You will learn almost everything there is to know about actually sailing the closer to the water
and more simply you go. Sailing is a connection between you, the boat and the big enviroment out there. A small boat is way closer to the elements than something larger so you learn to live in the elements not float over them.
Get a small dinghy
. Something around 8' and sail it. You won't need anything to launch it and sailing it only requires that you can swim because of the inevitable capsize
. Experience the wind/water/boat interface. The boat will only be an initial learning
experience but hang on to it. If you discover you have been truly bitten by the sailing bug. It will make a great dinghy
for your cruising sailboat.
Once you know where the wind
is coming from and how to take advantage of it, get a trailerable day sailer that you can easily tow. Something stable like a Rhodes 19, O'day or such. Especially nice if you can configure the cockpit
as a floating tent so you could spend a week end or longer on the boat. These boats are available dirt cheap
yet offer most of the complexity of larger boats even down to a spinnaker
. A great source of hands on experience with everything from multiple sail interaction and trim to navigation
. They will also teach you a lot about the joys of boat maintenance
. Look at this boat as a throw away. Not that it will be worthless when your done, but a transition to what you are really after. The important thing is you get on the water with it. Head
down to the Ohio
River, Up to Lake Erie and every puddle of water in between and do it every weekend during the season. In short, Take it to any body of water it will float in, sail the sh*t out of it, every possible moment.
FWIW, when I met my wife, she'd never been closer to a sailboat than a Currier and Ive's woodblock print. Before we were married, I conned her into a delivery cruise
from St Pete to Norfolk and later several deliveries from SF to Newport Beach
, CA along with a number of day sails
on larger boats and living with me on my Westsail. She didn't mind going along for the ride but really didn't understand that much about 'sailing.' The larger boats were too intimidating, frankly, more than she could physically handle and there was always someone else about ready to jump in and sail the boat. She did a great job in the galley
but didn't really get 'sailing.' After a couple of years of this, she heard the local community was offering sailing lessons
in Sabots so she decided to sign up. The minimal instruction, but more importantly, actually being out on the water in that little dinghy, all by herself, turned on the light for her. She suddenly became a sailor instead of a passenger.
I've been sailing since I built a Sailfish when I was 12. Never had a lesson, just did a lot of reading and went out and did it, often not in that order. Moved up to a 26' keel
boat then to a 35' IOR Type and then to a Heavy displacment cruiser. Have done the SoPac thing and sailed both coasts as well as lived aboard for a number of years. I learned everything I know about the wind/water/boat interface on that little Sailfish, however and most everything else on the 26 footer. Start small and move up.
If you want a vacation
and want to do it on the water, a sailing school
is okay. Personally, I think your money
would be better spent on buying
a small boat and sailing it. In the interim subscribe to Sail, Cruising World, Lattitudes and Attitudes, etc. and haunt the libraries and used book stores for sailing books
. For the sheer love of sailing read any and all books
by Bernard Moitessier. He was a bit odd but captured the addiction of sailing the best of anyone I've read.
Get out there