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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-14-2010 07:51 PM
chas5131 Do not take your girlfriend out on a boat until you have gained knowledge and experience.
While you are learning meet some people with a keelboat and take her out on their boat with them.
Otherwise you are going to lose her for sailing forever.
06-13-2010 01:46 PM
SJ34 I didn't have the patience to read through all the other posts (my wife says I have a condition called A.D. something or other, I don't know because she was droning on and lost me) so I hope I'm not stepping on anybody elses posts.

Sailing on a dingy, in my opinion, is like getting a concentrated lesson in sail and boat handling science. If you pull on this the boat will do that, usually instantly. So you learn sail trim and boat handling very quickly. Dingy experience is almost a must if you ever plan to race. On the other hand though, dingy sailing won't teach you much about seamanship or cruising.

I don't think you necessarily need formal lessons to teach keel boat sailing but you should at least have people around who know the right and wrong way to do things or the experience can get painful, expensive or at the least embarrassing.
06-13-2010 12:23 PM
Originally Posted by ymiri View Post
Obviously, nothing beats practical experience. Going out with an experienced sailor and learning all the tricks of the trade is the most valuable knowledge you can gain - but what if that's not an option?

Here is the dilemma, I was at the local marina, talking to a sailor (I call her GI Jane) who has crossed the pacific solo on a sailboat. I was telling her I am thinking of signing up for lessons, now the only lessons are on a dinghy that are offered.
She said that sailing on a dinghy and getting on an actual sailboat were two different things and the only way to learn properly is to go with someone experienced. Since then, she has moved to the other side of the country.
I have tried to get someone else to learn from, but it is turning out to be very difficult.
Now if these lessons wont really help, I don't see the point.
I think I know the answer to this, but with a beginner and a 20ft sailboat on a small river can you really learn on your own if you know all the theory?
I am guessing no and it is potential for disaster but I guess I just want to hear it from you guys
Well, sailing has been something I always wanted to do. I took the buy a boat and teach yourself route, I have an Oday 22. So as a self taught (and still learning some) individual, I will tell you my experience so far. I have only been sailing for about 3 months now but I go every weekend as long as the weather is nice. Lately, I have been having to single hand and I have been having some great fun. As of now, I have learned so much, way more then I ever thought I would to the point it amazes me! How am I doing it? I have spent a lot of time reading and watching videos on youtube and elsewhere. Then these forums and all the people in here have been tremendous help! I will say just these forums alone have played a part in teaching me how to sail. You can find a lot of info in here just by searching. Then of course, bringing my boat out a lot and actually sailing. I think you can learn faster if you take a course first but so far I do not regret my choice to teach myself and use resources that are readily available online. I do think it will take a while before you discover the "little" things that matter if you learn on your own. In other words, you can get away with doing something not exactly the correct way. You will think it is correct until you realize, wait a minute I been doing that wrong the entire time. Its much easier doing the correct way. Just things like this you will face off and on. If you feel you are working too hard sailing your boat, you probably are and are not doing something the most efficient way. Whatever route you choose, good luck!
06-13-2010 09:29 AM
jephotog I pretty much taught myself to sail by reading and trying. I started out in Hobie Cats and just went out with a few words of advice from the instructor (at a summer camp where I was a counselor) and tried stuff. I was fortunate that Hobies are a very stable platform and the mountain lake had light breezes. I studied a bunch that winter and was the sailing instructor next summer.

I read Chapman Piloting and Seamanship the next winner and was able to pass a basic course on keel boats even though I had never been on one before. I did take one 2-3 day course on navigation and heavy weather to get into the bigger boats though.

There are other ways to learn though without the threat of your GF drowning again or even owning your own boat. First read a bunch so at least you have theoretical knowledge of what is going on, on a sailboat. Go to the marinas, and yachtclubs or online and ask around if someone needs crew for either cruising daysailing or racing. Be honest of your skills and knowledge and the fact that you are looking to learn. Show up with a raincoat, sailing gloves and white soled shoes and pay attention and you can learn a lot and may be invited back.

If there are enough sailboats in the area there will be some sort of racing going on. Find out when and walk the docks with your gear and ask if they need crew. Tell them you are skilled as "moveable ballast". If it is a windy night bigger boats need some people just to hang their feet over the side. Once onboard if you are young and strong looking they may ask you to "grind" which means crank on the winch during tacks. Learning to sail while racing in like taking trying to take a sip from a fire hose, but it can be very exciting and you will see some excellent sailing and meet some people with boats.
06-13-2010 04:07 AM
TropicCat She is in fact incorrect. Learn on a dingy.
06-12-2010 03:33 AM
ejholmgren I don't think you could ever go wrong with buying a dinghy first even if you sold it a few months later or the next season. After having been shown how to rig my MC Scow by the previous owner and witnessing a single tack, I managed to tack, gybe, reach, run, etc in the first hour on the water with no previous sailing experience. There were a few hair raising moments when the wind came up and I got flustered, but I bet it would have been a hell of a lot more stressful if I was worrying about a much larger / more expensive boat _and_ my personal safety. As many people have said before, dinghies are much less forgiving, but they also provide nearly immediate feedback to your actions. This is definitely a plus when you're trying to learn.

edit: On another note, I immediately ordered the Annapolis Book of Seamanship after that outing so I could figure out theoretically what I had been doing.
06-11-2010 11:09 PM
Guero I started to sail 6 months ago. I actually bought my first sailboat (Catalina 25) before learning.

I purchased "Sailing for Dummies" and "The Annapolis Book of Seamanship".

Really enjoyed Sailing for dummies, easy read and The Annapolis is a bible.

I then took 2 lessons on my Cat 25 with an old salt and 3rd time I went with my friend that had taken the 2 classes with me.

Theory doesn't beat experience but it helped A LOT.

Yes even after reading I:

- Forgot a loose line and it got stuck in the prop
- Sailed into Iron on tacks and had to jibe
- Broke teak of the companion on my first jibe cause I forgot about the boom.
- Really ugly first docking in

However, the reading helped a LOT and I highly recommend classes + books.

I now own an Aloha 34, and only had 5-6 months of experience with the Cat-25 when I upgraded. After docking it for the first time with strong current and wind, I was shacking after the maneuver. But I did a perfect dock. I had spent the night before reading on docking with strong currents and wind. It did help me a lot. However, yes the experience of actually docking the boat is much greater, but I was prepared.

As some have said, the dinghy is less forgiving than bigger boats with a keel, so you will learn the concept. You will just find it easier when you sail a bigger boat that is more forgiving.

My 2 cent.

have fun!
06-11-2010 10:15 PM
Originally Posted by ymiri View Post
I have no problem practicing and learning it on my own - the problem is convincing my girlfriend to get on board.
After a slight incident of sinking a 14ft fishing boat with her on board (my fault, should have looked at the weather conditions and lost the high gear in the motor on the way back) and her floating for 20min, she is very hesitant to get on the water...with me at the helm.
That's not as bad as my first time out with my wife with our O'Day 22 but close! Our brand new boat, not ten minutes out of the marina motoring down the channel. I bounced the boat off a channel marker and bent the pulpit. I had turned my head for an instant and lost the marker on my right side.

A month later sailing across the river getting close to shore I turned the boat about and stalled broadside to another marker. Realizing the current was carrying us toward it, I turned the boat with the current and managed to slide along the piling rather than smash sideways into it at 1 knot. After a panic to see if we had opened her up (we hadn't), just embarrassment and a sigh of relief.

Better to make the mistakes in a small boat than a big one. But can understand your girlfriend's reluctance. Admittedly, I've learned more from my mistakes than my successes. Gotten much better about maintaining steerage and keeping clear of markers!

06-11-2010 03:08 PM
Originally Posted by ymiri View Post
I wish I lived there... Actually in Canada close to St. Laurence sea way .
Canadian Yachting Association offers outstanding dinghy courses, starting with White Sail I and working upwards. Do a Google search for their web site, and they can steer you towards a local club that offers the courses.
06-11-2010 03:03 PM
Originally Posted by wwilson View Post

Get on the dinghy! The best sailors are almost always people who came up on dinghy - because a dinghy is unforgiving, you learn the sea state, wind and sail trim in a way that would take much, much longer on a keel boat. In fact with respect to sail trim you can look about on any given weekend and see dozens of happy keel boaters, utterly clueless (or careless) about sail trim.
Very well said. With dinghies, you either get it right or you go swimming. I learned to sail keel boats before eventually learning on dinghies. I probably spent more time as one of the above happy keel boaters than I care to admit.

Dinghies are a great way to start!
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