Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 02-08-2013, 21:56   #1
Registered User
 
advocate777's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Northern Chesapeake
Boat: Moody 34
Posts: 92
First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

From a Newbie Sailor:
I apologize in advance for this unusually long post
Last week I posted my excitement at the prospect of my first time ever alone at the helm. Maybe some of you more experienced sailors can remember way back when it was your first time also. I am writing because several of you in that post invited me to give a report afterwards; so it is for you that I respond and I thank you in advance for caring!

Lesson #1
I learned that sailing/cruising is actually comprised of many different and specific skills. For instance, there is Docking skill, Anchoring skill, Weather Evaluation skill, Navigation skill, Sail Combination/Trim skill, Engine Maintenance skill, General Boat Systems skill and others skills. Learning these skills takes time, practice, and guidance.

Lesson #2
Seamanship is not the same as learning the above skills. Seamanship assumes that the skills are already learned. Skills are basic but seamanship is competency in the skills PLUS the good judgement, knowledge, experience and wisdom on how to apply these learned skills in an emergency or unforseen situation. Thus, skills just take time on a boat to learn at your own progress but Seamanship really does take another level of experience; especially if you are going offshore and not just anchored in a pond.
Some 'sailors' have some skills in one area but not so much in another area. Someone with 'seamanship' has the basic skills down plus the time and experience on how to make good judgments, often under duress. The sea does not care about our level of preparation. It just does its own thing. Not that even experienced sailors dont keep learning...its just that learning basic skills does not always lead to good seamanship any more than knowledge always leads to wisdom in using that knowledge in a given situation.

Lesson #3
If one wants to 'sail' and has no one that they have to be responsible for.....then 'go for it' and you can afford to be more 'cavalier'. After all, no one can know everything and always be prepared. So, get out there already and cross that ocean! You only live once! And no one is depending on your skippering skills! Awesome! Just wing it! Folks have crossed oceans without even knowing how to sail or their boat's systems! (actually...how many did so with children aboard?)
But if you are not a solo sailor and there are other crew that is looking to you to bring them to the safe harbor....then love demands that you prepare on a higher level of skill. In other words, if you wanna wing it and are alone...'go for it, DUDE!' But if you have non-sailors or children aboard.......then if you lack basic skills and dont understand seamanship then you are 'gambling with other people's money'; in other words-- you are may be irresponsible. So, if you are a solo single dude or gal and wanna take risks and 'go for it' and cross that ocean----more power to you, I say truly, and I respect you for it---but if you have children aboard.......dont you owe them a greater level of skill?

Lesson #4
Know you limits. Know what skills you have mastered and which skills not so much. Make judgments based on the reality of actual skill attained. If you want to stretch....do so on your own nickel and pay the consequences plus or negative but dont make your crew suffer for your lack of discretion....or at least warn them before they come aboard what your actual skill and experience level is!

Lesson #5
Although sailing is about being 'independent'; we actually do really need someone to assist us, sometimes. Maybe when we are just starting out or maybe when we are more experienced we may still run into a problem. Sailing is a community and we do occasionally really need others no matter how much skills or seamanship we think we have attained. I see now that although sailors are independent types...we all really do need help sometimes!

Applying said lessons, and more, to me personally, and for those who may be interested and care, here are more specific personal lessons from my first time as Skipper :

1.) Chartering a sailboat a few times a year is not enough time on the water to really learn the skills required.

2.) Taking and passing ASA 101, 103, 104 whatever...does not mean you have mastered the basic skills. It just means you took the courses and passed the tests; mostly because the instructors may have told you the answers to the hardest questions. But, just because you picked the right answer on a multiple choice test does not mean you actually learned the skill.

3.) TaKing ASA or whatever sailing lessons is a great INTRODUCTION to sailing for rank newbies like me. But only you can learn how to tie the three or four 'must know' knots and those knots require practice. Knots are not just a hassle to learn.....they can save your boat or your life. In other words...what you can fake on a test will not help you sail with skill.

4.) All of the individual skills required for basic sailing require HOURS of practice on a boat. How can you practice sailing skills if all you do is charter?
You must have regular access to a boat. Either as crew, or better yet.....have your very own boat!

Bottom line: (for me) I gotta buy a boat so I can practice my basic skills because I want to cruise extensively, I am not going alone, and I owe it to those I love who accompany me to really know what the hell I am doing and to have mastered some basic skills.....

Thanks for listening. had a great time on the Chesapeake- my sons loved it -

The Chesapeake is BEAUTIFUL and I just need to buy my own boat now already so I can learn it and sail south and onward and beyond.

TIME FOR ME TO BUY A BOAT!!!!!!!!!
__________________

__________________
advocate777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 01:22   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: nelson new zealand
Boat: kuiper 32
Posts: 198
Images: 3
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

looks like you have a fairly good handle on it all,solo is definately less stressfull than with kids,when mine come out I am always a bit concerned for there welfare even though they are good sailors.Go out and get that boat and good sailing.
__________________

__________________
builder dan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 03:17   #3
Armchair Bucketeer
 
David_Old_Jersey's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 10,013
Images: 4
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by advocate777 View Post
its just that learning basic skills does not always lead to good seamanship any more than knowledge always leads to wisdom in using that knowledge in a given situation.
knowledge does not always lead to wisdom - I like that , likely I will "recycle" it!......and of course that applies both afloat and ashore!

You sound like you have your stuff together , especially having identified that it is time on the plot that counts even though pre-learning is also important (and makes learning curve less bumpy!)..........and you also make a very good point on the solo vs crew angle

Am looking forward to seeing your boat hunting and buying thread(s?!) ......of course plenty of other (very useful) CF threads on the subject, many worth a read - but ending up with own thread also very useful.
David_Old_Jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 04:22   #4
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by advocate777 View Post
From a Newbie Sailor:
I apologize in advance for this unusually long post
Last week I posted my excitement at the prospect of my first time ever alone at the helm. Maybe some of you more experienced sailors can remember way back when it was your first time also. I am writing because several of you in that post invited me to give a report afterwards; so it is for you that I respond and I thank you in advance for caring!

Lesson #1
I learned that sailing/cruising is actually comprised of many different and specific skills. For instance, there is Docking skill, Anchoring skill, Weather Evaluation skill, Navigation skill, Sail Combination/Trim skill, Engine Maintenance skill, General Boat Systems skill and others skills. Learning these skills takes time, practice, and guidance.

Lesson #2
Seamanship is not the same as learning the above skills. Seamanship assumes that the skills are already learned. Skills are basic but seamanship is competency in the skills PLUS the good judgement, knowledge, experience and wisdom on how to apply these learned skills in an emergency or unforseen situation. Thus, skills just take time on a boat to learn at your own progress but Seamanship really does take another level of experience; especially if you are going offshore and not just anchored in a pond.
Some 'sailors' have some skills in one area but not so much in another area. Someone with 'seamanship' has the basic skills down plus the time and experience on how to make good judgments, often under duress. The sea does not care about our level of preparation. It just does its own thing. Not that even experienced sailors dont keep learning...its just that learning basic skills does not always lead to good seamanship any more than knowledge always leads to wisdom in using that knowledge in a given situation.

Lesson #3
If one wants to 'sail' and has no one that they have to be responsible for.....then 'go for it' and you can afford to be more 'cavalier'. After all, no one can know everything and always be prepared. So, get out there already and cross that ocean! You only live once! And no one is depending on your skippering skills! Awesome! Just wing it! Folks have crossed oceans without even knowing how to sail or their boat's systems! (actually...how many did so with children aboard?)
But if you are not a solo sailor and there are other crew that is looking to you to bring them to the safe harbor....then love demands that you prepare on a higher level of skill. In other words, if you wanna wing it and are alone...'go for it, DUDE!' But if you have non-sailors or children aboard.......then if you lack basic skills and dont understand seamanship then you are 'gambling with other people's money'; in other words-- you are may be irresponsible. So, if you are a solo single dude or gal and wanna take risks and 'go for it' and cross that ocean----more power to you, I say truly, and I respect you for it---but if you have children aboard.......dont you owe them a greater level of skill?

Lesson #4
Know you limits. Know what skills you have mastered and which skills not so much. Make judgments based on the reality of actual skill attained. If you want to stretch....do so on your own nickel and pay the consequences plus or negative but dont make your crew suffer for your lack of discretion....or at least warn them before they come aboard what your actual skill and experience level is!

Lesson #5
Although sailing is about being 'independent'; we actually do really need someone to assist us, sometimes. Maybe when we are just starting out or maybe when we are more experienced we may still run into a problem. Sailing is a community and we do occasionally really need others no matter how much skills or seamanship we think we have attained. I see now that although sailors are independent types...we all really do need help sometimes!

Applying said lessons, and more, to me personally, and for those who may be interested and care, here are more specific personal lessons from my first time as Skipper :

1.) Chartering a sailboat a few times a year is not enough time on the water to really learn the skills required.

2.) Taking and passing ASA 101, 103, 104 whatever...does not mean you have mastered the basic skills. It just means you took the courses and passed the tests; mostly because the instructors may have told you the answers to the hardest questions. But, just because you picked the right answer on a multiple choice test does not mean you actually learned the skill.

3.) TaKing ASA or whatever sailing lessons is a great INTRODUCTION to sailing for rank newbies like me. But only you can learn how to tie the three or four 'must know' knots and those knots require practice. Knots are not just a hassle to learn.....they can save your boat or your life. In other words...what you can fake on a test will not help you sail with skill.

4.) All of the individual skills required for basic sailing require HOURS of practice on a boat. How can you practice sailing skills if all you do is charter?
You must have regular access to a boat. Either as crew, or better yet.....have your very own boat!

Bottom line: (for me) I gotta buy a boat so I can practice my basic skills because I want to cruise extensively, I am not going alone, and I owe it to those I love who accompany me to really know what the hell I am doing and to have mastered some basic skills.....

Thanks for listening. had a great time on the Chesapeake- my sons loved it -

The Chesapeake is BEAUTIFUL and I just need to buy my own boat now already so I can learn it and sail south and onward and beyond.

TIME FOR ME TO BUY A BOAT!!!!!!!!!

Absolutely nothing will replace "time over water." If you charter a boat for a week a couple of times a year, you won't be a much better sailor 5 years from now than you are now.

I was retired when I started sailing, and very shortly after a short series of classes bought a small sailboat. I took it out every chance I could, which was three times a week or more. I learned more in that one year than many people learn in five, or even 10.

I took another huge spurt forward in skills when I finally followed through on a goal to take the boat out every single day for a week (by then I had a bigger boat). That meant leaving my comfort zone. Although I often had others with me, sometimes I was the most experienced person on the boat. I didn't change my mind about taking the boat out because the wind was supposed to pick up, for instance. That's why the boat has a reefing system. And, I found out that reefing REALLY settles a boat down. I will never be hesitant about reefing after experiencing that a couple of times, on two different boats.

The people who learn the most about sailing don't always wait for ideal (to them) conditions to sail. However, you have to take the experience levels of those with you into consideration.

I disagree completely with your notion that if you have no one else important in your life, just take off to cross the Atlantic. Someone somewhere cares about you -- probably multiple people. In addition, if you end up deserting your boat, unless you open all the seacocks and sink the boat, you've created a navigation hazard. If you sink your boat, you've created a pollution problem. We just had a report here of someone who deserted his boat, which on its own crashed into a fragile reef and damaged it.

You could even collide with someone else. Some idiot with more electronic gadgets than sense left his helm on autopilot, then left the helm, and when his autopilot malfunctioned, unfortunately very close to my boat -- he hit me. It's a miracle his anchor didn't pull my rig down. Someone I respect had told me to take the covers off the shrouds and stays, but I hadn't gotten around to it. The anchor rolled over the stay cover. I think it would have caught on the backstay itself.

This isn't some game. No one wants to come across his bloated, dead body on the sea. Learn to sail well -- THEN cross the Atlantic.
__________________
Rakuflames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 04:37   #5
Moderator
 
noelex 77's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Living on dirt waiting for our new yacht to be built.
Boat: Half built Bestevaer.
Posts: 10,619
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Great post.
__________________
noelex 77 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 04:45   #6
Freelance Delivery Skipper..
 
boatman61's Avatar

Community Sponsor
Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: UK/Portugal
Posts: 20,209
Images: 2
Send a message via Skype™ to boatman61
pirate Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Good post mate.... got your ducks kinda lined up there...
Go slow.. see more... sailing is about the journey... the destination is just stepping ashore...
__________________


Born To Be Wild
boatman61 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 04:51   #7
Registered User

Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 143
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

I have just completed a skippers course. I spent many weeks doing the bookwork and I already had a crew rating so ropes, knots, doing fenders, warps, sail handling etc were all sorted out.

My course was five days at sea and included sailing in a Force 8. Every day I had to passage plan with options for weather and learn to organise the crew and navigate. The instructor mostly sat and watched throwing the odd comment at me when I was about to do something stupid. I learned a lot - the hard way.

Even with this course, I am acutely aware that I need more experience but the advantage of it is that I have skippered for five days in all conditions from gales to dead calm. I think that this sort of course can help as it so practical.

Advocate777 - I think the good thing for is that you have realised what the limitations of your current learning are and that is surely a good thing because you know what you need to do to improve things. I suspect that a lot of people find their limitations when everything goes badly wrong and that is really a bit too late to be finding out.

Good luck with your boat search and I hope everything goes well for you.
__________________
beverley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 05:21   #8
Registered User
 
thomm225's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hampton Roads
Boat: 1974 Bristol 27
Posts: 3,465
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

What the OP said is quite correct.

One easy answer for experience is a small boat. One you can learn on, and if you mark it up a bit, no one has to freak out or yell at the guilty party etc.

How small you go is up to you. Are you sailing around the world in a few years or do you just want to sail down to Tangier in the summer? Or just sail across the upper Chesapeake. Or do you want to race?

This is the fun part. You can go for speed with a catamaran or get a small monohull for very little money.

On a small boat when the weather gets a little rough, you learn a lot rather quickly. Whereas if you are on a 35'-40' heavy sailboat you may not even notice what for say a Hobie 16 sailor (or small monohull)is darn near survival conditions.

Btw, if you do plan to come all the way down the bay though and cross the lower bay, I would recommend a decent boat especially if you are sailing in the fall when a forecasted 15 knot NE Wind quickly becomes 25 plus (with gusts) and you are dealing with ocean waves that have hit the relatively shallow lower bay. These waves will be steep and really close together.
__________________
thomm225 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 05:32   #9
Sponsoring Vendor
 
Tellie's Avatar

Community Sponsor

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Hollywood, Fl.
Boat: FP Athena 38' Poerava
Posts: 3,046
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Trimming the sails and living the dream... pretty easy.

Regularly busting your knuckles on old engines, electrical failures and trouble shooting, leaking thru hulls, backed up heads and broken holding tanks, failed batteries, shipping parts through foreign ports, getting the wrong parts, splicing lines, replacing anchor lights, outboard repairs, jury rigging when parts aren't available, going without real sleep, kedging off, sea sickness, wondering if your bank account can keep up, etc....Not so much.

But someone once said all this was fun. It sometimes, many times, is. But other times you'll question your sanity. Anyone that tells you different then they don't know Jack.
Tellie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 07:24   #10
Armchair Bucketeer
 
David_Old_Jersey's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 10,013
Images: 4
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by beverley View Post
Even with this course, I am acutely aware that I need more experience but the advantage of it is that I have skippered for five days in all conditions from gales to dead calm. I think that this sort of course can help as it so practical.
For sure every bit of learning is useful (if "you" learn from it!) - but without wishing to in any way denigrate your course and the experience you have gained from it.......nonetheless I will point out (mainly to others) that a very different thing mentally in being Skipper on own and being Skipper whilst having someone else onboard who could either take control or simply offer advice and encouragement (both from real knowledge!!).....and that not simply when things go badly, but also when pootling across the bay uneventfully.

But it's all part of the fun .
David_Old_Jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 07:44   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Philippines / Palau
Boat: Cape North 43
Posts: 101
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Not just gambling with other people's money but with their lives. I grew up surfing and have owned sport fishing boats for over 25 years in the western Pacific and have kissed the dock several times feeling happy to be back. I have a huge respect for Our Mother Ocean. Sailing is so much more than being out there on a power boat based on my small experience. I now own my first sailboat at age 59. I am lucky to have a great friend and mentor who is a prior yacht delivery Captain and very experienced sailor.

I am not yet at the stage where I will slip the mooring with my wife and kids on board without Captain Gary being with us.

There's so much to learn and the forces involved in the sails and rigging are incredible and exhilarating.

I feel it very important to take the learning process slowly and with much forethought.
__________________
BriRich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 08:59   #12
Armchair Bucketeer
 
David_Old_Jersey's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 10,013
Images: 4
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by BriRich View Post
I am lucky to have a great friend and mentor who is a prior yacht delivery Captain and very experienced sailor.
That's damned useful But I will add (more as a general comment for others starting out) that it is also useful to sail with / observe other Skippers. As you likely know only too well from prior motorboat experience, Skippers come with different strengths and ideas - and even seeing the "challenged" can be a useful learning experience. Having said that, as a delivery skipper your mate will at least likely have learnt to sail well .

Slowly and with much forethought does tend to work well when learning through stuff which can kill ya!, even at the price of inconvenience - no prizes on offer for being first dead .
David_Old_Jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 09:24   #13
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Long Beach, CA
Boat: Tayana Vancouver 42
Posts: 1,854
Great post. Thanks for reminding all of us what thoughtfulness is necessary to successfully enjoying our love of sailing. I also started learning to sail on the Chesapeake Bay, 40 years ago. My wife and I bought a small board type boat (like a Sun Fish) and just started out making every mistake there is to make. Then I started taking classes and reading everything I could get my hands on.

In the years since, we have owned a variety of boats of different sizes, mostly with limited or simple systems until our present boat which is a 42 ft. cruising sailboat with all the systems and complexity of a small city. Our kids grew up sailing with us on whatever boats we had at any time. Now our grand kids are growing up sailing. And I have to say I am still learning.

Like you, I am always aware that I am fully responsible for the safety of everyone on board every time we go out. I have to take that seriously whether we are day sailing or extended cruising. But, if you take your learning in your own hands, take it a step at a time, push yourself to new experiences but try to keep your mistakes survivable, you will do fine. You and your family will have great adventures and endless stories to tell.

Buy your boat. Enjoy.
__________________
Tayana42 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 09:26   #14
Registered User

Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 143
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
For sure every bit of learning is useful (if "you" learn from it!)
I agree with you. I know I need more experience, I am under no delusions.

I was very glad that the instructor was so "hands off" and actually let me skipper. Usually he just said at the end of the day "I want to be at location xxxx tomorrow night" and I had to come up with a passage plan and execute it the next day and have the crew and boat ready for sea when he came on deck. Then we would go off, the weather would ignore the forecast and the passage plan became so much scrap paper.
__________________
beverley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 09:44   #15
Registered User
 
Rhapsody-NS27's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: VA, boat: Deale, MD
Boat: 1981 Nor'sea 27
Posts: 1,409
Re: First Time as Skipper: Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by advocate777 View Post
3.) TaKing ASA or whatever sailing lessons is a great INTRODUCTION to sailing for rank newbies like me.

4.) You must have regular access to a boat. Either as crew, or better yet.....have your very own boat!
I've only done ASA101 and thought that was a great intro to sailing. I was excited to learn more and thought it was better to get my own boat.

I researched boats and bought mine last year. Still setting things up and hope to take my first solo sail out on the lake soon. I've learned a lot of different things I would not have otherwise. I've had a couple people tell me I should just rent a boat when I want to sail, but to me, that wasn't enough. I'm very happy I bought my own boat and look forward to any time I can spend on it, even if it's maintenance work. I like that there is always something new to learn and it doesn't get boring.

__________________

__________________
Daniel - Rhapsody Blog,
“A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s.” — Bernard Moitessier
"I don't need therapy, I just need my boat"
Rhapsody-NS27 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
skipper

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:55.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.