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Old 18-08-2005, 15:33   #1
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Where's the Best Place to Take a Class?

I've looked back through the other threads and reviewed other forums, but I don't think there has ever been a discussion about my question.
I'm still at the "wannabe" stage of sailing and, while I've heard a lot of discussion about the best way to sail - formal classes or just "get out there and do it," I've never read a discussion of the best place for a total novice to receive formal training. I've reviewed the lists of schools on the ASA and US Sailing websites so I know there just about everywhere. However, my long-term goal is to bare boat in the Caribbean, Gulf & East Coast and, perhaps, Hawaii.
I know my local lakes have options, which I'm also reviewing for basic keelboat, but I'm also looking at liveaboards with combinations of certifications for further training.
Given the sailing experience on this board, I know I'll get a much more informed input without the bias of a school trying to enroll a student.
Thanks.
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Old 18-08-2005, 16:14   #2
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Class

Our yacht club has adult sailing lessons and a junior sailing programme. Most of the larger clubs will have something similar.
The Wedesday night race group are often looking for crew. Reliable, and enthusiatic are good starter qualities. Sailing ability and a beer budget are higher level assetts. The crew of any boat may have quite a mixture of political and religious opinions, so caution is always an assett when first getting on board.
One of my girls on the boat can not sail on Sundays due to church committments. I try to remember to apologise for my frequent sailing language.
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Old 18-08-2005, 16:31   #3
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Local clubs

As Michael said your local yacht club is a good bet. Ours runs junior and adult programs. Dinghies and keel boats. You get to be an associate member if you sign up for lessons. We also have a co-op program (26 ft C&C ) where you can use the club boat. Racers are always looking for crew and we have club races two nights a week. You can sail all you want.
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Old 18-08-2005, 16:58   #4
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Thank you for your responses, but I'm actually looking for opinions on geographic locations. For example, will my learning experience be more helpful taking a weeklong liveaboard class out of San Diego or the Chesapeake. Or the Gulf? What I'm trying to do is figure out what sailing location will provide the best sailing/weather conditions for a novice to learn.
There are schools in my area that offer certification up to bareboat but all of the teaching takes place on local lakes. While that will be where I sail for now, my goal is to sail where the water is a bit more salty. My thinking is that training on a lake (at least the lakes we have here in Texas) will not prepare me for what I'll be experiencing on those charter trips.
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Old 18-08-2005, 21:38   #5
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chapman school FL

Several years ago we did a week long off shore school at the Chapman maritime school in Ft Peirce FL. IT was for beginners all the way to very expereinced. The Class invloded a week onboard and sail to the Bahamas. The students had their choice of 2 ASA classes. It was 4 students and one teacher and the teachers taught more than just class room. We had hands on experince in preapring to cruise, an overnight sail to Grand Bahama where we continued to learn knots, anchoring, docking, sail handling, etc.

All of the food was inlcuded and was very good. The Admiral learned to sail from scratch there. It was a grteat learning experince, great vacation, and fun. So much so we now live aboard and hve been cruising in the south Caribe for almost 2 years.
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Old 19-08-2005, 16:26   #6
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A few years ago we took classes from J World Sailing School in San Diego. J World offers courses destined for different levels of expertise and interest We took 2 or 3 classes from them over a two year period. They offered courses sanctioned by U S Sailing. We were very pleased with the quality of the courses and the instructors. San Diego bay is a great place to learn to sail. It is ideal for weather and a range of challenging learning conditions. The airport is just a short taxi drive away from the site of the school and motels and restaurants are all within walking distance. The beginning keelboat course was taught using the J99 as the platform. A great, fast and very responsive boat. J World schools are located at different areas of the country and have a website. .
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Old 19-08-2005, 17:08   #7
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Alaskadog, thank you for your response.
When you took the classes in SD Bay, were you experiencing it at the beginner stage or were you an experienced sailor moving up the certification ladder? I'm just trying to clarify that you believe SD Bay as a good place for a low experience person to get instruction.
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Old 19-08-2005, 20:11   #8
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Chapman

Capt. Bil,

I hope this doesn't get the thread too far off topic, but I was wondering if the Chapman course you and your wife took a few years ago was on a multihull or a monohull. I know you currently live aboard a multihull, so the question is really whether the monohull experience (if that's what she learned on) translated sufficiently to your multihull.
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Old 19-08-2005, 20:55   #9
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Mono but

We took the course on an Endevor 38 mono hull. The courses the Admiral took were the basic and advance keelboat, I took celestial and advanced off shore. Both of us got a offshore certificate which our insruance company loved. We all got exposure to every aspect of sailing.

The courses we took were not mono hull specific but seamanship, navigation, maintenance, and boat handling which would apply to any boat. Sail trim, offshore navigation, knots and splicing and watch keeping also apply to any boat.

One of the advantages you get in an offshore school is full immersion, we got exposure to more than the course material, the instructor would ask the others when he was instructing me on celestial if they wanted to learn some.

The best part was all of the food was included and we ate well and it was FUN, FUN, FUN!

We sailed a 34 foot mono for years and bought a 38 foot Voyage cat. Other than some changes in sailing techiques it was not a difficult transition.
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Old 19-08-2005, 23:47   #10
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Hi Landlocked Kevin,
Regarding your question about my/our level of sailing skill before we took our first J World class. I had sailed several times before and learned from friends the basics of tacking, jibing, trim, etc. but had never sailed enough to be very good and I had developed some poor skills because I had never been taught properly and since I was landlocked in Alaska I did not have much opportunity to sail. Basically, I was a poorly skilled in the basic fundamentals. My wife who had also sailed before was probably at a slightly lower level than me. Since we both liked the sport and being on the water in general I thought that we should take a beginning course and start from scratch. I wanted to go to J World because I knew that they were heavy into the competitive aspect of sailing and also taught courses to racers, even though I wasn't particularly interested in competitive sailing. Although there is more to sailing and cruising that knowing how to tweak your sails and snappy moves on deck when performing tacks and jibes I thought that I needed to know the basics well as a beginning point. I was not disappointed. Also, it was important that we took the classes together. If a person should never teach their spouse to drive a car, then teaching a spouse to sail is a quadruple no-no. Regarding San Diego as place for beginners to attend a sailing school. I think it is the perfect venue. Overall climate for example. You can be almost sure that any time of year, even in the winter that conditions for sailing are going to be good in San Diego Bay. Compared to the Chesapeake which I would say is an iffy place to schedule a sailing school if you are working and have to schedule vacations several weeks or months in advance. Never can tell what weather will be dished out on the Chesapeake well in advance of a scheduled class. Other favorable aspects of San Diego I mentioned in my previous post but to reiterate: close to the airport and decent relatively inexpensive motels, restaraunts were close to the school. And San Diego Bay which is not large as Bays go (i.e. San Franciso, Chesapeake, Mobile, Tampa, etc.) offers fairly calm waters with varying types of winds because of the Point Loma headland to seaward. And there are opportunities for chartering close by once you have gained proficiency. The major shortcoming of my experience is that it was gained a few years ago. Kinda like reading an old cruising guide. I hope this helps and I hope you don't mind this long winded description.
Cheers to ya
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Old 25-08-2005, 15:50   #11
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Thanks, again, Alaskadog, for the feedback.

Capt. Bil, do you and your wife feel that the sea conditions on the Atlantic Coast of FL are reasonably predictable enough to schedule a class a few months in advance and expect a good learning environment (where I can concentrate on learning instead of dealing with changing conditions)?

Looking at the different trip plans of the various schools that offer liveaboard certifications, many seem to be located where they will offer the courses around the BVI, Bahamas, etc. Are the winds sufficient here on a day-in, day-out basis to where a class would be learning to sail, not motor-sail?

Are conditions in summer on the Chesapeake somewhat predictable for classes?
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Old 25-08-2005, 17:09   #12
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weather

The Bay in the summer is very predictable in the weather. Generally, earlier or later in the season is better day time winds. The summer is famous known for light to medium winds in the morning and calms through most of the mid day the winds in the evening. We sailed out of Herring Bay and there were many days that the winds were almost to light or non existant. Having said that one of the best ways to learn sail trim is in very light winds. Some imoerctions in sail shape in heavier winds you still move. In light winds you lose a lot of speed.

We loved the Bay and it is a great place to learn to sail.

Summers in the Altalntic of FL are fairly benign. Though they have short afternoon thunderstorms, but they usally aren't an issue. We did the Chapman school in May before huricane season and ended up motor sailing across the Gulf stream as there was no wind. It was spetacular and everyone got thier hours on night watch.

Both are good areas, but the advantage to the offshore school is you are living on the boat for a week and we felt we got more out than a day of sailing and back to the motel. But there were a couple nights off Grand Bahama Island I wishes were could have climbed into a AC bed.

ACtually the changing conditions is what the instructor will put you through and the more they change more exposure to different techiques that you will receive. We had everything during or course. Even if the weather is light the instructor will still proabably make you go through reefing drills, etc.

You should be able to contact both schools and chat with them about the best weather conditions.

Also I have heard nothiing but raves about the J school in in Anapolis. I sent a few fr iends thier to learn on the weekends.
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Old 25-08-2005, 17:27   #13
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I have also heard really rave reviews about Steve Colgate's Offshore Sailing Schools http://www.offshore-sailing.com/ in terms of being well organized and offering material in a way that is easy for a beginner to follow.

Having taught a lot of people to sail, I have concluded that it really difficult to decide how much material a beginning sailor should be exposed to in the brief time of an introductory basic sailing course. Some schools, like the Annapolis Sailing School, purposely keeps their courses very basic so that they will not overload the beginner, which may mean that a whole lot of important concepts are simply, albeit purposely, ignored. Other schools like J-world tend to be aimed at the beginners who are looking for a more detailed knowledge of sailing and so can overwhelm whose beginners who are less technically oriented. From what I gather, Colgate offers a very nice balance bbetween the extremes. Colgate has 10 or so schools that are convenient to the Atlantic coast.

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Old 25-08-2005, 18:31   #14
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Thank you, Bil & Jeff.
I can definitely see the connection between light winds and learning sail trim.
I've been doing some reassessing since my initial post and decided to use a local school for basic keelboat cert. just to get that initial introduction to sailing basics. This will give me a better chance to get more out of the liveaboard class experience.
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Old 25-08-2005, 20:39   #15
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The admiral

The Admiral had only been on a couple of tourist sail rides before taking the class. SHe learned a ton and got a lot of great experince. She did so well that on our Hunter 335 she had no problems bring it into our slip under any conditions.
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