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Old 10-09-2014, 13:15   #1
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What am I getting myself in to?

Hi folks,

I am a wannabe sailor with a little experience, but a little is better than zero! I have desired to learn how to sail for a few years now since becoming fascinated with being able to wield whatever natural forces we have available to us as humans. Now seems like an auspicious moment in my life to begin my sailing adventures.

The act of "sailing" is only one easy word but the components that make it up, I'm sure, are far more challenging to master. From what I have experienced so far I feel the biggest thing is just getting comfortable with being on water in various weather conditions and potentially a great distance from any support in emergencies. I am well accustomed to being out in the middle of nature far away from any support, but never off land. Other than that, sailing seems like everything is very mechanical and as long as you understand the mechanics of sailing then you could sail forever if you know what to look for in general maintenance for wear and tear of gear usage. Although I presume learning the mechanics of sailing to be easy, certainly learning to sail well is much more difficult. So I ask you, how long have you sailed and do you feel you could single hand your boat? Why or why not? I ask about single handing because I feel that, in regards to sailing, it is the ultimate test of self-reliance and skill. It is the end all proof that says "I can call myself a sailor."
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Old 10-09-2014, 13:25   #2
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

Welcome to CF.

The more experience you obtain, the more comfortable you will be single handing, regardless of boat size. There are some physical constraints with larger boats - everything is bigger and heavier, although furling sails and electric winches can dramatically ease those burdens.

You probably have a ways to go before you need to worry about it. Enjoy the learning process. You'll figure it out as you go along.

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Old 10-09-2014, 13:55   #3
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

One of the factors you have not considered is fluid dynamics. In sailing, you have at least two fluids to contend with: air and water. Either fluid is subject to a great complexity of invisible influence and can exhibit random behavior. Now, multiply one by the other and you'll realize that there is a state-of-mind that you need to achieve: acceptance that you are not completely in control. If things get weird on land, you can most often sit down and regain your composure. Not on water.

like OldFrog75 says, it's a matter of taking small bites as you build your experience. Start easy and small. An eleven-year-old can single-hand a Sunfish.
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Old 10-09-2014, 14:20   #4
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

My Dad always had boats and I learned to sail at an early age. The first time I single handed was in the sailing dinghy on his bigger boat. Also singled handed some one design racing dinghies. I suspect lots of folks here spent a lot of time single handing on small boats that basically could only carry one person.

One of the things you want to understand is how important the set up for a boat is if the boat is to be single handed. Not everyone has the same idea about what is the best way to set up a boat. This is where experience comes in. Something like a Sunfish is set up one way and and really does not change much. On the other hand a boat like my Seawind can have alterations to the set up to make things easier, or not.

Armel Le Cléac'h single handed BP VII, a 107 foot trimaran, across the Atlantic on the Discovery Route averaging over 25MPH for almost 4,000 miles. Showind what a great sailor can do with a great boat and a huge budget.
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Old 10-09-2014, 17:53   #5
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

single handed sailing just plain out sucks balls.I have about 3k miles at it and it sucks get a wife or even a stripper would be better then solo.
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Old 11-09-2014, 13:56   #6
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

Sailing is an art form. Some have it some don't. Being a neophyte and talking about singling might be good in a dingy. Go sail with someone experienced. You may find it is not for you or it's your love. I don't mean to be discouraging but it can't be learn in a book.
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Old 11-09-2014, 15:13   #7
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

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Sailing is an art form. Some have it some don't. Being a neophyte and talking about singling might be good in a dingy. Go sail with someone experienced. You may find it is not for you or it's your love. I don't mean to be discouraging but it can't be learn in a book.
Don't knock dinghy sailing. In my opinion it's the best way to learn. A dinghy is less forgiving to errors than a larger boat and things happen a lot faster. Plus when you mess-up on a larger boat it can get expensive. When you mess-up on a dinghy you get wet, climb back in, and get going again. Plus single-handing a dinghy is the norm rather than the exception. Granted, I haven't sailed a lot of boats, but of all the boats I have sailed my all time favorite is my 10 foot rowing dinghy. And yes, it's almost always single handed.

Don't just take my word for it. Take a look at this article: John Vigor's Blog: Learn faster in a dinghy
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Old 11-09-2014, 18:02   #8
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

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One of the factors you have not considered is fluid dynamics. In sailing, you have at least two fluids to contend with: air and water.

And grog

Mistakes made when sailing a small boat are easier to see and remedy. Not to mention much less expensive.

While being blown onto a lee shore is bad news, being able to jump out, grab the the bow and walk the boat back out into the wind gets harder as the boat gets bigger.
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Old 11-09-2014, 18:59   #9
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

Hi Derek,

I think, as long as you are a beginner, stay well away from "various weather conditions ... potentially a great distance from any support". Start small, then keep on growing.

Sailing may seem a mechanical activity to an onlooker, and this mechanical part is very easy to master. Alas, far more than any mechanics, sailing is a state of mind, and this part cannot be learned. But it can be acquired. Acquisition may take some time. It is a process. Children and naturals tend to learn fast, the rest of the crowd is only fooling themselves.

In my particular case, I single-handed very early, age 7 or thereabouts: Optis are a nuisance to sail in any other mode.

I think I could single-hand our present boat but I know too that I would rather not.

I doubt there is any end all proof that says anything about one as a sailor, except for the way one dies.

Things seem to be slightly more liquid than you want them to be, but if you pressed me for proofs of being a fine sailor I would place proper sail trim and seaman-like attire very high on the list. Possibly second only to having fun.

Cheers, fair winds,
b.
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Old 11-09-2014, 19:09   #10
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

Quote:
Things seem to be slightly more liquid than you want them to be, but if you pressed me for proofs of being a fine sailor I would place proper sail trim and seaman-like attire very high on the list. Possibly second only to having fun.
Sail trim... for sure, "Attire" surely not! What in the world are you thinking? Blue Blazers and white ducks, Cape Breton smocks, flops and a tee shirt?

Of all the things that might mark a fine sailor, his attire is very near the bottom of the list!

And for the OP: single handing can be fun, it can be rewarding, it can be dangerous, it can be fatal... and all too often is.

Jim
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Old 11-09-2014, 19:16   #11
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

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Originally Posted by Derek Schwartz View Post
Hi folks,

So I ask you, how long have you sailed and do you feel you could single hand your boat? Why or why not? I ask about single handing because I feel that, in regards to sailing, it is the ultimate test of self-reliance and skill. It is the end all proof that says "I can call myself a sailor."
I first sailed at age 9. Was away for 30 years, maybe. Hard at it for the last 8.

Yes I single hand my boat all the time. I have limited overnight single handing and as others have said it blows...

I would not be comfortable single handing a 40+ footer yet but I have singled up to 36.

Single handing has nothing to do with being able to call yourself a sailor.

And yes - Sailing is relatively easy, sailing fast is harder, sailing fast where you want to go is really hard.

My advice is get away from the computer and go sailing... You won't learn to sail on CF... Go get in a boat, come back, ask questions...
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Old 11-09-2014, 21:09   #12
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

I single-hand my 36' Nauticat all of the time on the Chesapeake and on Pamlico Sound and the Neuce river - If fact I bought it in New Bern seven years ago and single-handed her to Oriental and Ocracoke the next two days without ever having sailed on her before - but when going off-shore between the the bay and the sound I usually recruit and extra crew member, not that I would mind single-handing the off-shore leg, but mostly for an extra set of eyes and ears and a chance to get some sleep without worrying about being run down by a freighter!
I do agree with most of the above comments though - sail with someone that is experienced and learn before single-handing. I do not, agree that single-handing sucks. It depends on your makeup I suppose, but my most pleasant memories are nights alone on the ocean!
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Old 13-09-2014, 12:26   #13
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

Thanks for all the info guys and gals! I know it will be a while before I have the opportunity to even consider single handing. I will definitely be enjoying the journey
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Old 13-09-2014, 13:39   #14
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

Some thoughts that might be added. There are skill sets that are universal and translate well into sailing. Whats your background? ... Being self sufficient, being a jack of all trades type that can fix or jury rig anything can be very valuable out there. Other traits that lend well to sailing are the get it done types, if your a guy who built his own business for example. One of the skills I found invaluable on numerous occasions that transferred over to sailing was being an instrument rated pilot. With all that being said there is no substitute for experience, and the way you get that is buy a boat and do it. I personally enjoy single handing. But it's nice having company sometimes too.


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Old 14-09-2014, 14:50   #15
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Re: What am I getting myself in to?

More advice, if you want it: Start with small boats. As noted, everything you do has makes an immediate difference - you either go faster, slower, or tip over. IMHO, you will learn more on a dinghy in a month than you will on a larger boat in a year.

And while ordered sailing lessons are great, you will learn it even faster if you join any sort of dinghy fleet which requires two or more crew, and perhaps crew on a few of their races. Again IMHO, newbies can cram years of trial-and-error into a few months (perhaps a season) of racing dinghies with experienced sailors. You will not only witness boats being sailed efficiently, you will also have every nuance of the process explained to you.

As you move to bigger boats, again - sail with other people on different boats. During the summer, pretty much every yacht club in existence has low-key beer can races in the early evenings. And people are always looking for crew, experienced or otherwise. So just show up and you'll get rides. Although there is some expense involved in joining a yacht club, it's another excellent way to get rides and talk with people who share your passion and for the most part, love to share their knowledge with you.

Local singlehanding is not a big deal. Lots of people do it. Solo sailing across oceans is another matter, of course. But a lot of that is in setting the boat up before it ever leaves the dock.

I know a lot of people on this forum don't race and never plan to. And undoubtedly, many of them are great sailors. I'm just saying that racing is an excellent way to become a better sailor.
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