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Old 20-01-2006, 17:53   #1
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Starting Out

How do I start?

My exoerience of sailing is a speedboat but I have always loved the idea of sailing but know nothing about it.

I nearly bought a 27ft boat in September.

I also nearly ended up on a trip from Scotland to Iceland but my friend's father put the trip off anyone done it?

Julie
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Old 20-01-2006, 18:43   #2
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Easiest way is to crew. You will learn quickly if you have a good support group. Depending on where you are located, there may be sailors on this forum that can suggest opportunities in your area. Otherwise, google for sailing clubs near by.

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Old 20-01-2006, 18:48   #3
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Wow, that's a big question

Here's a quick run down (choose one or combine several, mix up the order, have fun):

1) Buy, borrow or build a dinghy sailor, teach yourself to sail in protected waters by reading and trial and error. (I did this many years ago.)

2) Take a dinghy sailing class. (I did this in Laser IIs).

3) Be crew in other people's dinghy or keel boats.

4) Take a keel boat sailing class. (I did this in Santana 20s).

5) Join a club and sail their boats, gradually moving up in size as you're comfortable.

6) Get bare boat certified and charter a suitable sized boat for a week or more.

7) Buy your own 27, 30, 34, whatever boat and start learning how to care for as well as sail.

8) Race as crew on another's boat. (Could be done very early.)

9) Race as captain on your own boat, or a borrowed one.

10) Decide what you like best, and stick with it. Grow with experience.


Don't underestimate the benefits of starting small (like a dinghy or small keel boat). Most importantly, do it until it's not fun anymore.

Jim H
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Old 26-01-2006, 11:44   #4
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capt lar once whispered in the wind:
Easiest way is to crew. ...
What's your opinion on the formal training route? There are businesses offering the ASA Basic Keelboat class nearby. Are they worth it? It seems like they pack a lot of stuff into a short time span that might provide a nice jump start, but the cost isn't trivial.

Do you think the average person would learn almost as fast crewing?
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Old 27-01-2006, 09:14   #5
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JGarrick once whispered in the wind:
What's your opinion on the formal training route? There are businesses offering the ASA Basic Keelboat class nearby. Are they worth it? It seems like they pack a lot of stuff into a short time span that might provide a nice jump start, but the cost isn't trivial.

Do you think the average person would learn almost as fast crewing?
I think just about any answer to these questions could be correct. There are exceptional sailors out there who learned from crewing and then moving on to their own boats (or simply remaining excellent crew on others' boats).

Some "crew only" sailors have told me, however, that one thing they like is not being responsible for more than their job. They master the positions they are assigned, but they don't have to worry about other aspects of the race or of sailing. Some move on to their own boats, but others might feel they're not ready for it, since they haven't done the whole deal.

One other slight drawback-- racing can be relatively intense, and "everything has to be perfect" as one crew person told me. This type of introduction to sailing might make it seem like more of a challenge than it is.

My wife and I both did the first two ASA certifications, and we'll plan to do three more. Our sense is that prepping hard for the courses and aiming for high nineties on the tests is worth doing and paying for. If nothing else, we get the sense that we know the basics, as far as the ASA course, texts and tests are concerned.

When we did an overnighter last year, we pulled up to a new dock for a first time. We had fenders down, docking lines ready, my wife had a life jacket on at the beam of the boat, standing outside the lifelines, with a beam line ready as we rolled a 90 degree turn and she stepped off to the dock.

A bit later, another sailor at the dock noted, "Yeah, you've had classes. Most people come up with too much speed, no fenders down, no lines ready, and in a general panic."
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Old 27-01-2006, 11:43   #6
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As an ole fart I'd recommened getting the basics first through a sailing class. There's nothing worse then standing there going "Huh!" when someone talks in sailing terms.

One cannot just jump in and go. Sailboats are not powerboats. Preperation is very important. I've seen idiots out there sailing in circles just trying to just get back to the dock.

One can look like a duck and walk like a duck, but if they gobble when they talk, they are a turkey.

Get some training first. You'll feel the comfort of knowing how the wind & sails work....................................._/)
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Old 27-01-2006, 11:56   #7
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Experience

From memory these are actual conversations with folks who rented boats and claimed they were experienced.
MC, me. Where is the boat ? ES, experienced sailor. On the beach a few miles down it will not go this way ( towards the wind )
MC, thank you for returning the boat, do you know where the other half is ?
MC, where is the mast ? ES, it got stuck in the sand over there.
There are many more but I hope you get the idea. Knowing how to sail is a valuable assett. You will learn in a small boat, not a big boat. Mistakes will not be as expensive in a small boat.
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Old 27-01-2006, 18:55   #8
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Gently Does it.

I think Larry gave the best summary advice.

Until you actually get out sailing you won't actually know if the dream matches the real thing, so maybe spending money on 'lessons' before you really know sailing is for you, could be a waste.

And in the real world, not all yacht racing is frantic yet lots of skippers really do need crew.

Most clubs have differing fleets with differing calibre sailors. Many smaller yachts racing are pretty casual, and I'd agree with Larry as locating a suitable club / fleet / skipper should not be too hard.

If after going out a few times, you then find you really do love it, then by all means sign up for some courses. But I'd suggest you try and ensure the courses are balanced by some added time out sailing. Nothing is worse than someone off a sailing course who really believes they know it all...........

However you do it, welcome to the sport as I'm sure you'll end up a really proficient sailor.

Cheers

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Old 27-01-2006, 19:11   #9
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Just to be clear, I was saying sailing club, not racing club. I think it is fine if you decide to race, but that is NOT sailing. Racing is work. People like to win. People get pissed. There is too much emphasis on strategy - not enough on seamanship. Simple example - racers don't reef. I raced Stars for several years. They aren't even capable of being reefed. Sail up - sail down. I would avoid the competition side for a while if possible.

Here in Boston there are a couple of "learn to sail" orgs where, for very little money, you get unlimited access to a variety of daysailors and a few smaller cruisers. You learn, get tested and move up. Look for similar org.

Larry
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Old 29-01-2006, 13:43   #10
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Quote:
capt lar once whispered in the wind:
Just to be clear, I was saying sailing club, not racing club. I think it is fine if you decide to race, but that is NOT sailing. Racing is work. People like to win. People get pissed. There is too much emphasis on strategy - not enough on seamanship. Simple example - racers don't reef. I raced Stars for several years. They aren't even capable of being reefed. Sail up - sail down. I would avoid the competition side for a while if possible.

Larry
I am surprised that people in your area have mainsails which cannot be reefed. Where I am, I would say that over 95% of yachts have mainsails that can be reefed. Maybe there are one or two superlight sports boats that wouldn't even go out in over 25 knots, but other than that, everyone can and does reef - mostly slab reefing, some furler reefing. Knowledge of when to put in a reef (i.e. early), how to, and how to do it quickly is important, even in "harbour" racing.
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Old 29-01-2006, 20:41   #11
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Racers don't reef

There are some classes that do not reef, because they have no reef points. These classes generally use mast bend and other technigues. There are some classes that do not sail beyond a certain wind velocity. There are skippers who are difficult to sail with. There are folks who will never understand the rules, others who will claim that the boat will never sail to its rating, and there are even folks who did not do very well on the race course, who will forever bemoan racing.
Kindoff like telling a Nascar driver to slow down because he would get better fuel milage. My opinion first. If you sail with the right skipper you will learn things from racing that you will not readily learn anywhere else. Would you like a second opinion. Here it is.

"I am very much in favour of racing and, in fact, I don't think you can properly learn to sail without racing.
I could tell you stories you wouldn't believe about seasoned cruising sailors and how they sailed their boats. But, just because you've sailed to Tahiti doesn't mean you did it right, Racing teaches us how to get the most out of our boats with the very least amount of effort. It teaches that reefing increases performance in some conditions and is not just a survival technique. Until you cross that starting line, bows lined up and fighting for clean air, you will not truly learn how to make your boat go to weather" Second opinion courtesy of Bob Perry written in 1990.

I could explain why we need to reef, and why not to, but not now.

Michael
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Old 30-01-2006, 02:48   #12
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Racing or Cruising Crew......

Both get my vote as a great low cost way to learn about sailing - but clearly for either you'll want a good skipper - or you may not learn very much at all.
I'd go with Mike - having to keep to a race schedule duing a season kind of encourages you to go out in conditions that maybe a cruiser would forget. IMHO it's pressing the edge of your experience envelope that actually helps you get more experience than the next guy.
But hey, either way you get out on the weater - so go for either asap.

JOHN
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Old 30-01-2006, 16:39   #13
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I know too many that got off the water because their family raced. Not everyone is competitive. I did it for years and doubt that I would ever again.
The biggest negative is, as racing crew, you will learn alot about how to make a boat go faster, but you will not get tiller time. Competent crew is always in demand, but not necessarily a good all around sailor.

Larry
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Old 30-01-2006, 19:02   #14
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Best skipper I ever raced with had one hard and fast rule - nobody opens their beer until we cross the START line. We had a great time, didn't take things too seriously, and I think because of that attitude managed to do fairly well. You could hear the other boats from two miles away - not the best intro to sailing...
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Old 30-01-2006, 19:53   #15
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Tiller time

If you sail with the right skipper etc etc.
Everyone gets to steer on my boat whether they like it or not.

Michael
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