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Old 13-04-2014, 10:41   #1
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How to get into sailing

Everyone,

My wife and I recently retired and moved to the east shore of Lake Michigan. I have some experience with power boats and limited experience sailing Rebels and Thistles in college. My wife has no experience with boats.

Before committing the resources to purchasing a boat, we would like to get a real feel whether it will be something we would enjoy (we expect it would be, but one never knows about these things). Our interest is in day sailing in Lake Michigan with perhaps some longer cruises up toward Traverse Bay and Mackinac Island.

To that end we are considering placing an ad on Craigslist and elsewhere seeing if we can find someone with a sailboat (26-32 ft) in our area who would be willing, for a fee, to provide us some basic lessons on sailing and boat handling and allow us to use his/her boat when it otherwise would be at the dock, unused. We are not looking to become co-owners, just renters for a month or so. This area of Michigan is full of sailboats but as we have just moved here we don't have a network of people we could ask directly, hence the Craigslist approach.

We expect we will enjoy the experience and then look to purchase a boat later this season. At that point we would be somewhat better informed buyers (and back here with "what's the best boat for . . ." question). If we don't enjoy sailing, we'll be out some time and money but we won't be second guessing ourselves (too little time for that at our ages). In either event, the owner has extra money.

Are these sorts of arrangements common?

Thanks,

Chris
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Old 13-04-2014, 10:47   #2
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Re: How to get into sailing

Finding someone willing to teach you, yes. It happens all the time. Finding someone willing to let you use their boat for you to gain experience on and screw up on (it happens to all of us) not in a million years.

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Old 13-04-2014, 10:47   #3
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Re: How to get into sailing

Double post. Sorry
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Old 13-04-2014, 10:51   #4
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Re: How to get into sailing

Have you looked into sailing or yacht clubs in your area? They are set up for just what you have in mind, including the proper insurance.
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Old 13-04-2014, 13:31   #5
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Re: How to get into sailing

Kevini84

Thanks. One sees this type of arrangement offered from time to time in Chicago (there's one there now) but that's on the other side of the lake and I have not seen it offered in this area, hence the question whether it's common. It had been my assumption that if such a thing is done the price reflects the cost of the appropriate insurance and a hefty damage deposit. At that point it seems to be a garden variety business deal.
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Old 13-04-2014, 14:41   #6
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Re: How to get into sailing

I've never heard of this type of craig's list arrangement. Not sure that it is legal for someone to charge you for lessons and/or to use their boat without having a business license and business insurance etc. You are more likely to find someone that needs crew so will take you out and give you "lessons" for free.

I was more patient in my approach. I joined a sailing club for a few seasons, where I could take lessons and use their boats. Started in dinghy sailboats the first year and moved up in size the following few years. The price for a di nghy membership was quite reasonable. Once I got up into the 30ft cruiser membership it was a bit too pricey for me, so we boat a boat. By that time we had a better idea of what we wanted in a boat. Good luck
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Old 13-04-2014, 14:42   #7
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Re: How to get into sailing

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Originally Posted by Csimoni View Post
Kevini84

Thanks. One sees this type of arrangement offered from time to time in Chicago (there's one there now) but that's on the other side of the lake and I have not seen it offered in this area, hence the question whether it's common. It had been my assumption that if such a thing is done the price reflects the cost of the appropriate insurance and a hefty damage deposit. At that point it seems to be a garden variety business deal.
IF, and that is a big if, you find someone willing to do this (I have personally never known anyone to allow a complete stranger to take their boat out) the amount I would want down would be equal to at least 1/2 the value of the boat with a written contract stating that I must be informed 24 hours prior to taking the boat out and failure to do so would result in immediate forfeiture of the deposit and cancellation of the rental agreement. Not to mention that you would be solely responsible for the increase in insurance premiums plus monthly rental fee. I just don't see this as a viable option. At least not from a private individual. You can get the same thing from a yacht club without having near as much liability.

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Old 13-04-2014, 15:46   #8
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Re: How to get into sailing

Thanks again. It's always useful to ask the experienced.
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Old 13-04-2014, 15:56   #9
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Re: How to get into sailing

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Originally Posted by Csimoni View Post
Thanks again. It's always useful to ask the experienced.
Check out Bay Breeze out of Traverse City, although I don't know how far north you are. I don't have any personal affiliation with them except that I was thinking of using them for a yacht charter either later this year or next. They seem to have a ton of lesson options available, including up to a weeklong cruising. Seems like it would be money well spent to see if you even like it, and if you do, at least you're learning in an official program rather than from someone off craigslist. Chicago has several sailing options available too, although as you said that's on the other side of the lake.
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Old 13-04-2014, 15:58   #10
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Re: How to get into sailing

I've got a great boat for sale, fully kitted out for cruising. It's a little out of the way and probably needs some TLC at this point.
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Old 13-04-2014, 22:27   #11
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Re: How to get into sailing

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I've got a great boat for sale, fully kitted out for cruising. It's a little out of the way and probably needs some TLC at this point.
Gee Eric, it's encouraging you can see a humourous side to it all. I'm sure it hurts all the same. Cheers
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Old 13-04-2014, 22:45   #12
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Re: How to get into sailing

Eric, so glad to see you have your chin up and are keeping an eye out on us troublemakers.

For the original poster, there are lots of ways to get into sailing and the best way will depend on you. There are some tricky parts to the arrangement you had heard of; for example, some authorities tend not to look so highly on someone charging for sailing lessons if they don't have any credentials, licensing, etc., and some of these folks might be a bit "fly by night" if they aren't willing to be up front about their background. Walking docks, signing up for crew lists, joining a sailing co-op or community sailing center, etc., are all good avenues. Books and videos can help, though they don't give you the feel of sailing. Signing up for an intro ride / lesson with a skipper can be a good intro, and even something touristy like a sunset cruise on a commercially skippered boat may have allure for your spouse.
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Old 14-04-2014, 19:26   #13
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Re: How to get into sailing

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I've got a great boat for sale, fully kitted out for cruising. It's a little out of the way and probably needs some TLC at this point.
Iv'e heard it is missing a steering wheel though..........but guess you would be able to negotiate on that basis....

(Glad you can laugh so soon!!!! Hope you guys are doing well.)
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Old 15-04-2014, 12:49   #14
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Re: How to get into sailing

I have to agree with the others. What you want to do is not really very workable. A club is a good option, or a sailing school. Nice thing about a sailing school is that you would have the credentials most charter outfits would recognize, so you could fly down to the Caribbean or some place, and bareboat charter. If your sailing would only be a week or two a year, this would actually be cheaper than owning a boat, even if the boat were given to you.

Crewing on someone else's boat is a great way to get started. No experience? No problem. All you have to do is whatever the skipper tells you, which initially will mostly consist of sitting on the rail or scrambling across to sit on the other rail, acting as self propelled movable human ballast. Once you are good at sitting on the rail, you will probably be taught how to grind on a winch. Once you get good at turning a winch handle, you might get to learn more technical stuff. Eventually you will get a pretty good grasp of the bigger picture. Wednesday evenings or Sunday, most clubs or marinas have informal "beer can" races, Everybody has lots of fun and you will meet all sorts of folks, some pretentious and full of themselves, but most just great folks who love to socialize and sail.

My favorite option to recommend would be to start out with a dinghy and a dummies book, and of course a couple of good PFDs, figure on getting dumped in the water a few times, and go it yourself on some local lake or sheltered bay. Or maybe a nice day sailer. You could easily pick up something for a couple grand. With careful maintenance you would get most of your purchase price back on resale should you decide to move up to a small cruising boat. Teeny weeny boats will teach you about the dynamics of sailing a lot quicker and more effectively than a cruiser, IMHO. The bang for buck is much higher with a daysailer if you ask me. TBH right now the only reason I have a bigger boat is because it is cheaper to live aboard than to rent an apartment. Practically all of my sailing the last several years has been on Lake Pontchartrain or to/from nearby Gulf Coast ports and a 24' daysailer with a small cuddy forward would actually be better for that kind of sailing. I have owned more small boats than big boats. Anyway, even if daysailers or dinghys are just a step in the learning ladder for you, it won't be money wasted at all.

Look up Glen-L. You can get a used dinghy or daysailer pretty darn cheap. You certainly can't build a boat cheaper than you can buy a used one that has been knocked around a bit, but you can typically build one cheaper than you can buy new, at least for a small boat. A small sailing skiff can be a 3 weekend project and cost you maybe $400 to build, if you want to go really really basic. I have had a lot of fun on cheap plywood sailing skiffs I have built. Glen-L is a good source for plans and parts.

Capsizing is a great learning experience that you seldom get to enjoy in a cruiser. Fortunately.

Google "Power Squadron" and see if they have any classes in your area. They can teach you an awful lot about boating in general, going into basic boathandling, navigation, upkeep, rules and regulations, and of course safety.

Be safe and have fun!
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Old 15-04-2014, 14:14   #15
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Re: How to get into sailing

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I've got a great boat for sale, fully kitted out for cruising. It's a little out of the way and probably needs some TLC at this point.
I think the Brokers term for that is a "fixer upper with great potential".
Good luck on all you have before you, hope all works out in the end.
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