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Old 29-08-2016, 09:54   #16
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

Consider joining a flotilla sail which will put you on the water with more experienced sailors and a mentor. You will start to get a better feel as you sail and watch others sail. Look at ASA and OffShore Sailing for upcoming flotillas. I spent a week with Fatty Goodlander as part of an Offshore sail in the BVI. It was life changing . 31 days till I become a live aboard.
We all start as newbies.
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Old 29-08-2016, 09:57   #17
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

never had a problem with sailing tests. of course i've never taken a sailing lesson so never had a sailing test.

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Old 29-08-2016, 10:35   #18
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

Originally Posted by SailAwy View Post
Hi everyone. Hoping to get some feedback. I've started sailing this summer by taking the US Sailing Basic Keelboat course. Sailing is really great for the most part and I definitely plan on sticking with it for a very long tiome, but my question is about how long before I start to feel comfortable with everything? Due to reasons out of my control, the lessons were spread out over a 6 week period and because of that, I don't feel like I retained as much as I should have, so everything just still seems so foreign to me. I'm getting frustrated (mainly with myself) because I feel like I'm focusing so much of wind direction, depths, traffic around me, and all the other things that require such constant attention, that the drill I'm actually trying to work on, such as: reefing, heaving-to, or man-overboard, just seems like a clumsy, futile mess. When will I find that balance? When does this all start to get to be second nature?

I'm stressed out about the check-out sail for my final test that I'll take in a couple of weeks. Should I be this frustrated? I get it, practice will make me a better sailor. But if I can't pass my test, I can't join the membership that will give me the opportunity to practice. Are the standards to pass the test just not that strict? How do people pass it with only a few lessons under their belt? I already took the written part and had no problems. But theory and practical application are very different things.
Do not worry it will eventually come together.
My husband and I also started our sailing lessons for the future plan of selling everything we have and sail around the world on a catamaran. Took ASA 101 in APR, then 103 in June and just recently in AUG, ASA 104 and 114. We are glad we had the classes spread out because it gave us time to let everything sink in our brain (we work and have to drive to FL to take the lessons is reason for the scheduling of classes). We do not have a sail boat to practice, so what I did was make a model of the sailboat (catamaran) using two gatorade bottles, wood plank, round wood stick (from hobby store) and handkerchief for the sails and push pins as the winch. I had a fan blowing the wind from different directions. I attach the picture of the boat. Notice how my husband studies, ..laying down trying to read. ..LOL. This helped us prepare. We also watched several you tube videos to help us understand certain things we could not get from the ASA books. Have patience and do not rush it. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 29-08-2016, 10:41   #19
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

It sounds like you are learning on a sailing school boat so you cant actually just go out and bum around for an afternoon. Every minute of a lesson is allocated to some skill.

Is there any sailboat you can hire for a few hours and just go out and sail? Doesnt need to be big or fast, just an old cheap clunker to get you on the water by yourself and relax.
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Old 29-08-2016, 10:49   #20
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

Lots of good advice in this thread. Tasks like Reefing, MOB, docking, anchoring, etc. are NOT simple and do take practice. Experienced sailors will tell you to reef before you leave the dock, not that you don't need to perform the act at sea, but the idea is to think ahead. A real MOB is an experience I hope to never have, but that's why we practice. I've been working on the basics, reading, and learning for decades. Someday I hope to be a good sailor...
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Old 29-08-2016, 14:05   #21
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

ask the sail instructor/they will want you to pass or you will make them look tardy
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Old 29-08-2016, 14:45   #22
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

You have already been given good advice. Just know that no one will stop you from getting better if "fail" the test. In fact a failure just points out where you need to put more attention.

How long does it take to get comfortable? Its not one big event, its a series of small satori. Its just an ahah moment here and there. One day you will realize you have been feeling comfortable for quite awhile!
If toast always lands butter side down, and cats always land on their feet, what would happen if you strapped toast to a cat's back and dropped it? - Steven Wright
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Old 29-08-2016, 14:51   #23
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

As others have said, see what local sailing clubs (not sailing schools) or local boards have for crew lists. Should be fairly easy to volunteer on someones boat. Craig's list is an option too.
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Old 29-08-2016, 15:21   #24
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

I was in the same boat (no pun) last year, and yes, the ASA 101 test will require a MOB situation and heaving-to. For heaving to, the ASA instructor I had just had us tack without adjusting the jib (leave it alone; let it back wind). Then tie the tiller off to leeward. That one was pretty easy.

The MOB test was just to turn back toward the MOD on a beam reach by heading into the wind if needed (i.e. avoid the possibility of a gybe). Then just guide yourself back to the MOB on the downwind side and turn upwind toward the MOB which would put you in irons and allow the boat to glide to the MOB. This test requires assistance from a spotter and some one to recover the MOB, If you are alone, the instructor will perform the other chores. In our case, all he had to do was pickup a life jacket with a boat hook.

Both my wife and I took the practical sailing test. The instructor allowed us as much practice time as we wanted before giving the test. He even gave us several pointers during the practice time. By the time we had to perform, it was fresh in our mind and fairly easy.

Hope this helps.
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Old 29-08-2016, 16:12   #25
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

You're getting a lot of good advice here so I thought I would pile on with my experience. Back in the early 80's, After a short time with by new sailboat, I was offered by a dock mate to do some Wednesday night beer can racing on his J boat. At first I was just rail meat. Eventually after a few seasons, I did foredeck and then I would skipper the boat when the owner was on travel. What I learned about boat handling, sail trim, light air tactics, storm tactics, emergency procedures etc was immeasurable. Just my 2c. Cheers
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Old 29-08-2016, 16:15   #26
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

....You can't crew for others without passing the test??
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Old 29-08-2016, 16:32   #27
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

There is much good info in this thread and hopefully it will be read and re-read.

IMHO, I see SailAwy's problem, too many rules, not enough sailing, not enough success, not enough failure.

Stage 1. I learned to sail by fire, I was a kid out on a friend's boat and they literally tossed me into an 8-foot Sabot and set me adrift. From their boat they yelled instructions. That was rough and horrible, frankly, but I actually did learn something.

Stage 2. Then in college in San Francisco I took a one-year course. The classroom was Lake Merced, on Lido 14 boats which we each sailed alone. In that year I learned basically everything thats contained in the average sailing book for beginners.

Stage 3. Then I spent another year on a college friend's 18-foot-something on San Francisco Bay during any and all spare time. The Bay was constant high winds and rough water, not a moments relief and it was quite scary and sickening. This was the time I could begin to fill in the gaps of learning up to this point.

Stage 4. Back on the original friends boat, I went out many weekends for another year for local sails off California and thats when I started to learn the rules Sail Awy first noted. I also found out how little I knew but there I was sailing that 55-foot yawl rigged ketch single-handed! And there was that wicked Sabot still on the deck! The owner and family were all there to help but they heaped upon me the most duty any captain could hold. NOW was the first time in all the sailing I could actually relax and have fun. And now the mind was clear and open to learn the laws and rules of boating.

I had to say all that to make the point that Sail Awys method isnt how I would do it. Just first learn to sail with nothing else in the way. The fact there is all this stress and frustration and exams means to me that something is wrong. Get yourself a book, a wait, dont get a Sabot....get a class that offers you your own small boat and get on the water. Laws and rules dont need to clutter the mind at the beginning, sailing is hard enough.

The reason so much frustration is present is because I dont believe sailing can be learned from too many angles at once. As you pick up water time, new outside info like rules/laws can sit more comfortably in the mind because you have perspective from which you can set it in the mind. Without increasing water perspective the information has no place to go and hence the stress.

I was 14 years old I taught myself to ride a motorcycle without knowing any rule. When I was 11 years old I learned to drive a car without knowing anything. Before that I learned to shoot firearms without knowing anything. Before that I learned to ride a bicycle by falling. To me, sailing is the same. When you have built up comfort, enjoyment and confidence in small basics the mind is open and free to the rest of it. It worked for me.

PS....My hate of Sabot is just because its so small and therefore offers (bombards you with?) too much instant feedback and you will find yourself spinning in circles when you are not righting the boat after another capsize. Some length, like an ideal Lido 14, slightly slows down the learning curve and allows one to absorb the lessons better. A Hobie 16 is great but soooo fast. I think of it as an advanced-beginner boat because newcomers will not understand why they are leaning off a hull ALL THE TIME, and pitchpoling a catamaran ISNT FUN despite your laughing during Youtube videos!!
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Old 29-08-2016, 16:47   #28
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

All great advise! It sounds like you are on the right track - joining a sailing club and spending more time out on the water. If you have the chance - a live aboard course would be a great help. Giving you an immersive sailing experience instead of spreading out your learning opportunities.

Whatever you do - enjoy the learning process! Like many have already said - it never ends!
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Old 29-08-2016, 17:26   #29
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.


As most of the posters have related you will never know it all, and we all continue to learn. That means myself, who has been professionally sailing for 35 years or more, as an instructor, charter captain, flotilla leader, delivery skipper and lot so international sailing as well as coastal. USCG 500 ton master 5th issue.

And, yes there are still challenges that arise, but we get through them, even tho we have not experienced that particular situation. We use our knowledge and apply what we know to handle a situation that it totally unexpected.

A good professional back ground training program, I feel is very important. But, you personally have to devote lots of time and work. That means reading, studying, taking lessons seriously, and if there is something you do not understand, instead of a four or six person lesson, get with an instructor that is very knowledgeable that you like.....and have some private lessons.

Learn single handing, and get a solid back ground on basic sailing to instill confidence. Practice your points of sail, and sail trim, and wind direction, and not just some fancy electronic device, use tell tells, use the wave patterns, use the feel of the wind on your cheeks and face. Use the heel of the boat, and watch for luffing sails.

Re-read mot only your SAILING COURSE MANUAL, but go to the marine supply store and get a book on Basic Sailing that absolutely appeals to your learning and feel good abilities. We human beings are quite different in many different facets.
One basic sailing book might appeal to an engineer, where another will appeal to marketing person. I kept things a simple as possible for my students with tricks and tips that I learned over many years.

I was also a commercial pilot and flight instructor, charter pilot, corporate pilot, and fighter pilot instructor. Most people will have to work hard, but in both sailing and flying, the student must put in loads of effort and time, as their safety and the lives of others depend on the captain, who is you, to keep them and the vessel safe and shipshape.

Sailing can be overwhelming and part of that can be nomenclature. Sailing is a whole new language to beginners, but has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Know every line on your vessel, what it's job is. Know your standing ( fixed ) rigging. A few lessons, widely spaced and no constant study is not acceptable and very difficult to retain what you are learning.

Most sailing clubs also have group sails, share a sail, or a list of people who like to have others join them in day sails. Could be that their spouse, or friends are not interested in sailing, and they want the advantage of having another person on board that has training and a will to sail.

As to check outs, I had very few people who had gone thru the training not pass a check out. But also from instructing I tell them. You may not pass a check out, but you do not FAIL UNTIL YOU QUIT.

A few needed an additional lesson or two ( private ) with an instructor, to go over what was needed to bring their knowledge and confidence up to standard.

I also strongly believe in a very excellent practical knowledge of basic sailing. The progress into intermediate and advanced.

Also, on your written. Take the written, and then once it is corrected, no excuesses, and it does not make any difference if you missed one or 25 of them. No mikey mouse indifference, you get with an instructor and not only find how many questions that you missed, but what the subject matter was, and understand totally what you did not fully know.

Sailing is much more a serious endeavor than most people think, the ocean does not love you, it can kick your okole, and put you and your vessel and your crew, passengers in extremis. Therefore, you pay close attention to all of your instructors, learn on your own by study, and get out there sailing as much as you can by meeting and sharing a sail with others.

Make it your project to be the best seaman and sailor that you can possibly be. And you will find, as others posting here, that you will get those basics down. Advance in your sailing knowledge, and possibly be be sailing to landfalls in paradise that you now are only dreaming of.
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Old 29-08-2016, 18:26   #30
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Re: Just Starting Out. Getting Frustrated.

My personal answer to any prospective stressful situation in life is "make sure I give it my best shot". Just put the effort in.

Started on a 36ft keeler, then 68. No courses, a lot of instruction from others and a lot of reading over the years.

Acquired two 8 foot race class dingies for the kids (they were safe on the beach which reduced driving and launching time). I reckon I learnt more real sailing skills more easily in those dingies than over the years in the keelers.

Do you have a boat club that can lease you a dingy for a long weekend? Wear a wetsuit, try to capsize, right it and every other drill, again and again. Suggest you'll find it's very similar on an 8 footer to any larger boat. And if more people did that an read a book or two, the instructors might get short of coin.

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