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Old 17-09-2014, 08:07   #31
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

I agree with all the replies so far. Except I think you need a kick in the butt. Here it is:

I third Thinwater's and Ann T. Cate's advice about getting out solo, and I don't buy your excuses for not going out by yourselves. As a couple, you wasted 9 of 16 weekends because you are too scared to go out alone. Go to the marina anyway. If the conditions are gentle, take the boat out and learn something, even if it's just raising the sails on a windless day. Pick one skill to work on each outing. Strike up conversations with other people at the marina. Make a goal of meeting at least on new person everytime you go to the marina. You might be amazed at how many sailors enjoy taking people out on their boats. Also, think about how many other sailors are in your situation, looking for a person to help them sail. Learn how to get in and out of your slip by asking fellow sailors to help you.

Splitting up duties is a bad strategy. You both need to know how to solo sail the boat, run the engine, and return to dock. What if one of you gets sick, gets injured, or falls overboard? One method I've used in learning is "Captain of the Day." That is, one person acts as the captain, meaning: drives the boat, makes all the decisions, tells the other person/people what to do (including fetching food and drinks). Switch roles the next time out. Fast learning curve. Both roles have their advantages. It's fun.

Be judicious about your projects. You are far from needing electricity on your boat. You need to be daysailing, not gearing up for night sailing. And the conditon of the wood probably doesn't matter to the sailability of your boat. As you learn to sail, you will have a better idea of what projects are important. Make sure you sail at least one day for every day or part of a day that you spend on boat projects.
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Old 17-09-2014, 08:44   #32
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

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Oh, Ann! I would love that.. but honestly... I'm scared to death! Probably because I don't have enough experience yet.

Scott and I have basically been learning "our jobs" on the boat. (i.e. we divid up tasks so that one person would be an expert.. then, we will switch and teach the other person to do our jobs... ) So... I still have NO concept in how to run the motor...

Ok, I missed this. Bad idea. On a short handed boat you both have to be "experts" in everything. Don't fall into the his and hers jobs. That doesn't mean you'll both be as proficient in everything, but you both must be able to do everything by yourself. My partner (another Ann) and I purposely trade roles every day we are underway. I suck at docking, but I do it b/c sometimes we come to a dock on my days. Both of you need to learn to do everything.

BTW, I get that sometimes weather makes it ugly to get out there. And going alone sucks. Build confidence with successes. Go slowly, but keep pushing yourselves bit by bit. As I say, sailing is easy. It's the other stuff about liveable boats that are hard.


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Old 17-09-2014, 08:52   #33
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

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SEE!! I knew if I stuck around here long enough I'd catch what YOU PEOPLE HAVE!!! Thanks alot you guys!!!
It's really a mental condition that brings about a physical attribute....

Obsession-Fixation that results in dirty hands from all of the money passing from yours to others...

I forgot to mention the "go out by yourself" suggestion, as others have said... Yes, you may have a nasty slip, but at the very least you could go to the boat while hubs is unavailable... Work on something, raise something, unfurl something, start something, bring a friend... You may get the guts to push off during a calmer moment... Then a 2nd time...

AND FINALLY....

KEEP YOUR LOGS!!!!!!
Keep a boat log of every visit and activities, and a 2nd personal log of every time you toss off lines, regardless of what boat.... You will be amazed at your personal accomplishments reading back, and have an ultimate maintenance log for the boat!
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Old 17-09-2014, 08:56   #34
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

You need to plan longer weekends or vacations together so you get time to sail several days in a row. And tell family that you are more available in the off season. In just 6 years you are going to tell them you are not available at all anyway. When you retire it is going to take at least another year to buy your boat, dispose of most of your stuff, get the boat the way you want it, and get comfortable with it before you leave. During that time, if you don't have too many projects and tools out and on deck you will get to sail it. I assume you will move aboard in a marina during that time and the community and advice you are finding in forums will be magnified exponentially. Just moving aboard is amazing. I did ignore many of those distractions during my life, and would sail alone or with friends when my wife was busy with our kids. I had very few neighbors I considered as anything more then acquaintances until we moved aboard, now I have a major lifestyle in common with all my neighbors. We are leaving next month for a fairly open ended cruise but it took me 40 years from the purchase of my first sailboat. An after thought, after you are more comfortable sailing, maybe a couple of years, try a charter to get the full effect. We did a few in the Virgin Islands and 1 in Mexico. . Good luck.
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Old 17-09-2014, 09:12   #35
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

Sounds like if you continue with this motivation, you'll do just fine. Don't get frustrated (we always say that, even though we all get frustrated with something!). I recently bought my first boat in 25 years (but I'd been sailing and boating on other people's boats all during that time). Once learned (e.g. knowing when to tack and when to jibe, in a gust and about to be knocked down, do you point up into a luff or fall off and let out the mainsheet easy?) you don't forget it. Also, racing is good training in a good environment; just don't assume you are walking into a good environment (I've had racing skippers that we nicknamed "Adolf Bligh"). Press on! Fair winds and following seas!
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Old 17-09-2014, 09:22   #36
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

Don't worry about it. Keep sailing at weekends when you can and don't worry about it. When the time comes to leave and go cruising you will have made a couple of friends who will be more than happy to help you out on a few passages until you're confident enough yourself. Sounds like you're doing things the right way so far!
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Old 17-09-2014, 09:38   #37
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

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This is advice from an old cruiser that has done very little racing. RACE! as crew on large or small boats, as much as you can. You will learn how to handle a boat much faster than if you go out for weekends and putter around. You are already learning about boat ownership (money and time) but sail trim under pressure will help you for the rest of your sailing years. This doesnt mean that you have to push your own boat like a race boat, but you will know how to get the most out of it that you want. The other advantage of racing, is that you often get to learn with the only cost being sandwiches and beer. The most important thing is to have fun. ______Grant.
Yes racing is excellent learning. good point. Other than that, learn to reef until it is automatic. Sailing isn't very hard, but come crisis time... you need to be comfortable enough to get whatever needs done done quickly! My first sailing was racing, so it's hard for me to imagine just starting from scratch. You will learn everything racing on someone elses boat, reefing, sail trim, going to weather, currents and tides etc.
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Old 17-09-2014, 09:40   #38
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

Scarlett- you will do wonderfully! My hubby and I are on the same time line. We take our first sailing lesson in 9 days- not that I'm counting - My first sail boat is a little Snark Sunflower 12' long. We are joining the sailing club after we take our keel boat class whish will allow us to sail the club boats on weekends. We our undecided on whether to purchase a smaller beginner boat- 26-30' or just get THE boat 30-40'. Either way it will be a year or so before we commit a boat so you are a year ahead of us already! Neither of us had every sailed when we hatched our plan of living aboard and cruising. People think we're nuts but it's not the first time they've thought that of me. I understand your trepidation about going out alone but start slow- go clean up the boat while hubs is at work, raise and lower the sails, take a friend. Pretty soon you'll be so ancy to go you won't even think about it. Know that you'll make mistakes and that you'll learn from them- I've tried dumping my little boat over just to practice.
It is a disease I'm afraid with no cure. My kids are still in shock but the oldest is looking forward to coming to visit us on the boat already! We're looking forward to having the grandkids spend summers with us and learning.
Enjoy and start a blog so we can follow along with you- I"ve learned that the sailing/ cruising community is tight knit and you've got tons of support!!!
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Old 17-09-2014, 09:53   #39
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

Scarlet, I think you are doing just fine for your first year of boat ownership. Since the two of you have only been out sailing twice on your own boat, I can understand (and agree with) your unwillingness to go out single-handed. IMO there is zero sense in going out single-handed until the two of you have become comfortable in handling the boat together.

What may be a good idea, however, is to get an experienced sailor from your marina to go out sailing with the two of you - even for a short sail, on your own boat. Have him describe everything he is doing and why. I'd be surprised if he or she does not have some ideas that will help you with docking.

Docking (or leaving the dock) in a cross wind can be very tricky - as you have already found out. Use of spring lines (and having ones of the correct length for your slip with a loop ready to go over a cleat) can be a huge help. While you will want to go slowly, judicious use of the engine is critical. You can practise on open water moving forwared at a fair clip and then hitting reverse with relatively high revs to determine how quickly your boat will come to a stop (throw a life-ring in the water and then circle back and approach with the wind direction over the ring as it would be over your dock). Of course the spring line can also be used to bring the boat to a stop from slow speed.

Since I believe that you have an outboard, if you can steer the motor you will likely find that to be far more effective at steering than the rudder at slow speeds. Again, practise maneuvering on open water. I do agree with those who have suggested that this is a skill that you should both develop and practise at the outset. What if one of you was injured on the water? Both of you need to be able to get the boat onto a dock.

Do you have a VHF radio? If so, when short-handed (or docking in tricky situations), you may be able to radio ahead and have somebody assist with lines upon your return. If not, you may want to purchase a hand-held VHF at the boat show. This can, of course, be taken with you to your next boat. Having a spare hand-held VHF is never a waste of money!

Anyway Scarlet, it sounds as if the two of you are doing just fine. As has been pointed out, perhaps next year you can book a holiday on the boat for a week to practise not only sailing and docking, but anchoring out. Keep it fun - and at this stage, don't deliberately put yourselves into a situation which you do not feel ready for.

Brad
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Old 17-09-2014, 10:23   #40
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

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I have a long term plan of buying a catamaran and becoming a full time cruiser when we retire.. (6 years). But, as of 4 months ago, I had never even been on a sailboat. My husband and I bought a small sailboat at the end of May so that we can begin to learn everything we need to know about sailing.

How's it going? not great!!

Here is the problem. since we bought our sailboat we've had 16 weekends in which to sail. (can't sail during the week because we work, and it's a bit of a drive to get there... )

Here is what happened in those 16 weekends:

4 of those weekends I was out of town. (family issues)
5 of those weekends my husband was working (he works shift work)
2 of those weekends we used to work on the boat. (major cleaning.. and repairs needed since it was an old boat owned by a bachelor who used it for partying.. )
1 weekend we went out on a friends boat
2 weekends the weather wasn't conducive to sailing
2 weekends .. we went out and had a good sail.

and now the season is nearing a close.. and I feel like I've learned so little. I have to learn enough in the next 6 years to be able to go on blue water passages... I need WAY more time to learn than this... right?

Or, am I just thinking that this is a way bigger deal to learn than it actually is.

so my question is... how experienced do you think I would need to be able to handle blue water sailing? and do you think this is even feasible this close to retirement?
It's feasible. One caution, sailing a cat will be a lot different than a mono.
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Old 17-09-2014, 10:32   #41
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

P.S. Scarlet, I am assuming two things which, considering your lack of experience and the size of your boat, I should not be assuming:
1. That you know what is meant by a spring line.
2. That your boat has mooring cleats on the side decks for spring lines.

If you do not have mooring cleats installed there on your boat, do so. Again, a potential purchase at the boat show. A rear spring line will run from this side cleat to the back end of the dock/rear piling. If you leave a rear spring attached at the dock/piling of the correct length with an eye on the boat side, when coming alongside the dock, move to the side of the deck just in front of the cleat and using a boat hook, pick up the spring line and slip it over the side mooring cleat. This will bring your boat to a stop and in doing so, will tend to pull the boat towards the dock at the point of the cleat (whcih should be place at around the point of maximum beam for the boat).

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Old 17-09-2014, 12:37   #42
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

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YUP!!! I love my monohull.. but, for long term cruising and living aboard? a Cat makes more sense for us. Hopefully you won't judge me too harshly..
You may want to go back and reread my post in this thread.

Not saying a cat does not make for some things, just not all things. And that is a problem I see with lots of folks who buy boats, even very experienced folks.

Before you try and pick out the right boat and get skill to sail it you need to determine where you are going to sail and what kind of sailing you will be doing. Cruising in the Bahamas/Caribbean where passages are short and supplies are fairly easy to find is much different than sailing in the South Pacific where distances are greater and anchorages are normally much deeper. Sailing in the Pacific North West is a whole new set of conditions.

I selected a cat because I am sailing in Florida and the Bahamas. Possibly I will go a little farther South, but unlikely I would cross the Atlantic or ever see the Pacific. If I was circumnavigating even using the Panama and Suez Canals I would most likely get a steel hull monohull.

One thing that has been touched on is driving the boat under power, a skill often overlooked. Another thing you need to develop what ever boat you get is using ground tackle. Most folks who do any cruising wind up driving a boat under power to an anchorage and dropping the hook. Another skill often seldom practiced is heaving to. The better you are at these two skill the better you will sleep, literally.
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Old 17-09-2014, 13:59   #43
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

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Ok, I missed this. Bad idea. On a short handed boat you both have to be "experts" in everything. Don't fall into the his and hers jobs. That doesn't mean you'll both be as proficient in everything, but you both must be able to do everything by yourself. My partner (another Ann) and I purposely trade roles every day we are underway. I suck at docking, but I do it b/c sometimes we come to a dock on my days. Both of you need to learn to do everything.

BTW, I get that sometimes weather makes it ugly to get out there. And going alone sucks. Build confidence with successes. Go slowly, but keep pushing yourselves bit by bit. As I say, sailing is easy. It's the other stuff about liveable boats that are hard.


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Best post I've seen. Those going into particulars stink. Nothing can beat experience. Sailing is easy but can also be deadly if going into it half assed.
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Old 17-09-2014, 14:30   #44
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

So far, I think the advice is going well.

I'd like to second Happy MD's suggestion of keeping a log. If done right, it'll point you in the right directions for further learning, and figuring out what goes wrong. Do not expect a straight line up growth curve. Some days are better than others.

Do a Google search here on CF to find posts about getting boats out of difficult slips. Southern Star gave you good advice there. Once that rear spring is on, skipper uses the throttle to keep the boat under control (prop wash over rudder keeps steerage).

Stop helping each other talk each other out of going out. It can become a habit, and is counter productive.

You need to practice docking, both of you, and over and over again. Make sure the prop is clean and also the bottom, because it will make the boat steer more easily. Spend as many mornings practicing docking as you can. Figure out what goes wrong. You may need to come in faster to overcome the effects of the wind on the boat. Many of us have hit the dock with our boat, but it's better than squashing the guy next door. (And, fender both sides of the boat for this practice session. To protect both boats.)

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Old 17-09-2014, 14:31   #45
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Re: How Will I Ever Learn?

I fourth (or whatever it is now) the recommendations that you missed 5 weekends. Sure, you may not want to go alone, so grab some crew - take a friend, somebody from the club, etc...

And like so many people said - practice docking. It gets waaaay easier once you get your confidence up. It may help to take a day, get an experienced friend (or instructor) on your boat, and dock/undock several dozen times.

Then you'll gain tons of confidence and experience. I need a spring line (long 60ft thing around a dock cleat) to leave my slip. 'cause my old boat cant back to starboard due to prop walk and wind. Once I figured out a bit of line thing, it was easy.

My wife was leery of docking, we'd owned the boat for a year before she even tried. Now I don't get to dock if she's on the boat - helming is alot less work than dousing sails, hooking dock lines up, etc...
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