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Everyone above is right. Meaning it depends on your learning style. Some folks can get immersed and make the "connections" between disparate boat sizes and purposes, some can't. they all learn, though, whether through lessons or the school of hard knocks. But I do believe the best sailors come out of small, twitchy, less-forgiving boats. Whether those folks become the best cruisers is debatable, though they really have the sailing skills. If they lack the patience, you may find them out racing instead.

I teach 101 part-time, in hot little swing-keel skiffs, and when the breeze is right, we will sail all the way into the slip singing, "Motor? We don' need no steeenkin' *motor*!" Other times we are grateful for the steenkin motor.

103 is more like adding provisioning, camping, picnicing,orienteering, and weatherbird skills to your sailing skills (some people are already good at this stuff--what were your hobbies ashore?). Also in learning about interia (big boats have more), prop walk, anchoring, troubleshooting, jury-rigging, and just being adaptable. Oh, and learn rowing too--they may not teach it, but if you look perfect picking up that mooring under sail, you don't want to look doofusy rowing the dinghy ashore. Plus, it's good exercise when you can't use your bike, gym, or running shoes during a cruise.
 

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Congratulations on a fine start in sailing!

I completed ASA 101 (J-24), 103 & 104 (Catalina 42) in a bunch over eight days at the Santa Barbara Sailing Center, learned a ton and had a blast. The following season my wife and I had a timeshare on a Jeanneau 40 on Lake Michigan; we took private lessons to manage docking in Belmont Harbor and got pretty good at it - and loved the sailing. Completely different experience than Santa Barbara.

The next year, my wife did her ASA 101/103/104 in the San Juan Islands over a week and I went along for the ride. We kept the boat for another week just the two of us - learned a whole lot of new things and again had a great time. Sailing the San Juans is a different world than Lake Michigan or Santa Barbara - skills translate, but the experience presents new challenges (think tides, currents and rocks).

Now we sail our own Beneteau 210 on an inland lake - still learning something new every time we go out, and still having the time of our lives. Taking lessons enhanced our learning, but what really matters is getting out on the water. Speaking of which, the weather tomorrow looks promising!

Get out there, enjoy and learn!
 

· Rich
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Awesome feedback folks! Yeah, I'm already looking to find OPB to crew on and keep growing my skills.

Either it was the instructors @ MD School, or my interest/ability, but I took to it like a natural and feel 90% confident I could take a 25-30ft boat for a day sail (docking under power tho). Still, I want to hone and refine a few things before trying it on my own- can't afford any bumps/scratches on daddy's Mercedes~~~

Absolutely LOVE it!!! Already thinking of doing the 105 Nav cert, then the 104 at MD School next spring/summer. But all of it feels soooo natural and I love how it all comes together. Definitely found my calling/zen space!!!

And I have had ZERO experience prior to my classes two weeks ago...

(btw, I feel more confident backing a boat into a slip and doing standing turns than I do with backing my truck w/ backup camera!) lol~~
 

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Jumping onto the bandwagon here - I'm also a sailing newbie. I've been sailing the past year with my boyfriend who's sailed nearly his whole life but I'd like to enroll in a class. I've definitely learned a lot, especially since we bought our own boat, but I've been sailing a 43ft with a wheel. Most intro classes use smaller boats (obviously) with a tiller. What is best in this situation? Keep practicing what I've learned or start again with the tiller? I know the concepts are the same and the tiller is more "interactive" but I'd love some input before spending the extra money. Thanks!
 

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Don't worry too much about the wheel vs. tiller. There will be a short period of adjustment! What's more important is to learn the fundamentals of sailing. Are you in SF? I learned with Spinnaker in Redwood City and they were great, I'm sure that the schools in the central bay are fine, too.
 
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