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Old 02-05-2012, 15:52   #1
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Noob Needs Advice - Sailing Schools / Classes

Hi I am Eric, 27 yrs old, married and have a son. I'm drawn to the cruising lifestyle because of its simplicity and desire to travel. We are working and saving to get a boat, taking sailing lessons, save for the kitty, etc. We hope to learn, prep and save so we can leave the beautiful PNW and sail south summer of 2013 or 2014 and cruise for a year or two.

I'm trying to get advice on how many classes we should take from a school or yatch club.

The school I'm looking at offers a basic keel boat class 'crew' which qualifies me as a crew member.

Then they have basic keel boat class 'skipper' which qualifies me as a skipper, gives me a USA Sailing Certificate, and qualifies up to 27' sail boat.

Then they have basic cruising, which qualifies me up to 35' sail boat (must take basic keel boat class first).

Plus other classes.

I would love to take all of the classes, however the cost is prohibitive(about $2300 per person). Could someone get by with tons of studying and reading on their own, plus taking the basic keel boat class and be able to skipper their own 30' sail boat? And learn by taking my boat out on the weekends locally?

I've thought about maybe becoming a crew member on a local race boat or something to gain experience. Or just taking the boat out every weekend.

Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated
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Old 02-05-2012, 15:59   #2
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

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Could someone get by with tons of studying and reading on their own, plus taking the basic keel boat class and be able to skipper their own 30' sail boat? And learn by taking my boat out on the weekends locally?

I've thought about maybe becoming a crew member on a local race boat or something to gain experience. Or just taking the boat out every weekend.

Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated
Absolutely. That is just how we did it with our first boat which was a Catalina 30
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Old 02-05-2012, 16:06   #3
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

Ditto!
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Old 02-05-2012, 16:16   #4
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

Oh good, there just seems to be so much to learn! Its like a whole new language of terms. Just a minute ago I learned the difference between a sloop and a cutter

I guess, I wasnt sure how much was really covered in a a beginner class to safely navigate a 30ft boat.

Thanks for the encouragement, I will skip the other classes and save the money for the kitty
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Old 02-05-2012, 16:21   #5
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

The one class you should not skip is navigation.

Take a class, get some helm time and then decide what to do next.

Taking class after class does not build up experience.
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Old 02-05-2012, 16:28   #6
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

Doing classes early just avoids unlearning bad habits and gets you talking the talk the way most sailors know it. It should also build confidence. Confidence is the key to getting better. You need to know the basics and know you know them so you can also go beyond them.

When you are getting started and trying to save cash they can see a big expense (they are). They will help you maximize the time you do have to sail. You need a path to more sailing - as much as possible! You'll need that time on the water to get better. More than that you need to have fun while you get ready to take off. Part of that is getting time on the water - anyway that works! If you need to sail on "other peoples boats" you can't sound like a jerk and you need to be honest with yourself. Classes cost less than owning a boat!

Classes are to get your head right and hopefully teach you what you don't know even if it takes time to perfect. It should give you a solid base so you don't leave out things. Sailing is a million details that all fit together. Classes give you the framework to store off this knowledge and make order to it. I really feel sailing requires a higher level of organization than you are required on land. Training the mind early on helps a lot.

I like to say invest in the captain and crew first then you can afford a boat.
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Old 02-05-2012, 17:00   #7
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

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The one class you should not skip is navigation.

Take a class, get some helm time and then decide what to do next.

Taking class after class does not build up experience.
Navigation
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Old 02-05-2012, 18:09   #8
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

We bought our first boat, a Catalina 27, after one sail with a friend aboard his boat. We bought a bunch of books and sailed our asses off in the Columbia River for three years, learning on our own.

Then we bought a bigger boat, a Tartan 37, and sailed her for a year in Puget Sound before bringing her down the coast to Oregon. Since then we've made several trips offshore between Portland and Vancouver Island. We learn something every day we sail, work on the boat, talk to other sailors, or read (books, web forums, magazines).

I spent my money on a boat, instead of classes, but I'm a self-learner and am confident that I can figure things out on my own (with lots of help and advice from my sailing friends). My motto? "How hard can it be?" I've probably picked up a few bad habits, but I've also gained a lot of experience and self-confidence.

If you decide to go this route, my best advice is to find a good little pocket cruiser in the 22' - 27' foot range as your first boat. We paid $6000 for our Catalina 27, sailed the heck out of her for three years, and sold her for $5000 when we were ready to move up.
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Old 02-05-2012, 23:04   #9
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

Contact your local Coast Guard Auxillery about a basic Navigation class. I dont think they charge much. Go to the local yacht Club and volunteer to crew on local races. Maybe have the wife crew on a Ladys Only boat. It often works out better that way. Buy a chart of the local area and study it before and after every race and the symbols on the chart will start to relate to the bouys, etc. that you will see in the real world. Every day spent sailing on other peoples boats will help you make a better decision when you buy your own boat.___Just my 2 cents worth.____Grant.
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Old 02-05-2012, 23:12   #10
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

Ditto the other advice. Also check out if there is a US Power Squadrons course in your area. They give a basic boating and navigation course that is excellent.

If you hang around yacht clubs you can crew on race nights, but don't just be rail meat -- ask the skipper to teach you about navigation and strategy, ask the trimmers about their techniques.
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Old 02-05-2012, 23:14   #11
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

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We bought a bunch of books and sailed our asses off in the Columbia River for three years, learning on our own.
Most people would learn navigation just as well from a book as from an instructor. Books tend to be significantly less peevish.
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Old 02-05-2012, 23:18   #12
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

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Most people would learn navigation just as well from a book as from an instructor. Books tend to be significantly less peevish.
We have a much higher success rate with students who take a class with an instructor than those who take a correspondence course, even with email support. The instructor can provide individual attention for specific problems that students have.
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Old 03-05-2012, 00:00   #13
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

$2300 worth of classes is more than a decent small boat. Way more valuable to get out there and do it than drop a ton of money on classes and certifications. The Power Squadron and Coast Guard auxillary offer cheap classes on basic boating and navigation which should be all you'll need to get out there safely. Get yourself a basic sailing book and read it, then read it again and maybe even a third time. Then go out and do it.

If you don't have the wherewithal to buy a boat, hanging around your local yacht club and volunteering to crew will get you out on a boat right quick. Someone who will show up reliably and regularly to crew for races is a valuable asset to any owner and will give you valuable experience. Might want to spread yourself around to a couple of boats to vary the experience. Don't be put off by the intensity of crewing during a race and bail out right quick on a skipper who gained fame on a mission to deliver bread fruit from Tahiti to the West Indies. Racing can be fun and it also can be a real grind, literally. I did more than one race where I saw little more than the top of the winch I was grinding.

I taught myself to sail on a boat I built at age 12. Did get some navigation training as a Navy Pilot but that's the only formal schooling I've had. Learned ocean sailing by buying a boat and going out 3 and sometimes more times a week for a couple of years. Done SoPac, Pacific and Atlantic Coast, and Hawaii. You can do it to, just get time on the water. That is the best instructor.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:45   #14
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Re: Noob needs advice - Sailing schools/classes

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Contact your local Coast Guard Auxillery about a basic Navigation class. I dont think they charge much...
Thanks for the info! I checked out their website and it doesnt look like the USCG Aux is offering a Nav class in the near future.

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Ditto the other advice. Also check out if there is a US Power Squadrons course in your area. They give a basic boating and navigation course that is excellent.
Great info! I sent an email to the local chapter about their class schedule. Their classes are way cheap! Plus they have a sailing elective class



Thanks to everyone that has posted, with all the great info and encouragement, it seems getting the training and gaining experience will be easy enough. I guess it seems more more difficult than it really is.

I'm looking at boats and I'm having a tough time not going out and buying one on the spot ... I may just have to start a new thread on that
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