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I'm curious.

For those of you who knew how to operate a power boat before learning how to sail, when you decided to learn to sail, did you feel like sailing would be easy based on already being a power boater? And, in retrospect, were you right?

I learned how to operate a power boat before I stepped foot on a sailboat. Carver 28 with fly bridge and twin screws. Learning to dock was still a challenge but easier compared to the sailboat. The boats were so different that I don't consciously remember thinking "I learned how to operate the Carver, how hard could operating a sailboat be?"

I think the only thing that carried over was confidence in the thought that "I learned how to operate the Carver, with enough time, help, and practice I should be able to learn how to operate a new boat."

I'm just wondering about this in regards to operating the boat, not having knowledge of currents, tides, rules of the road, etc.
 

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For me, power boating helped me learn the rules of the road and general boating safety. When I started sailing I was able to focus on the actual sailing, because I already had a good feel for general seamanship. In my experience, sailing takes more patience, a wider range of skills, and greater confidence.
 

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I'm curious.

For those of you who knew how to operate a power boat before learning how to sail, when you decided to learn to sail, did you feel like sailing would be easy based on already being a power boater?
I felt the operating portion would be as easy. Sailing is more demanding than stepping on to a boat & turning a set of keys but so much more peaceful.
I don't miss the drone of twin inboards or pulling up to a fuel dock to fill twin 125 fuel tanks...
 

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Great question, Donna. My family had both, but as a young child, I learned the basics aboard a powerboat. Navigation, knots, anchoring, rules of the road, systems, etc, were all well understood before I knew how sails powered a vessel, at least a large one. We had a family friend that was a Merchant Marine Captain and "doing it right" was commonly referred to how Capt Bob would do something. You tied off correctly, logged correctly, navigated correctly, left no wake when required and did everything with a sense of purpose and professionalism. Then you drank like it was your job at anchor. :) Yes, that was his standard too. I only watched in my younger years, now I'm pretty good at it. :)

I think it actually made the transition to a cruising sailboat much easier. When one moves up from a Laser to a cruiser, the fact that you understand how sails work is only half the job of the captain, maybe less. The art of seamanship is substantially more vast than sail trim.

In the end, our family is split between sailboats and stinkpots, but everyone meets in the middle with good seamanship and learns something new on each voyage.
 

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For me, power boating helped me learn the rules of the road and general boating safety. When I started sailing I was able to focus on the actual sailing, because I already had a good feel for general seamanship. In my experience, sailing takes more patience, a wider range of skills, and greater confidence.
Pretty much what I would have said. My first boat was a 15' runabout, then I bought a 22' Sea Ray and that got me into cruising and gunk holing. But growing up around sailboats I knew I always wanted one. Bought a 20' POS and when I hooked the wife on sailing I knew it was time to go bigger, hence our T37
 

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I grew up on small power boats in Florida. 20 years in the US Navy, driving nuclear subs and 27' patrol boats. I learned about charts, radar, comms and navigation.

So, when I was trying to learn how to sail, all I had to focus on, was learning how to make the boat move. I didn't have to juggle that on top of trying to understand the COLREGS, charts, GPS, etc.

I feel that my past experiences mean that I had to divide my attention less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies. It was just something I was thinking about as I contemplated yet another potential snow storm. I wondered if it was considered something that people felt gave them a leg up or didn't matter much.
 

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Wife was a summer live aboard with her folks for years in a power boat. She says no significant impact on her learning to sail. I say she is an amazing lady and fearless. I think that comes from her prior time on the water. Yes it helps. Any time on the water in anything helps.
 

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I went from being a long time sailor to also having a power boat and I am always trying to get the power boat to steer like a sailboat. A sailboat has huge momentum and responds to the helm with no power whereas many power boats need the engine running in order to turn.
Sailing and powerboating are entirely diff experiences. A powerboater can see much more of the area quickly and go places inshore where a sailboat cannot.
However, days that powerboaters hate, sailors like. Sustained wind even if it is only 10 mph is bad for powerboats but great for sailors. Sailboats handle waves better. My Tolman Skiff (20') is very seaworthy but is also very fuel efficient. I rarely use more than 8 gallons of fuel in a days boating.
 

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I grew up in an oceanfront company town - very small and remote; water and air access only, a few miles of road. I was on my second runabout before I learned to drive.

Later, having moved to the interior a friend invited me for a sail... The experience reignited the desire to live on the coast, sailing was awesome but the lake was too limiting.

When we were able to move and buy a sailboat I think the biggest positive to come out of a power boating history was a basic level of comfort on the water, and the certain knowledge that there was so much to explore. My young bride did not have this experience to fall back on, so her learning/comfort curve was that much steeper.
 

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When we were able to move and buy a sailboat I think the biggest positive to come out of a power boating history was a basic level of comfort on the water
That is a well way of putting it!
 

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I grew up on small power boats in Florida. 20 years in the US Navy, driving nuclear subs and 27' patrol boats. I learned about charts, radar, comms and navigation.

So, when I was trying to learn how to sail, all I had to focus on, was learning how to make the boat move. I didn't have to juggle that on top of trying to understand the COLREGS, charts, GPS, etc.

I feel that my past experiences mean that I had to divide my attention less.
Been there, done that.
We had smaller power boats on lakes when I was a kid so the most basics of boat handling came from that. Then Uncle Sam's underwater canoe club added rules of the road, navigation and such. I do miss the 12X magnification periscope and not having torpedoes has frustrated me on several occasions.
 

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I grew up on power boats, but didn't set foot on a sailboat till 6 years ago. As someone mentioned in an earlier post, having that kind of early experience seems to instill an ease for the water that someone who comes to it later might not have. That said, sailing was a mystery to me until I started handling smaller boats on my own. Knowing where the wind was coming from and how to set the sails to get from A to B was not something I picked up quickly.
 

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I learned to sail in my late 20s after having experience only in paddle & power boats. My brother in law invited me and some friends out on his Hobie 16 one day. I went thinking I wouldn't enjoy it much. We rigged the boat and launched from an old boat ramp on the bay. I wondered if we were going to have to paddle out into the bay to get going. To my surprize he backed the sails and we backed out of the ramp almost like a power boat. He swung us around and we took off across the bay with the hulls and rigging humming away. We flew a hull and hung off the trapeez and had a great time zipping around. When it was time to head in I wondered how close we would be able to get to the ramp and once again to my surprize he ran us right onto the trailer. From that day I was hooked. I got myself a little Sunfish clone Gulf Coast 13 and taught myself how to sail from books and then began moving up. I've always had power boats but really love sailing. I think experience in both is the way to go for a well rounded boating education.

Kevin
 

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For me, powerboats are the main reason why i went looking for this forum, and sailing stuff in general.MY boss had a very large, nice powerboat, he offered to take me and a few guys with him from work, the next time he went out in the boat, it was really fun and nice. then it was my turn to drive it, it was fun but it just wasn't clicking with me, i kept looking at the sail boats around us, and thought that looks like a lot of fun, i saw people taking sails down, putting sails up, zig zagging around, or just relaxing in the cockpit and sailing. i guess it's partly because I've worked in factories since i was legally able to, and it's always go go go fast fast fast, the most production in the least time as you can force a human being to actually do. driving the 60 foot power yacht of my boss still made me feel like that go go go thing, i just didn't want to go fast anymore, i wanted to go SLOW, so i started looking at sailing, and now your all stuck with me hehe.
 

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Reminds me of a old joke
Big boss sitting on the flybridge of his 50' sport fish turns to his friend in the cockpit of his sloop.
" hey Bob wanna race"
" sure Fred you pick the time but I' ll pick where we race to.
" ok how about now"
" sure let's race to England "
 
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