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Old 15-03-2009, 09:26   #1
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Learn to Sail Vacation

Hello all,

I am a sailing Neophyte and recently discovered this forum. Ive been interested in giving sailing and cruising a try for many years and Im finally at a point in life that Im ready to go for it. My wife and I live in Maryland and I know that there are great sailing schools and opportunities in Annapolis. I think the best first step for us, however, will be to give cruising a try in Florida or the Caribbean. If we decide to go cruising long term, as I hope we can, that is where we will probably start out. Id just like to drive test the life style for a week to see if wed love it as much as I think we will.

Can any of you provide some feedback on schools or outfits that youve taken a vacation charter with in Florida or the Caribbean? Id like to know the good and the bad companies and captains that youve had experience with in recent years. Wed like to live aboard for a week and learn to sail and handle a boat in the 30-40 foot range.

What is a good time of year to give this a try?

Thanks all.Ive already learned a lot from you by reading tons of posts on this great forum!!!

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Old 15-03-2009, 11:18   #2
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Welcome aboard holomoku!

I think learning to sail on a small boat is the best way to learn. A keelless boat gives you a much better feel for what is happening. It lets you know right away when you are doing something either right or wrong. The worlds best sailors started out in El Toros, Sunfish, Lasers and other similar boats.

Also, it takes months to become a fairly competent sailor. A week is just enough time to learn the very basics. Learning how to sail is closer to learning how to fly than learning how to ride a bicycle.

Have fun with it!
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Old 15-03-2009, 11:38   #3
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Thanks for the advice David...I've read that in a lot of other posts as well and it does make sense. I guess my long term dream is to go cruising for a year or more and I wanted to experience living on a boat first to see if I really do catch the bug or if I hate it.

So...... looking for an experienced outfit that can take us out there to see what it is like, teach us a few things and let us help out on the boat.

If it works out, we'll definately be seeking more sailing and training oportunities locally to help us prepare and get there in our own boat.

Thanks Ram...have you used them?
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Old 15-03-2009, 12:03   #4
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Quote:
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Sailing-Charters
Yes I have used them (its me haha)
....duh....that's too funny....I shoulda looked at the link first
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Old 15-03-2009, 13:01   #5
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Holomoku;

A while back I used water sailing">Blue Water Sailing School out of Fort Lauderdale to get me used to handling a larger boat. I was buying a 30' sloop for my family to use and was about to move it 150 miles to its new home. They offered a 1 week intensive training where you left the dock and immersed yourself into cruising for a week. This suited me perfectly and got me ready to make the trip.

It was not a pleasure cruise. The captain worked very hard to see that we learned our stuff and could possibly pass the three certifications. He was knowledgable, loved what he did, was a wonderful instructor, and helped us live, breath and eat sailing for six straight days. His lessons and rules are still working 6(?) years or so later. I only have experience with the one captain at Blue Water. The others I met there seemed nice as well. There were three students on-board our boat, two of us passed 3 ASA levels. It was not all work. There was plenty of great sailing. I read the textbooks several times each before departure so I did not feel I had to cram to pass.

At the end of the week I could dock well, anchor with no problem and plot courses coastally. It got me ready to move the boat. It took a lot more sailing before I got to be competent at sail trim, etc. I did have some dingy sailing in my past and tons of other boating experiences.

I would reccomend Blue Water and intend to go back there some day for the trip to the Bahamas. I had a ball and learned a lot. I think you are about to enter a wonderful new period in your life. There are tons of schools advertizing in the magazines. Pick one that sounds good and go for it. I chose Blue Water because I got to go on a nice long cruise while learning. I still do what they taught me to. We take off, anchor out, keep moving around exploring and almost never dock.

Oh and Captain Bill Condon, thanks a million for the great start you gave me.

Best of luck to you Holomoku.

LH
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Old 15-03-2009, 13:37   #6
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Thanks so much LH...... that's the kind of info I was looking for. I can find a lot of companies that offer this sort of thing but it's so hard to know which are the good ones just based on web sites or magazine ads.
I really appreciate the help!

Any others done any of these week long on board training cruises?
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Old 15-03-2009, 14:41   #7
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Originally Posted by holomoku View Post
Thanks so much LH...... that's the kind of info I was looking for. I can find a lot of companies that offer this sort of thing but it's so hard to know which are the good ones just based on web sites or magazine ads.
I really appreciate the help!

Any others done any of these week long on board training cruises?
You might want to look at this thread. There was another thread, but I can't find it. But the point made was the big difference (amongst the certified schools) is really atmosphere. You will end up familiar with sailing but it’s just the first step on the trip. You also end up familiar with crew overboard scenarios. But, you likely won’t be trained to do on anything other than fairly calm waters. As a result, you that is what you will be able to do.

Mostly you end learning how not to be a danger to others or the boat. So, some on navigation, some on anchoring and mooring, some on docking, some on rules of the road and COLREGS, etc. What is left is the sailing part.
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Old 15-03-2009, 15:05   #8
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Hello, Holomoku. Good to have you here on the Forum!

Here's another option to consider. Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. If you're interested in an offshore learning experience, I'm told this one is pretty good. I've never tried it myself, but a very highly respected offshore sailor from our yacht club was an instructor there, and I've heard very good comments about their program.
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Old 15-03-2009, 17:14   #9
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I recommend these folk

Liveaboard Sailing schools in the Caribbean (Saint Thomas, USVI) and Maine
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Old 16-03-2009, 10:34   #10
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Thanks for all the ideas, help and nice greetings/welcomes everyone.

I'm gonna schedule the trip for sometime in April, May or June.
Can't wait to give this a try!
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Old 16-03-2009, 10:58   #11
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"H" -- I would like to add my 2 cents in case your wife is also taking the class. The following is a link to the school that I have been to twice recently (only because I live close) in Florida. Learn to sail with Sunshine Coast Adventures, an adventure sailing school in Florida, Miami, and the Florida Keys, specializing in ASA certications, youth sailing programs, and sailing instruction for women.
Captain Jen is a female instructor and is great - especially if you also want your wife to learn sailing. I heartily recommend her and know that she will teach you what you need to know while having a great time. Welcome to the forum - you can get great information here. Best wishes in your quest to sail - you'll never regret it!

Ann
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Old 16-03-2009, 11:59   #12
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holomoku - in 2000 my significant other, while we were living in dallas, took the asa sailing courses from southwest fla yachts and charters - we had an engish cap'n who made us work as a team and taught us the sailing basics - we were both in late 50s and he made sure we passed our test and yet was firm enough without any yelling to make sure we got the message - great teacher
three years later we bought our first boat -a 40' - and spent a bit of time learning to sail her - i heard a lot of you have to start small and build up - at 50+ i felt i did not have the years to spend to build to a bigger boat -
last year at 64 i single handed my jeanneau ds40 from miami to woods hole mass and back both inside and outside depending on the weather and was gone 7 months - the admiral decided i was having to much fun and is retiring the last day in march - we are off right after that and will be full time cruisers
not sure what your time frame is but if short - under 10 years - it is time to find out if you and your admiral want to do this and can work together as a team not cap'n and deckhand - and if this is what you want - then go find a boat and take your time - and learn to sail it and outfit and then
sell the house, give away the cars, burn the furniture, shot the dog, drown the cat , put the kids in a homeless shelter cut the dock lines and go
(I know i am going to get some comments on that one - it is a joke folks lighten up)
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Old 16-03-2009, 12:04   #13
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My wife and I just completed ASA 101, 103, and 104 with Fair Winds Sailing out of Red Hook, St Thomas. We were on a Gib'Sea 43'. The class was from 28 Feb to 6 Mar. We stayed on the boat for the entire time. We went through all the systems Saturday morning and by the afternoon we were in Francis Bay. The whole trip was very good and I highly recommend it.

Wayne
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Old 23-03-2009, 20:48   #14
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Welcome aboard holomoku!

I think learning to sail on a small boat is the best way to learn. .....
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.
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Old 28-03-2009, 21:07   #15
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Hi All ......... Although I don't have the qualifications of Nautical62 I'm with him on his line of thought.

I had 4 days sailing lessons, jumped in boots and all and bought a 32ft boat capable of blue water sailing. I went to navigation, boatmaster, seamanship and radio courses ... and read heaps of books on everything including emergency and heavy weather ... where was I going to practise these things?? Only 'out there' when it was happening!

I lived aboard in a marina for a year before crossing from New Zealand to Australia and that also helped in my education. I have been sailing over 15 years and often think I would get something out of these advanced sailing courses.

And I would highly recommend both Holomuko and his wife getting lessons seperately, us females learn differently and have to stand on our own two feet without a partner around! I learnt more by sailing solo in safe waters and experimenting, testing what my boat could do, and how to handle her.
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