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Old 04-03-2010, 08:17   #1
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Can Someone Recommend a Good Book / DVD on How to Sail ?

Hi guys,

Been reading your posts for the last few days. I decided to join the community! We will be moving to Seattle this summer and I've always wanted to take up sailing. I've spent countless hours on powerboats fishing, but I think it's time for a change! I thought I should start to educate myself on the sport.

Can someone recommend a good book or DVD on sailing that I can get from my local public library? Goal would be to learn the basics of how to sail, the terms, what not to do etc. I intend on doing a full training course, finding a buddy out there who needs a crew member etc, but we may only be able to get to Seattle at the end of the summer . I might as well use the time between now and then productively!

Thanks guys!
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:27   #2
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PS. In case the type of sailing we want to do matters for the choice of book / DVD - our plan is to spend weekends fishing and mooring off different areas between Seattle and Victoria (see the link for moorings: Washington State Parks Department Moorage Location Pages). We are a family of 4, will sleep on board over weekends. We will maybe take 1 trip a year down the west coast once we have the experience and confidence. Likely boat will be a 30-40 foot cruiser, so not sure if this helps any. Thanks guys!
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:46   #3
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Hi, AquaBoi, and welcome to CF, as well as to the PacNW.

There are lots of good basic sailing books and most any of them will do; the basics haven't changed in hundreds of years. Look for ones put out by US Sailing or American Sailing Association, two of the major sailing school franchises, as they have designed their books in a step-wise learning fashion. They usually have titles like "Basic Keelboat" or "Basic Cruising Sailboat."

I rather highly suggest that if you're starting at scratch, to take some of the courses at one of the sailing schools. In Seattle, Windworks Sailing is very good (which is where we took our first courses). San Juan Sailing in Bellingham, as well. They're not "cheap", but they will make sure that you've got the knowledge and skills you need consistent with your progress at the time, all while showing you a good time, too.

Sailing the NW can be complicated! I know it looks like everything is just "right there" and there's so many boats on the water, how hard can it be? The truth is, it's not all that hard, but certain precautions and prudent seamanship is needed. The tides and currents around here can be complex, fast, and totally unforgiving. And, if you hit something, it will either be another boat, or granite. No soft groundings around here. You could do a seminar just on anchoring in the NW. There's lots of big ship traffic and the zones go right through some pretty narrow places, so you really want to learn about those and how to handle them.

One of the nice things about the Windworks style program is that you can rent the boats in their fleet. As you progress in your courses and acquire the skills for bigger, more complicated boats, you can gain experience on those, too. This lets you sample a lot of different boats and gives you good ideas about what you like/don't like, before buying one yourself.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:05   #4
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Most of the DVDs aren't that great, IMHO. You can find plenty of video on Youtube which is, while on the whole not much better, at least free.

But the best way to sail is just to go out and do it with someone who knows how. If you ask around at a local marina, you will probably find that person fairly easily.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:11   #5
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I agree that most DVD's are not that excellent. The best thing would be to grab a beginners book like "The Annapolis Book of Seamanship". and head out after reviewing it for a few minutes. If there is anyone that you know that could accompany you, this would also be excellent.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:27   #6
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I'm a novice myself (official term tyro ;-) and found a couple a couple good intros that will give you the terms and sailing basics: Fast Track to Sailing by Steve and Doris Colgate, Sailing Fundamentals by Gary Jobson and The Sailor's Handbook by Halsy Herreshoff. Sailing Fundamentals is the Sailing Association of America and the USCG Auxillary's sailing manual but I found the Colgate book a little better. There's info in each one of them that is useful.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:56   #7
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I'm curious, where do you live now.
We learned to sail on the Puget Sound, it is great! My rule number one, don not fall off the boat, the water is COLD. We took lessons on Lake Union that covered the basics. My bible was Royce's which fell apart from too much use. Love that book. We fished on calm days and sailed on the windy ones. Lots of fun. Wish you all the success.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:27   #8
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The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is the best IMHO. Then Chapman's. There is a "Sailing for Dummies" but I don't know how good it is.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:39   #9
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I will be following this thread as I am writing technical material for an online sailing program. Can't do the sailing part on line but one can prepare in a variety of ways for being on board. On line is one way to get ready to sail.

Check out nauticed.com I do not know the guys who run it. A friend of mine, whom I trust, does and says they are the real deal.

This is not a sales pitch but... I work for Boston Sailing Center and have worked for J-World and later for Swain Sailing in the BVI. I have been teaching sailing to adults since 1985. I think I have an idea, finally, about what is going on. Here is a reasonable course of action:
1. Read a couple of sailing books. The sort of stories about, "went sailing, did this." Start with authors such as Pardy, Copeland, Leonard and two of my favorites: "Changing Course" by Debra Cantrell and "An Embarrassment of Mangoes" by Ann Vanderhoof. See if you actually like what sailing does to/for people.

2. Go to sailing school. Take a week long, mid week learn to sail course. Bite the bullet and dive in for a five day program.

3. Start watching DVDs and video after taking a course. You will watch with enough context to have the action actually make sense. Watching something you have no experience with is not satisfying for beginners... I have found.

Have fun and keep in touch.
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Old 04-03-2010, 13:46   #10
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is the best IMHO.
Absolutely, without a doubt the best. John also has a DVD set by the same title...great sailing DVDs. You cant go wrong here...
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Old 04-03-2010, 13:52   #11
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Guys, all I can say is wow. Thank you for the prompt responses and interest in my post. What a great community. I posted the same question on Sailnet.com but only got 2 responses! I guess Cruisers Forum and I are going to be good friends going forward . I'm here to stay!

Intentional Drifter - thank you for your response re: "Sailing the NW can be complicated". For our family, there is nothing we cant achieve. It's just a matter of time and commitment, and we can get anything done! I do however have a question though about the shallows in the Puget. I've never been out there so have no idea. Would say a 31 footer be restrictive in terms of where you can go? I wouldnt want to limit myself to certain areas and also run the risk of screwing up my keel by accident! And also, when we moor out in deeper waters, how the heck do we get to land to have a picnic if we dont have a dingy (I'm assuming a 31 footer doesnt have space for a small craft to get to land but I'm a novice so correct me if I'm wrong)

Through educating ourselves and thinking about a sailboat, we need to think about all these things (ie. where will we be spending most of our time). One blue water trip down the west coast a year vs. 45 weekends of the year fishing in the Puget, a big diffs right!

My folks are retiring in Victoria BC and I have a sister in Vancouver. My old man is pushing for a powerboat but I am thinking a sailboat may make more sense to do these voyages for visits on a weekly basis. Even though he wants a powerboat, I'm really excited about the prospects of a new experience and man, the more I read, the more addicted I get to idea of sailing, it's insane! But sometimes logic and reason need to come first, so if a powerboat makes more sense, I may need to concede. There are a ton of factors that go into this decision (and obviously foremost, do we even enjoy it), but for now, my thought process is revolving around the practicality of it all. If it makes sense, then move ahead and take a course, get some experience etc!

So thanks guys. Will respond to all your posts, in progress. Q&A recap for this long winded post -will a 31 footer+ cruiser be restrictive in terms of where we can go in the Puget and are there a lot of shallows? Thanks!
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Old 04-03-2010, 14:12   #12
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Originally Posted by sneuman View Post
Most of the DVDs aren't that great, IMHO. You can find plenty of video on Youtube which is, while on the whole not much better, at least free.

But the best way to sail is just to go out and do it with someone who knows how. If you ask around at a local marina, you will probably find that person fairly easily.
I've actually found quite a few cool vids on Youtube, you are right! Check these out: Giulietta's Sailing Instruction Videos - SailNet Community

My plans:
1) Think about the practicality of sailing with the variables I have (fishing the Puget, weekly trips between Victoria/Vancouver/Seattle to visit family, sleeping overnight on the boat on weekends with 4 people, one annual blue water west coast trip) and decide powerboat vs sailboat.
2) If it makes sense to consider a sailboat, get as educated as I can about sailing (lots of research!)
3) Do an online course if it's required by law in State of WA, otherwise I can probably learn more on my own (my sister already took an online course + practical and said beyond the sailing jargon, didn't learn much because we have already spent so many years fishing on powerboats!)
4) Once we get out there, do a practical course.
5) After that, find someone who needs a crew member. There was a cool post on Craigslist about a gentleman looking for help. I'm sure these opportunities will arise for interested, enthusiastic, non sketchy people! Probably do this for about 6 months as often as I can.
6) If we love it and it makes sense, purchase a sailboat for summer 2011 that meets our requirements. Being a starter sailboat for us, it will have to be under $90k. I couldnt justify anything more with our level of experience. Maybe my kids can someday have the 50 footer with a beautiful spinnaker that now fills my PC desktop image!

Thanks man!
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Old 04-03-2010, 14:21   #13
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"The Annapolis Book of Seamanship"
Good tip thank you.
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Old 04-03-2010, 14:22   #14
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I'm a novice myself (official term tyro ;-) and found a couple a couple good intros that will give you the terms and sailing basics: Fast Track to Sailing by Steve and Doris Colgate, Sailing Fundamentals by Gary Jobson and The Sailor's Handbook by Halsy Herreshoff. Sailing Fundamentals is the Sailing Association of America and the USCG Auxillary's sailing manual but I found the Colgate book a little better. There's info in each one of them that is useful.
Thank you Hummingway. Will check these out.
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Old 04-03-2010, 14:25   #15
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I'm curious, where do you live now.
We learned to sail on the Puget Sound, it is great! My rule number one, don not fall off the boat, the water is COLD. We took lessons on Lake Union that covered the basics. My bible was Royce's which fell apart from too much use. Love that book. We fished on calm days and sailed on the windy ones. Lots of fun. Wish you all the success.
We live in Boston, but never could afford to get or had access to a boat for a couple of years now. Plus, a boat in Boston never made much sense to me. We only have 4 months of good weather. The rest of the time the damn thing is in storage eating away my bank account! From what I read, its a lot better out in Seattle winter wise (although I better bring my raincoat!).
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