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Old 03-11-2014, 09:01   #16
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Thanks all. Many have suggested joining the beer can races in my area. I found one local sailing school that also has beer can races on Fridays but I have not been able to find any info about costs/fees on any of the regional races. This may be a stupid question but on average how much does it cost to get on a race boat at local beer can races? It sounds from some of your descriptions that it's free "you just show up and get on a boat" but this sounds too good to be true? Any thoughts?
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:50   #17
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

It should be free - there are usually boats looking to pick up some crew.

If you are paying - it should be for a class or something. Maybe a school offering a racing course, or a sailing club that you would have to pay to be on their race boat. But there are almost always boats looking for crew.

Show up ready to sail and chances are you will get on a boat!
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:52   #18
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

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Originally Posted by BlueBuddha View Post
Thanks all. Many have suggested joining the beer can races in my area. I found one local sailing school that also has beer can races on Fridays but I have not been able to find any info about costs/fees on any of the regional races. This may be a stupid question but on average how much does it cost to get on a race boat at local beer can races? It sounds from some of your descriptions that it's free "you just show up and get on a boat" but this sounds too good to be true? Any thoughts?
Totally free. The skipper can't race without a crew. It's a symbiotic relationship!

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Old 03-11-2014, 10:52   #19
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Howdy!

I read your intro and the comments posted earlier by others. I think you have a good plan (formal training) and it is also good to get experience crewing for others (as suggested by others above). I wish you the best of luck and smooth sailing adventures!

"Beer Can Races" are more informal races usually held by sailing clubs or yacht clubs. They can be competitive, but are intended to be fun.

My POV: You should not need to pay anything IF you are crewing for a skipper or boat owner.

You asked about how you get picked up for crewing. I started by putting notices on bulletin boards at the yacht clubs. Once started, and once you have proved you can be a good shipmate (crew doing what is asked) you should have no problem getting boat time on the water. Just be honest about your experience and skills, dependable, and ready to lend a hand at any time.

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Steady's Tips for Beginning and Novice Crew:

1. Buy some fingerless sailing gloves before you go crewing.
Why? It is common for crew on racing boats to have cuts to hands, and handling lines as crew can be risky too for abrasion burns. Sailing gloves are a good idea. Novices are not used to the speed of running lines and even things like lifelines on a boat can have what are called "meathooks" that can cut instantly and are almost invisible. I have seen many drops of blood spilled on sail boats.

2. Purchase a comfortable PFD and wear it, even if others on the boat do not wear PFDs.
Why? Newbies on boats are more likely to go overboard (due to lack of experience with boat motion) but it is a good idea for everyone to have a PFD on. I have seen very experienced sailors die after going overboard. Inflatables PFDs are easy to wear and effective. When you get used to wearing one, it is no more uncomfortable than wearing a hat or pants. Unfortunately, there is a common aversion to wearing the cheap, blocky PFDs generally offered to guests (and newbies) on boats, so many people avoid wearing a PFD for comfort or appearances sake (they don't want to be seen in the "dorky" blocky orange PFDs). I suggest you get one (a design) you feel comfortable wearing at all times while on a boat underway.

3. Buy some good boat shoes with "sticky" siped (razor cut) soles.
Good footing is essential on slippery decks and docks. I test the soles by trying to run my finger across the sole while in the shoe store. Sticky soles will stop a finger from any sliding. Look for shoes that resist having your finger move across the sole. Some are much "sticker" than others. Good boat shoes with siped or "razor cut" soles are much better than typical running shoes or typical "trainers."

4. Buy a small sailing log book or a small journal you can keep in a pocket while you are on the boat. Ask each skipper to sign off that you sailed with them that day and to put any comment they wish on your log.

My Advanced Tip: Indicate the weather and type of boat and what you did on the boat. Carry your log book with you and be able to present it to other skippers when discussing your experience. If you learn anything new during that sail (it is hard not to learn something every time), note it in the log (e.g. "Today I learned how to change oil on Perkins engine.."). During your time on the water, you may hear unfamiliar terms. Write them in the log book. Learn their meaning then or later. Later, your log book can be used as documentation of your time on the water, if in the future you desire to get a USCG license.

5. Always arrive at the boat ON TIME or a little EARLY.
There is always work to be done to prepare a boat for sailing and no skipper wants his crew to show up late. Be on time or a little early, and if early ask if you can do anything to help (e.g. transfer food/drinks to boat etc.).

6. Understand Seasickness
If you are not yet used to the motion of sailing in a sea (with waves and swells), it is a good idea to consider seasickness potential (understand it and consider ways to deal with it prior to getting on the boat). While this was not a problem for me, I have been on boats where novice AND even experienced sailors were seasick to the point of being useless or incapacitated in their bunks for a long time. It happens.

Good luck and have fun sailing!
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:57   #20
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Thanks So Much Steady Hands! That was one extremely useful post. I'm copying your tips to my e-notebook (evernote). I'm getting an ASA log book when I do my first course in March, so I assume that one will work for what you suggest correct?
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:00   #21
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

The ASA logbook is just a book for stickies that prove you passed courses. Sorta like the warranty service book that comes with a new car. SH's logbook idea is just a generic small notebook you carry. You want to keep your ASA logbook in a safe place and only drag it out when you need to prove something to a charter company or add another course completion.
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:03   #22
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Thanks! I'm glad I asked. Just picture me pulling out my ASA "log book" to a race captain for his signature
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:25   #23
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

A word of warning. Try and avoid stringing a lot of formal education classes, one after another. It breeds a kind of sailor that actually has little confidence in their own decisions and who needs the validation of a "teacher".

If possible , do some instruction followed by mile building and experience, then return if necessary and do some more complex formal instruction. Ensure along the way of your experience, you get in "skipper" time. Nothing builds confidence like command.

As to building milage, look for deliveries that need crew. Sailboats are perpetually under crewed and owners are always looking for people to crew for them, especially on longer journeys or out of season trips. Once you build a network of contacts , you'll find more crewing positions then you can handle. Then you might even want to do a few deliveries yourself etc.

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Old 03-11-2014, 11:26   #24
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuttyhunk View Post
The ASA logbook is just a book for stickies that prove you passed courses. Sorta like the warranty service book that comes with a new car. SH's logbook idea is just a generic small notebook you carry. You want to keep your ASA logbook in a safe place and only drag it out when you need to prove something to a charter company or add another course completion.
True, whereas the RYA yacht master, is a substantial bound document with your photo and looks like her majesty herself has commissioned you. ASA could learn from that !!

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Old 03-11-2014, 11:56   #25
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Thanks Dave for the thoughtful post. That's exactly our plan. We'll do the first basic course follow by several months of practice before we do the more advanced one. I will check the crewing option too. I wonder how often owners would accept couples as crew? Thanks.


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Old 03-11-2014, 12:03   #26
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Great post, Steady!

I would add:
Understand that it is colder on the water than you think. Bring adequate clothes and expect the possibility that you might get wet on the rail if the wind is up.

If you think you might be prone to seasickness (I am), bring a granola bar or other bland snack and keep it in your pocket. Arrive with a full stomach. Avoid alcohol the night before. Keep some chewable gravol or other seasickness meds in a pocket. It will do you know good if you need to go down below for water. Medicate early.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:34   #27
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuttyhunk View Post
The ASA logbook is just a book for stickies that prove you passed courses. Sorta like the warranty service book that comes with a new car. SH's logbook idea is just a generic small notebook you carry. You want to keep your ASA logbook in a safe place and only drag it out when you need to prove something to a charter company or add another course completion.
Precisely!

Take the ASA logbook with you to courses and keep it safe. By the way I lost mine after years and several moves (somewhere in some generic box). But, you can get a replacement from ASA, if needed. Charter companies can also call them to verify your certifications.

My Suggestion: Take a personal Sailing Logbook with you on the boat (it can be a small moleskin or similar notebook….or an iPhone type device or app) and use it to take note of each time you sail and what you learned or don't know (!) as you sail. Being old school, I like a small bound notebook/log. But, having a iPhone and dictating your notes could be done too.

Of course, don't let it interfere with your duties onboard (e.g. don't take notes while you are supposed to be tending a line or fending off), but having a handy means of taking notes and documenting each time you sail will help you. It is also a good place to note boats that you like too, or features you find on them, or tips from other sailors.

I well remember that when I first started crewing on a race boat, there were a lot of terms that were unfamiliar to me, despite having read many books on sailing and the glossaries I found in them. There are jargon, nicknames, and other things that are good to know while beginning.

Of course it is a good idea to learn as much of this jargon or terms as you can PRIOR to getting aboard a boat, but even after studying terms or glossaries in a book, I am sure you will have questions (that are good to note).

Learning about sailing while serving as part of a racing crew can be good for seeing how a boat is sailed (possibly many sail changes and much maneuvering done in a short time).

It can be stressful too. For that reason, I suggest a combination of racing and "casual sailing" experience is better than just racing (crewing) alone for novices. I learned by doing both. Which should come first? I suggest starting with casual sailing with an experienced skipper first, to "learn the ropes."

Why?
During races, tension builds and many terms are shouted (adrenaline is running) and the skipper will expect the crew to understand and obey immediately. The boats are always being pushed for speed, and there is little or no time to instruct novice or newbie crew. Because the boat may be very close to another boat(s) during a start or while turning a mark, there is potential for damage (collision) and danger. One tip: Keep your head low on tacks or you will learn why it is called the "BOOM."

Of course some races are very fun and relaxed, but at higher levels (on any sized boats) there can be intensity that novices may not be prepared for or find fun.

As crew, you may be expected to understand commands (and partial terms) like:

"Ease the running back!" (nothing to do with football)
"Tie this to the clew!" (nothing to do with detectives)
"Run this through the cheek" (nothing to do with a face)
"Pass this through the lazy!"
"Put a stopper on that sheet!"
"Ease the vang!" (nothing to do with vampires)
"Haul on the lazy!"
"Put a wrap on the wench!" (nothing to do with warming a woman)
"Put a bight on this rope!" (nothing to do with biting a rope)
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:41   #28
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

BB, SH's advice is excellent. I only want to add one small thing. If you're going prospecting for a ride, I'd suggest you take something to eat, as well as water for yourself, just because you won't know for sure what is going to be provided. Plan on being out all day, so provide your own sunscreen as well. As you get more known, you'll be arranging for next week's race this week, and so on, so you'll be able to ask what they'd like you to bring. Some skippers are extremely weight conscious, so travel light.

Ann

P.S. I got my start in sailing at low level racing, back in the late 70's.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:42   #29
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

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Originally Posted by BlueBuddha View Post
Thank you all for the feedback and suggestions.


Regarding the formal courses, I know some people are pretty opposed to formal courses, and that makes sense when people use them as substitute for experience. We are academic nerds that feel more comfortable if we get formal training. But we also agree 100% that experience is needed and I would not feel comfortable charting a boat with just a few weeks of formal courses. So we'll make sure we get the formal instruction AND the experience before we charter our first boat.
We started in earnest last year with 2 one-week courses and a week of charter (although this was on a powerboat). This year we did 2 weeks with a flotilla, 1 week alone and 2 weeks with a 'buddy boat'.

Based on that experience my 'opinion' is that you 'need' to get on a boat as soon as possible after your first courses to start to integrate knowledge, muscle memory and problem solving. Frankly I wouldn't wait too long before you charter because the more you are forced to do it for yourself the quicker you will be able to start doing the kind of multi-tasking boating demands. And the charter companies aren't going to be that demanding.

Our first instructor described the 4 stages of learning like this:
Unconscious incompetency
Conscious incompetency
Conscious competency
Unconscious competency

For us, we started to see some conscious competency as soon as we had that first week of having to make all our own decisions and then having the flotilla and buddy boat trips allowed us to really focus on weak spots (like choosing anchorages, really understanding currents and making sure we had enough beer).

Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:51   #30
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Re: Help with long-term training and experience plan

As a former RYA instructor, could I say that I personally don't think you should learn to sail by crewing on a racing boat.

Firstly, it can be a very pressurised environment

Then few people on board have much time to teach you or show you anything.

finally , its a short period on the water and most likely you'll just be rail meat.


the best way is to do a course and learn some basics, then crew on a cruising boat, short or long journeys, whatever, You'll find its more relaxed and you can get time to practice all that new theory and "book learning"

I see too many newbie racers, that spend ages just doing one thing, they learn little, usually , just how to break a boat and use a cheque book to fix it. !!!.

Go racing after you've done some cruising. don't expect to learn much on a race boat.

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