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Old 29-03-2009, 02:50   #16
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I think there is yet another option.

I would not take any sailing courses first but do a crewed charter with the whole family first thing. Maybe a little reading before you go. You are not going learn all about sailing in a week but you would learn about being on the boat together. I think getting a feel for the whole concept means doing it together to see if you could see it as more than just a fun vacation. Knowing all the details of sailing does make the experience more comfortable but I don't know anyone that hated sailing the first time they went out that stuck with it very long. This option is cheaper as a beginning.

If after that you decide you liked it enough to want to learn it you could get involved in local sailing options and take classes to the point that you might do another charter on your own or take advanced classes in another location. You would know why you are learning things and perfect what you couldn't do on that first trip.

They do offer bare boat charter classes taught in a week, but without prior sailing experience it's a very huge amount to learn even from pretty smart people. Starting from nothing and going to the class sets expectations you won't reach in a week.
The idea of things is not always how it really is. Sailing and cruising both have parts of that. There are many variations of how people choose and enjoy sailing. Trying it can help you find the way you like best.

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37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 29-03-2009, 06:11   #17
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Once again I want to thank all of you for sharing your experience with me (and the rest of the forum) and all the good advice. You've given me a lot of options and I guess what I'm finding is that there is no one best way to get going. It is good to know that the approach I'm taking has worked for some of you, so I think I'm on the right track (for us).

I'm booking a sailing trip/school to Fla sometime in May. Flights are still reasonable. I'll let you know how it went when we get back.

Hold Fast!

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Old 12-09-2009, 07:14   #18
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Holomoku, Did you find a "sailcation" school yet? If so love to hear the results.
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:57   #19
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I have been negligent in updating this.....sorry.

My wife and I did go on our learn to sail vacation in May. I chose water sailing">Blue Water Sailing School in Fort Lauderdale Blue Water Sailing School, ASA Bareboat Certifications, Offshore Sailing, Navigation & Seamanship

They sent out books as soon as I registered and we had about a month to study them before the trip. I read thru each book twice and that really is key to doing well on the tests. It helps pass the time while you are waiting for the trip and then I was really able to enjoy the sailing experience and on board lessons without needing to study on the boat.
The course we took combined Basic Sailing (ASA 101), Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103) , Bareboat Chartering (ASA 104) and ASA 114 - Cruising Catamaran.

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 12:30 or so and took a taxi to the dock. The school provided a map and directions. We were early and no one was there so we got lunch at a great little sub shop around the corner. When we got back students and instructors started to trickle in.

We met our instructor Captain Bill and two other students. There were 4 cabins and 4 heads on the cat, so it worked perfect since my wife and I shared one. We made a grocery shopping list and Cap'n Bill held a class and gave us a homework assignment and then he left to sleep ashore. We all went out to dinner at PF Changs and the slept on the boat.

Next morning Bill showed up with the food, we stowed everything had a short class room lecture and discussed plans for the day. We fired up the twin diesels and motored out thru the canals, thru 2 drawbridges and out to open ocean.

We raised sails and sailed south to the port of Miami, motored thru there and the anchored in Biscayne Bay. The students took turns at helm, navigator and lookout. Bill gave orders, kept us on track but let us do everything. He was very firm that we concentrate on sailing and didn't let us side track the conversation for more thatn a couple minutes. He kept drilling us with questions on points of sail. Everyone took 1/2 hour shifts at each position then we would rotate.

After that we got into a routine for a few days.
Wake, coffee, take a writtten test, check the weather radio, plot courses for the day, sail and drill on tacking, jybing, navigating channels, man over board, etc.....
Find a nice spot for anchor in the evening, take a quick dip in the water to cool off, cook dinner and have a drink.

Weather was perfect all week. It was calm in the bay, winds were 10-15 in the afternoons and we all got along famously.

I do reccommend Blue Water. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Next step...a charter in the British Virgins while we continue to look for a boat.
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:26   #20
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Sounds like a great experience. I love the sailing on Biscayne. Flat water, and mostly a good breeze. I would start renting day sailors in your area, and get in as much sailing as you can. After 20 years of owning my own boats, and sailing under many different condition for nearly 20thousand miles. I know nothing, and I am still learning everytime we leave the slip. BEST WISHES in following the dream.......i2f
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Old 12-09-2009, 13:28   #21
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Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
While I respect Dave's opinion, I very much disagree with it and belief quite the opposite. Day sailing center board boats and cruising on larger keelboats are very different experiences To me saying one should learn to cruise by day sailing centerboard boats is like saying one should learn to drive a truck on small motorcycles.

Many smaller keelboats will give you a great deal of feed back. I also think so many of skills and experiences you need for cruising simply won't be experienced day sailing small center board boats. Everything is different: Anchoring, electrical systems, plumbing, performance, sea state etc. on these boats simply don't relate well to the real world of cruising. For similar reasons I'm not a big fan of hotel based bareboat courses. If you desire to have the skills for live aboard cruising, the best way to get these is to to take a live aboard bareboat course. (Possibly proceeded by a less expensive basic keelboat course). What you learn experientially from actually cruising on a cruising boat, is something you simply can't learn by other means.

I say this as someone who went through all the courses when I learned, became an ASA bareboat instructor and regularly teach both keel boat and dingy sailing.

Daysailing little centerboarders will teach you how to sail your dinghy. My sailing mentor recommended a Cape Dory Typhoon as a learning boat and I thank him for that.

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