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Old 20-11-2012, 09:14   #1
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How best to grow as a sailor

Hi all. What is the best way to grow as a sailor and learn enough to be able to do bare boat charters? I've got a 5 year plan to save up and buy a cruising catamaran (or maybe a mono) for the family and I to sail around Florida and the Bahamas in the summers between school. I have been looking at ASA sailing schools and wondering if they are worth the cost to learn to sail. I've got some sailing experience, I took a sailing trip with a friend in college and I'm confident I could get sails up and hold a proper heading as well as do some basic navigation but I am not confident in my ability to handle large sees or bad weather should the need arise. I'm a pretty quick study and a real hands on type but really don't have any connections to the world of sailing anymore which is why the ASA schools are so appealing. So what is the best way to learn? Schools? Hang out at the docks and volunteer to crew?

Tom
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:29   #2
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

ASA 104 went over a lot of boat systems, which was especially valuable given my that I had no idea how anything worked. So I highly recommend doing at least that class so you know what is going on with the plumbing and engine and things of that nature.

For heavy weather and the other issues you've mentioned, read about it. Plenty of good books on those topics (Adlard Coles).
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:32   #3
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

Well the obvious answer is sail and study but I think you already know that so the quesiton is how?

Sail, if you have the time then volunteer to crew. The two most common options here as a crew for weekend racers and for cruisers looking for a spare hand when they're moving their boat a long distance.

The cruiser spots vary from a few hours to move a couple of miles from one dock to another, a few weeks to move a boat up or down the east coast following the seasons, or across the Atlantic. Here the more experience and skills you can bring will give you a better chance at getting a spot. If you have other skills to bring like engine repair and maintenance, plumbing, wiring, refrigeration those will be major pluses.

To find longer sailing options post in the crew wanted section here and other forums like the SSCA web site.

Study. Depends on your preference. Some people prefer a more formal structure setting and do better taking a class. Others do as well or better going self taught.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:44   #4
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

If I were to learn sailing again, I would buy myself a sailing dinghy and start sailing her on a lake or off the beach. I would also enroll into some sort of sailing club where there is always plenty of skills exchange, plenty opportunity to ask questions and one can meet people with keel boats and crew for them. I would do some racing too, be it a weekend family race.

Also read, read and read. then try out what you read.

BTW after all that and before buying my own keelboat I would take whatever local certification might be required (if it is required).

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Old 20-11-2012, 10:09   #5
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

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What is the best way to grow as a sailor...
Eat well.
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Old 20-11-2012, 10:14   #6
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

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Eat well.

That I have got down to a science.

Tom
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Old 20-11-2012, 10:15   #7
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Talking Re: How best to grow as a sailor

Plant your feet in Grow Bag and water well
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Old 20-11-2012, 10:20   #8
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

Take the ASA classes through ASA 105, if you want some navigation skills. Then, get involved in a race program. Racing has taught me more about sailing in a shorter period of time than just pleasure sailing. In order to race effectively, you will quickly learn how to properly trim a sail and get the most from your sail trim and course. I also learned the limits of the boat I was sailing on. How much I could push her, when to reef, etc. You will also get very good at reading the wind and the water. Learn how to see the wind coming before it gets to you. Learn to feel the wind shifts, etc.

The classes will get you the theory. Racing will make you a better sailor.
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Old 20-11-2012, 12:32   #9
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

Education + Experience = Good Foundation.

I've been an ASA Instructor since 1994 and here are my suggestions:

Take 1 or 2 classes at a time and then build experience based upon those classes until the skills become second hand to you. Then, sign up for the next class. I think the curriculum of ASA 101-103-104-105+106 provides you with very good training foundation. But, it is more effective if you build experience between each class.

Also, consider incorporating training into your first couple of charters. This is a great way to learn, enjoy a charter, and build experience all at the same time. Also, you will have an instructor/captain aboard to coach you through your charter. This is one of my favorite ways to teach, because it does not have the time management pressure of a group class and you can incorporate the training easily into a normal charter routine. This works particularly well for classes like 104 and 106.

Choose your School/Instructor carefully. Unfortunately, they are not all the same (although ASA has made much progress in recent years).

The advantage of formal training is that it will dramatically shorten your learning curve and it fills in gaps that you might miss with just experience building alone.

And, there are lots of great ways to build experience: volunteer to crew (both racing and cruising), read everything you can get your hands-on, join a sailing club, buy a small boat....

Finally, even after you have completed all of the above, keep pushing the envelope. The knowledge domain of sailing is huge -- there is ALWAYS more to learn.
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Old 20-11-2012, 12:51   #10
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

Water well with rum?
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Old 20-11-2012, 13:01   #11
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

The same way you grow anything..... Plenty of sunlight and some water.

Tke some courses to get the basics then get out on the water any way you can. Small boat or big boat they all count.
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Old 20-11-2012, 13:08   #12
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

First, Barnakiel's suggestion to get a small boat is right on. If you want to build sailing and boat handling skills a small boat cannot be beat. Whatever you do with the boat, right or wrong, you will see instant results in what the boat does.

Then Belizesailor's recommendation to alternate study with real world sailing is also right on. When I started out I read a lot trying to learn about boats but so much of it did not really sink in or make sense until I went out on a boat and saw it happen. Then I went home and did more study to work up to the next phase.

Also I see you are in north FL. If you would like some practise in boat repair and maintenance I have a 42' Peason in Gainesville that you can come practise on.
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Old 20-11-2012, 13:22   #13
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

If you are a good learner from reading, you can just read about the basics then buy or rent a small but tough boat (sunfish, laser, Hobie Wave, or some type of small monohull 14-16') and sail in a safe place like a small lake or bay and when the weather is nice. Be sure and learn about who has right of way and what the channel markers mean before going out and get the coast guard minimum safety requirements. (PFD's, flash light etc) Also on a small boat when you pull a "string" something usually happens fast, whereas on a larger vessel it can take a while before you see the effect of that pull and by then you may not even know it was because you did such and such.

I started this way then went directly into racing where you learn really fast as an earlier poster pointed out. (but with prior power boat experience)

You go from just making the boat move forward to making the boat move forward and holding position, to backing up (sometimes needed on the start line), to figuring proper mast rake for up and downwind, to proper mast rotation, amount of downhull and outhaul on the main, to sheet tension, mast prebend, etc
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Old 20-11-2012, 14:18   #14
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

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First, Barnakiel's suggestion to get a small boat is right on. If you want to build sailing and boat handling skills a small boat cannot be beat. Whatever you do with the boat, right or wrong, you will see instant results in what the boat does.

Then Belizesailor's recommendation to alternate study with real world sailing is also right on. When I started out I read a lot trying to learn about boats but so much of it did not really sink in or make sense until I went out on a boat and saw it happen. Then I went home and did more study to work up to the next phase.

Also I see you are in north FL. If you would like some practise in boat repair and maintenance I have a 42' Peason in Gainesville that you can come practise on.
I had noticed you were in Gville. I plugged your coordinates into Google maps. I'm up in Keystone Heights, small world. I've actually got a ton of experience on the water and in boat repair. I've been boating for 10 or so years now and own a 22' center console sport fishing boat. As a consequence of that, I have also gotten pretty handy with fiberglass repair. I am just about finished putting a new deck on that 22' center console since the original decided to rot from the inside out. Not a fun job as I am sure you are aware. There is another guy a little North of you with what looks like 2 steel hulled motor sailors in his front yard. I see them every time I drive through that area for work. They look home built but also well done.

Oh yeah and I've got a Hobie 16 I am restoring. Father in law was gonna scrap it after a tree limb fell on one of the hulls and caused some damage. It's next on the list as soon as I get the big boat out of the shop.

Tom
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Old 20-11-2012, 14:53   #15
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Re: How best to grow as a sailor

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I had noticed you were in Gville. I plugged your coordinates into Google maps. I'm up in Keystone Heights, small world. I've actually got a ton of experience on the water and in boat repair. I've been boating for 10 or so years now and own a 22' center console sport fishing boat. As a consequence of that, I have also gotten pretty handy with fiberglass repair. I am just about finished putting a new deck on that 22' center console since the original decided to rot from the inside out. Not a fun job as I am sure you are aware. There is another guy a little North of you with what looks like 2 steel hulled motor sailors in his front yard. I see them every time I drive through that area for work. They look home built but also well done.

Oh yeah and I've got a Hobie 16 I am restoring. Father in law was gonna scrap it after a tree limb fell on one of the hulls and caused some damage. It's next on the list as soon as I get the big boat out of the shop.

Tom
Hi Tom,

Haven't see the motorsailors. I must not drive in that direction. Since I work at home I don't get out much anymore, except to go work on the boat.

I was just initiated into the world of fiberglass work, rebuilding the refer box on the Pearson. Not my favorite part of boats. In fact I think I would rather overhaul a clogged head.

Have a 19' bowrider myself but fortunately in good shape so little to do other than change the oil occasionally. One fixer upper at a time I think is plenty. If you count dinghys and canoes and such I've got 6 boats so at least a couple of them need to be low maintenance.

If you want to get together and talk boats send me a PM and I'll send phone number. Or plug the lat/lon in your GPS and I'll meet you there.
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