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Old 14-11-2010, 20:18   #1
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What Should I Be Learning ?

In roughly three years from now I plan to go cruising solo, El Caribe to start with. I spend around three hours a day (minimum) reading this forum and going to all the boat porn sights, and it's finally occured to me that since I am two years away from buying a sailboat, perhaps my time would be better spent if I should start learning how to tie knots, splice line, fix electrical qizmoes, plumbing... The list is endless and daunting.

I am looking for input: what subjects should I be learning? What are the most important things to start with that would make sailing easier when I eventually find myself alone in the deep blue sea? I don't actually know how to sail unless you count a year sailing a twelve foot tri in a small bay. Sailing I will learn. As far as knots go, I can tie my shoes.

Since I haven't bought the boat yet, I fear that if I learn diesel machanics I'll end up with a gas outboard. So, what would you suggest I spend my three hours a day learning? Weather? Sewing? There are so many things I don't know, Aaaaggggg! Suggestions on your idea of three to start with would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 14-11-2010, 20:49   #2
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I suggest you find friends with boats and start going sailing...volunteer to help with the maintenance, start with holding the flashlight, take a diesel class, 3 hours a day...take a job in a small yard or as a mechs helper...maybe for beer money...it will rub off.
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Old 14-11-2010, 20:50   #3
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What you need is experience. In the boating world there is little replacement experience. For all you know you may get sicker then a pregnant woman when you get out there.

The really important experiences are anchoring, navigation, communications, heavy weather and currents the rest is a little less dangerous.
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Old 14-11-2010, 21:28   #4
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Originally Posted by ty.gregory View Post
I am looking for input: what subjects should I be learning? What are the most important things to start with that would make sailing easier when I eventually find myself alone in the deep blue sea?
Many racing skippers find it hard to get regular crew, particularly on maintenance day. If you went to a boat yard that lets owners work on their own boats, see if there's any skipper who wants a hand. You'll learn heaps and he won't forget you when he's got room on the boat for 1 extra. With a bit of sea time, you'll learn the most important thing, that is: Do I really like this? It's nice to know this before you buy the boat.

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Old 15-11-2010, 05:35   #5
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Go to the closest yacht club that races boats of your size and volunteer as crew. You will learn vastly more there that you'd believe by breaking other people boats

Go do courses on history, geography, biology, marine sciences etc.

For home time a good craft session could be
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would teach you more about electricity than most cruisers know.

Short course in diesel maintenance - Yanmar run them, I think.

Spanish

But there are things you can leave till you are 'on the road' like your scuba ticket.
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Old 15-11-2010, 11:28   #6
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I'm a true noob at this so take this with a grain of salt and listen to the others with much more experience than me, but I started with the ASA101 and 103 classes and I thought that was a good, solid intro into sailing, boats, anchoring, rules of the road, etc. And the classes I took were three hours in length and three hour on the water segments. With this foundation I can now understand a lot more in the books and on the websites. Sure there are other ways to learn the same thing, but this got me going quickly. Good luck!
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Old 15-11-2010, 14:42   #7
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The lessons are a great start. Many learn to sail by teaching themselves. Some get it, and others struggle. A good structured class will start you out with no bad habits, or at least very few.

Reefing, hove to, anchoring, and navigation will get you started. You will learn every time you are on the water something new. You will never stop learning.......i2f
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Old 25-11-2010, 15:10   #8
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Thank you all! Good ideas and suggestions here.
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Old 25-11-2010, 15:31   #9
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learn EVERYTHING. sail opb. learn weather -how to read the sky. computer sciences. geography. listen to mark and i2f. they are out there--even if not right now-- they are cruisers.
and==practice showering at 20 degrees of heel and bouncing.;washing hair in a bucket with sea water, EXTREME CONSERVATION, and everything about currents and winds.
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Old 25-11-2010, 16:04   #10
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Suggestions on your idea of three to start with would be greatly appreciated.
The best way to learn to sail is to crew for folks who know their stuff.

If I were looking for crew, I wouldn't need someone to fix my diesel or splice line. I would, however, want someone who knew how to navigate. You'd need to know how to chart your position, chart a course, sail a course, and keep a DR position.

I don't want crew on my boat who get seasick. Period. So one of the first things you're going to have to figure out is whether you're one of the ones who are prone to that particular disease. The only way to figure that out is to get out on the water with someone who is willing to give you a ride. Mark's suggestion to crew for a race is a good one. A lot of times all a racing boat needs is "rail meat," unskilled wannabe's who will sit on the rail, serving as movable ballast. If you show up at a yacht club an hour before a race with a set of foulies and some decent boat shoes, your chances of getting a ride are pretty good.
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Old 25-11-2010, 18:06   #11
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what are these boat shoes you speak of? I was born in the shoes I sail in.
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Old 26-11-2010, 01:47   #12
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Time on the water, however you can get it, is good. And you can learn a huge lot about sailing even in a cheap little boat; the basics of sail trim, seamanship, and navigation apply to all sailboats.

In our state in the USA, the state gives one-day "boating basics" classes for free; these are a basic introduction to equipment and safety requirements, navigation, aids to navigation, lights, sound signals, and skipper responsibilities. People who want to learn more can join groups such as the US Power Squadrons and Coast Guard Auxiliary. Other countries might have something similar or at least have lots of old salts hanging around boating centers who can point you in a good direction.
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Old 26-11-2010, 22:01   #13
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The best way to learn to sail is to crew for folks who know their stuff.

If I were looking for crew, I wouldn't need someone to fix my diesel or splice line. I would, however, want someone who knew how to navigate. You'd need to know how to chart your position, chart a course, sail a course, and keep a DR position.
I started crewing for racers this past year, and the thing that launched me was the ability to grind. I got a trial on a pretty serious boat through a friend, and then just busted my tail every time. That got me invited back, and then invited on other boats. Continued effort got me invited to help in the pit and on the bow. The really great part is that you can watch real masters at work, and get on boats you could never even afford to wax :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
I don't want crew on my boat who get seasick. Period. So one of the first things you're going to have to figure out is whether you're one of the ones who are prone to that particular disease. The only way to figure that out is to get out on the water with someone who is willing to give you a ride. Mark's suggestion to crew for a race is a good one. A lot of times all a racing boat needs is "rail meat," unskilled wannabe's who will sit on the rail, serving as movable ballast. If you show up at a yacht club an hour before a race with a set of foulies and some decent boat shoes, your chances of getting a ride are pretty good.
Interesting. I occasionally get motion sickness. It started out of the blue when I turned 30. When I go out on multiday trips, I start with a patch (reading is my trigger, and I have to read and write on my boat). When it falls off, I don't replace it, but it works. When I go out on club races I don't bother, and haven't puked yet. But it hasn't stopped me from participating.

For the person wanting to know what to learn, the best way is to get a starter boat. Other people's boats are fun, and racing is great fun, but there is absolutely nothing that will accelerate your learning like a starter boat. Experience is the best teacher, and quite humbling as well. Get something cheap to buy, and cheap to fix, and just set aside a budget for stuff you're going to break (and the occasional winch handle that takes a swim). Plus, you get the added bonus of realizing that a lot of the things you read about here on the Internet are just plain out bogus (including this one), with a side effect of learning that lots of things you thought you knew (often from the aforementioned Internet) are just not so. Things you thought you'd like turn out to be not so great, and things you thought you didn't like about your boat turn out to be rather fortuitous.

This way, when you're ready to buy the cruising boat, you'll *know* more what you want, what works, what doesn't, etc.

JRM

My captain at work has a saying that is gospel for boating too, "It isn't what you don't know that gets you, it's the things you are certain of that turn out not to be so."
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