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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are the best learning experiences or classes have been? I’m looking for ways to keep learning next season short of buying a boat and I was hoping for some ideas. Tell me about an invaluable class you took? Something that I’ve never even considered would be amazing!

If you’ve gotten this far it would probably help to know about my sailing experience. I started learning dinghys 5 years ago and was seriously bitten by the bug. For the last 3 years I’ve had a sailing club membership on the Boston Harbor starting with weekends on sonar to this season with 294 hours (time underway, much more aboard) and 1385nm on a Cal 39 or similar boats (sailing club) from Newport to Boothbay Harbor. I could repeat that next season but the best I could do with that is review what I’ve already done. (I only got out during Gale warning once, I'm not banking on managing that again) Got my ASA Bareboat through a week aboard class, week long charters in (Croatia, BVI) and some week+ trips in New England. I took some a fair number of useless classes that I’d rather forget. Been crewing on some PHRF race boats (mast and bow) to see how other skippers run things.

So, any suggestions for how to keep learning without getting bogged down with ownership just yet?
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Because you are in the Boston area, I suggest that you look into the Pelagic Sailing Club, pelagicsailingclub.org | Dedicated to bringing together competent skippers and competent crew for their mutual sailing benefit in the Boston MA area!. Dues are still >$100, and they are always looking for crew and boat owners that they can bring together. [DISCLAIMER: I am a member. If you join, you may end up sailing with me:eek:]

If you are looking for structured sailing lessons, the Offshore Sailing School Offshore Sailing School ? The Best Sailing Lessons at America?s #1 Sailing Schools (over 8 locations) has great reviews.

I took lessons with the BHSC, and enjoyed the experience, but thought that the structure of the lessons could have been better. I also thought that the boats should have been better maintained.
 

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Barquito
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One big part of your education that you may be missing is an in-depth knowledge of boat systems and repair. This tend to be forced upon you when you own a boat:). In your case you could start by taking a diesel repair class, or volunteering to help in some projects on others boats.
 

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What are you trying to acomplish? It sounds like you have a good base of knowledge, so moving to a one person dinghy would be one way to increase skill. Alternatively if you want to get into ocean racing, there is nothing like practice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Because you are in the Boston area, I suggest that you look into the Pelagic Sailing Club, pelagicsailingclub.org | Dedicated to bringing together competent skippers and competent crew for their mutual sailing benefit in the Boston MA area!. Dues are still >$100, and they are always looking for crew and boat owners that they can bring together. [DISCLAIMER: I am a member. If you join, you may end up sailing with me:eek:]
I considered Pelagic before, at the time my dance card was full. I'll take another look this coming season. One of my favorite ways to learn is being on a boat with more experienced sailors :)

I took lessons with the BHSC, and enjoyed the experience, but thought that the structure of the lessons could have been better. I also thought that the boats should have been better maintained.
BHSC is where I had my membership the last two years. I agree regarding the lessons and the boats, though I did report many things that needed repair and they were always addressed (though I did spend a lot of time emailing their staff but with as many days as I spent aboard their boats it was definitely worth the time).

One big part of your education that you may be missing is an in-depth knowledge of boat systems and repair. This tend to be forced upon you when you own a boat. In your case you could start by taking a diesel repair class, or volunteering to help in some projects on others boats.
That's definitely missing. I volunteer to help with all the projects and have learned a fair bit but it's not nearly enough. It's about putting in the hours and I know owning a boat would force me to put in the hours. I'm just not sure I am ready to take that plunge next season.

What are you trying to acomplish? It sounds like you have a good base of knowledge, so moving to a one person dinghy would be one way to increase skill. Alternatively if you want to get into ocean racing, there is nothing like practice.
I actually started in dinghys at CBI and I definitely agree they're the best way to drive home the fundamentals. I'd like to experience ocean racing but when it comes down to it I am not a racer.

I'd like to say that my goal is to take a few years off of work, go cruising and see how far I make it. When I am being honest with myself I acknowledge that the only thing stopping me is that I am not sure it's really what I want; it would be a huge change. If only I could take cruising for a 3 month test drive and see if it truly agrees with me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I know two people who sailed with John Kretschmer. They don't know each other. They both rave about how good their experiences were
Thanks, I've read some of his books but I didn't realize he does 1 month expeditions. I've emailed him for more information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I also meant to ask if there are any classes people have taken or learning experiences people have had that they found valuable, even if they don't apply directly to my situation. I'm trying to get a sense general sense of the learning options that are out there as well as figure out my own next steps.

I've been reading a lot of the "Learn to Sail" posts but I thought I'd just ask as well :)
 

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I took a week long sailing course from the Boy Scouts when I was 14 years old.

That taught me the basics of sailing. Everything else, I learned from owning sailboats. There are so many really cheap 20 -25 footers these days, many with trailers, that there is no excuse for not being able to own a sailboat if you want one.

And, if you hunt around long enough, you can find one for almost nothing. In 2005, I drove down our street and saw a Hobie 16 on a trailer, that was covered in tree sap with a for sale sign on it. It had two holes knocked in one of the pontoons and the lady, who only wanted $250 for it, said her son had abandoned it in her back yard 20 years before. I said, "I'll take it figuring I could get sails and running rigging for it somewhere for not too much."

I ran to the ATM and got $250. I paid her and as I was hooking it up to my truck, she came to me and said, "You'll have to go into my attic and brings the sails down yourself". A brand new set of of Tequila Sunrise main and jib, and all of the running rigging!

I got it home, and by the end of the weekend, I had power washed it, had patched the two holes with marine epoxy, and had it in the water sailing it. :D

Unfortunately, Katrina destroyed it six months later and no sign of it has been seen since. :eek:
 
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Think beyond the hull, too. For me, one of the greatest things about sailing is that no matter how skilled you become there is always something more to learn. If you think you've reached the end of what you can learn, you aren't trying hard enough.

In preparation for our Next Boat we obtained our amateur radio licenses. We're now studying for our General Class license and plan to get the Extra Class. My 18 YO niece is also studying for her license as a way of being involved and (from my perspective) becoming a crew member with additional skills for when we bring the boat across. We've been studying along with another SN friend and it is a blast sharing experiences and helping each other.

As I was once told (and is posted in SN somewhere):

Seriously, there is very little you need to learn to get a ham license you shouldn't know anyway to be a self-sufficient cruiser.

For me, the Extra Class license is seriously pushing my mental envelop as math never came easily to me. I'm hoping that what I lack will be made up in the discipline I now have as an adult that I didn't have as a 16 YO. Plus, now I can clearly see a use for it. :)

And for where you are now in your boating life, knowing the basics of VHF radio and how to properly use it should be on your list anyway.

I'm also taking weather seminars and classes by professionals. Again, something new to learn beyond what is taught in a basic boating class or on The Weather Channel that can be applied not only to sailing itself, but to the radio and just everyday life. I keep a well-marked copy of Reeds Maritime Meteorology nearby as the same person above told me "Don't just read it, learn it."

Another SailNetter recently attended a 3-day course on dealing with medical emergencies at sea. Something similar might also be on my list for the future.

In the meantime, we're sailing This Boat, having fun applying what we learn and meeting new sailors along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There are so many really cheap 20 -25 footers these days, many with trailers, that there is no excuse for not being able to own a sailboat if you want one.
I live in a condo in the city so a trailer does me no good: no car to tow it with nor space to stow a boat or trailer. We refer to the oversized closet in our living room as our "garage". For the last 3 years most places I've gone I've either sailed or pedaled to :)

I know that buying a boat would be a great learning experience but I also know that with working fulltime I’d likely get less time sailing (replaced with time tinkering). I sailed a lot more this season than any owner with a fulltime job that I’ve met in my 5 years sailing. Keeping a boat in Boston is expensive; I've got a friend with a 25' boat and he paid more just to keep that in the harbor than I did for my membership which gave me access to a Cal 39. I sailed much more than he did last season and his 25'er doesn't have most of the systems that I'd be setting out to learn (ex: outboard in lieu of diesel).

I know I have to take the plunge sometime soon but I am hoping to get as far along as possible next season before I do. I want a sailboat, just not yet.

And for where you are now in your boating life, knowing the basics of VHF radio and how to properly use it should be on your list anyway.
Our VHFs are an excellent source of entertainment while cruising around. I had to get a VHF license for chartering in Croatia but that was an exercise in paperwork with nothing to do with the radio itself. As soon as I get access to one I'll certainly get my HAM license. It will be fun to put those electrical engineering classes I took in college to good use (maybe?)!

Reeds Maritime Meteorology nearby as the same person above told me "Don't just read it, learn it."
Downloaded to my kindle!

I love it, keep em coming!
 
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