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Old 07-01-2009, 12:30   #1
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Don't Know Where to Start - But Would Love to Cruise

Well hi everybody this is my first post. I Have a few questions. I have about 7 years till I retire from the Navy, And the wife and I would love to start cruising. the problem is we don't know how sail. We've taken classes on sailing dingies but that was more frustating then helpful. The teacher was more interrested racing the making it enjoyable, so it kinda turned my wife off for about a year. So here are my questions? What is the best way to learn to sail a keel boat. Will it be possible to Have enough experience in seven years to cruise the caribean? What are some good older boats to look and that are under 40K. in the 30-35 ft. range. that are suitable for ocean crossings? I really want to get a boat in the next 2 years so I can have it paid off before we start cruisng. Well that is about all for now. Unless somebody has more info I need to know. Thanks for any info.
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Old 07-01-2009, 13:05   #2
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Welcome, Subguy

Generally, dinghy sailing is the best way to learn basic sailing skills - but maybe not if your interest is cruising and the instructor’s is racing. Keel boats react much more slowly and develop much more momentum, but the principles are the same and the seat-of-the-pants reactions you acquire from sailing smaller lighter boats will stand you in good stead.

Probably, there are yacht clubs in Norfolk that offer non-racing instruction on a variety of different boats. If you can afford it, the best and most fun way to get a feel for cruising is a crewed charter in B.V.I. or elsewhere in the Caribbean. You will get a kind of condensed view of what cruising can be like; you will learn a lot; and you will have a blast.

There is a big difference between crossing an ocean and cruising the Caribbean. From Norfolk you can coastal sail/island hop all the way to South America and never be more than 24 hrs. at sea. Yes, you can learn to do this with reasonable competence in way less than 7 years.
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Old 07-01-2009, 13:15   #3
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Lots of good old boats in the 33-38 ft range at reasonable prices in todays economy. While there are none listed for sale on yachtworld located in the US my favorites are the Nicholson 33 or 35. Arguable the best small sea boats ever built and occasionally one does become available in the USA.

In 2005 a Nicholson 33 won the Fastnet offshore race on handicap time. They beat racing boats worth millions because they were able to drive the boat hard in bad weather. I would happily take one anywhere.

Cowes Online - Fairytale ending sees Nicholson 33 win Rolex Fastnet Race=

As for learning I taught an Airforce two star to sail big boats in 17 days offshore...A navy man should beat that easily although I have a friend who was a nuke sub skipper who refuses to go out if it rains!

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Old 07-01-2009, 13:48   #4
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Cruising is not racing

I sail to relax. Though the wind can spice things up I totally enjoy my older slug. Its a 30' Morgan OI and sleeps 4 comfortably. You can easily find bigger boats to learn on and the mechanics are very similar to day sailers. You just don't hurry like in racing. While I love to 'watch' racing its another world away from the relaxation that I enjoy so much. Throw the watch away, sit back, breath slow and deep and enjoy the peace and quiet. Probably a lot like subs without the combat readiness???
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Old 07-01-2009, 15:58   #5
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I'm not saying that you should start the way that I did but on the other hand, sailing really isn't all that hard once you get the basics. 7-years is like getting your masters degree in rocket science.

I hope I don't bore you but I will give you the story that started my 14 year-100,000+ mile cruising career (short version).

In the late 70's early 80's I had a 21' fishing boat and we used to take it fishing to Catalina a lot. Around 1982 my wife and I decided that we would buy a 40' Trawler, live aboard and go fishing all we wanted.

Early '83 we went to a boat show and stepped foot (for the 1st time in my life) on a sailboat. Giving it some long hard thought, we decided that it was possible to live on and fish from a sailboat and save a lot of $ on fuel at the same time.

I had a very stressful job at the time and one day (shortly after the boat show) it took me 2 hours to get home from work after a bad day. I walked in the door and said, "Honey, whataya say we sell the house, everything we own, buy a sailboat and sail around the world"......honest to God true story, BTW....

To make a long story short, we sold the house in July, bought a boat in August, took sailing lessons in Sept and left from Long Beach Ca, for Hawaii in JANUARY .

It suffices to say that we got the crap beat out of us, making a winter crossing on a rum-line course from Long Beach to Honolulu. My brother lived in Honolulu at the time and he thought that I had gone mad.

31 days, 7 cold fronts (3 were major with winds in excess of 50kts) we arrived in Hawaii. The last cold-front that we went through had wind gusts past 60 (we lost our anemometer at 60kts). On the 30th day, my brother had reported us to the Coast Guard as being late. They asked for the description of the boat (which was a Columbia 36). The Coast Guard told him that it was unlikely that a Columbia 36 would survive that storm. (What a load of non-sense).

Anyway.....when we arrived in Hawaii, my wife asked me if we should continue..........14 years and 100,000+ miles (and a million stories) later...I said, "No".

The moral of this story is....you don't have to be a "Sailor" of great experience to get started. A bit more knowledge of weather and timing would have been a big help. If I had it to do over again...I would do it again, the same way (only maybe I would have left in June ).

I had lots of books on board. When my Sat-Nav (early version of GPS) failed, I opened a book and learned celestial navigation. The first storm that came through, we laid-ahull (I didn't know what else to do) and I opened a book and learned storm tactics. The next storm, I hove-too and it wasn't bad.

Was I irresponsibe??......I don't think I was....for me......Would it be irresponsible for you????....I don't know....only you can answer that question.
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Old 07-01-2009, 17:36   #6
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Hi Subguy, Welcome!

I would suggest taking lessons from an ASA ( American Sailing Association) or a US Sailing School. They both have similar courses in Keelboat sailing and have progressive certifications, from basic keelboat sailing to offshore cruising and everything in between. You will be developing a resume and certifications that are helpful if you ever decide to charter.

The Navy hosts an excellent seminar in Annapolis called " Safety at Sea" I would recommend it down the road before heading offshore. Lots of good info.

You also have plenty of time to take a Coast Guard approved course that would lead toward a Merchant Mariner License, if you want to. But you will need to log all your time on boats to get a license, get signatures attesting to your time aboard. The Coast Guard has forms online.

Does the Navy have sailboats in the Norfolk area for personel to use? I know they did in Groton on the Thames. Post an ad, on base, that you're looking to learn, you might have sailors among you that are willing to teach you.

See if there are any Sailing Clubs in your area. They are usually willing to take on novices, many of the clubs offer a good social environment and a relaxing way to learn.

Best of Luck to you, and thanks for your Service!

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Old 07-01-2009, 18:31   #7
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Hey subguy,

I can't believe I actually feel qualified to post some helpful advice on this board, as I'm no salty dawg...on a sailboat anyway!

Anyway, go to the NSA/MWR site for Norfolk. They offer very cheap sailboat rentals. They also offer classes for keelboats that may be helpful to you. Or you can just do what I did, rent one, and when the MWR guy asks you if you know how to sail say "Of Course!" with a straight face. Then go out, make a bunch of mistakes, but have fun learning on your own by trial and error.

Oh yeah, here's that link:

http://dev.cnic.navy.mil/NorfolkSTA/...ting/index.htm

Hope this helps,

Frank
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Old 07-01-2009, 20:07   #8
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Well hi everybody this is my first post. <snip>
Hi Subguy and welcome. You are so lucky! Norfolk? Man talk about being in the right place for sailing.

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We've taken classes on sailing dingies but that was more frustating then helpful. The teacher was more interrested racing the making it enjoyable, so it kinda turned my wife off for about a year.
My boat partner's wife was very similar. He took her out on a dinghy and she found it tippy, wet, the wind was blowing a bit hard and they almost had a capsize. You get the picture. She swore off sailing.

I took them out on a keel boat. We brought wine, cheese, grapes, music. She loved it. After keelboating for a while she took a dinghy course on her own with a couple of other ladies. She is now a good sailor.

Make sure the admiral has a good time...

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Anyway, go to the NSA/MWR site for Norfolk. They offer very cheap sailboat rentals. They also offer classes for keelboats that may be helpful to you.
Excellent advice. Hang around and look eager. Often I go out I am looking for pickup crew. Socialize network, etc.

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Or you can just do what I did, rent one, and when the MWR guy asks you if you know how to sail say "Of Course!" with a straight face. Then go out, make a bunch of mistakes, but have fun learning on your own by trial and error.
Not so excellent advice. But if you do this path don't take the admiral until you know what you are doing. Scare the admiral in the early stages and you could sink the whole program.
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Old 07-01-2009, 21:22   #9
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Hey Ex-Calif, I never said any of my advice was excellent by any stretch!

Yes, definately don't take the wife on any "self training lessons". That would be bad...
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:13   #10
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And here I was about to suggest you find the sailing club on the base only to find GeoPowers had beat me to it. Iirc, the Norfolk sailing group was a bunch of friendlies who had a lot of fun on Wed. night races (less serious than social) and had a not-very-dedicated cadre of cruisers (again, lots of conversation and learning by doing, and not as much lecture and yelling.)

My best experiences on the early learning curve were in a small pram messing about in quiet (and not so quiet) waters. And I taught all the family by dropping them into the dinghy, showing them how the sheet and tiller worked, and pushing them away from shore. Within 5 minutes they'd figured how to get going, and in 15 minutes they figured how to get upwind.
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:54   #11
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Subguy,

I am a retired subguy in Norfolk. Couple of recommendations, first join the Norfolk Naval Sailing Association at the marina on NOB. Cheap, I think $25 per year, we meet once a month, good crowd, and there are plenty of opportunities to sail with others, plus the base has a few nice boats (20-30 ft) that you can rent. They have classes too. Also, one of the marinas at Willoughby Bay offers ASA classes. Any more specific questions PM me or my email is bjordan@auxsysinc.com.

Good Luck.
Bill
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Old 08-01-2009, 09:23   #12
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Hi there,

My husband and I learned how to sail this summer. We went through ASA and received both our basic Keelboat and Basic Coastal Cruising certifications. I would highly recommend checking ASA out. We learned on J22's and wouldn't change a thing. It was nice to actually learn how to sail on 22 foot long sailboat vs. a dingy. There are many upsides to this such as we were were able to learn parts of the sailboat and get a feel for what it was like to move around on a bigger boat, plus because it is bigger there is more room and I think your wife might be more comfortable. I am sure to learn on a dingy teaches you the basic's of sailing but why not learn that on a sizable boat?? I see no downside and we both are now addicted to sailing!!!!
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Old 08-01-2009, 12:26   #13
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Aloha Sub Sailor,

You've gotten lots of good advice. I sailed several times on other peoples boats in Norfolk while I was on a ship there in the late 80s. All friendly Navy sailors with their own boats. I think they felt sorry for me because I had to leave my boat in Bremerton while on a ship in Norfolk.

Kind regards,
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:50   #14
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When my girl and I wanted to learn to sail we bought a small cutter with the agreement the owner would teach us to sail her. Lessons completed we decided to sail her from Holland Michigan to Sandusky Ohio. Things didn't go quite to plan however. The morning we went to leave it was blowing pretty good and Michele starting saying things like; " I dont feel comfortable with this" and "I think we should wait". Well, I've always been an optimist ( Michele would probably say hard headed) and I insisted we would be fine. The lake was very rough and I got popped right out of the cockpit just as we were coming out of the channel. Luckily the next wave popped me right back in. Michele insisted that we turn around and try again when the conditions were not so challenging, I obliged and we came back in with our tail between our legs. As it turned out we fell in love with the area, made several life long freinds, and kept the boat in Holland for several seasons.



We have put alot of miles under our keel's since then and I'm still eating crow over that incident.
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Old 12-01-2009, 14:23   #15
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Hi all,

if there is anybody who intends to saill around the world passing by morocco.i could be a help and a companion for those who need company. i speak french,arabic,english and a bit of spanish.for more informations please contact me at youssef.hadaj@hotmail.com.
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