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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail > How do people get started?
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Thread: How do people get started? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-03-2009 06:59 PM
ABJ501
Learn to sail..

I agree with most on this subject. Buy a smal 15' sloop and apply what you read to a small body of water (a lake or cove) and go from there. Sailing is a bit of an art, and you truly must get a feel of the wind, the limits of your boat, and what the seas are doing around you. It can be scary at first, but you will get the hang of it. It just takes time and consistency.

I however was lucky. at 21 years old I got a job aboard a 60' catamaran when I lived in Key West and for two years I worked as a mate aboard the boat which was a charter. Then at 25 I enlisted in the Coast Guard and became a boatswain's mate at three different small boat units where I went to school and learned on the job about the details of navigation, seamanship, and ultimately became a coxswain.

At the age of 34 I bought a 34' catamaran and that was the first boat I truly sailed solo, however my experience and training made me somewhat confident. Now after 3 years and over 4000 miles sailed, I am very confident in my 44' catamaran I recently aquired in the Caribbean. There is not a whole lot I am afraid of, but I have a few safety rules I never break no matter what.

The amount of time to learn to sail takes years, and a sincere interest and respect for the ocean in order to learn to be a sailor aboard the larger boats. But it is a never ending learning experience and I never think my education is complete. I am constantly reading and applying ideas when underway.

You have to love it to truly enjoy it. As I do. I don't think I could ever part with sailing. It is truly one of the last frontiers that exists in the world.
06-03-2009 10:09 AM
RogerD I just wanted to point out that the OP posted in 2006 (and hasn't posted since). I'd be curious to know what rahima53 ended up doing and how it worked for him.
06-02-2009 03:31 PM
johnvye
Learning to Sail

Hi Rahima,
I would start off by keeping things simple. Dinghy sailing is as good as it gets, especially to start. If you can sail a Laser well, you could buy say, a 24 foot sailboat to start and work you way up over time. You would find a dinghy is harder to sail than a larger boat but the overall dynamics are identical.

What I did was to read a book on learning to sail, then bought a laser style sailboat and just did it by trial and error. It is a great way to learn to sail and you can read more as your skill develops. The worst thing that could happen to you is getting wet and sailing is one of the few sports that you can teach yourself and end up proficient. We all made lots of mistakes while learning and all the lessons in the world can't cover all the things you will run into out here.
I am as addicted to sailing now as I was when I started 30 years ago. I have spent my life living aboard and it all started with a book and a 14 foot sailboat.
All the very best with whatever you decide. cheers John
06-02-2009 01:22 PM
MikeAR The sailing bug hit me "late" too, with me hitting 50 very soon. Been on several sail boats and loved it!
We will be taking a sailing class through a local club this weekend. My wife grew up on a lake and around power boats, but this will be new for her, too.
Wish us luck!

Mike
06-02-2009 01:01 PM
emcentar
Another late-comer sailing newbie

I didn't sail as a kid either, and was facing a very similar dilemna when the sailing bug bit me a few years ago.

I highly suggest starting with a basic sailing course at a reputable school. Yes, there are lots of books on sailing, but I found them far more readable after actual experience on the water. Yes, you can volunteer to be a crew member on someone's boat, but without the most basic instruction and familiarity with sailing lingo, most of the instructions from your capitan will be incomprehensible. (It does cost some money, but you can save up for it, ask for contributions for X-mas and birthday presents, take a shorter and less expensive program to keep costs lower.)

There are so many unused and unloved boats docked at the marina where I sail that I can't help but think that 'buy a boat' is poor advice for many. Some of these boats haven't even been visited for years. (Clearly the Sailnet community is a more committed sample of sailors than the universe of boat owners generally.)

As for your wife, unless you are a very patient instructor and have a very solid relationship, it might be worth the money to have her enroll in sailing school as well, rather than have you teach her as you gain experience. You'll get out more if it's a family activity and you'll have a crew for your practice sails.

Good luck learning to sail!
04-09-2009 03:28 PM
onespd I suggest a trailerable sailboat like the Buccaneer 18, by Chrysler and other makers.

It's small enough to breed confidence in a newcomer and can be sailed my mainsail alone. It has a foresail (jib) on a roller for learning to use two sails like a bigger boat and the roller makes it singlehand-able or at least easier to use than other jib attachments.

It has a big cockpit that can accomodate friends or a small family, sitting in the cockpit rather than on the deck like many small boats. Finally, it is trailerable so you get to store it wherever you want (garage?) and practice rigging like a bigger trailer sailer.

They can be found for $800 - $2000 in decent to good condition, and have an active owner association online for tips and ideas for projects.
04-08-2009 01:17 PM
PCP777 Years ago I used to do a lot of sailing with my dad in Long Island Sound. We started in an old Hereschoff cat boat, Pearson 28 and than a Cheoy Lee 28. I went to school at Tabor Academy in Marion Ma. and raced lasers and 420's there.

Then we moved to Texas and for over 25 years I didn't set foot on a sailboat.. It was something I always dreamed of getting back into. last summer I finally did something about it and bought a little Escape Captiva 12.5 foot super simple one design for $900 with trailer. This gave me a chance to relearn my chops as well as turn the family onto sailing. I mean there's not a whole lot of trouble you can get into with a little one design like this if you wear your life vest and stay close to shore-the first time I took my wife out we dumped it over on a jibe, bless her heart she thought that was funny. Long story short, everyone thought sailing was pretty cool. Just two months ago, I executed the second part of the plan I bought the C-25 and we are really enjoying it, we sail on a lake.

I also plan on taking some intermediate sailing course with the wife. I'm also buying all the books and whatnot. We kept the little boat and in fact we'll be using it this weekend when we go camp with friends at another lake.

I'm really glad to be back on the water!
04-08-2009 12:39 PM
Philatonian I just joined and wanted to say hey. I'm taking classes this summer through Liberty Sailing School in Philadelphia. I've only tried sailing once when I was a kid but have always wanted to learn more. Figured I'd go for it.

Anyone else from the Philly/NJ/DE area just starting out?
04-07-2009 08:29 AM
sailingdog
Quote:
Originally Posted by 81Hunter View Post
If she's willing, they sometimes take some convincing..
I highly recommend sending the wife to an all women's sailing course if she's serious about learning... There have been studies that show that many women learn better in such an environment. If not that, at least take the courses separately. The reason I say this is that in many couples, if they take the course together, one will dominate and the other will not learn as much from the course.

Quote:
Totally.. There is so much to learn, read anything you can get your hands on, including BAD stuff. Even 'day sails' can go bad quickly if the weather / tide turn.
An excellent learning book is Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor. Well written and illustrated, and covers a surprisingly wide breadth of sailing information in a relatively small book. About $16 in the bookstore.

Quote:
Also don't forget the 'locals' they can be amazing sources of knowledge
Joining a local sailing club or yacht club and crewing on the round-the-buoy races can be a great way to get a lot of experience in a relatively short amount of time. You'll probably start as movable ballast, but as you crew more, you'll gain skills and move from position to position on the boat. Even if your long term goal is cruising, racing is good experience, since it can teach you a lot about maximizing or minimizing the power in the sails and proper sail trim. Maximizing the power in the sails is useful if you're a cruiser and stuck in an area with little wind. Minimizing the power in the sails is good when you're stuck in heavy winds and need to control the boat.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikethecapt View Post
I agree with cardiacpaul, walking the docks can be the best way to go and I’ve had many a fun sail that way. You should however have some basic skills in case the person who takes you out isn’t all that savvy or they become incapacitated.
Taking a basic ASA 101 Learn to Sail type course moves you from being deadweight to have a solid foundation of the language and skills required to be useful as a crew member. I would highly recommend that you take at least a basic Learn to Sail type course. Also, most captains have their specific way of doing things, which may or may not be right, or safe... and if you have a good solid foundation under you, it can help keep you out of trouble.
04-07-2009 12:59 AM
Derwoodski
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Pluta View Post
Before I took my first sail I read every book I could lay my hands on, including one by the coach of the French Olympic sailing team. After trying to absorb stuff like center of balance and center of pressure and mast bending and rig tuning I went to the library and took out the Boy Scout Sailing Merit Badge manual. Best sailing primer I ever saw.

Dick Pluta
AEGEA
Nassau, Bahamas
The boy scouts was my first exposure to sailing, I earned that merit badge :-)funny what sticks with you.....last month I rented a 23' compac in florida (lake sailing), and it was like riding a bike, some initial fumbling but the basics were there, and it was a great day, I am currently shopping for a 1st boat at 40 years old.
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