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Hi everyone,
Tomorrow I have a beginner's discover sailing course which I decided to take after much consideration. Not the learning bit....I WANT to do it. But the cost.
The discover sailing for 1.5 hrs is costing me 60$. If I take the whole course it is around 2000$ after which I will also get a certificate.

My question is....Is it the right way to spend so much(almost any school is around this range) for a week? Or is there other way
 

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Master Mariner
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As a former instructor with one of the major sailing schools, we parted ways because I felt the curriculum was too centered. I thought it was a sort of "our way or the highway" situation, with no flexibility.
Most of it was excellent, and I cannot fault any of the instructors; they did a wonderful job within the very strict curriculum, but I just wasn't comfortable repeatedly stressing that this was the only "right and proper" way to do some things.
I would rather see folks purchase a small, inexpensive sailboat and a couple of books, like Royce's Sailing Illustrated, and go out and have some fun learning to sail. Banging into docks, tipping over and not getting hit on the head by the boom in a gybe.
My sailing companion has over 5k offshore and inter island miles under sail on a 50 footer and has a very good understanding of what to do with the sails, strings and things, but until I can get her into something like a Sunfish or Laser, she will not really understand why.
 

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I learned how to sail, with formal instruction, at 14 in a week long course (and my daughter learned the same way). But, the course I took, was just about how to sail. Nothing else about rules of the road, anchoring, storm tactics. Just how to make a boat move under wind power.

After the basics, it was easy to learn everything else by myself, from books, talking to other sailors, and personal experience.
 

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I went to a county sponsored saturday lesson on a Helms 24 and had the time of my life. I told the capt/owner that I was available any weekend and most evenings, if he knew anyone who wanted novice crew/rail meat/etc.

I sailed the rest of that year on other people's boats and continued to have a ball. The next year I sprung for a Venture 21 of my own and went out as often as I could.

That was almost 40 years ago, and I still did more sailing then, than now. By far!!

My wife and I did take the ASA basic 3 class course, which helped.

But doing it on a small boat, of your own, making your own mistakes/decisions was the key. For what the whole course now, you can buy a used "wet" sail boat or a small dry daysailer and learn more, more often and when you want. IF you want more instruction hire a mentor to come to you and your boat.

All the best, no matter what you decide!! Get out there and sail.
 

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I would have to say yes.

Sure you could buy a boat for 2 grand and get a buddy to show you how to sail it. I did.

Then, I got the bug and wanted to do more, learn more, get a bigger boat, and do bigger sailing.

I had been considering an eight day course for a while and last April my wife signed us up for class in Santa Cruz, Ca. We stayed on and sailed a Catalina 320 for the duration of the course.

I had done no coastal sailing whatsoever. I did not know if I would get seasick or how bad if I did. Turns out I was a bit queasy for a couple of days and then settled in.

We sailed in moderate conditions, 4-6 foot swell and 20 kts, which was quite a bump up from lake sailing.

Having been reading and sailing for a few years prior to this I picked up the curriculum quickly and learned a lot. For my wife it was a struggle. She mostly wanted a vacation.

Looking back, would I do it again? I believe so.

Do i think it was a good value? Yes. When compared with the cost of chartering, (which requires some form of accreditation), or slip fees, or the purchase and maintenance of a boat, and then realizing the romantic notion of sailing doesn't compare with the reality of it. Priceless.

For two grand I spent eight days living on,learning on, and sailing with an instructor. At the end of it all if this had turned out to be something I wasn't as interested in as I thought, I could just walk away and not be stuck with a boat that cost money just sitting there.

I'm still sailing our 22 footer and dreaming of something bigger. I am now certified to ASA 104 and my wife to 103, so we could charter most anywhere and I have improved my skill level.

I am glad I did it.
 

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I don't know about schools. But if you live near a club or facility that gives sailing lessons, take a couple. If that doesn't get you far enough along, then probably a school is what you are looking for.

I teach part-time giving weekend lessons to locals, or others who are visiting New Orleans. A couple of basic keelboat lessons in a decent, responsive boat may do the trick for some learners, especially if you have a way to get out with friends on their boats too (easy here, just hang on the docks on Wednesday race nights for a ride).

Power Squadrons or Coast Guard Auxiliary classes can teach you the chart and piloting work, and most of the practical and regulatory dos and don'ts. Then it's a matter of how to plan for a cruise. Get invited on a couple of short coastal trips or deliveries if you have a winning personality and know the basics. Or crew on some coastal/offshore races.

I think once you can handle a boat in a breeze on all points of sail, run an engine, and get from A to B on a chart with a compass and a GPS,, then you just need to add some "camping writ large, or writ wet" skills to your repertoire, meaning provisioning and weather awareness.

Now what I think I've just described is what a school will do for you all at once. I learned it basically as described in the "non-school" method back in the '60s. Did some racing, some deliveries, and picked up a captain's license along the way.

Now I get to teach. Is this a great country, or what? ;-)

But what I'm getting at is that it's easy to learn to sail if you live where sailing is going on, and you are determined, personable, and helpful.

But if you live where boats are not, or don't want to cobble together a do-it-yourself program over time, then maybe the resident schools are the way to go. Most who have gone to them speak highly of the experience.

Different horses for different courses, I guess..
 

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No offense to the instructors here, but the ones I've come across over the years have not really been that knowledgeable or experienced beyond very focused attention to some basics that are easily learned on your own.
 

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Whether it's worth it depends on you.

Someone on a tight budget with limited goals might not find it so worthwhile.

Someone who's about to spend big bucks on a boat and wants to get up the learning curve fast and avoid making expensive mistakes with an expensive boat purchase, and doesn't have good local mentors, could find it a very worthwhile bargain.

There are lots of ways to learn, and lots of different kinds of learning and learning styles. One size does not fit all.

One thing I am a bit leery of is the compressed "instant hero" or "zero to hero" classes; I'd prefer to space out the learning more, with more chances for practice, getting into and out of situations, and coming up with questions, and refining skills.

I'd like it if the sailing schools would encourage you to talk with your instructor before hand and try to work out how you learn best and get an idea of what skills, background, strengths, or limits you bring to the learning situation.
 

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As an Instructor (not sailing) I still should say yes BUT, I learned by "seat of the pants" and many of the available books. And now there are cd's and youtube to help you learn, I am not discounting classes as they will have much to teach, you'll still have to make that solo flight and you will do just fine. Every time you go out you learn something new and you will be putting all your experiences in your own book "LOG" and one last thing HAVE FUN...
 

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bell ringer
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My wife and I took ASA lessons and 7 days later were sailing by ourselves on 33' boats.of it

PS - do your reading ahead of time and know what you need to do in order to get the most out
 

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A lot depends on the way you learn. But for $2000 you could get an inexpensive boat and go at it and you can sell it for what you paid for it when ready to move up. Don't head out into the ocean, but hang out in lakes and bays till you are comfortable. Check with the local Coast Guard and Power Squadron as they have basic courses to cover things like the rules of the road and safety that are free or inexpensive. The thing with the certificate is that all it will help you with is if you want to charter a boat. If that is not in your plans then perhaps a less formal path may be more productive.

Others though likely need a more structured environment. If you feel you need something structured go for it. Another option is to join a sailing club. They maintain the boats, take care of insurance, upgrading, and you get to take out different types as your skills improve. Some of them have training courses as well, that you take to qualify to use the bigger boats. Normally much less expensive than maintaining your own boat. You have to fit your schedule around theirs. For instance you may not get a boat on the 4th of July but can on the 5th. This works out for a lot of people, especially if you have a flexible schedule.

Where you live may also determine what is available to you. IE lots of options in Annapolis, not so many in Podunk.
 

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No offense to the instructors here, but the ones I've come across over the years have not really been that knowledgeable or experienced beyond very focused attention to some basics that are easily learned on your own.
What, in particular, didn't you get that you wanted? What was the type of knowledge they lacked?

I'm interested. Might learn something...

okay, I've got you for 3 hours in a 10-knot breeze on a nice day. 24' fin-keel sloop, main, jib, assym spinny with a retractable bowsprit. What do you want me to cover? I have 2 or 3 other students with you.
 

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What, in particular, didn't you get that you wanted? What was the type of knowledge they lacked?

I'm interested. Might learn something...

okay, I've got you for 3 hours in a 10-knot breeze on a nice day. 24' fin-keel sloop, main, jib, assym spinny with a retractable bowsprit. What do you want me to cover? I have 2 or 3 other students with you.
Sorry, I got interrupted in my post and meant to qualify that. I've never taken a lesson in my life but have been around some instructors and schools. I just meant to warn the OP not to expect to learn calculus if the teacher is only really good at addition and subtraction--which can be learned on your own. That's just my observations, and they are limited.
 

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Do you own a sailboat? planning to purchase one soon?

Generally speaking, I think it's good to take a beginner's course ( ASA 101 here) basic keelboat. Then either go out on your boat, a rental, or crew on op's boats and practice what you've learned, get proficient at the basics: tacking, gybing, sailing all points of sail, heaving-to etc. Then go on to the next level when you know more..about what you don't know.

I'm not sure I'd spend $2000. learning and then have no boat to practice on, on a regular basis.
 

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I don't think you need 5 days to learn how to sail. I learned to sail in a weekend sailing course. IIRC, it was two days, and a 2 day course should, of course, be considerably less expensive than 5 days. There were 4 students and an instructor on each boat. We spent until noon the first day in class, learning terminology and theory, and we sailed all afternoon. The second day, we spent a short time in class, and the rest of the day on the boat. I learned enough in the course to be able to charter a 26' sailboat, and sail the gulf coast of Florida. It took a little common sense and studying of a nautical chart to find my way around. You won't become a highly skilled sailor in two days, but, truthfully, you won't in five days either. You just need to learn enough to get you started. After that, you'll have a lifetime to learn the rest.
 

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id much rather have a 1 on 1 with an old salt...picking one is tough just like picking a mentor is

that is not to say schools are bad...

some suffer from poor hands on teaching, others excell in theory etc...

most all are quite expensive in my humble opinion.

what is of utmost importance is to vary your training and learning experiences...

and your boat if you have one...

for example using the 2k figure...I can buy a nice old boat for around 1k...get into a marina...have my own slip for 100 a month and then fix the boat a bit

now you have your home away from home, a platform, a learning center(free)

now all you need to do is walk the docks, ask around, get a couple of people to teach you the ropes, for a beer or a meal, then when you get the guts and theory down you go and SAIL

thats the best way...repetition...in out in out of marina, raise lower sails, etc...etc...

the more you do the better you get...then foucs on specifics...

but thats my biased opinion

if you dont want the hassle of ownership then use these schools...

in any case hope you learn and have fun, what it should be about!

peace
 

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I don't think you need 5 days to learn how to sail. I learned to sail in a weekend sailing course. IIRC, it was two days, and a 2 day course should, of course, be considerably less expensive than 5 days. There were 4 students and an instructor on each boat. We spent until noon the first day in class, learning terminology and theory, and we sailed all afternoon. The second day, we spent a short time in class, and the rest of the day on the boat. I learned enough in the course to be able to charter a 26' sailboat, and sail the gulf coast of Florida. It took a little common sense and studying of a nautical chart to find my way around. You won't become a highly skilled sailor in two days, but, truthfully, you won't in five days either. You just need to learn enough to get you started. After that, you'll have a lifetime to learn the rest.
just a question please take no offence

how the hell did you charter a boat fresh from learning how to sail?

I couldnt even with a captains license in boat centric san francisco bay

they wanted so damn much info, $$$ tests, blah blah blah I said screw it and started looking at boats to buy
such a hassle

bought a folkboat in berkeley and had a blast
 

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.....how the hell did you charter a boat fresh from learning how to sail?
If you take the Offshore Sailing School liveaboard course, you start on day 1 with zero sailing experience. You live with an instructor aboard for 6 days. You have class over breakfast everyday and take both written and practical tests until dinner. On day 7, your final practical exam is to take the boat to another island (min 5 miles, stay the night and bring the boat back in the morning), with no instructor aboard! My wife did so with two others on a 43ft benetaeu and the whole crew sailed for the first time in their lives 6 days earlier!

Once you've passed that course, any charter company there will bareboat a similar size vessel to you.
 
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