That last post sounded kinda negative, and i really don't mean it that way. I think what I feel is you really need to sail to understand sailing. Learning the physics, the tips and wisdom of old salts just doesn't teach you what to do when there is wind, water and a sailboat.
If anyone is arguing that the forum is a substitute for experience, I will be the first to call them a fool. However, by reading a lot, I have an idea of what to try first and what to try next if that doesn't work.
I would rather be out there sailing just about every day, but that just isn't feasible right now. Even if I were comfortable single handing, Mr. Greenhand would get jealous if I were sailing while he was working.
From my personal experience, you can learn a tremendous amount about sailing and seamanship from reading but sooner or later you will need to go sailing on a real boat to become a sailor.
I went sailing with friends the first time with zero knowledge or experience. Came home hooked and immersed myself in reading anything and everything boat related. Second cruise I went with a tremendous amount of data and information but still little real understanding. Two weeks crewing a lot of the information became usable knowledge.
Came home, read a lot more. Next time on a boat I took off on my own and spent 18 months cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean. Made plenty of mistakes but the study made it possible.
So I would never say one could completely learn how to sail on Cruisers Forum or from any other non experiential method but serious study of sailing can dramatically enhance and accelerate the learning process from hands on experience.
Now, what I get from the forum is the ability to benefit from the combined knowledge of dozens people with tremendous experience and expertise. On this forum you can find help on just about any aspect of boats and boating you can imagine.
Just a few years ago to access this much information and expertise would have taken a huge library and access to a lot of individuals, generally working professionals that would want to be paid for their time. Here you can get it all for free.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
I think one can learn a lot of things in a forum, that are not as easily or quickly learned "on the docks" or in a classroom or reading a book or even on a boat.
While I learned a lot from experienced sailors with whom I sailed before, from personal experience crewing, racing, cruising, on a long passage, and from my self study of books and taking sailing classes too, I find the opportunity to "ask a single question, get many answers" to be stimulating, usually educational, only a few times frustrating, and often entertaining. That is why I come here to learn, have a gam, share a bit, and be amused by the humor and the mostly civil discourse on so many disparate subjects.
As to learning to sail without spending ANY time on a boat? I think that is as as nonsensical as learning to fly without taking off or saying one can learn to ride a bike on a stationary exercise bike without ever pedaling down the road on one's own balance or learning to swim by reading a book about swimming. There comes a time when knowledge needs to be practiced and actions and reactions experienced. Going to that time with some foreknowledge (i.e. "book knowledge") is helpful, but not the total experience. That said, I think some "foreknowledge" and study is very helpful to understanding what happens in the boat when the wind picks up. And I have run across a lot of "just do it" sailors who really don't have a clue what is happening (or why), which is as much a lack of "understanding" as those who have only read but not experienced.
That is how I see it.
__________________ Ahoy All Sailors! I love traditional sailboats of all kinds (e.g. gaff rigged, schooners, cutters, smacks, woodies, etc.). See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details.
I have a sailing instruction manual that I wrote. Ya want it?
__________________ Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend, but the Kisses of the Enemy are Deceitful!
A nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves! Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints!
can you really learn sailing from CF, or from books for that matter.
Or do you just have to sail?
Yes, you can.
I used to sit on the foredeck of any new boat I was racing with my sail trimming book and study each sail then go back and tweek it.
On this forum theres some great knowledge disseminated. Ya just gotta note it down and read it back when you are actually sailing.
But there is a lot of bs on here too. Lots of times 'theory' means something stupid and antiquated that no one in their right mind would do if they actually sailed instead of nibbling the carpet at the base of the bar.
I think I agree with alot of what is being said here, that experience and written word work together to make you a better sailor. But I would go farther and say that somethings cannot be improved upon by writing. For example, can you show me where the following is described in CF or other common texts of sailing:
1. The gestalt of feelings you have when you decide not to leave the moorings that day.
2. The changes of ripples over a reef in the response to tide and current that alert you to rocks 6 feet under the water.
3. Why you have faith in a chart drawn up many years ago by someone you have never met.
4. Why we turn our back on civilization and turn towards the endless sea and constant peril.
Those and many other questions are answered to me by the sea.
You can have endless evaluations of the boats, equipment, techniques and sailors, but it is like trying to describe road tripping by taking pictures of Harleys at the dealership. Can we learn about these things? Yes in a superficial way. But the essence of sailing will always belong in the ocean or lake.
Well its winter I guess so the mostest profoundest questions are pondered. Of course you can learn sailing on the internet! It like totally prepares you! Barnacles come off easier, anchoring is exacting and the seatalk on your electronics doesnt talk back. Im not even gonna visit the sea till Ive posted and read all the important stuff. Then watch out!
Sailing is more technical than swimming. I think it's a lot more like cooking (or maybe rock climbing). Therefore, more of the knowledge of sailing can be "book learned"
You can learn terms from a book/CF. i.e. get a clew. Or what's a tack/gybe. etc... Having a common vocabulary goes a long way to being able to learn from others.
You can learn knots and rigging stuff from a book/CF. (I would not use a zeppelin bend if it was not for CF. CF taught me the best way to attach two lines together)
You can learn some technique and trim from a book/CF.
But you have no freakin clue what that all really means till you get on a boat and apply it. Loop it around for feedback, and revise. Just like the first time you make Julia Child's recipe for Coq au vin it's not going to be the very essence of french cooking. If you took your time and read about technique, and ingredients, it'll be pretty good. By the 10th time you make it, it'll be great. The 100th's time, it's sublime.
Much the same as some "book/CF learnin" is far and away better than "here's a boat, figure it out." Nobody is going to have any idea what their reaction is going to be the first time it's blowing like stink and you need to reef the main. You know you need to do it, but you haven't experienced it.
Example: If you didn't have somebody to tell you (in person, on the internet, reading "sailing for dummies") what wing and wing IS, what a whisker pole is for, etc... Y'all think that's gonna spring into your head right away? There's a long long long history of sailing and that knowledge is valuable. Then experience makes it real.
I have taken ASAclasses (25 years ago). Didn't do much for me. Was mostly a waste of time and $. Read voraciously about sailing, then crewed on some race boats. That was very good experience. I wanted more, so I eventually bought a boat. I learn from every source, then apply it on the water.
I do need to find a race boat to crew on to improve my trim. I don't get optimal performance at a few points of sail, and I'd like to. (My "book" knowledge is good enough to let me know I'm not perfect, but I need experience to find perfect)
Disclaimer: I r an engineer. So I may not be like normal people
Of course you can learn to sailing reading CF. It's just that you wouldn't know you learned it once the discussion gets started.
You can learn a lot from books though. Since I skipped all that dinghy sailing crap and went from 0 to 39' in a few months; I have spent a lot of time sitting on the boat with the book open trying to figure how to make the bat sail better.
stop blowing smoke up my rear, blow it at the sails instead