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99% landlubber, 1% sailor
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I'm a new sailboat owner. Never been out on her. I'll be working on her this winter to prepare her ofr the water come springtime.
I have never sailed before. So what's to stop a guy from learning the hard way, i mean circumventing the yacht club sailing school, and just getting out there and Have at 'er?
I mean, I'd obviously take precautions, ie check the weather thoroughly, stay relatively close to home, bring all the required and recommended safety equipment, and my dad nearby in a powerboat, lest i mess something up completely. I've read a fair deal
I have a healthy fear of the elements, having grown up around boating and boating safety freaks (like my dad). I just don't feel like learning to sail on a 14 footer when I could be learning on my own boat, you know? I'm itching to sail it!
I'm interested in your opinions..
 

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Get at least some basic instruction.

You wouldn't be the first to learn that way. I know a fellow who had a 28 or 30ft Oday. He said he and his crazy brother taught themselves, and they hadn't even read anything. He also asked me if my boat had a rudder or a tiller. . . . .
. . . long pause . . . ."Umm, I have a wheel." "Oh, a rudder."

You may do fine, or learn an expensive lesson the hard way. Going in with at least some basic knowledge is not too much to ask. While sailboats seem very slow compared to powerboats, things can happen extremely quickly with no second chances. Go out on a calm day, then get a fresh puff and you'll see what I mean. No point in risking yourself, your boat, and anyone else. There are examples every few days of sailors with experience that get into trouble. Even if you're a natural, why stack the deck against yourself? I got my basic keelboat diploma on a Catalina 310. It was my first and only training so far, but I still wanna get that time on a 14 footer. There's a lot to be learned. Master the little boats and you'll be better at the bigger ones.
 

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Nothing at all really. A lot of sailors learned exactly that way.

For the most part, schools don't teach much more than you could pick up on a few outings with a friend. The advantage comes in with the paperwork you get, as often insurance is cheaper if you have it.

Ken.
 

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The hard way is called that for a reason. I knew someone who learned the hard way that he should clip on his harness and keep his head down. His crewmates think (hope?) he died of the concussion from the boom before he hit the water. They never found his body. There are lots of other lessons you can learn the hard way. Some of them can be quite fun for us to watch as you learn. Others can be fun for us, but less fun for you. Others can be expensive in more ways than one, and no fun for anybody.

It sounds really macho to read about "doing it the hard way" online, and to refer to your dad as a safety freak. It could also be that sailing is more dangerous than you currently understand. Did your parents let you cross a busy street before you learned to look both ways? Traffic on the water can come from any direction. So can the wind. Waves and weather change, and the water can get suddenly shallow. Equipment can break, or someone can make a mistake, and you're swimming.... ten miles from shore. There's a lot more to look out for sailing than there is in crossing the street. You can cross the street without looking, but you've learned that it's smarter to look first. Sail smart.
 

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I have been sailing off and on for the past 50-odd years and never had a lesson yet (and that's not to say I don't think that they are an excellent idea). However, I did have a lot of good experience early on with people who knew what they were doing and I thoroughly recommend getting some sailing practice crewing for someone. It isn't possible to over-emphasise what others have already said - situations develop unexpectedly at sea and experience along with an ability to stay calm and think on your feet in a crisis provide you with the best chance of surviving these unscathed.

I would definitely stick to your cautious approach and gradually extend yourself as your confidence grows.

Stuart
 

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More than just sailing

There is more to learning to sail than just the lessons on how to steer, trim, dock. There is learning to rig a boat, understand the mechanics of safety, eg crew overboard etc. Try to get lessons on a smaller keelboat with a tiller. I learned on a yngling and soling through the local university sailing club. You will learn more in a few weeks than a whole summer of dock crashing.
 

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Buying a sailing lesson is a good idea; you should be able to find an instructor with a boat similar to yours. I took my lessons on a Ranger 29 and bought a Catalina 27; nothing forces you to start on small boats (but as has been said, it's still a good idea to see what they're like).

Your first time out on the water with somebody who knows what they're doing can be enlightening. Lots of things you'd learn right away on your own, but there's still tons and tons of things that might never occur to you that a good instructor will be able to communicate in minutes.

When I took my lessons, I had never been on board a sailing vessel before, and I had no friends who were sailors. The way I see it, I paid to have a temporary buddy-who-is-a-sailor, who conveniently was also qualified to grant me some legally required certifications. It's worth the couple of days you'll spend doing it.

Besides, you said yourself your boat isn't ready to sail just yet. If you can find an instructor in the off-season, that means you get to start sailing that much earlier :)
 

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Find an instructor or an experienced friend who will teach you ON YOUR BOAT. There is more to learning to sail than how to handle the lines - you need to know the rules of the road, navigation, safety requirements, legal requirements, etc.
 

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Sure,
You can do it, but it will be the slowest way. It is much faster to learn from other peope's mistakes. Then you can use the time to build your own experience on some base.

Personally, I would read as much as I can , since I enjoy reading and easily memorize a lot of info, wich is the fastest way in my opinion to learn the "formalities and legalities" like the rules of the road, navigation, etc. And then find somebody with more experience, friend or hired instructor, to show you how the theories are implemented on the water (well that is how I did it).
 

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I have never taken a sailing lesson. That being said I grew up on power boats, so I at least knew my way around a boat when I started. I taught myself with an old boy scout manual on sailing and a sunfish. Risk on a sunfish on a small lake is pretty small. You tip over a few times, but that is about it. From there I slowly moved up to bigger boats.

While lessons are always a good idea, I don't think they are necessary. That being said, to take out a larger boat by yourself with no prior experience is not a good idea. At the very least, you should get someone who knows ow to sail to take you out and show you the ropes. There are a lot of people who would be more than willing to do this. Where are you located?

As far as books go, I really liked Learning to Sail: The Annapolis sailing school guide for sailors of all ages. It is an easy read - only about 100 pages. It teaches the basics, without boring you with hundreds of pages of theory. While there are definitely more comprehensive guides out there, it is a bare minimum to get started. I bought my copy for $12 from Borders.
 

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99% landlubber, 1% sailor
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Discussion Starter #12
Excellent opinions, all. I thank you for your input.
I hadn't thought of having someone teach me aboard my own boat. I have no interest in throwing caution to the wind ( how apropos) , nor no i intend to singlehand my Tanzer 29 any time soon.
I haven't done any networking locally to see if there are instructors or even just friendly folks who are willing to teach me a thing or two on my own boat. I'm on the Great Lakes (Lake Huron to be precise) and so I have all winter to think (and dream) about my first sail. Hopefully I wont be disappointed.
 

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modul8

I'm also new to sailing. I've read all the sailing books I could get my hands on for the past six years or so (starting with Maiden Voyage). I finally got my first boat, a 14' dinghy, a few months ago. I spent a week trying to make sense of the rigging and mount a trailer hitch on my car before I took her to a small lake nearby for my maiden voyage, in a rainstorm.

An hour later I was soaking wet sitting on the upside down hull of my boat wondering if the method I'd studied for righting a turtled dinghy would work (it did, but the first time I tried it the boat capsized again immediately).

I've been out every weekend since then and I am steadily getting to know and love my little boat, though I often wish I had a sailing friend to help me learn faster, or the right way.

Its great to be an autodidact, but I think it is sensible to try and minimize the cost of the mistakes that we are bound to make as we learn.
 

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Moody 425
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I think what your saying is possible,
Have you considered the following options, as these would all provide you avenues other than the small( read wet) learn to sail boats you mentioned.....

1) Crewing on other people's boats. If you find the right skipper willing to teach you as you crew his boat, you will learn alot more than you would of doing a basic learn to sail course..

2)Hire an instructor/Skipper to come out with you on your boat and give you instruction.....can be cheaper than you would think and then you will learn to sail YOUR boat...

3) If above not an option, do number 1 and then network a bit around sailing folk and your yacht club and get an experienced sailor to come out with you a few times and give some tips.....payment in the form of lunch and a few beers would grease the wheels.

4) If your issue is just with the learn to sail course local to you on the forementioned 14ft boats, consider taking a weeks holiday somewhere with better keelboat sailing courses. Sunsail offer 'learn to sail' weeklong courses, with accomodation being staying on the boats, that are relatively inexpensive, im also sure they aren't the only ones.

5) Watch Giu's videos. They are done by a member on this site and are very very good......if he asks tell him I had them down as option 1) not 5). :)
 

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Telstar 28
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There is nothing wrong with going about and learning how to sail a cruising keelboat the hard way. However, if you shell out the money and take a basic ASA 101 learn to sail type course, it will greatly reduce the amount of pain and suffering and damage to you and your boat over the long run.

Certain mistakes are easily recovered from...others can be lethal. Getting hit by the boom on a 30' boat in an accidental gybe can easily kill you. Getting caught between a 6000 lb. boat and the dock can also easily kill you.

Most of the ASA 101 type learn to sail courses aren't on sailing dinghies. Most use a small keelboat in the 23-28' range.

The other advantage of taking a basic learn to sail type course is that you get a fairly solid foundation on basic sailing theory and fundamentals, much of which you really wouldn't learn in learning the hard way.

A good basic book to read for an aspiring sailor is Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor. About $15 at most of the larger bookstore chains.

The US Power Squadrons and US Coast Guard Aux both have good courses on navigation, rules of the road, and basic boating safety that are well worth taking as well.
 

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I'm a new sailboat owner. Never been out on her. I'll be working on her this winter to prepare her ofr the water come springtime.
I have never sailed before. So what's to stop a guy from learning the hard way, i mean circumventing the yacht club sailing school, and just getting out there and Have at 'er?
I mean, I'd obviously take precautions, ie check the weather thoroughly, stay relatively close to home, bring all the required and recommended safety equipment, and my dad nearby in a powerboat, lest i mess something up completely. I've read a fair deal
I have a healthy fear of the elements, having grown up around boating and boating safety freaks (like my dad). I just don't feel like learning to sail on a 14 footer when I could be learning on my own boat, you know? I'm itching to sail it!
I'm interested in your opinions..
There's NOTHING WRONG with being a "safety freak" - I am one of those.

Having someone else nearby who is there to help is a good idea.
 

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Simple answer to the OP......... Nothing.
 

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Watkins 23
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No need to really restate the consensus, but to add another yes to it. The knocks in the school of hard knocks are really hard. Get lessons formally (school) or informally (friends with competent experience). There is just too much you can't anticipate from books alone. I did a lot of books, but the time spent with sailors on a boat has been of immeasurable value.
FWIW
Richard
 

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There is nothing preventing you from poking out your eye with a stick either.

But I don't recommend it.
Nothing says I can't go out an score an 8ball either or smoke crack.
But I don't think its very healthy and I too would not recomend it as well. Add a cheep hooker to the list as well. But, there is nothing preventing it. That was my point.
 
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