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Old 03-04-2010, 19:53   #1
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Wanna Be a Sailor

When I was 20, I went to visit my buddy who lived aboard a Beneteau 42 and sailed her around USVI and BVI for few days. That experience has inspired and haunted me ever since to get into that lifestyle. Now that my life is more settled and stable, I would love to get into sailing and cruising. The problem is that I have no idea where to start (I don't even know how to sail.) How did you all get into sailing/cruising? How would you suggest that I get into it?

UncleFuzzy
Sarasota, FL
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:04   #2
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Well, I got into it about the same way you did. Went out with a friend sailing kind of by accident and was immediately hooked.

So I started studying and learning about sailing and cruising more or less the same way one would learn to do anything. For at least a year I obsessed over sailboats and cruising and read every book and magazine I could find about boats. Then started looking for opportunities to help crew on boats and found a couple of opportunities to do so. After a few trips with other sailors I chartered a boat. Then bought a boat. The rest, as they say, is history.
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:07   #3
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There are many approaches including:

1. Take a live aboard sailing course.
2. Day sail through a club or buy yourself an inexpensive keelboat.
3. Crew on for other people (may be hard without getting some more experience first)
4. Buy a pocket cruiser and jump in feet first.

Me, I had done other expedition trips for years. I learned the basics of sailing when young. When I became interested in cruising, I did more day sailing, crewed on a racing boat when ever I could, bought a very affordable small keel boat, took a bareboat course, then bought a pocket cruiser, then bought a slightly bigger cruiser - more crewing for others, day sailing and courses thrown in. Also read everything I could get my hands on.
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:11   #4
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Quote:
I would love to get into sailing and cruising. The problem is that I have no idea where to start (I don't even know how to sail.) How did you all get into sailing/cruising? How would you suggest that I get into it?
Lots of ways to start and some of them are even dangerous. Getting out a few times on "other peoples boat" is not that bad and you could get good at that or like most of us you end up with your own. Never discount sailing other peoples boats. You can have a right good time doing it, be generous, and invited out regularly. Go figure.

The other way might be to try some sailing classes. Lots of adults do them so it's not like you go out with 10 years old wiz kids. Sounds more boring that it really is. The on the water kind can really get you started right. Starting right makes it is easier to get better and it makes it easier to get asked back on other peoples boats. After that charming is never wrong.

You learn to sail and you'll sail more and have more fun. If you find a way to have fun a lot then you might just have to settle for that. If you see the idea of owning a boat just do the rest and wait a year and sail other peoples boats for a bit. Knowing more comes after learning more. You need to know more to go out and buy a boat and still have fun. I really don't think it's too late to start.

It's about finding what works for you. It's about getting out on the water easily and within some budget constraints. That might set limitations but sailing really is all about showing up on a regular basis. Lots of ways in Florida.
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:52   #5
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Welcome Aboard!

I have always been an advocate of the feet first method...it ain't rocket Science.
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Old 03-04-2010, 21:28   #6
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Welcome to this forum and to sailing. You have now taken the first step that you "have no idea" about, so it wasn't that hard.

My way into sailing was growing up next to the local sail club, racing a lot and having sailing as my main interest all my life. This means I have gathered a lot of experience, which comes in handy every now and then, but never feel intimidated by my kind of person. You’ll get there too.

The world of sailing is a very complex one, but the actual skill of sailing a boat is actually very easy. Kind of like riding a bike or driving a car. Anyone can drive a car around on a big empty parking lot. It gets a bit harder if you get into streets. If you add a bit of calm traffic, it gets even harder, but most drivers would say it takes you a couple of days at most to master this skill. If you go into normal heavy traffic, and go fast, and have slippery roads, etc, there is no limit to what difficulties may pop up. The skill of driving a car is very easy, safe and basic, but travelling by car is very complex, demanding and potentially dangerous. Much like sailing. As a newbie, you will feel out of your depth, but mostly you'll pass every barrier like a breeze.

The ONLY way to learn sailing properly, and also by far the quickest and most fun way, is in some sort of dinghy. Anyone disagreeing about this is plain wrong. Doesn't matter much which type, but I'd start in a two man dinghy with a companion that knows it a bit to speed up the first steps. A Hobiecat 16 is perfect. Or a 470? After a little bit of that, I'd move into a one man dinghy of some decently fast kind that will toss you in the drink at times. A Laser maybe? Play with different small, light and fast boats, one and two man, in different wind strengths until you're fed up. (In a couple of centuries you might accomplish it. ) Dinghies teach your spine to understand sailboats. You learn to read the language of it all intuitively. NO other kind of sailing can do that properly. When you master dinghies well, you can handle anything else, after getting accustomed to the more complex control routines and larger forces in big boats.

All this was related to the skill of sailing, handling the boat. The skill of long distance cruising is a totally different one, but will benefit greatly from pure sailing skill, and is best gathered while cruising. So the conclusion:

To learn sailing properly, you firstly need to suffer through a lot of the most fun thing you can do with your clothes on, and then you need to sail somewhere you really want to go, preferably with some people you like, and make sure you enjoy it properly. Then you got it.
Yeah. Getting into sailing is only for the toughest of the tough!

I’m totally blank on where to go in your area to find the right boats and the right people. Some others here will probably know more. Generally, sailing clubs would be good. Here in Norway where everybody have some sort of boat, all sail clubs are sports sailing clubs run by idealists. Not much snobbery. In other countries there are quite frequently some differences. Some are sailing clubs deserving their names, while others may be snobbish Yacht Clubs or means of social distinction. The latter types will most likely not be interesting. Some “clubs” also may be rather commercial, and want you to pay for everything. They might have good quality equipment and premises, (I have only seen one such, in Spain) but mostly quite the opposite. True sailors are welcoming and more than eager to show you their joy of sailing. Many will be happy to let you participate as extra crew in local races. If you know dinghy sailing (and a bit of racing) well, you will rapidly be seen as a resource in big boat racing.

Edit: I wrote this text in Word, which is a computer program, and this one even made by Microsoft, which might explain why the last paragraph looks different from the rest even though I just pasted it all in at once... The explanation probably is: "Things happen..." I'll just leave it that way.
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Old 04-04-2010, 01:42   #7
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The way I'd advise you here in Australia is to call your local sailing club and ask when they race. Ask also if they have a system to hook potential crew up with skippers.

Most skippers are keen for crew. Whats more important than knowledge and experience is reliability. If you can turn up regularly then the skipper will value you over the guy who just turns up now ans then.

It is easy to become useful on the boat as part of the crew. First time out noone expects you to know much. They will put you on a winch and talk you through it.

Just keep turning up, keep being keen and asking questions. Always be the last guy to step ashore after all the securing and tidying is done and buy your mates a beer when it is your shout.

After a year you will be amazed at how much you know.

Sometimes clubs let you put a Crew Available notice on their board. My club does it via the website.

Get yourself to the races and just keep asking the old guys at the bar to help you find a spot.

Good luck sport,


Simon
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:57   #8
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To me sailing it not all that hard. Sailing well may be, but just sailing isn't. And book study can be used as 90% of "experience" to learn what "to do" when the crap happens.

My sailing started while walking the beach in Cancun while stuck there after a hurricane as I thought about how I was going to travel more.

Spend the next 2 years reading on sailing and cruising. Both years I had planned on taking lessons but got stalled by work changes. Finally took lessons and these were the first time I had ever even been on a sailboat. Then joined a club and sailed on 32/33' boats for half a season (3 months). Then brought my first cruiser sailboat the next year. So my path was:

1- study
2 - lessons (ASA bareboat certified)
3 - sail club boats for 3 months to scare yourself on someone else's boat
4 - buy boat and start making own mistakes that complete your training

People normally comment that I bought a 39' boat as first boat and only 3 months experience. Not quite jumping in feet first, but dipping in toe first and then deciding the water wasn't too bad.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:34   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleFuzzy View Post
The problem is that I have no idea where to start (I don't even know how to sail.) How did you all get into sailing/cruising? How would you suggest that I get into it?

UncleFuzzy
Sarasota, FL
Uncle Fuzzy - I am in a similar situation to you. I am finding out and researching and calculating costs and so forth. At this stage I am trying to come up with

1. Some idea of costs
2. Some idea of boat size
3. What training is needed
4. A sensible timescale for planning and then doing this

I started researching this in January so I have been at it for 3 months so far and I have established the following facts.

  1. For me and the wife and occasional family visitors we need a 33 - 39 foot boat. Bigger than 39 feet and marina costs in Europe go up very steeply.
  2. We will need to do some fixing up. A new boat is out of the question.
  3. I now have a very rough idea of costs for the boat, some obvious things that will need purchasing (safety lines, harnesses, wetsuits, new seacocks, ropes, etc) and "comfort" items such as new beds, fridge/freezer, etc) and so on.
  4. I have an idea of the boat's expected energy budget and thus what I would need to do electrically to sustain that energy budget.
  5. I now have a good idea of the general type of boat and the layout that would suit.
  6. I now know how much sailing courses cost, the location of the nearest marinas that do such courses, etc.
So, how did I find all this out? I did the following:

Spend time LOOKING at boats. Go on broker websites and look. That is informative and you will soon decide what you like and what you do not. Here are some I used. Because I am in the UK they are mostly UK based, but even so look at them anyway.

Yachts for sale at Yachtsnet online UK yacht brokers - yacht brokerage and boat sales
Find a used yacht or boat for sale online - Boatmatch.com
norfolk boat sales - New and used boats & yachts for sale
Westerly- Sailing Boats for Sale

Next, I read THIS forum at least once every day. I have picked lots of useful information. If I do not understand something (and I usually do not) then I ask a question and it gets answered. I'm sure that the questions I ask are (on a sailing scale) pretty darn dumb, but if I do not ask then I will not learn and the people here are friendly and tolerant of my ignorance.

I also went to the library and read some books. One, whose title escapes me, was by a chappie who bought a 25 footer for 6,000 and then spend another 6,000 doing it up and he then single handed it round Britain and Ireland from Portsmouth to Portsmouth in a clockwise circuit. It was *very* informative.

This summer it will be down to the sailing clubs (only a nutter sails the Irish Sea in winter IMNSHO) and get started on that part of "The Plan"

So there you have it. That's my 2p worth and I hope you find what I am doing useful in what you are contemplating. If I've wasted 10 minutes of your life reading this then I apologise....
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:42   #10
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I am very new to sailing as well. I have been researching boats and sailing and decided to start small and then get a larger boat later like Stein suggested. I found a fireball dingy for $300 with trailer. It's a wood boat that I have striped it down to bare wood. Epoxy and paint work this week and hope to get it wet this comming weekend. I will have around $800 in it after new tires, paint and epoxy. The boat is 30+yrs old and will be like new condition soon. There is no doubt my wife and I are about to go to sailing school with it! I hope to have a lot of fun with it and learn. If I take care of it then it will last for years to come, not bad for $800. It's also going to look very nice. :-) Good luck!
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:07   #11
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Congratulations on a good choice!
The Fireball is a fabulously fun little boat. I actually still have the one I sailed with my brother in the seventies, but it's a fibreglass hull / wooden deck version built 1974, and I haven't used it for a lot of years. It once was the worlds largest two man racing class. The class rules are fairly loose, so much experimentation happened. This is why the 470 was chosen as the Olympic dinghy over the Fireball, even though the Fireball is a much more numerous, widespread, faster, more advanced and immensely more durable boat. (A 470 turns too soft for racing within a year or two.) Fireballs also were the first to employ a spinnaker snuffer tunnel, which most advanced dinghies use nowadays.

These boats are fairly lively and demanding to sail. Have some dinghy sailor help out with putting things together the right way and do a bit of intro sailing. That will bring you a few big steps up the ability scale with ease. The rig is rather large and the hull is rather narrow. Really hanging on all out on the trapeze on a reach, the Fireball can give you some fabulous fun. You will definitely capsize frequently if there is any wind to speak of, but that's just fun. Practice capsizing and righting it a bit before sailing it in much wind. It's actually easy.

You got yourself a boat that is perfect for serious learning while having tons of fun. Enjoy!
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Old 05-04-2010, 23:30   #12
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I say go 'cold turkey'

We decided that we wanted to liveaboard. So within a year we had our house up for sale, spent hours online reading blogs & forums, reading books... Then finally our house sold!

Then, we took the money that we had left over and bought the best boat we could afford. Now we have the boat and have no idea how to sail yet. We just have a boat and a slip.

The plan is to take a couple hours of lessons every weekend, and then maybe take one of those 3-4 day long classes to learn some more skills. And thats it... we'll be local cruisers.

Since we are living small, we will be saving quite a bit of money over living on land. So within a couple years we will have Thousands saved for the trip south.

And thats as far as we've planned.

But no matter what... dont let anyone talk you out of it. We've had nothing but negativity ever since we told our families that we intend to live on a sailboat. But there is no more liberating a feeling that to be standing at the helm of your house laughing your arse off at all those naysayers who were dogging your decision to make the leap from land.

Good luck, and do whatever it takes to make it happen... you wont regret it.
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Old 06-04-2010, 02:44   #13
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I say go 'cold turkey'
If I could, I would. But there are school-age children to consider. They are just starting the period where exams will "determine" their future. In 5 years time they will both be over 18 and things will be different then.

Quote:
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But no matter what... dont let anyone talk you out of it. We've had nothing but negativity ever since we told our families that we intend to live on a sailboat. But there is no more liberating a feeling that to be standing at the helm of your house laughing your arse off at all those naysayers who were dogging your decision to make the leap from land.
Agree 100%.

However, I am lucky. Some of my relatives cannot wait for me to buy the boat. They are already mentally booking future holidays on the yacht.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:32   #14
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I bought a 13' sailboat and a book "Sailing for dummies" 32 years ago. The rest is history!
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:37   #15
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if you're serious enough to invest a bit of cash in this project, outfit yourself with a pair of deck moccasins, a PFD, a sailing duffel, a pair of half-finger sailing gloves and a decent spray jacket. Thus attired, stuff a six pack of whatever you're drinking into your duffle--cans, not bottles--and head down to a local yacht club prior to one of their beer can races. Ask around at the dock whether anyone knows anyone who needs rail meat.

You've just become movable ballast, a more valuable commodity than you might think.

Don't try to pretend you know what you're doing. And don't appear anxious to play a major role as a newbie. Don't hit on anyone who hasn't hit on you first, and duck whenever the boom is near. Don't be the first one to pop open a beer. The first thing you need to learn, should you want to be invited back, is how to flake sails, coil lines, and hang fenders. The rest will come naturally.

And whatever you do, don't do that fake pirate talk that newbies want to do whenever they board a new vessel.
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