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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all! I'm Ben and I live in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, USA. I have never sailed, but it has been something that I've wanted to do for a number of years. I didn't exactly grow up on the water, but I've spent a fair bit of time kayaking/boating/fishing on freshwater and saltwater (inshore and offshore).

My one and only time on a sailboat was when I was a kid and was helping tow a very small catamaran behind a pontoon boat. My job was to sit on the bow of the catamaran and hold one end of the tow rope while my cousin held the other end on the pontoon. Naturally, after a bit of boredom set in, we engaged in a tug of war that ended abruptly when he yanked me clean off the catamaran while we were underway. Hopefully my future sailing experiences are as entertaining!

Anyway, seeing as I know next to nothing about sailing, I plan to just be a sponge for a while and soak up as much information as I can. One of my next steps is to take some sort of sailing lesson, so if anyone has any recommendations in my area I'd greatly appreciate it!
 

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Find a class racing group in your area. Any class-j boats, stars, flying scots - anything. Doesn’t matter what type of boat as long as it’s sailed with two or more. Offer to do prep and boat maintenance in exchange for the opportunity to crew. That’s costs nothing but sweat and time. Racing will teach you how to sail. YouTubes, online courses and books will teach you the rest. Owning a boat when you get to that point teaches the mechanical skills.
 

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Rather than dump a bunch of money on sailing courses my suggestion would be to buy a 15 foot or smaller very cheap dinghy that's pretty beat up, but serviceable. This is not going to be a boat to take your friends out on, but instead you will be crashing into docks, running aground and even tipping her over on occasion. This is the boat to make all your beginner's mistakes on, before you buy a nicer, more expensive boat. And believe me, if you start with the more expensive boat, you are still going to make all the same mistakes, classes or not, but the repair bills will be much more expensive, and if you load the boat up with friends, there is the possibility of someone getting hurt. Sailing isn't rocket science, but it does take a lot of sailing to get it.
This is how almost every professional sailor of note learned to sail, not through some expensive cookie cutter course.
Along with your little beater, I would highly recommend a great little book called Royce's Sailing Illustrated, a fun yet very comprehensive book filled with important information for the novice sailor or experienced professional. No massive preachy tome this, just a well put together book with everything from rigging to docking and even splicing. I've been using it to teach sailing for over 45 years, and still refer to it now and then, myself.
Good luck and remember, sailing is supposed to be fun, so keep that in mind when you are having a hard day.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Find a class racing group in your area. Any class-j boats, stars, flying scots - anything. Doesn’t matter what type of boat as long as it’s sailed with two or more. Offer to do prep and boat maintenance in exchange for the opportunity to crew. That’s costs nothing but sweat and time. Racing will teach you how to sail. YouTubes, online courses and books will teach you the rest. Owning a boat when you get to that point teaches the mechanical skills.
Thanks, I'll look into racing groups in the area. I get the feeling that there are a lot on-the-water things to learn beyond what one can pick up via Youtube, books, online courses, etc.
 

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Rather than dump a bunch of money on sailing courses my suggestion would be to buy a 15 foot or smaller very cheap dinghy that's pretty beat up, but serviceable. This is not going to be a boat to take your friends out on, but instead you will be crashing into docks, running aground and even tipping her over on occasion. This is the boat to make all your beginner's mistakes on, before you buy a nicer, more expensive boat. And believe me, if you start with the more expensive boat, you are still going to make all the same mistakes, classes or not, but the repair bills will be much more expensive, and if you load the boat up with friends, there is the possibility of someone getting hurt. Sailing isn't rocket science, but it does take a lot of sailing to get it.
This is how almost every professional sailor of note learned to sail, not through some expensive cookie cutter course.
Along with your little beater, I would highly recommend a great little book called Royce's Sailing Illustrated, a fun yet very comprehensive book filled with important information for the novice sailor or experienced professional. No massive preachy tome this, just a well put together book with everything from rigging to docking and even splicing. I've been using it to teach sailing for over 45 years, and still refer to it now and then, myself.
Good luck and remember, sailing is supposed to be fun, so keep that in mind when you are having a hard day.
I've actually got a copy of Royce's on the way! That's an interesting point about the small boat instead of courses. I was considering taking a course as a lower budget/lower commitment first step. Actually having a boat to practice (and fail) on instead of being a tourist at a sailing course also appeals to how I'm wired. And, I would very definitely start with a small boat. Well, looks like it's either trying to help crew with a racing group or buying a little boat.
 

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https://www.libertysailingschool.com/ sailing on the Delaware River; strong tidal current, commercial shipping and gusty winds will make you a better sailor.

https://www.njsailingschool.com/ Upper Barnegat Bay sailing, better place to learn, more consistent winds, gentler tidal current, lots of recreational power and fishing boats.

Plan on 2021 I doubt if they are going to be doing much this year.

NJ Sailing School has rental/practice boats on Barnegat Bay. Less than 45 mins drive from Ben Franklin Bridge to Brick Township NJ.
 

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I've actually got a copy of Royce's on the way! That's an interesting point about the small boat instead of courses. I was considering taking a course as a lower budget/lower commitment first step. Actually having a boat to practice (and fail) on instead of being a tourist at a sailing course also appeals to how I'm wired. And, I would very definitely start with a small boat. Well, looks like it's either trying to help crew with a racing group or buying a little boat.
I wouldn't jump right into racing without a good grasp of the terminology and at least a basic knowledge of sailing. Racing is a fine way to hone your skills, but a pretty high pressure situation to put yourself in as a total novice.
After I learned to sail dinghies I kinda fell into racing for 7 seasons. Fortunately I had a good skipper so we won 5 out of the 7 which definitely made it a lot more fun. Unfortunately, the racing left me with more experience in that aspect of sailing so my first big boat was a 49' TransPac racer with 23 bags of sails, coffee grinders and little creature comforts below. A truly ludicrous boat for a couple to cruise.
However, before we left for Hawaii, we had a ball tearing around San Francisco Bay with all our friends from the rock bands of the mid '60s.
A couple of guitars, drum sticks on the winches, Dungeness crab and San Francisco extra sour sourdough French bread for the munchies. Oh, for a time machine.....
 
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As usual Capta is spot on. However, there’s dinghies and racing dinghies. Some racing dinghies are brutally fast. Require hiking out from the get go and very sensitive to trim with the absence of ballast. That means a lot of cold water dunks. A lot of time spent righting them and a lot of frustration. Pick something more forgiving. I learned on a cape dory typhoon. It was painted and the paint job was terrible. The trailer had no bearing buddies and was rusted. Still, I would just stop in irons or head up and flog when I screwed up. Avoided swims in cold New England waters. Ideal learning dinghy has a head sail, high righting moment, cheap and enough performance you can tell the difference between correct trim and just moving forward. Different between learning to ride motorcycles on a performance crotch rocket v sitting up and begging on a Honda or BMW. Or learning to ride horses on a well mannered saddle horse or a thorough bred.
 

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Hi all! I'm Ben and I live in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, USA. I have never sailed, but it has been something that I've wanted to do for a number of years. I didn't exactly grow up on the water, but I've spent a fair bit of time kayaking/boating/fishing on freshwater and saltwater (inshore and offshore).

My one and only time on a sailboat was when I was a kid and was helping tow a very small catamaran behind a pontoon boat. My job was to sit on the bow of the catamaran and hold one end of the tow rope while my cousin held the other end on the pontoon. Naturally, after a bit of boredom set in, we engaged in a tug of war that ended abruptly when he yanked me clean off the catamaran while we were underway. Hopefully my future sailing experiences are as entertaining!

Anyway, seeing as I know next to nothing about sailing, I plan to just be a sponge for a while and soak up as much information as I can. One of my next steps is to take some sort of sailing lesson, so if anyone has any recommendations in my area I'd greatly appreciate it!
Sailing lessons are probably going to be hard to come by in the next year. You may have heard that there's this virus going around, and as a consequence, many schools are not operating...

That said, and this is coming from a sailing instructor, your best way to see if sailing is for you would be to take a short charter. Typically, a 3 hour charter would cost about $300 for 2 people. I know of a few such opportunities on "AirBnB Experiences" in Rhode Island.
 

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It is probably OK to take a few dunks in Barnegat Bay, but not the Delaware River, currents and submerged obstructions can be deadly. The are several deaths each year between Chester and Trenton due to falling off boats or trying to swim.

Newcastle DE has a dinghy racing club using the waters behind the Pea Patch Island dike outside the shipping channel. http://www.newcastlesailingclub.org/ Slower tidal current and not as many submerged obstructions.
 
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Ben,
Sailors like to talk about sailing and we're generally a pretty friendly bunch.

Memorial Day weekend will be a busy weekend and people will be re-connecting with friends after being locked up all winter.

Try going down to one of the marinas in Forked River, NJ the following Saturday morning. Pick a marina where you see a lot of sailboats. Stroll down the docks and look at the boats and strike up conversations. Let people know you're interested in learning. I'll bet someone offers you a ride (I've done it).

To be polite offer to grab sandwiches for everyone. For the cost of a trip to Jersey Mike's you'll get a day on the water, learn a bit about sailing and maybe even get some time at the helm. If you let it be known you're looking for a beginner boat, you'll find out about boats that aren't necessarily listed anywhere because they're inexpensive.

Once you have a couple of sailing days under your belt I do recommend an ASA sailing school weekend that covers the basics. If you teach yourself, you may teach yourself bad habits. The school will give you a good foundation in the basics and confidence that would take a while to gain if you're on your own.

We did a long weekend in Annapolis that included a two day sailing school and I always thought it was money well spent.

Best of luck,
Jim
 

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Well, looks like it's either trying to help crew with a racing group or buying a little boat.
Do both! I like the book "learn to sail in a weekend" used on AZ it should be cheap! Watch the youtube videos. Think about the wind every time you are outside. Where is it coming from? is it steady? How fast is blowing? Go out to a lake with no boats on it. Just stand and watch the waves no water. Soon you'll be able to "see" the wind.

Good luck
 

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Ben,
Sailors like to talk about sailing and we're generally a pretty friendly bunch.

Memorial Day weekend will be a busy weekend and people will be re-connecting with friends after being locked up all winter.

Try going down to one of the marinas in Forked River, NJ the following Saturday morning. Pick a marina where you see a lot of sailboats. Stroll down the docks and look at the boats and strike up conversations. Let people know you're interested in learning. I'll bet someone offers you a ride (I've done it).

To be polite offer to grab sandwiches for everyone. For the cost of a trip to Jersey Mike's you'll get a day on the water, learn a bit about sailing and maybe even get some time at the helm. If you let it be known you're looking for a beginner boat, you'll find out about boats that aren't necessarily listed anywhere because they're inexpensive.

Once you have a couple of sailing days under your belt I do recommend an ASA sailing school weekend that covers the basics. If you teach yourself, you may teach yourself bad habits. The school will give you a good foundation in the basics and confidence that would take a while to gain if you're on your own.

We did a long weekend in Annapolis that included a two day sailing school and I always thought it was money well spent.

Best of luck,
Jim
Sounds like the perfect plan to catch or become an asymptomatic carrier of C-19. Wow, absolutely the exact opposite advice the medical professionals might give and exactly what our illustrious, though ill informed leader would tweet.
Sailing isn't going to be very easy for you if you haven't enough common sense to ignore this advice in the middle of a pandemic. A pandemic which has killed 303,000 people world wide and 87,000 of your countrymen. There are over 1 million active cases in the US with many in your area.
"Do you feel lucky, punk?"
 

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Ok, when things are safe do both as no one is letting you on their boat right now.

I’m from the school of thought that racing is one of the best teachers. That was my route. Optimas, Hobie 16 then on keel boats. I was surrounded by many more experienced in the beginning, but after a few years graduated from rail meat to more responsible positions. On the boat there were many different people to teach .

The best place to learn sail trim is a racing boat. Best way to learn to read the water and wind shifts around bodies of land is a racing boat. Racing short distance navigation is a great teacher who principally can be applied to cruising or long distance traveling.

Learn about weather and wind by reading a meteorology book or two. Take at least the first ASA courses. But take them when you can apply what you learn. That will reenforce it.

Boat sailing is easy. Boat sailing refined is layers of experiences built on each other. Every day out I still learn something despite sailing for 57 years.

Most of all HAVE FUN and enjoy the experience. The thought of the cost will be moderated lol.
Good luck and keep us advised.
 

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Sounds like the perfect plan to catch or become an asymptomatic carrier of C-19. Wow, absolutely the exact opposite advice the medical professionals might give and exactly what our illustrious, though ill informed leader would tweet.
Sailing isn't going to be very easy for you if you haven't enough common sense to ignore this advice in the middle of a pandemic. A pandemic which has killed 303,000 people world wide and 87,000 of your countrymen. There are over 1 million active cases in the US with many in your area.
"Do you feel lucky, punk?"
Oh for f#ck sake, really?

Everyone here goes out with a mask or a buff on. Retail stores are open. If you wash your hands, wear a mask and maintain reasonable distance your chances of getting the virus are low. They are even lower if you are outdoors. Recent studies done on restaurant air flow showed how the virus was spread in closed spaces. Just opening a window dramatically lowered the risk of spread. In outdoor restaurants with reasonable distancing the threat was near zero.

So if you're talking to someone in the cockpit of their boat from a dock, or you're six feet away from them while sailing with 10 knots of wind blowing across the cockpit you're NOT going to die.

New Jersey is opening for Memorial Day weekend. I can tell you there will be a LOT worse behavior. That is a REAL risk and obviously puts $$ ahead of safety.

So excuse me for not thinking I had to tell an adult that if he visits a marina he should wash his hands and wear a mask. These days that's assumed.

While life is going to be different for a while it's not a a binary choice between being hermit or dying if you so much as look at another person.

Rant over...
 
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Hi all! I'm Ben and I live in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, USA. I have never sailed, but it has been something that I've wanted to do for a number of years. I didn't exactly grow up on the water, but I've spent a fair bit of time kayaking/boating/fishing on freshwater and saltwater (inshore and offshore).

My one and only time on a sailboat was when I was a kid and was helping tow a very small catamaran behind a pontoon boat. My job was to sit on the bow of the catamaran and hold one end of the tow rope while my cousin held the other end on the pontoon. Naturally, after a bit of boredom set in, we engaged in a tug of war that ended abruptly when he yanked me clean off the catamaran while we were underway. Hopefully my future sailing experiences are as entertaining!

Anyway, seeing as I know next to nothing about sailing, I plan to just be a sponge for a while and soak up as much information as I can. One of my next steps is to take some sort of sailing lesson, so if anyone has any recommendations in my area I'd greatly appreciate it!
You might want to try Nockamixon State Park in Bucks county PA. They have an active sailing club and a quieter lake (horsepower restricted -- so 75% sailboats) is a good place to learn. https://www.nockamixonsailclub.org/
 

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Oh for f#ck sake, really?

And of course, you've got your ppes on as you walk the dock on the way to the boat, and are practicing safe distancing.

But y'll stop here or there for a beer, sliding your mask aside and gladly accepting a cool one from a dockside friend who has just who just wiped the lip with his hand.
Then its onboard where the masks make communicating very difficult. And social distancing soon follows in the flurry of activity.
Then it's the victory dock walk, high fives and plenty more cold ones, with the occasional hug. Of the loser's walk, a bit less boisterous, but friendly and the calls of
"you'll get em next time..." echo down the dock.
A perfect day on the water and absolutely no way you will possibly contaminate any of your family and friends from your cautions that bat.
Oh wait, you nee gas. Where was that mast> Oh yeah, you left aboard.

Oh well I'll just be in and out, no biggie.
And so a lovely day on the water become a nightmare for a family.
Farfetched perhaps, but all too likely todady and for the foresseabe future.
 

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And of course, you've got your ppes on as you walk the dock on the way to the boat, and are practicing safe distancing.
Capta, yes that is the point you're missing.

I don't know what it's like where you are, but around here everyone is required to were one of these



or one of these



whenever you go into a store or public space.

Once you're out on the boat with the breeze blowing and you're four to six feet away from other people in the cockpit even this precaution may not be necessary based on what we're hearing from medical professionals. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to lower a mask to take a sip of my Coke.

Then it's the victory dock walk, high fives and plenty more cold ones, with the occasional hug.
Really???? you were hugging and high fiving total strangers before the shut down?

These days it's more like just saying thanks and maybe an elbow bump. Let's get into the real world here...


BTW, my buddy is Director of Maintenance at the local hospital. Making sure both staff and patients stay safe is his job. We've had some long talks about what is "reasonable & safe".

Had you just said "maybe wait a few weeks" I wouldn't have had a problem with your response. But the drama...
 

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Bottom line: get on a boat! Lots of advice above to accomplish that but it is the necessary next step.

A quick and fun way to recieve an orientation is the ASA First Sail tutorial. Takes about 20 minutes, is super basic, and will give you a first step so you know something when you step on board. I've suggested it to "never sailed before guests" who found it helpful.

https://asa.com/online-sailing-course/
 
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