as having the best of both worlds.
To the original poster, my thoughts are learn on small so that you don't have the original investment. Learn small with small cash out put, than move up to where you want to be but keep that dinghy sitting on its trailer for when you want to go out for a blustery thrill ride.
Nothing wrong with having the best of both.
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Old 02-04-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
You can certainly learn to sail on an opti or a laser... but that doesn't do much for learning about engines, systems, heads, holding tanks, bottom painting, travel lifts, docking a heavier vessel, why it's such a bad idea to run aground, what to do if you do get stuck, anchoring, serious navigation....

As Jack alluded to above, sailing is just a part of all that, and not even the biggest part...

I disagree. Engines, systems, heads, docking etc is about boat ownership and driving a boat. Those things are not exclusive to a sailboat. Learning to sail does not require knowledge of those things. And optis, lasers, sunfish, etc prove those systems are not important to sailing. They're important to owning a boat, owning a boat you can live on or cruise for several days, or just keep in the water. It has nothing to do with sailing. Powerboats can have all of those systems and requirements.
Sailing is about using the wind to move a vessel. The OP was about sailing, not boat ownership. Had the OP been about which is better for learning cruising boat ownership, your answer would be spot on.
Sailing is very simple. Luxuries we want have made it seem much more complicated. But the art of sailing has absolutely nothing to do with that extra riff raff.
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