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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 02-24-2012
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Better to buy a Dingy or Sailing Lesson?

If sailing experience is more important to charter and rental companies than an unrecognized certificate of training, would it be money better spent to buy a dinghy or low cost keel boat and a few good books to teach my self to sail? Granted I would run the risk of teaching myself bad habits, and a few frustrations, etc. but the sailing lessons here in a group are about half the price of what i could get an older dinghy, or a third of what a used trailerable 18 to 22 footer would cost. With it I would get more time for less money overall as rental and yacht club membership is very high in Utah. Thoughts?

Last edited by Dream'n; 02-24-2012 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Fixed spelling error
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Old 02-24-2012
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Take a lesson and see what you think. Do you have any experience? You get a basic overall with a lesson and then you will probably get a good idea of what will fit best for you. I always like trial and error approach myself, after all practice makes perfect right?
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Old 02-24-2012
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Old 02-24-2012
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You will learn to sail more quickly on a dinghy than on a big boat. Seek out as many sailing experiences as possible. Read as much as possible. Take more experienced sailors out. Then sell the dinghy for as much as you bought it for!
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Old 02-24-2012
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I totally agree with Barquito. I have seen several people come away from basic keelboat classes not really knowing how to sail.

This is through no fault of the instructors, rather there is not enough time on the water in the classes to get the "feel" of sailing. The fastest way to get the "feel" is to practice on a sailing dinghy because they are responsive even in light winds. Sail the heck out of it for a few months. Wear a lifejacket in case the boom knocks you out. Then take a basic keelboat class. The basic keelboat class will make a lot more sense after a few months sailing the dinghy.
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Old 02-24-2012
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Look for a low-cost community sailing program just to give you the basics. Lots of times you'll find them through adult education programs or by calling around and asking. You should be able to find a beginning class that will meet for 4 or 5 times and cost less than $100 (at least around where I live, there are plenty). Sometimes you'll even find someone who will do it for free -- they just love to sail (my husband has done this several times).

Then get a boat -- in general, the smaller the better to really learn how to sail, but obviously not one designed for kids (they're too small for an adult). Sail, sail and sail. Then you can move up.

My husband and I came from small boat backgrounds and it really helped when we began cruising -- we actually KNEW how to sail the boat because in previous boats we hadn't had a motor to get us out of trouble.

An old Sunfish or Laser is a great "learner" boat!

Have fun!
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Old 02-24-2012
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The original post was learning how to sail to satisfy a charter company's requirements. While the bar of most of them is really low, depending on what size boat you want to charter if they don't recognize the sailing certificate because it isn't with ASA or US Sailing or if you only sail small boats on lakes, they may make you hire a captain for your trip or, at a minimum, make you pay a couple hundred for a half day of lessons on the boat you wish to charter.
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Old 02-24-2012
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Trouble is all the dinghy sailing does not really prepare you to dock a big boat in a cross wind or how to deal with a riding turn on the genoa in 25 knots.
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Old 02-24-2012
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I'm falling in with the dinghy crowd. I don't think there's any aspect of sailing a small boat that doesn't create a foundation for sailing a larger boat. You'll learn how a sailboat behaves.

I wish I had a more specific reference to the following...may have been WWII? Anyway, the U.S. Navy found that the best handlers of warships were those who learned their boating skills on small boats like rowboats and dinghies. You develop an inner sense. Those who didn't have that background never gained the innate sense of how a boat moves through the water.

I started on a 12 foot rowboat with a 3 horse on it when I was eight, and started with a 16 foot sailboat when I was 20. Sailed the heck out of it. Also sailed sunfishes and Hobie Cats.

When I moved on to larger boats, currently a Catalina 309, I had a few things to learn, but NOTHING to unlearn. It all applied.

Yeah, I see that you want to eventually charter. I'd still go the dinghy route. Have fun and learn to really love it. I'd put the chartering as a secondary, down the road ambition, with being a well-rounded intuitive sailor as the primary goal.
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Old 02-24-2012
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I learned as a child in a dink so of course that's the only "right way" to learn to sail but as TQA pointed out that ain't gonna help you dock a 40' Bene. If you want to charter gonna need some certs or at least a checkout by the company on a boat similar to what you want to charter. Only way to learn that is on a similar boat.
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