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Old 03-01-2017, 14:37   #1
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Looking to start

So, my name is Ethann, I'm 20 years old living in Portland Oregon and recently decided to learn what I can about sailing. All this is done in the hopes of buying my own cruiser and well, cruising. Conventional wisdom definitely suggests not to do this right now, but I'm hell bent.

I have a myriad of questions, concerns and ideas so I figured I would put out the bat signal here.

I'm curious what the best way to learn to sail is? I've always been more of a "Learn it myself" type of guy (I blame my dad) and would love to learn that way, but need to know where or how best to obtain a solid sailing knowledge foundation.

My tentative plan is to buy a boat that's a little cheaper and needs a little love- but not a full blown fixer upper- so that while I prep her to be seaworthy i can live on board and save money. Are there any tips I need to know about buying, shipping or repairing a boat? Also, are there any websites or places in particular that are best to look at when looking for something relatively cheap (30k and below)?

Once I embark on the journey, is there a dollar amount I should have saved? What are the typical costs of things like checking in, stocking food, etc?

Finally, is there anything else I should really know, look into or learn about while I prepare for this journey (other than don't do it ��)? I'm very excited to get started, aware of the risks and very grateful of anyone willing to help!
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Old 03-01-2017, 16:45   #2
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Re: Looking to start

Google tells me that there are half a dozen or so sailing clus and a couple of sailing schools in Portland, Or.

First thing I'd do is take a look at the clubs. The best way to learn the basics is by going out on other people's boats (OPBs) and people are often looking for keen crew, however green they may be.
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Old 03-01-2017, 18:14   #3
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Re: Looking to start

20 years old is a great age to start. I'm jealous! You just need to know how to work hard (physically and mentally). At your age that can be learned by getting a hard physical job.

Here's a plan for you to consider:
1. Get a job, any crappy old job, at a boatyard near you. Quit your current job and get rid of all your possessions.
Goals achieved: learn a bit about boats, get work experience you can apply at any other boatyard/marina.
2. While doing (1) volunteer as crew on local race or daysailing boats.
Gold achieved: Learn about sailing.
3. Volunteer as crew on cruising sailboats. Get off the cruising boat where you can find work at a port.
Goals achieved: Learn about cruising sailboats, what you like and you don't like about them. Get access to many boats during your boatyard jobs.
4. Repeat (3) until you find the right boat. Save at least 1/2 your income by staying on other people's boats.
5. Go cruising. Start cruising n US and/or other countries where you are allowed to work. Eg: as a US citizen under 31 you are eligible for a one year work permit in high wage Australia.
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Old 03-01-2017, 18:28   #4
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Re: Looking to start

Good plan, SVSeachange. I was going to make what amounts to a summary of the summary: Don't confuse being able to sail with being able to cruise. People sail with great skill 14' boats. But navigation, weather, diesel engines, storm handling, anchoring, electrical systems, water, gray water, black water, radar, radios, plumbing, and a bunch of other topics necessary to happy cruising are not part of their lives.
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Old 04-01-2017, 04:43   #5
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Re: Looking to start

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Ethan.
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Old 12-01-2017, 23:06   #6
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Re: Looking to start

Sounds like good plan above.

30 years ago I raced my Lightning alot in the PNW. Vancouver Lake sailing club had an active racing program and real down home and welcoming. Look em up and see if you can come to any of their meetings or regattas and introduce yourself.

They had a big regatta in late June. Look up the date and just show up, (there will be lots of out of town trailer sailors camping, setting up their boats and milling around). Bring rain and warm gear. Start asking around, likely someone will pick you up as crew if you make that effort. Be sure to show initiative and be willing to help prep the boat, show up early. If you don't find a ride see if the club needs any help; chase boat crew, setting up the BBQ before the hungrry racers get back to shore, mow the (BBBBig) lawn, etc, ..... I have taken rank beginners racing in my Lightning many times. I think learning racing in small boats is very beneficial.

Concurrently you can also check out keel boat clubs on the Columbia and start racing/crewing with them. One guy I knew raced his Lightning on Vancouver Lk Tuesdays and his J24 on the river on Thursdays, then raced in either one most weekends. You will learn alot in one season.
Sweet talk the skipper into all the tiller time you can; to and from the start line, between races, etc. This ordinarily would cost you nothing except maybe a sixpack and bag of chips or cookies ask the skipper about alcohol on the boat first.

If you can afford it, lessons at a local sailing club is also a good plan to get some basic terminology and manuevers down. But snagging a regular crew slot for racing will usually teach you how to efficiently sail a boat fast.

Some community colleges / Universities have cheap sailing lessons/clubs to join. You may not have to even be a current student. Hang around their boat yard on nice weekends and see if you find an opportunity.

Would be nice to be 20 again. Good luck.

Eric
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Old 13-01-2017, 01:53   #7
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Re: Looking to start

I only got into sailing in my late 20's, and like yourself, decided I would teach myself. I bought a book and then tried to put it all into practice on a cheap old 20' sailing boat. It worked to a degree, but was all a bit 'trial and error'.

I recently returned to sailing after a long break and joined the local (dinghy) sailing club, and wished I had gone this route years ago. It has made me a much better sailor in a short space of time, and the social side has been fun too. Also, learning on dinghies which are very responsive really sharpens your skills (get it too far wrong, you're going for a swim ).

I'm graduating back to a yacht this year (25 footer) but will keep up the dinghy sailing as well.

What ever route you decide to take (and sailing boat courses e.g. RYA competent crew, day skipper, etc. are great) just make sure to stay within your own limits and stay safe.

Above all, enjoy the sailing
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Old 22-01-2017, 21:04   #8
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Re: Looking to start

Hey! Excited to see you here! I'm 21, so I'm in the same boat (excuse the pun) as you- not much money/savings, plus no credit/stability to get a loan for a boat. I got a columbia 26 "free" (happens often with people trying to get out from under a half-finished project), and I work for a marina (employees get a free/reduced slip). My brother lives in PDX/Beaverton, and has contacts in the sailing community up there as well (if you'd like to get in contact with him let me know). But my only 2 cents is, try it out, but move carefully- e.g. always leave a backup plan, that way you don't end up penniless and marooned on an island in the Pacific 🙂
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