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Old 25-06-2012, 00:43   #1
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Windsurfing in Lieu of Small Boat Experience

Hi,

Our move to the PNW is coming very soon now and I'm eager to take keelboat training in a club setting. I'm a little bit concerned though. I've been reading a lot how small boat experience really helps before jumping to bigger boats so I'm wondering if windsurfing counts in that regard? I've been windsurfing for about a year now but only have very limited and informal experience sailing dinghies.

Should I take the time to spend another year getting small boat experience first(considering the short season I can do that in the PNW) or is windsurfing enough base to jump directly to keelboats? The boating season will be short for me this year as it is so I just wanted to make sure I dont have to wait till next year to start learning how to handle keelboats but also want to learn properly and not cut corners. I'm hoping I will be capable of sailing around the Puget Sound from Seattle to the San Juan Islands after about a year of lessons and practice with a club but if that's unrealistic, please do let me know.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Old 25-06-2012, 01:41   #2
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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Hi,

Our move to the PNW is coming very soon now and I'm eager to take keelboat training in a club setting. I'm a little bit concerned though. I've been reading a lot how small boat experience really helps before jumping to bigger boats so I'm wondering if windsurfing counts in that regard? I've been windsurfing for about a year now but only have very limited and informal experience sailing dinghies.

Should I take the time to spend another year getting small boat experience first(considering the short season I can do that in the PNW) or is windsurfing enough base to jump directly to keelboats? The boating season will be short for me this year as it is so I just wanted to make sure I dont have to wait till next year to start learning how to handle keelboats but also want to learn properly and not cut corners. I'm hoping I will be capable of sailing around the Puget Sound from Seattle to the San Juan Islands after about a year of lessons and practice with a club but if that's unrealistic, please do let me know.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
Small boat sailing can be year round in the PNW.

Windsurfing has taught you wind direction, what direction you can sail, gust control, etc. The only thing you didn't get was tiller time and sheeting out via lines. Might help, probably not important. Do both, dinghies are fun. Will you be associated with the UW in any way?

John
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Old 25-06-2012, 02:15   #3
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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Small boat sailing can be year round in the PNW.

Windsurfing has taught you wind direction, what direction you can sail, gust control, etc. The only thing you didn't get was tiller time and sheeting out via lines. Might help, probably not important. Do both, dinghies are fun. Will you be associated with the UW in any way?

John
Thanks John. I totally agree that dinghies are fun in as much as I enjoy windsurfing a lot(I would have done more dinghy sailing except that my current club is mostly into windsurfing so the dinghy courses are fewer and the schedules never worked out). It's the freezing water during the cold months that I'm not so thrilled about and feel that keelboats would be more rewarding year round especially as a family activity. I also see many dinghy clubs and centers closing from Dec to April so maybe that's another clue? If I can find a dinghy club that's open year round, I'll probably join as well. I scuba dived during winters years ago so I still have my gold water gears.

I wish I will be associated with the UW as I see they have a good sailing program but no such luck.
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Old 25-06-2012, 02:31   #4
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

to progress you might start with a basic deckhand/coastal skipper course on keel boats.
and a shore based navigation course.

a diesel engine course might be useful.
and to be legal do your vhf(gmdss) certificate.
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Old 25-06-2012, 02:43   #5
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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to progress you might start with a basic deckhand/coastal skipper course on keel boats.
and a shore based navigation course.

a diesel engine course might be useful.
and to be legal do your vhf(gmdss) certificate.
Legal use of vhf in U.S. requires nothing. Well you have to buy a radio.

If you're going to foreign ports or communicating with foreign vessels then you pay money for a restricted operators permit and a station license. There is no testing.

John
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Old 25-06-2012, 02:59   #6
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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Legal use of vhf in U.S. requires nothing. Well you have to buy a radio.

If you're going to foreign ports or communicating with foreign vessels then you pay money for a restricted operators permit and a station license. There is no testing.

John
does that include gmdss as well?
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Old 25-06-2012, 04:00   #7
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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to progress you might start with a basic deckhand/coastal skipper course on keel boats.
and a shore based navigation course.

a diesel engine course might be useful.
and to be legal do your vhf(gmdss) certificate.
Thanks Atoll. Yes, I'm thinking that ASA 101 and 103, Basic Keelboat and Basic Coastal Cruising, to get started then practice for about a year to get to my near term goal of gaining confidence to sail around the Puget Sound. Diesel engines and VHF communication - along with radar and depth finders - are definitely in my learning list.

I'm somewhat concerned though whether that was jumping too soon and risk missing important nuances without the requisite time on small boats. For example, as John mentioned steering and sheeting out via lines are done differently on windsurfers (where you have the benefit of direct feedback from your arms instead of watching telltails maybe). Still want to do both but would have time and resource constraints. I.e. if I'm already a member of of a keelboat club, it would be prudent to maximize the cost of membership there plus the time I have available (mostly weekends).
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Old 25-06-2012, 04:36   #8
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

G'Day Airhead,

I generally come down on the side of stepping through the dinghy sailing phase on ones way to becoming a well rounded sailor, but in this case I might ease off on that!

Really, learning the basics of sailing is not all that challenging. Your sailboard experience should have taught you many of the things that one gains from dinghy experience as others have already said. These days all too many folks jump into substantial keel boats with little or no sailing experience whatsoever. Most of them manage ok... maybe never become really good sailors, but still enjoy safe and rewarding hours at sea, so why not you?

But the winter business... sailing in really cold wx is no damn fun for me, and I don't think that physical discomfort (shivering!) is conducive to good learning. So, why not use those winter months to take in the other facets that you will need to become an independent sailor? Things like navigation, electronic stuff, engine maintenance and so on. These can be studied in the warmth of your home or some heated classroom. Some sea time on keel boats that will give you some wx protection could well be folded into this scheme. Then in the spring, if you feel like it, some dinghy hours could be added without freezing your bum off.

Anyhow, hope that you can work it out.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 25-06-2012, 05:35   #9
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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G'Day Airhead,

I generally come down on the side of stepping through the dinghy sailing phase on ones way to becoming a well rounded sailor, but in this case I might ease off on that!

Really, learning the basics of sailing is not all that challenging. Your sailboard experience should have taught you many of the things that one gains from dinghy experience as others have already said. These days all too many folks jump into substantial keel boats with little or no sailing experience whatsoever. Most of them manage ok... maybe never become really good sailors, but still enjoy safe and rewarding hours at sea, so why not you?

But the winter business... sailing in really cold wx is no damn fun for me, and I don't think that physical discomfort (shivering!) is conducive to good learning. So, why not use those winter months to take in the other facets that you will need to become an independent sailor? Things like navigation, electronic stuff, engine maintenance and so on. These can be studied in the warmth of your home or some heated classroom. Some sea time on keel boats that will give you some wx protection could well be folded into this scheme. Then in the spring, if you feel like it, some dinghy hours could be added without freezing your bum off.

Anyhow, hope that you can work it out.

Cheers,

Jim
Thanks Jim. Good point about taking classroom courses during the winter months. I've been near warm waters year-round lately I was afraid the cold months would be wasted or at least not very fun in the PNW but now I see there are still boating stuff to round up the year.
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Old 25-06-2012, 13:22   #10
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

Windsurfing will not help a lot. Either you are a beginner which is surfing in displacement mode - sail is tilted forward or backward for course change which is not close to steering in a boat. If you are capable of planning with the board - that is extremely not like sailing with a boat.

Imho one does not need to start with a dinghy - it's just a question of $$$ whether to (own and) sail a dinghy or a keel boat.
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Old 25-06-2012, 14:09   #11
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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Windsurfing will not help a lot. Either you are a beginner which is surfing in displacement mode - sail is tilted forward or backward for course change which is not close to steering in a boat. If you are capable of planning with the board - that is extremely not like sailing with a boat.

Imho one does not need to start with a dinghy - it's just a question of $$$ whether to (own and) sail a dinghy or a keel boat.
I agree with this. I grew up sailing little boats of one form or another with occasional cruising on OTB's. I switched to windsurfing for fifteen years from the late 70's to early 90's. I loved windsurfing. Many years on SF Bay, in Hawaii and then on the East Coast. A combination of factors took me to cruising boats including that I was no longer fit enough to windsurf safely in the conditions I loved. When I moved back to "sit down" sailing, my dinghy background helped me with trimming sails and driving the boat. However, I've been on a constant learning curve about managing more complex systems and size which is part of the attraction. I don't find that I have any useful carryovers from windsurfing though I still get envious of the windsurfers and kiteboarders when the wind is Force 5 and up and a swell is running.

I would also second Jim's suggestion to use the cold weather time to take some classes. An added bonus is you may meet people with boats and get some big boat experience while deciding on your path.
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Old 25-06-2012, 14:13   #12
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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Windsurfing will not help a lot. Either you are a beginner which is surfing in displacement mode - sail is tilted forward or backward for course change which is not close to steering in a boat. If you are capable of planning with the board - that is extremely not like sailing with a boat.

Imho one does not need to start with a dinghy - it's just a question of $$$ whether to (own and) sail a dinghy or a keel boat.
I think learning how to operate the tiller is one of the easier parts of learning to sail and that's why I said in my earlier post maybe not so important.

Now for severe thread drift.

I've quite happily sailed long boards in non-planing conditions for decades, and I don't consider myself a beginner. I think the attitude promulgated by many that short boarding is the only goal of this sport is why this sport is down the tubes in the U.S. Short boarding is severely limited by weather and/or geography making it even more of a niche sport than windsurfing in general. I've heard long boarding in Europe is alive and well as its own sport.

I'm not against short boarding I just do it in the Gorge. Sitting on the beach waiting for wind in Seattle sucks, especially when there's enough wind to longboard, Hobie sail, dinghy sail, or keelboat sail.

John
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Old 25-06-2012, 14:39   #13
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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I think learning how to operate the tiller is one of the easier parts of learning to sail and that's why I said in my earlier post maybe not so important.

Now for severe thread drift.

I've quite happily sailed long boards in non-planing conditions for decades, and I don't consider myself a beginner. I think the attitude promulgated by many that short boarding is the only goal of this sport is why this sport is down the tubes in the U.S. Short boarding is severely limited by weather and/or geography making it even more of a niche sport than windsurfing in general. I've heard long boarding in Europe is alive and well as its own sport.

I'm not against short boarding I just do it in the Gorge. Sitting on the beach waiting for wind in Seattle sucks, especially when there's enough wind to longboard, Hobie sail, dinghy sail, or keelboat sail.

John
Continuing the thread drift:

I agree with you. I think the sport lost its anchor when the original windsurfer brand was marginalized and disappeared. Those boards were great for learning and created a strong community of racers and sailors who would go out in almost anything. While I had a quiver of short boards and racing long boards, few memories are better than sailing in SF Bay on my stocker on 20-30 knot days or sailing out in the Molokai Channel and watching the humpbacks. With a little preventive maintenance you could go anywhere under all but the most extreme conditions.

/End Thread Drift
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Old 25-06-2012, 14:44   #14
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

Maybe a little OT, but here goes.

The first question I would ask you is what is the difference between a windsurfer and a sailboard. For the first few Olympics where boardsailing was an event the boards used were a far cry from most folks idea of a windsurfer, long almost canoe like boards with dagger/center boards that could be a real handfull downwind. The Div II boards could be a handfull at any point of sail.

But you did have to understand a lot about sailing to get one around the 24 mile Olympic distance course. The switch to Mistral boards did result in something more like what most folks thought a windsurfer should look like, but they were still big boards with a centerboard and a mast on a sliding track, both of which needed adjustment on different points of sail. The Pryde boards were a move towards a more modern board, but still a far cry from the short boards with only a skeg (and perhaps a couple of thrusters) used in high winds and big waves.

It looks like boardsailing has been replaced by kiteboarding for the 2016 Olympics.
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Old 25-06-2012, 15:02   #15
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Re: Windsurfing in lieu of small boat experience

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Maybe a little OT, but here goes.

The first question I would ask you is what is the difference between a windsurfer and a sailboard. For the first few Olympics where boardsailing was an event the boards used were a far cry from most folks idea of a windsurfer, long almost canoe like boards with dagger/center boards that could be a real handfull downwind. The Div II boards could be a handfull at any point of sail.

But you did have to understand a lot about sailing to get one around the 24 mile Olympic distance course. The switch to Mistral boards did result in something more like what most folks thought a windsurfer should look like, but they were still big boards with a centerboard and a mast on a sliding track, both of which needed adjustment on different points of sail. The Pryde boards were a move towards a more modern board, but still a far cry from the short boards with only a skeg (and perhaps a couple of thrusters) used in high winds and big waves.

It looks like boardsailing has been replaced by kiteboarding for the 2016 Olympics.
As I recall, the issue was initially a brand problem. "Windsurfer" was the brand of the leading maker and became, like "Kleenex", the term for the sport in general. As others came along, they wanted another, more general term, especially for competitions like the Olympics. Hence "board sailing" on "sailboards". Most people still called it "windsurfing" whatever brand they used. After the demise of the brand, the sensitivity pretty much went away and windsurfing was again printable.

The evolution of the boards was independent of the naming convention. The first Olympic Boards were squirrelly and pretty much not used except by those who wanted to do serious around the buoys racing. I recall racing a stock Windsurfer around the buoys in the Wednesday night series at the Berkeley Marina but serious, it was not. At the same time, Hawaiian surfers like Mike Waltze started making short wave boards. Those continued to evolve and split into an array of specialty boards that meant that addicts like me had cars with insane stacks of crap on top and the beginners went away. Too bad, because it is a spectacularly fun sport.
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