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Old 16-04-2015, 09:06   #1
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Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

Hi,

First, I'm new to the forum so hello! I'm in the Dallas area with a Catalina 22 on Lake Lewisville.

I've completed ASA 101 and get around fine on my boat but I'm planning out how the wife and I are going to build up bigger boat experience and training for future charters. I'd eventually like to do charters in the Caribbean, Vancouver/Puget sound, and the south pacific (Fiji, Bora Bora, etc), and maybe the med.

There's a local school that goes all the way up to 106 but I think it would be better to get some ocean experience and I was also thinking that it would be good to do some training in some of those areas to get local experience as well. It looks like in most areas there are plenty of schools that have courses that would fit into my schedule so the idea was take 103/104 in one area like the Caribbean, 105/106 somewhere else like Vancouver, etc.

So my questions are:
Is there anything wrong with spreading my training across multiple schools?

Would it be better to focus in one area? For example Vancouver sounds a lot harder than the Caribbean so would it make sense to just do it all there to maximize my local experience.

Or would it be enough to just run down to Galveston and get some ocean experience there?

Thanks!
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Old 17-04-2015, 07:38   #2
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

My advice to you would be sail with as many different people as possible, join a local club, get out on the water, before you advance from your 101 class get some extra hours out on the water, build your confidence and work on all the core skills, wind awareness, sail-trim, tacking, gybing, reefing, points of sail etc until they become second nature.

Once you feel comfortable with your basic sailing skills get some books out and study some basic navigation, there are plenty of good books out there, you can find study material on the menu of my website here Tortola Sailing School Learn to sail in the friendliest BVI Sailing School -

If you do your homework in advance before taking the 103/104 courses you will be ahead of the game and can spend the time enjoying the learning experience and progress at a rate that you feel comfortable with.

Best of luck with your adventure, you are welcome to join us here in the BVI.
Steve
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Old 17-04-2015, 08:29   #3
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

Howdy! Welcome Aboard this forum!

You mentioned you want to take some classes in the future to prepare yourself for chartering and to gain skills.

My Suggestion: I highly recommend taking classes (if one can afford them) and the place I like to recommend is the San Francisco Bay Area.

My suggestion comes after years spent sailing on lakes (even in Texas) and then years sailing on San Francisco Bay, around the Hawaiian Islands and in the Pacific too.

Why San Francisco Bay rather than a typical inland lake?

Typical lake sailing on small to medium sized lakes (not the Great Lakes) is usually relatively easy sailing with light to moderate winds (5- 10 knots) and usually benign sailing conditions (e.g. no tides, no currents, no big waves). Lake sailing like that can be good for beginners and pleasant for day sailing. But it does not offer the same challenges and learning experiences as other locations.

The San Francisco Bay offers many sailing challenges (e.g. typical daily winds in the summer months are 20-30 knots, chance to reef a main for real, tidal changes, strong currents, fog, ship traffic, hundreds of sailboats sailing around for practicing right of way, etc.). All of that will provide experience that prepares one for "blue water" sailing without going "off shore."

It is a good confidence builder, in that when one is taught to handle a boat in dependable (happens almost every day) steady 20+ knot winds, it is not as intimidating later when stronger winds or squalls are encountered.

As I see it, beginners fear strong winds because they have only associated them with storms and they have only sailed in light winds (5-10 knots) on lakes or light wind areas. Overcoming that fear, by practicing seamanship skills in 20 knots with a good instructor aboard is a great way to increase your skills and confidence.

Of course San Francisco is also a great place to visit when not on the water. Much to see and good food too. And there is a lot of value in sailing around San Francisco as seeing the city or the Golden Gate Bridge from the deck of a sailboat is something special and even "awesome" if one goes under the Golden Gate Bridge on a small boat. It is a great place to sail with challenges and beauty and much to see in the location after the day's sail.

Of course if one has the desire to charter in the Caribbean, I would suggest, if they have the money, to also take their classes in the islands where they hope to sail/charter. The advantage with this approach is that you are in warm water and learning something of your eventual cruising grounds (or waters) and you can enjoy a swim after sailing. Unfortunately, the water in San Francisco is typically about 54 degrees (f) in the summer (so feels very cold) and so there is no snorkeling or swimming after a sail, but that is offset by all the many things one can do in San Francisco when off the boat.

You asked about going down to Galveston to sail there. While that may be better than Lake Lewisville (and I like that lake), I think you would more enjoy and learn more in San Francisco Bay. It is a "world class" sailing location.

Where would I go?
If I were going to spend lots of money on school fees plus hotel plus transportation etc, I would choose to do it in a location that offers more than just time on the water, but most importantly look for the place where I am challenged the most.

There are several sailing schools in San Francisco, but the one I enjoyed is Club Nautique. They have many boats in their fleet, lots of experienced and qualified instructors, and very good locations (Sausalito and Alameda). http://www.clubnautique.net

Good luck on your sailing adventures and have fun!

Steady
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Old 17-04-2015, 08:40   #4
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

I like Steve's recommendation to do some study prior to taking those advanced classes. Good suggestions.
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Old 17-04-2015, 13:36   #5
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

I don't feel what school you go to or what instructor you have is as important as having done the reading ahead of time and having things you feel you need to learn before showing up. Learning is at least as much responsibility of the student as the instructor etc.
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Old 17-04-2015, 15:35   #6
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

I think that it would be a great idea for you to get training in several different areas and experience the different sailing conditions you will find in each. Vancouver Island has extreme tides and currents, tricky navigation and anchoring situations, though often not a lot of wind. San Francisco has some amazing sailing conditions but that water is still too chilly for my blood! The Caribbean has warm water - but the conditions can be as extreme as you might find anywhere in the world. We teach in the Grenadines and rarely do we ever have to "fake" a reefing scenario.


To become a well rounded sailor - sail in as many locations, conditions and on as many different boats as you can. Also, different instructors are going to have different teaching styles. Different strengths and weaknesses. Learn as much as you can from as many different sailors as you can.


We would love to have you sail with us - let me know if you have any questions about sailing in the Grenadines!
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Old 17-04-2015, 21:10   #7
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

My suggestion to students is to always build as much appropriate expreince as possible between classes. Spreading that experience over as many venues and boats as possible is a good way to broaden your experience. The combination of training and deliberate experience building is a very effective way to compress the duration of your learning curve.

The lakes around Dallas are good venues for training and experience building up thru 103 and to a lesser extent 104, but beyond that you need to be in a near coastal venue. An inland lake is not appropriate for 106.

Lake Texoma in particular is a good venue for 104 level experience building because it is large enough to be a mini-cruising ground with number of good weekend to week long routes, with many good anchorages and several marinas (for practicing docking skills). Also it blows like stink up there quite often so a good venue to get comfortable sailing in sustained heavy winds and dealing with intense squalls. Highest gusts Ive ever been in were on Lake Texoma in a biblical Texas thunderstorm with gusts to 95 knots!
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Old 18-04-2015, 05:16   #8
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, klease.
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Old 22-04-2015, 05:50   #9
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Re: Better to stick with one school or spread it around to get local experience?

Has anyone had experience with sailing schools in France. I would like to train specifically on a Catamaran.
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