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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 04-09-2012
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Boat for Single-Handed

I'm finally getting around to sailing lessons this year and I'd like to follow that up with a boat purchase. While my wife tries to be a good sport about the whole sailing thing, she's clearly reluctant about it. If I'm to do this, I expect I'll be doing it alone much of the time.

I'd like to get a lot of sailing in this first season, and I'm wondering about a couple choices. I live five minutes from Lake Erie and one hour from a nice 14,000 acre inland lake with no Lake Erie chop (if ya know what I mean).

I'm wondering whether to get a relatively smaller boat (19-23") and spend a lot of Saturdays at the inland lake, or get a larger keel boat (25-30") and go for the gusto on Lake Erie. Even with a 25-footer, the chop can really beat you up on Erie.

My reluctance about Lake Erie mainly has to do with handling a boat that size single-handed and with little experience. I'm particularly concerned about docking a boat that size single-handed. I also wonder if I could develop better sailing skills faster on a smaller boat.

Whaddaya think?

Jonathan
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Old 04-09-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

If you're just learning and have the opportunity to sail on a somewhat calm lake, you can't go wrong with a Blue Jay or a Lightning. If you can sail these, you can pretty much step up to anything. They are also large enough to pack some lunch in and enjoy daysailing. However, if you are going on a larger lake with any waves to speak of, these flat-bottomed designs will pound like the dickens and you should look for something with a deeper hull. Learning to sail on smaller boats is always a good idea. Fear of docking single-handed will NEVER go away:-)
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Old 04-09-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

I love lake Erie ! I grew up in Erie. You can find the type of water you wish from smooth as glass to white caps most of the time in the same day almost everyday in july and Aug. It has to do with the time of day. We would water ski in the AM and PM and sail in the daytime in very small boats. The wind, sea,land breeze cycle can be so good to you. Take care for the thunder storms but they leave as fast as they come up most of the time. I would think any boat you pick will work because you can find wind and waves that you like on Lake Erie
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Old 04-09-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

the Bear's two cents:
Start small, Lightning, Thistle, Comet. Get in a club, take lessons, sailing with buddies helps you learn and is more fun. Little boats are easier to learn in and mistakes are easier to recover from. The leasons you will learn on these small craft apply the same way to big boats. Small boats are cheaper to buy, maintain, and easier to sell when you feel like you're ready to move up. Yes, little boats should Not be on big water unless you have a great deal of experience and the boat is totally set up for the conditions that large lakes (read great) and open waters can have. Little boats can trailer home and stay in the back yard, or can go to another area for a chance to try new waters. Big boats have to stay at the marina. $$$ Little boats have inexpensive parts and gear, big boats have big parts, large lines, big anchors. $$$
I am assuming you are going to try an interest your wife into sailing and quiet afternoons on calm waters are a much better learning experience than a choppy afternoon with 15 degree heel with land further off than she feels comfortable with. IMHO
the Bear
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Old 04-09-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

Check out the Harbor 20 and 25 by Schock boats. Great performance and set up for single handing with self tending jibs and all control lines back to the helm. Outstanding quality too. Can be trailered.
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

The Harbor 20 would be a Great Choice for a New sailor- Easy to Trim and stable with enormous cockpit.

The Harbor 25 might be a bit much for a new sailor, but it is a stiff boat easily slice through Lake Erie short chop.


Both are good light air sailors and have single line reefing
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

I think starting small on the smaller lake is a good move. I learned to sail on a small lake on Cape Cod, Long Pond in a 16' Oday Daysailor. My grandfather taught me when I was 10 yrs old. With a few months i was single handing it and had some pretty fun times. My grandfather always to told me the larger the boat the easier to sail. So far this has been true except docking..... My small daysailor on that lake was a handful at times with large gusts, people water sking, no engine and generally speaking, learning to sail. All the lessons I learned way back when have made sailing my larger 30' sailboat a breeze, especially when the wind pipes up. My keel boat does not respond nearly as quickly as the cb daysailor.
Either way you go, It would be a good idea to have another sailor show you the ropes a bit, the first few times. Experience on the water is alway a good thing. I am sure Lake erie can get quite nasty rather quickly and overcome if the most experienced sailors because of the steep chop.
Most important is to take small steps and have fun sailing and learning. the small boat will even let you get your feet wet on general boat maintenance which is a good thing to know when stepping up to a larger boat.
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

Just my opinion,
If you have good common sense, a little mechanical ability and learn fast, your first boat can be any size. I volunteered to crew on a few boats in our local race club and learned a great deal. I also volunteered to crew for a few cruisers and learned much. This method doesn't cost much (pay for the beer and they will ask you to return) and you can find out what kind of sailing you would like to do. I have a hard time finding crew and am pleased if someone asks. Your first car, house and sometimes wife isn't the one you wished you picked. Sail for free, learn for free and you might end up with the love of your life. (the boat that is) I made the mistake of buying my first boat with friends and that's like sharing your wife.
Good luck and God Bless
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Boat for Single-Handed

I did lessons last year on a Colgate 26 and had a great time. I also did a refreasher a few weeks ago on a Colgate again. I decided to get a 27' boat as my first. Some people will say start small and go now and others are comfortable going for the larger boats first. If you don't think you'll be doing long because of the wife, something smaller to have fun with could be a good choice. Like mentioned before, volunteering could be a good place to learn. I met a guy in Texas who lives on a 40' boat but said he doesn't take it out much because he needs more people to help him handle the boat. Find someone who is like that and they could be your best friend teaching you along the way and he (or she) gets a helper. Walk around nearby marinas asking if anyone needs an extra hand. Good or bad, you'll walk away learning something new.
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Old 04-10-2012
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Boat for Single-Handed

I sail single handed on Lake Erie with my 25 foot Tanzer as my wife's not into the sail boat.
It's not uncommon for me to sail 50 miles in a day, sleep on my boat , then run the 50 miles back to Port. Sailing on Lake Erie is using common sense . If you have a storm warning, you know in advance it's going to be uncomfortable so why risk it ?
I've been caught in 8 footers on Lake Erie, and the main thing is not to panic and stay calm.
Sailing the Great Lakes is unlike any ocean as the waves are very close and cap quickly, but as I mentioned , don't panic ! I purposely went out in major winds, to see how far I could push my boat , believe me, I was tired and wore out, but my boat returned in one piece ! I can now appreciate the boat's capability if I ever encountered a serious change of conditions !
I grew up on power boats since I was born, but I've had more fun the past 5 years sailing then I have in my life !
Learn to respect the water , that's 75% of staying safe !
Scott
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