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Old 09-11-2014, 03:59   #1
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Advice in increasing level of blue-water experiences

Dear all,

since it has sunk in late last year that I got lost for good at sea (figuratively speaking), I have started training up at seamanship with the goal of eventually figuring out which seas/winds to aim for. As there are a lot of old salty dogs out here I would be most grateful if you would give me advice in wind/sea/wave-heights in increasing quantities - that I can through experience find the type of sailing or the ocean which is most enjoyable for me.
I figured out already I am not the type to sail only from bay to bay, I am most happy when there are ropes to pull, or when I am bracing against the wind and waves on a slippery deck while struggling to unreef the mainsail. I got part of a crew of a Beneteau 25 (lake sailing, regularly since this April), did the certificate for sailing on lakes this July, and have currently about 420 miles at the northern Adria after two instruction courses on an Elan 45. Already planned are a week instruction sailing at Korsika in March, and in July two weeks starting in La Rochelle (FR, atlantic coast), crossing out of the northern Biskaya, over the english channel, and ending in Dublin (IR) after a detour into the Irish Sea with different skippers/organizations.

I know I have to start skippering myself, but I want to do the coast certificate not until next autumn (maybe after the Irish Sea), as I feel I should get to know some more difficult conditions first. Anyway, how about some ideas (sea, routes, possible weather/waves and difficulties along) so that I can form ideas where to go next? What did you do while testing your boundaries?

I hope some of you have some good ideas for a young mackerel as me,

PS: Please excuse my awkward english, I have not had the chance to learn sailing vocabulary..
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Old 09-11-2014, 05:55   #2
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Re: Advice in increasing level of blue-water experiences

Hi Edith,

I am not of the salty type whatever, but I can give you this advice that you grow fastest learning from the best. Try to sail with skippers who are known to have excellent skills and watch them. Try to sail with crews who are known to be good crews, and watch them. Participate, to the largest extent possible.

Place experience over knowledge. To know is not to be able to. You can catch up with any gaps in your knowledge/licensing during long winter evenings. But you cannot catch up with lack of skills when you are caught in a squall.

Also, do not delay being the driver. Start with a beach boat close to a safe beach, then develop. My personal preference will always be to see new sailors become 100% competent with small dinghies before building sea going skills. I believe ability to sail small and easily tipped over craft is a basic sub-component of all other sailing modes. You get wet, you get knocked about, you soon learn to avoid the worst mistakes. You build feeling of what the boat wants to do and what it does not want to do.

Also, if you get yourself into a rough passage, keep your cool. Rough weather can be pretty nerve rocking the first couple of times. It is not something we do everyday. You will get to accept this, maybe even like it, over time. Again, in controlled environment, sail as many rough miles as you can. Making too many mistakes in strong winds and rough waters can be costly. Build adequate skills before you need them in blue open waters.

Learn sailing in calms too. Take a Laser on a lake on a flat day see what can be done. See where the wind comes from and at what times. How the clouds bring, or take away your breeze. How your boat and sail trim affect what the boat is doing. See the importance of keeping the momentum and the flow. Build patience and see that this is too part of what sailing is.

The in-between is basically all easy stuff then.

Bueno. Take care, and have fun sailing!

Welcome to the forum.

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enc, water

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