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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never sailed (lets get that out of the way right now). I am 49 and recently remarried. My wife seems to be accepting of giving cruising a try. But first we need a smaller boat in which to get our feet wet. We live in West Virginia. Not exactly sailing capital of the world. We do have a few local lakes that are pretty nice. Firstly would have to be Cave Run, located in Eastern Kentucky. It's about 7,200 acres. Other nice lake is Summersville, located in Central West Virginia. My wife and I both work. So it's not as though either of us is able to take a weekend trip to the Chesapeake Bay. It's about 7 hours away from us. I'd eventually like to move up to a nice 32-35 footer to cruise in. But what would be a nice boat to learn the basics of sailing. I've always heard it's best to start off REAL small, like 15 feet. The reasoning for this is folks who start out so small have a better feel for how the wind makes the boat move, as opposed to a boat a few feet bigger. A sailing friend of mine said it'd be best to go anywhere from 18 feet to 22 feet. She said this would give us a better feel for what it's really like to be on a sailboat. We don't get much wind in WV, although with this severe cold and wind snapping through right now, it sure feels like it. I want my wife and I to enjoy the water. I'm not looking for a go fast boat. With the reading I've done, I think I prefer a sloop, unless someone can talk me out of it. I've heard the sloop is a good all purpose rig. I am going to want a keel boat when we start cruising. Would learning on a centerboard be detrimental to my ability to adapt to the keel? I guess that's all I can think of for now. I appreciate all responses. Thanks.
 

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Awesome that you finally pulled the trigger. I didn't start sailing until last year when I was 42...

I bought a 16 foot Topper Sport sailboat. I really only bought that particular one becuase it looked cool and I could afford it... and I didn't know jack squat about anything! I do agree that learning on a small boat has its benefits because every time I sneeze the thing moves ....ok, perhaps an exaggeration, but you get my point. I recently talked to another boat owner in my marina who has a 43 footer. I told him about teaching myself to sail in my little boat, and he said, "Mine is so much easier to sail than yours." I know he didn't mean it as an insult, but I'm not looking for the easier sail. I want it to be difficult so that when I bring my kids aboard, I feel some comfortable.

Mike
 

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I am pretty new to the sailing world myself but it sounds to me like you have gotten some good advice. I agree a smaller boat teaches you more quicker. and I have been told good sailors can watch someone and know whether the learned on a small boat or a large one. I applaud you for wanting to learn on something small. there are a lot of great small craft in the 20ish plus or minus range that I think would fit your requirements.a couple things to keep in mind while shopping are what are your intentions of your first boat. do you want something you can easily rig, sail off a trailor, go like a bat out of hell get home and nurse your bruises. or something you can take a weekend on (some of these can be quite a bit of fun to sail too. or something in between.

a keel boat is going to handle differently but learning on something small fast and manouverable is not going to be a problem when you transfer over.

sorry I dont have more helpfull information but I wish you the best on your journey get out there and do it
 

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If your wife is interested in learning to sail as well I would recommend tracking down two lasers. They are pretty ubiquitous and if you buy a reasonable used one will retain their value when you try and sell them later. The reason for buying two is they are one person boats, and will allow you and your wife to sail against each other. Even some good natured racing will greatly accelerate the learning curve.

I would also look into if there is a local yacht club, and what they sail. In a lot of lakes there will be some sort of sailing club, even on inland lakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys. You're just reinforcing what I thought I already knew. We REALLY don't have much in the way of good sailing areas around here. I imagine I will have to start off with a boat with a centerboard. That's no big deal. The Lazers would be fun. My wife and I are a bit competitive in ways. That might not be a bad idea. I saw a neat video on youtube the other night about a couple who took their small boat up to Newfoundland. It was only about 15 feet long. It was in June. Man, talk about cold. They have, I think, a three part series. It's not like a professional job. Just really neat. So the size of the boat is limited only by the imagination, so long as its up to the requirements of the job. Check the videos out. Really nice. Thanks for the tips. I look forward to participating on this site, learning and having fun. :)
 

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If your wife is interested in learning to sail as well I would recommend tracking down two lasers. They are pretty ubiquitous and if you buy a reasonable used one will retain their value when you try and sell them later. The reason for buying two is they are one person boats, and will allow you and your wife to sail against each other. Even some good natured racing will greatly accelerate the learning curve.
this is a fantastic Idea and I was thinking it I dont believe I didn't suggest it.

Ive got a buddy who has a laser but its over a thousand miles away I am trying to convince him to bring it up then Ill buy one and he can kick my ...
 

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I'd say a Catalina 22.

Plenty of boat to stay the weekend on while at the lake and enough room to invite another couple along for a day of sailing. It has the feel of a bigger boat than the small boats you are talking about. Plus, you could trailer it to the coast once or twice a year, like on vacation, and broaden your sailing horizons. A swing keel would make it easy to tow and launch...

Plus, there are tons of C22 groups out there and nearly every part is available new or used.
 

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We started sailing again not so long ago (I learned many years ago) in an O'day Rhodes 19. Pretty small, responsive enough, and inexpensive. It was great fun but the time and effort to launch from a trailer and rig, then repeat after sailing became a chore for me. It was a centerboard model and my wife was not a fan of the extreme heeling and feared being knocked down. So we moved up to a Catalina 27 and sailing became even more fun. Hop on the boat and a couple minutes later we are out on the lake. Plus having a cabin makes it just enjoyable sitting around at anchor or the dock.

If you aren't sure if you will like it then take the advice above on the Lasers or something similar, you really can't go too wrong and will know what you like, and don't like.
 

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The lake looks like a nice place! How far away is it? Are there marinas at which you can keep the boat?

Lasers should be a lot of fun, as long as you don't mind geting wet. There are other dinghy-type boats that are more stable and may make things more comfortable for your wife and you. You can't guarantee that you won't get knocked down in ANY boat, but something like a lazer is likely to get knocked down much more frequently than some others.

If you're looking to do more than just learn to sail/hone your skills, such as overnighting or weekending aboard, a bigger boat could be nice. But a bigger boat will need a slip (or at least having a slip is advantageous). Small boats are easier to break down/set up, but that does eat into your time.
 

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I'm with the rest on starting small. However, if you and your wife are not the type that would enjoy getting wet, or are not as nimble as a 20 year old, maybe consider jumping into the Catalina 22. We all say C22 b/c it is a ubiquitous boat in that size, has a swing keel, making it trailerable, and behaves like keelboat in moderate conditions, and like a dinghy in high winds.
 

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Since you mentioned neither of you have sailed or been on a sailboat seems like some sailing might be your first step. What boat rentals or lessons are available at the lakes nearest you ?
Since your ultimate goal is to cruise on a larger boat it would be prudent to spend a week on one just to make sure it meets your expectations before getting too heavily invested in the dream.
 

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A pair of dinghys is a great idea, if your wife is okay with getting wet. My wife and I started on a little 12' dinghy, and worked our way through a couple of 14-footers. Now we are transitioning to a 20' shoal keel/centerboard rig. Still keeping the 14' C-Lark, because while the Ranger 20 is much more forgiving, the little dinghy has more to teach us. My wife isn't the competitive type, so we like learning together on the same boat.

Pretty easy to find a usable 14' dinghy without a whole lot of expense, and going through that first will also teach you a little about what to look out for in your next bigger boat and what you want to end up with (for a while ;) ).
 

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You are lucky to have an enthusiastic sailing partner. That makes learning a lot more fun.
 

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As usual, I'll be the dissenting voice. If you guys are planning to sail to far off places, I'd try to find a 25'-27' boat that's in the water. That's what we did and I think it was definitely the right move for us. We were able to anchor and sleep on the boat on the weekends, cook, use/fix the head, all of it. It really gave us an idea of what it would be like to cruise. And we used it A LOT because it was on the water, ready to go at any time.

So, as for learning to sail, the dinghy route is definitely the best route. As for learning to cruise in a pretty comfortable boat and get a taste for the kind of maintenance and boat handling you'll be facing down the line - I don't think you could beat this kind of set up.
 

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If you guys are planning to sail to far off places, I'd try to find a 25'-27' boat that's in the water.
I think I agree.

Dinghy sailing, especially racing against other boats, really teaches you how to get the most out of every sail control on the boat. But... You're going to be on that dinghy for at most two hours. You're not going to anchor and drink some wine. You're not going to spend a night.

So dinghy sailing won't teach you anything about anchoring or provisioning or what it's like to be in a really really really small space with another person that you thought you loved but oh god the morning noises she makes.... Perhaps I've gone to far.

Anyway, I think I'm in the camp of getting a small boat that you can sleep in (that Catalina 22 in my drive looks pretty good) and see what that's actually like.

Small boat sailing will get you prepared for small boat racing. Fun! But sleep-aboard keelboat sailing will get you prepared for small boat keelboat sailing.
 

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The OP has never sailed or been on a sailboat of any size, lives 7 hours from the ocean, is newly married and they both work. So far they've just seen Captain Ron and a Viagra commercial and it looks appealing. Buy a keelboat? What are you guys ? A bunch of divorce attorneys/boat brokers ?
If I were starting over I'd join a club as Mr. Perry suggested. Instruction and rentals are probably available at one of the lakes near them if there are no clubs.
To the OP:
If you make a trip out here to go to Disneyland or SeaWorld send me a PM and I'll take you for a boat ride on the ocean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I cracked a smile at some of the comments. All very helpful. My wife is 48. I'm 49. I really don't have much interest in getting wet. If I had my act together when I was 20, that certainly would've been a fun thing to do. We will likely go out and get an old 15 footer and learn. I've seen a few of them floating around for about $500-$800. I also like the idea of canoe sailing. I think it's a neat concept. I'd like to use a canoe as a dinghy when I move up to a cruiser. There are two lakes I was referring to. One is located in Kentucky close to a town called Morehead (the university where former Giants QB Phil Simms is located here) Lake is called Cave Run. Big 'ol lake of about 7,200 acres. Summersvillle Lake is located outside of the town of Summersville. It's a nice lake as well of about 3,200 acres. All of our bigger lakes around here are creeks that have been dammed up. The lake fills up and winds up through the hills. Lots of twists and turns. But most of our lakes in my region have a fairly wide open area. Good for the beginner. Thanks folks. I appreciate you much.
 
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