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post #1 of 36 Old 08-03-2018 Thread Starter
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Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

Hi all,

As the title suggests, I'm a complete beginner with no experience but I am very keen to learn. Tomorrow I'll be visiting my local yacht club and, weather permitting, will go for a sail with one/some of the members. I'd like to make a good first impression even though I don't have much to contribute.

I also don't know what to look out for and what questions to ask to ascertain if this club is a good match for me. I want to learn to sail smaller vessels, I don't want to eventually work on a super yacht. Sometimes people assume that's my goal because I am younger and a lot of people do that after finishing school or college.
The club also does racing and while I am more interested in sailing as a hobby I'm not against trying out racing if that is where the club needs an extra hand.

Any advice regarding what shoes to wear and good etiquette onboard is also welcome, though I have read up on those things too.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

General etiquette is white soled shoes or some type of docksiders. Whatever you do don't wear a Captain's hat. A polo shirt and some Khaki's are good yachty uniform to make a good first impression. If you join, you can then start wearing sailing t-shirts and torn shorts later on.

I have spent a lot of time in yacht clubs after racing, but never felt the need to join one. You might be better off joining a sailing club. These are usually for profit organizations that teach sailing and provide boats to rent. If you live in a bigger liberal city you might find a cool non-profit club also. There are a lot of ways to learn to sail without joining a yacht club.

Jordan
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

One more thing. Don't bring red wine or dark beer on a boat without the skippers permission. For first impression don't bring alcohol at all. For future visits good beer, wine and food is a good way to get invited back. I learned to sail in college by buying a twelve pack of beer and walking the docks with during race night asking "do you need crew?" I always found a ride.
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

Make sure that you have appropriate clothing for the temperature and wind conditions you will encounter. It can often be significantly colder on the water than it is on land, so dressing in layers is a good idea. Avoid cotton clothes and favor synthetics and wool as wet cotton can wick heat away from you. A waterproof windbreaker and a good sun hat with a chin strap so it won't blow away, and maybe even some rain pants could be helpful depending on your location. A set of sailing gloves will help protect your hands when pulling on lines. Sun glasses and with a strap to prevent losing them are also a good idea.

If you have any inclination that you are prone to sea sickness take appropriate meds at least an hour before you get out on the water and eat mild food before you head out. Make sure that you are reasonably hydrated, but don't overdo it as opportunities to go to the bathroom may be limited. Candied ginger and ginger ale can help settle your stomach if you start to feel queasy on the water. Don't even mention alcohol until you are back at the dock, you are going sailing, not on a booze cruise.

Bring sun block, lip balm, and snacks like cliff bars that can be eaten easily and quickly if things are busy.

Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the major lines on a boat, their names and what they do. Most important are the main and jib halyards and the main and jib/genoa sheets. Figure out what your captain wants you to do when they ask you to trim the port jib sheet or ease the main sheet. Learning to tie a cleat hitch would be good.
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Last edited by chicory83; 08-03-2018 at 08:28 AM.
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

Wow, our sail club is so not normal then.
Our Sailing Club is just what it sounds like. A bunch of people who sail.
Not for profit, cheap as heck to join, and some of the most down to earth folks you will ever meet.

And if you brought beer on day 1 you might become an honorary member.

Oh and if you showed up in Khaki's and a polo at our club, you might get laughed off the dock (you know unless you also held beer).
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

I personally consider small boat sailing to be a watersport and dress accordingly. Board shorts, quick dry t shirt, sun hat, shades and some kind of shoes that wont get wrecked if they get wet.

However, its worth checking the clubs website for dress code info because lots of clubs do have codes, although that seems to be going the way of disco around me.

No special etiquette rules, have fun, be polite.
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

Regarding Alcohol.
I have crewed with a good number of skippers who get their crews through meetup.com. One of the most vitriolic complaints I hear from them is about people who show up to go sailing and then proceed to start drinking. Most of them now make it very clear that while alcohol is welcome once the boat is back at the dock, it has no place out on the water. When I host events, I do not allow people on the crew to drink until we return to the mooring. I would not recommend going sailing with a skipper who allows his crew to drink while sailing, and if your goal is to make a good impression, I would keep the alcohol stowed until the boat has been safely put to bed.
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

Fun how different "yacht clubs" are from place to place. I've been a member in three different clubs so far. In these clubs the most proper attire was probably work coveralls. DIY activity all around.

One of my past clubs had an active racing scene. Skippers were always looking for good crew. The start of each season usually had a "Learn to crew" session, which then go you on the crew list (not that you had to be on the list). Perhaps your local club has something similar.

Ettiquette? Be friendly, generous, open. Wear non-marking shoes. Maybe get sailing gloves if you have soft hands. Offer to buy a round after the race. You'll be loved.
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

If there's only one local YC you have no choices. But if there is more than one, make a point of checking them out. Some YC's are full-blown country clubs that cater weddings, run summer camps, how sit-down restaurants (and often a mandatory dining fee, to make sure the members do patronize the restaurant), are very organized and formal.

Some are more in line with "boat club with a cheap bar", not fancy at all. Some have mandatory labor contribution, i.e. each member has to volunteer ten hours a year at SOMEthing that needs to be done.

There's quite a variety, very much the way you can choose airbnb or a five-star hotel suite.

Many of us never had any interest in racing. But going out on club races will expose you to lots of boats, lots of different ways to do things, and sooner or later, when you are just out for a sail and someone says "If we can make it to xxxx before six o'clock, they've got one slip left and we can stay overnight" and then you find that every racing skill you've learned pays off for cruising, too.(G)
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Re: Yacht club advice for a complete beginner?

When you return from the sail . .

do not leave the boat until everything is put away, and
help do that as best you can . .

To me, it is gracious to bring some decent wine or beer,
but give it to the owner/skipper. Do not drink it unless offered.
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