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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 01-25-2012
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Smile New Guys

Hey SailNet!

Our names are William, Cole and Martin. Recently we decided that upon graduating college we'd like to purchase and sail a boat somewhere tropical for awhile. Initially we had decided on Hawaii, how hard could it be right? Well, after some research we determined it'd be pretty difficult, so we scrapped that and are thinking about the Florida Keys and Bahamas.
Here's the thing though, none of us have significant sailing experience. Cole has done a bit on a very small craft, but none of us have tried anything with a 25'+ vessel on the open ocean. So obviously we have a pretty lofty goal, but with enough preparation we feel like we can achieve nearly anything. So we're going to go through the Learning to Sail articles, but what can you recommend for us? This includes everything: what boat? when/where to buy it? what gear/equipment? where to sail? time of year?
The next thing is, how do we get some experience sailing? Any Portland, OR locals know of clubs or events where we could observe, learn and practice? Any locals willing to help teach some guys in exchange for manual labor?
Looking forward to learning lots! T-Minus 29 months!

-William, Martin and Cole.
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Old 01-25-2012
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Actually the first, not next, thing to get some experience.

Google "yacht club portland OR" for the clubs.

Many yacht clubs have teaching programs as well.

Many skippers are looking for crew who will put some sweat into their program.
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Old 01-25-2012
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If I were you guys, I'd buy something small, maybe 20-23 feet to do day sailing in the area you are currently living in. If you are in protected waters and learn the rules of the road, you can go out and sail with the limited knowledge you have now. You've got 2 years ahead of you and you will learn a lot about sailing.
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Old 01-25-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck53 View Post
If I were you guys, I'd buy something small, maybe 20-23 feet to do day sailing in the area you are currently living in. If you are in protected waters and learn the rules of the road, you can go out and sail with the limited knowledge you have now. You've got 2 years ahead of you and you will learn a lot about sailing.
We are all college guys, so capital is a scarce thing to come by. Ideally we'd only have to buy one boat later down the line. Maybe something tiny though? Would the little single or double person sail boats give us skills that would translate to something larger?
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I learned to sail on a sunfish when I was a kid. Never did much sailing at all until I bought my first boat, a Catalina 30 when I was in my mid 40's. So yes, learning to sail on a 22' day sailer will help lots when you move up.
I hear you about money, but if you can't afford a 20' day sailer now, how are you going to afford something big enough and good enough to sail around the Bahamas. For 3 of you to live and travel long term on a boat, you don't want anything less than 27-30'.
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Old 01-26-2012
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By that time we'll have saved and fundraised enough to hopefully afford a boat. I was imagining practicing on something closer to 6'-10' like a skiff. I dont know the proper terminology for it, but it's like a fiberglass dingy with a sail.
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Old 01-26-2012
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Check out craigslist for the keys as well as South florida to get an Idea of what is available for boats.
As the economy sucks sailboats can be had for cheap right now. that may change in the next 2 years. right now you could easily grab a 30' boat for under $5000
I wouldn't sweat the learning to sail thing about 2 days on the boat anf you'll figure it out. read a few books in the mean time to get the jist of the maritime rules and a general grasp on laws etc.
if you buy a boat in Fla. and head to the keys your not going to really be on the "open Ocean" much.
might also want to get comfortable w/ the weather forcasting as this will affect almost all other aspects of the cruise.
in the meantime grab a cheap sailing dinghy and get in a little water time to acclimate and keep the dream going.
have fun.
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Originally Posted by GFUSailTeam View Post
By that time we'll have saved and fundraised enough to hopefully afford a boat. I was imagining practicing on something closer to 6'-10' like a skiff. I dont know the proper terminology for it, but it's like a fiberglass dingy with a sail.
Any sailboat to work with is better than none.
Question for you...just how much money do you think you will need to buy a decent boat to travel around the islands?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joethecobbler View Post
Check out craigslist for the keys as well as South florida to get an Idea of what is available for boats.
As the economy sucks sailboats can be had for cheap right now. that may change in the next 2 years. right now you could easily grab a 30' boat for under $5000
I wouldn't sweat the learning to sail thing about 2 days on the boat anf you'll figure it out. read a few books in the mean time to get the jist of the maritime rules and a general grasp on laws etc.
if you buy a boat in Fla. and head to the keys your not going to really be on the "open Ocean" much.
might also want to get comfortable w/ the weather forcasting as this will affect almost all other aspects of the cruise.
in the meantime grab a cheap sailing dinghy and get in a little water time to acclimate and keep the dream going.
have fun.

I agree that a 30 footer can be found for $5000 but it's going to be old and in rough shape and while sailing the Bahamas isn't bluewater sailing, there's still a lot of open water between islands and I don't think I'd want to be out in that open water in a $5000 derelick. Remember, you get what you pay for and your life will depend on the seaworthiness of your boat.

Do find a decent sailing dinghy for practice and try to get one that has both a mainsail and jib, so you get used to sailing with 2 sails.

Find a local U.S. Power & Sail Squadron or Coast Guard Aux. and take the boating safety course. Most states require you to have that class before hitting the water in any kind of boat. Then take the seamanship class that both organizations offer.

Do all this, save your money for a decent boat and you guys will enjoy sailing the islands.
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Old 01-26-2012
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Dinghy skills definitely do translate to something larger, and you should do that. I'd say you're looking for something 10'-15'. What they don't give you is experience with repairing the more complex "systems" of a 27' s/y - engine, steering, rigging, anchoring, mooring, docking, etc.

Quote:
Many skippers are looking for crew who will put some sweat into their program.
This. Also, you might post an ad volunteering maintenance labor for boat owners in exchange for experience -- there are a number of big jobs that are labor-intensive that an owner might be able to use you for, or might just need an extra hand. The jobs themselves probably aren't something you would likely need to do right away in your plan, but just by hanging around boats you pick some things up by osmosis. And who knows, your final boat might turn out to be a project.
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