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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail > Better to buy a Dingy or Sailing Lesson?
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Thread: Better to buy a Dingy or Sailing Lesson? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-24-2012 11:01 PM
Dream'n Thank you all for your insights. My thought is as you suggest, to learn the basics and build basic skills and a good foundation with the dinghy as I think it will give me far more sailing time for less money. Plus I can sail on my schedule and in water of my choice. Yes, I will definitely wear a quality PFD. I hope then to follow the suggestions made to try and help others with their boats as volunteer crew; learning from those with more experience. If I get the opportunity I plan eventually to take an ASA or US Sailing course to benefit from the experience and obtain a recognized certificate. Once I have the foundation I hope to then move up to boats larger in size and of different character to build a solid resume/log for future charters in Florida...perhaps someday my own Westsail 32, Nor'sea 27 or Albin Vega.
02-24-2012 10:50 PM
BostonSailor +1 on the crewing suggestion. Volunteer for racing and you'll pick up a lot. AND buy your own small boat. You can supplement that with a cruising or boat handling class after learning solid sailing skills.
02-24-2012 10:42 PM
capttb 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.
02-24-2012 06:27 PM
Siamese 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.
02-24-2012 05:33 PM
TQA 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.
02-24-2012 05:15 PM
DRFerron 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.
02-24-2012 05:01 PM
CarolynShearlock 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!
02-24-2012 02:21 PM
shanedennis 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.
02-24-2012 02:04 PM
Barquito 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!
02-24-2012 01:25 PM
Lake Superior Sailor Sign on as free crew , just because I single hand doesn't mean I like it!...Dale
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