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04-16-2013 11:09 AM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
Buy a used trailer sailor. Read books, sail as often as you can, forget the lessons.
I just signed my wife and myself up for a 4 day liveaboard course. My wife enjoys the water and boats, but is intimidated by sailboats and our lack of experience. It doesn't help that every couple of months she reads about a guy with no experience who buys a used sailboat after reading a few books, decides to sail it home, and proceeds to need to be rescued by the coast guard and makes it into the news or worse... There is nothing wrong with taking classes and gaining more experience, especially if you think you run the risk of turning your wife off to sailing altogether. I'm hoping that the course will help her find a comfort level, because I really believe that she will love sailing, but a bad experience now may turn her off to sailing altogether.

Back to your original question, do you see yourself sailing a dinghy or a keelboat? Which type of sailing would your wife most likely enjoy? That's the direction I would go, because there are enough guys on here who complain about there wives not being willing to sail with them, and I married my wife to spend time with her, not away from her...

I started with the buy a trailer sailor, read as much as I can, and sail as often as I can method. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for my wife... Our kids love sailing, even my mother-in-law loves it, but every time the boat starts to heel slightly the mommy inside my wife goes into protect her babies mode, and she can't relax. Just the idea of going out with an experienced instructor made her agree to spend 4 days on the Chesapeake Bay. This will either make or break my wife as a sailor, but if it helps her enjoy herself it is money well spent.
04-15-2013 11:31 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

"Danger Will Robinson!" as they used to say in Lost in Space.
Rushing into an un-shared dream is pretty risky and one reason why a lot of boats are sitting in the marina or rotting in back yards.

Has the OP's spouse been out on a gentle sunset cruise on a nice sailboat with dinner and cocktails served?

Spent a day on a tall ship or wind jammer?

Watched sailing races from the comfort of a club patio?

Had a social chat with sailing women?

04-15-2013 10:08 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?


The last thing you want to do now is turn the Mrs. off to sailing and a dinghy just might do that. We bought a large trailer sailer straight out and started sailing. The boat is a little stiff (I think) so with a little practice I can reduce the leanin' and eliminate the screamin'. If I may be so bold, pick up a copy of The Complete Trailer Sailor by Brian Gilbert. Lots of great info but especially a section in the back with specs, sketches, pros and cons of 50 or so small to large trailer sailers. It can help you pick out what you like. Two things I'd keep an eye on: head room and head room. One for standing, one for sitting. An enclosed head is always a hit for the ladies. As far as experience goes, you have MUCH more that I had when I motored past the jetty into the Atlantic and hoisted my jib. It was the very first time on a sailboat. I had lots of studying and a USCGA certificate; I wasn't perfect moron. That's takes practice so I had to work way up to it. Check my other posts for a complete listing of unrehearsed foibles. But, here we are, me and my lovely bride, 1200 nm later and still sailing strong. Keep at it. And remember: Reef early, preferably at the dock.

04-10-2013 10:18 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

No the sailing is more of my "thing" the pattern seems to be I try something new, get interested in it and do it often then she tries it. This is a little different as she is not comfortable on the water.
04-09-2013 10:50 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

Ah, it sounds like your wife has not yet taken a class.
Maybe a class of her own would be an excellent move.
04-09-2013 10:41 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

Thanks for all the feedback. Right now I'm in a holding pattern for the next few months due to an upcoming move. Otherwise I think my plan would be to buy a small used boat with enough room that we could camp overnight on the boat.

So I think I'm going to go ahead and take both classes. The dinghy class is a few weeks before the intermediate sailing class. My plan is to try to be as confident as possible on the water before i get my wife on the boat.
04-09-2013 12:48 AM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

How has your wife responded to being in the class? How much confidence does she now have in her sailing skills?
04-08-2013 02:00 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

I would recommend the keelboat lessons if only for the practice pulling the boat in and out of the slip and maneuvering around the marina. You might not realize how difficult that can be, and dinghy experience won't help you.
04-08-2013 01:56 PM
Alex W
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

I've learned a ton by owning my own boats, but a lot of that has been on how to maintain and repair boats, not only on how to sail them.

The two best sailors that I know have never owned a boat. I aspire to be as good of a sailor as them one day. They also have a lot less money invested in the sport by renting instead of owning. Both have been sailing instructors and have tons of access to smaller boats through that. I love introducing friends to sailing and hope to teach beginning sailing soon.

I took a single class and have been a mix of self taught and taught by inviting more experienced crew to sail with me. This has worked well (and I'm lucky to have many good sailors who are friends), but I think I could have benefited from instruction as well (especially with handling large inboard-driven keelboats in tight quarters).

At a minimum I'd suggest that your classes should cover enough sailing that you can understand how to safely handle the boat in a variety of wind conditions, do man overboard rescues in a few different ways, steer the boat with the sails (doing that helps you understand how to balance the sails), hove-to in rough conditions, and dock under sail (in addition to docking under power). Classes will help you get experienced in a variety of sailboats, which will make you a more informed buyer when you do get your own. I know that I found it difficult to understand the differences in how 20', 22', 25', and 30' boats would feel and sail in a different sea conditions without personal experience.
04-08-2013 01:39 PM
Re: Intermediate sailing class or dinghy class?

I'm usually a big proponent of starting small, for all the reasons set forth above. And if that fits with your plans, then go for it! I'm also a big proponent of buying, rather than renting (though crewing for others can be a good option), because you learn a lot more when you actually own the boat.

All that being said, in your particular case, I think a keelboat class makes more sense than a dinghy class. You're not planning on sailing a dinghy any time soon, and your goal is to be a proficient big boat sailer. I whole heartedly agree that dinghy sailing teaches you a lot of skills that translate nicely when you move to bigger boats, but I also agree that they are different animals. It won't hurt you to focus on keel boats, and that will help you get out on the water sooner in the kind of boat you intend to own while still allowing you to learn to be a competent sailer.

Getting your wife in the dinghy class would probably be a mistake - most dinghies are tender, and she'll be heeling quite a bit, which may well turn her off to the whole notion. If you can get into a comfortable boat for the keelboat class, she may see the difference size and weight make, and be more comfortable aboard. The idea of splitting you up may make sense, depending on how receptive you think she'll be to taking the keelboat class alone.

My wife is a decent swimmer, but we have kids and that makes her very concerned about the boat's stability. She and I took lessons on a 14.5' American, and she was nervous about having our boys (at that time, ages 3 and 5) aboard. We "graduated" from there to a 25' Catalina, and have now moved up to a 31' Allmand. The difference in stability between each of those is significant. For example, when boarding the American you needed to get to the centerline as quickly as possible to avoid feeling like the boat was going to capsize. The Catalina handled people climbing aboard over the lifelines, but a roughly 200LB person would cause the boat to rock pretty well. The Allmand is significantly more stable; you almost don't notice someone climbing aboard. The boats are also comparably tender, in my opinion.
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