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Old 22-07-2009, 15:38   #1
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Freshwater vs Ocean Sailing Courses

I know that boating on a lake is far from boating on the ocean, so I'm wondering if taking a sailing course in a lake is anything comparable to taking it on the ocean. I am sure it has it merits....but if in the end nothing but an ocean course is going to prepare me for that type of sailing...why bother?
Any advice is welcome....I can canoe and row a flat bottom boat all day long - but I know that central Arkansas hasn't prepared me for the big blue!!
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Old 22-07-2009, 16:09   #2
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Oh yeah...on the same topic....any input about experiences, good or bad, with "learn to sail vacations" would be helpful. Thanks!
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Old 22-07-2009, 16:38   #3
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Learning to sail can be done anywhere. On the ocean or in a lake. It'll make little difference. You must first learn the fundamentals. As for being prepared for "the big blue", on a good day, there's not much to it, however.....
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Old 22-07-2009, 16:43   #4
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I THINK SAILING ON A LAKE IS GREAT. YOU WILL BE ABLE TO GET THE BASICS IN A MORE CONTROLLED SETTING. PLENTY OF TIME TO GO INTO BIGGER WATERS.
HAPPY SAILING,
ERIKA
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Old 22-07-2009, 18:38   #5
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Quote:
I know that boating on a lake is far from boating on the ocean, so I'm wondering if taking a sailing course in a lake is anything comparable to taking it on the ocean.
If you were to master the Great Lakes you could be a serious sailor most any place - just add salt. They teach skills vital to sailing great distances. The point of sailing is primarily recreational and I've not found the flavor of the water limits fun. The key to sailing is really all about showing up. Once you are sailing you have reached the point you wanted to be. Since at some point you will arrive some place (maybe where you started) it's only the in between parts that matter. I still sail small boats in smaller water as well as larger boats in bigger waters. They are different but I like them both because it is fun.

Learn to sail vacations I see as a very good thing. It's nice to get a good feeling about how is to really be there. You might learn a lot too. It's not the same as undertaking a proper education of sailing. It might be you do a sailing vacation and it
changes your outlook or you decide to do them every year.

It's hard to say what your life has or has not prepared you for. We can all strive to be more than we are. We can learn and become stronger in all ways should we choose to. There is enjoyment in those activities.
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Old 22-07-2009, 18:58   #6
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Assuming the fresh water sailing is limited to smaller lakes, the only difference I have heard/observed is the susceptibility (sp?) of the sailor to getting seasick on the ocean (motion).... Sailing skills definitely could be gained on lakes - perhaps, the challenge would be to learn how to adjust to the ocean swells, waves, etc as far as boat trim goes.

Fair winds!

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Old 22-07-2009, 21:57   #7
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Originally Posted by sgb71 View Post
I know that boating on a lake is far from boating on the ocean, so I'm wondering if taking a sailing course in a lake is anything comparable to taking it on the ocean. I am sure it has it merits....but if in the end nothing but an ocean course is going to prepare me for that type of sailing...why bother?
Any advice is welcome....I can canoe and row a flat bottom boat all day long - but I know that central Arkansas hasn't prepared me for the big blue!!
Actually lake sailing is harder in some ways. Lakes often have shifty and unsteady winds, great practice for learning sail trim. I'm a firm believer that sailing and cruising are two very different, but complimentary skills. Sailing is best learned in lightweight boats so that you get the "feel" of small changes in sails, weight, rudder, etc. While I sailed around inland lakes as a kid, I really "learned" to sail in a little area not more than 1/4 mi on a side that was 2 miles up a channel off south SF bay that was used by ships to turn around. i.e the size of a small pond. The instructor taught us by having us do short races every wednesday afternoon, and you learn pretty quick whether your sails are trimmed right or you are bow down when folks go zooming by you. You start experimenting, asking questions, etc. Once you have the "feel", you can move up and start learning how to handle larger boats, but it's a whole lot easier than starting in a large boat and trying to visually read the signs of proper trim, etc. Someday you'll be sailing along and taking a nap or down below, and without even thinking you'll say "your luffing a bit" or "head up" without even looking...you've got "the feeling" for sailing in your butt.

Once you have sailing down, then you can learn about cruising, which adds anchoring, navigation, basic engine and systems (e.g. toilet) operations. Some of the classes that start you off in larger boats skimp on "sailing" skills and teach you the cruising part because they want you to start renting the boats and give you just enough sailing so you don't hurt someone. Partying with friends is fun, but the acceleration in a puff on a small boat ...priceless.

The cruising vacation is a great idea. I took one in the San Juan islands and it was one of the best vacations of my life. I had been taking lots of sailing classes and doing a bit of keelboat racing, but not much cruising. It's a great place to practice navigation, tides/currents, anchoring. We had some issues with the engine, so learned to change the impeller. Learned about water and waste tanks, food prep and storage. Man Overboard. We had some big wind, so practiced reefing, dealing with weather helm, etc. I don't mean to overwhelm you, you don't have to learn all this stuff all at once, as long as you are having fun it's all good. Take it slow, there is no rush, no pressure, it's sailing after all
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Old 23-07-2009, 10:15   #8
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Sailing is sailing. The mechanics are the same on salt water or fresh. Once you learn those, you begin the real learning experience which can last a lifetime, adapting to your local environment. I learned to sail on a little reservoir in New Jersey and spent the next 15 years on Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic. Then I moved to Michigan and Lake Michigan, where I had to start all over again. Different weather, different seas and wave patterns, another kind of sailing. Just because it's a lake, don't think it's easier. Sure, no tides to worry about, no compass error to deal with, no corrosion to deal with but I've seen the waves come from flat calm to six feet in an hour. The waves on Lake Michigan aren't as high as the Atlantic but they are LOTS closer together.

There is a story about Ted Turner in 1970, when he was campaigning American Eagle. He had her shipped to Chicago for the Chicago-Macinaw race to show the kids how real sailors did things. '70 was one of the most difficult races in a series that is known as difficult. After getting beaten up for about 24 hours he came into the cockpit and said "'I hereby publicly retract anything and everything I have ever said about inland sailing''. If you need more, you'll find that Buddy Melges learned to race on the Great Lakes. That didn't stop him from racing for the Americas Cup with Bill Koch on America 3.

Boating on a lake isn't "far from boating on the ocean". It's just different and it's still sailing. Learn wherever you want and learn to do it well, then you can sail anywhere.

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Old 24-07-2009, 09:36   #9
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You should be able to get the basics in either. For the more advanced classes you will "feel" a difference in deep ocean water than you do in shallow lakes or coastal areas.

The key thing is get in a boat anytime you can and expand your knowledge and ability. I'll 2nd the idea of a sailing vacation. Do check out the qualifications of any school you select but I know of several in the Virgin Islands that are very good and you get a good vacation to boot.
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Old 27-07-2009, 14:44   #10
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Enjoy your lake sailing, you don't have to be a blue water sailor to be good and to have a good time. Sailing vacations are great and even if you are familly vacationing on the coast there are places you can charter a 20' to 27' sailboat for a day and see how you like it. Get a little bouncy ride, work with tides and currents etc. and feel it out. I love coastal sailing, the Keys, Bahamas and BVI's, but have no desire to do the blue water thing. Every place is different, and all of it is good. Choose your pleasure!
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Old 28-07-2009, 10:18   #11
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Agree with Mark and JC, take your 101 on a lake near you, get some sailing time in. The thing about sailing a lake is that you get a LOT of practice on different points of sail, and sail trim. Only on a rare day do you get the long lazy with no tacks. After you get the basics down on the lake, think about doing a combined live aboard course for a couple of more levels on the "big blue". Will bet that your instructor will comment on your tacking abilities learned from lake sailing.
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Old 28-07-2009, 11:40   #12
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I agree taking the basic keelboat course in your area on fresh water followed by a bareboat live aboard course somewhere more exotic is a good way to go. (Assuming you'd like to sail places other than the lakes eventually) I've cruised both and taken ASA courses in both environments as well. Most things learned apply to either environment, but there are some differences.

You won't experience issues related to tides on the lakes. This can affect anchoring technique, boat swing, docking, chart reading, etc. Snorkeling on my anchor is something I do all the time in the Caribbean and Bahamas, but not Lake Superior. Maybe not in Arkansas either. Weather patterns and conditions are also very different.
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Old 31-07-2009, 17:41   #13
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Originally Posted by sgb71 View Post
I know that boating on a lake is far from boating on the ocean, so I'm wondering if taking a sailing course in a lake is anything comparable to taking it on the ocean. I am sure it has it merits....but if in the end nothing but an ocean course is going to prepare me for that type of sailing...why bother?
Any advice is welcome....I can canoe and row a flat bottom boat all day long - but I know that central Arkansas hasn't prepared me for the big blue!!
Sgb,
Pblais is exactly right...having done deliveries that took us to the "BIG lakes"....just depends on the SIZE of that lake. As the really, really big 1's will give You all the thrills (& Chills) minus the salt. As for LEARNING on lakes, much more advantageous. Far less worry about Staying on board, Hanging ON, etc. & more attention is dedicated to the principals being taught. You grasp much quicker, a new skill, when the boat takes off like a rocket on relatively smooth water; folks hardly ever get "sea sick" while still in sight of land, the +'s are numerous. There aren't really any "-'s"...unless of course "ya got no wind!"

As for cruising/educating vacations, sure, although You'll usually find the 2nd mate & crew jumping ship for the sightseeing rather than sticking around for "class"? Rather than bareboating after "lake" classes, or a cruising/training vacation, why not just charter, "captained"? You get the right guy/gal, they'll gladly teach You (probably) more than You wanted to know! Don't think "Cap'n Ron"....more like Cap'n Quint (as in Jaws).
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