Take ASA classes or buy sunfish/small sailboat - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-08-2011 Thread Starter
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Take ASA classes or buy sunfish/small sailboat

Hello all, I am a poor college student who is interested in sailing. I've grown up around the ocean and in it, lived in Satellite Beach, Florida for a few years, but I've only been sailing once or twice with my mother when I was in middle school. I'm taking a 4 hour introductory sailing class this Saturday. Although I don't think there will be much sailing, and it will be on a lake, I'm hoping to get a small taste of sailing to see if it was as fun as I remember. I love traveling and seeing new things, so I also see sailing as a way to facilitate this desire for traveling as well.

But anyways, seeing as how I don't have that much disposable income I'm left with a choice. Should I buy a small sailboat or take ASA sailing classes? The thing is I go to school in Lubbock, TX, nowhere near any large body of water (There's plenty of wind though!). There are some small lakes that are sufficient for sailing on. So the good thing about buying a small sailboat is that I would be able to get some practice,but if I got my ASA certification I wouldn't get any sailing experience beyond what the class gave me for a LONG time. (3 more semesters until I graduate). But it seems like I would have a really good foundation if I got my ASA certs.

Last edited by Finite; 05-08-2011 at 07:31 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-08-2011
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I would buy a boat. Look for a sloop-rigged boat with a "Marconi" mainsail, like this:



rather than sunfish (which is lanteen-rigged), like this:



That way you'll learn all the nuances of two interacting sails, as well as almost all the other major things you'll see on about 90% of the boats you'll come across. Also, if you get a boat with a fractional rig (where the jib doesn't reach the top of the mast and the main is relatively large, like in the top pic), you can sail more easily with just the main until you feel you're ready to deal with both sails.

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post #3 of 14 Old 05-08-2011
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While I'm all for lessons at a good school (wifey and I are spending next week at BWSS in Ft. Lauderdale for ASA 101-014) it sounds like you will get more bang for your buck with a small boat to hit the lakes with. I learned in a P15 after reading some books and going out on light days. Its not rocket surgery, and you can teach yourself enough to have lots of fun when you have a few hours to spare. Once you graduate and start raking in the big bucks, you can always get those certifications under your belt. JMO.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-08-2011
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While SlowButSteady has a point about the Marconi or sloop rigged boats a Sunfish can be a very good learning platform. A used Sunfish would be a lot cheaper then a used Lightning, Flying Scott, O'Day Daysailor 17, Snipe etc.
Sure, it is a little different using 2 sails instead of just 1 but I've gone faster on single sail vessels like my windsurfer then my 7000# keel boat. Any Sunfish or knock-off model (there are many) sailboat will get you on the water with the minimum expense and hassle. There is almost no rigging and gear to replace or wear out compared to most sloops (with 2 sails). You do need to have a bathing suit and be able to swim if you want to sail a Sunfish though!

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post #5 of 14 Old 05-08-2011 Thread Starter
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Great answers guys, thanks.

One more question, what kind of shoes should I wear to my sailing class? I have a pair of asics running shoes(uncertain whether they are non-marking, aren't all new shoes?) and a pair of topsiders that I'm willing to get wet.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finite View Post
One more question, what kind of shoes should I wear to my sailing class? I have a pair of asics running shoes(uncertain whether they are non-marking, aren't all new shoes?) and a pair of topsiders that I'm willing to get wet.
Anything with non-marring soles that you don't mind getting wet. If they do get saltwater on them, rinse them well with freshwater as soon as you get home, or they'll probably stink to the bejesus in a day or two.

BTW,

Don't get me wrong (vis-a-vis my previous post), there's nothing wrong with a Sunfish or similar lanteen-rigged boat. For that matter, an El Toro, a Sabot, or an Optimist would be fine to learn on too (I would guess that more people have learned to sail on those three boats than all other dinghies put together; in North America anyways). But, if it were me, I would keep my eye out for a dirt cheap sloop-rigged boat. On the other hand, you can car-top any of the boat I just mentioned; something you can't do with most sloop-rigged dinghies.

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post #7 of 14 Old 05-08-2011
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Wear the Topsiders. I second going for the small boat and waiting on the classes. I too value training, but if it is one or the other, get a cheap boat and have fun. You will learn much of what they will teach in the beginning classes, although it just might be a little more exciting going the trial and error route.

Get out on the water any way you can and have fun.

Good luck,

Bill

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post #8 of 14 Old 05-08-2011
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Get a small boat...a little day sailor easy to tow/launch/rig...like a little c14.5 or something....or depending on your funds and vehicle, maybe even a C18 or C22 with a cuddy cabin you can camp in....and spend your weekends on Lake Alan Henry...it's what, maybe an hour from Lubbock?

Classes and training are great, but NOTHING beats experience and sailing your own boat!


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post #9 of 14 Old 05-09-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great advice guys!
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-09-2011
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I was in your same position. I came across about 3k and had to decide whether to go to classes, or buy a boat. I went for the boat, and am glad I did. With all the excellent books out there, you can mostly learn on your own in light conditions.

this may sound wimpy, but going out alone, I would always ask the fisherman launching with me, if they would keep an eye on me, and they were more than happy to.

As for sloops vs. sunfish..... Good advice in both directions, and probably just personal preference. By matter of circumstance, I ended up with a sloop rig, and again, am happy for that. My first sojourns were with just the mainsail, until I got comfortable with the points of sail, tacking and gybing, and other basics. Then it was easy and FUN to add a second sail...and really see how much better the boat handled with the jib.

With one sail or two, it is a blast. Having the second sail just got me more comfortable with a little more complexity, and got me one step closer to my goals of being an accomplished sailor.

Like I said earlier, I'm all in favor of formal classes and certs.....but not at all in favor of putting off getting on the water!
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