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Old 24-06-2016, 17:27   #1
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New to Sailing, General Question

I recently got bit by the sailing bug and don't know how fast I should dive deep into sailing.

My background is that I am a master automotive mechanic, as well as a pilot trained in the old days of dead reckoning, stick and rudder, and reading the weather. I have also spent 4 years as a technical rock climbing guide. I recently took the ASA 101 basic keel boat course. I read the study materials before hand and understood everything. On the water felt quite natural, except for getting a feel for working a 26ft boat, which I imagine everyone goes through with any new boat. My goal is to cruise The Bahamas. My ASA instructor, of course, advises that I proceed through the various certifications that they issue prior to expanding my horizons beyond our small lake in Minnesota. I have also talked to sailors who have never had any formal instruction and advise to just go out and do it, learn while you go (within reason of course). What are your thoughts on this? Is it reasonable the for a newbie to purchase a small boat and island hop, or should I stick with the with structure that the ASA established? Your thoughts, stories, or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 24-06-2016, 17:46   #2
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

Getting experience is always the priority. I look at ASA as a way to get some experience before you buy a boat. However, as a pilot you should know about stepping up with each phase of training. Just because you got your private pilot in a single engine airplane Cessna 172 doesn't mean you can jump in a small jet Cessna Citation and be able to handle it.

I am of the notion to get with people who are willing to help and go in increments. I am in the same boat when it comes to getting more experience, I am looking to expand from racing in my local area to cruising in near coastal to eventually blue water.

Hope that helps some
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Old 24-06-2016, 18:26   #3
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

Sail as much as you can... build up to bigger boats that are more complex and sailing in more challenging conditions.

Lessons help because you have someone telling you how to do it right.... and pointing out when you do it wrong (even if it does work).

Sail a few boats before thinking of buying.

I knew what I wanted in a boat when I went looking... and the local "experts" kept trying to steer me to a 25 to 32 ft, fixed keel.
Very happy with my little 14 Ft Vagabond. No slip fees. Very little maintenance needed. Can step the mast and rig it for launch in about 15 min, solo.
I could sail the 32... Just don't want to work that hard to keep it up or pay the slip fees.
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Old 24-06-2016, 18:49   #4
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

I'm in the same boat (so to speak). I spent my life on or near boats. Worked in a shipyard for couple of year and finished in Ft Lauderdale working on boats. But, all power boats. Those were my younger years, now I own my own business (office work). Got the sailing bug, in a land locked state. How to proceed in gaining the ultimate goal of sailing the word?

My plan is as follows: took ASA 101 (local lake). Need 30-40 hours between classes so I bought a 24' trailer sailer to gain hours. Now, in a few months, hoping to take 103/104, and upgrading to a bigger boat (maybe in the 32+ range). After coastal sailing that, may or may not take anymore classes, but move to my cruising boat.

my thoughts are the classes can't hurt and I can still sail in between. But, again I am by no means an expert. Just my plan. Maybe some old sea dog will help me adjust my plan.
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Old 24-06-2016, 19:19   #5
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

Aaron,

Honestly, most of us older sailors are predominantly self-taught or instructed while crewing for others. Based on my own experience, being taught by other crew members and skippers, I'd say your decision about how much formal instruction to get should be informed by your self-knowledge of how you learn best. If you took courses to get your master mechanic's license, and felt comfortable learning that way, then you might like another course after a while. Some people do better in formally structured learning situations, others, self-teaching works quite well. [Of course, the ASA are not unbiased, it's their rice bowl, so to speak, and more students is how they fill it. Of course, they've done course work to get their instructor's permit/license.]

If your ultimate goal is to go offshore, you might want to consider a small, easy to deal with on all levels trailer sailer. Get water miles/hours. Learn how to interface with the bodies of water and the weather, you'll also be learning how to interpret what your boat tells you. You'll know when your first boat has taught you all she has to teach. At the time of moving up to a larger boat, then think about some private instruction, specifically in a context where you can be in the ocean in some vigorous weather, with a guide. Your self-confidence and competence will increase accordingly.

If you crew for more experienced skippers, you will learn a lot both by observation and by asking after the race about why particular decisions were made at a particular time. I never had the courage to do the latter, but there's knowledge there to mine, if the strategy fits for you. Worst skipper instruction I ever received? under spinnaker, a newbie strapped to a winch where she was shivering, and he yells, "Stop the boat!" Most of us were not very experienced sailors out in the ocean that day, and I don't know if anyone had had enough experience to effect that maneuver quickly and safely.

Ann
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Old 25-06-2016, 09:58   #6
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

where you learn to sail and gain experience is also important. The chesapeake and florida are great for this because you are somewhat protected, have lots of local places to go, and lots of boating infrastructure and have safe places to run to in a storm, for fun, etc. And there are a lot of great boats for sale or charter there. Particularly the Chesapeake. Think "annapolis".
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Old 25-06-2016, 10:11   #7
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

I agree with those who say start small and learn by reading and doing. Sailing is not a real complicated business after you learn the vocabulary. There are only a few controls and it is largely about adjusting as the weather conditions change. When you do trade up you will find it is just not that different.
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Old 25-06-2016, 10:30   #8
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

Go for it! We regularly see people who are new to sailing on boats under 30 feet pass through and they are just fine learning as they go. We also see folks on million dollar, fully equipped 40 footers who should have never left the dock. You sound fine with your background. Just use common sense
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Old 25-06-2016, 13:29   #9
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Aaron,

Honestly, most of us older sailors are predominantly self-taught or instructed while crewing for others. Based on my own experience, being taught by other crew members and skippers, I'd say your decision about how much formal instruction to get should be informed by your self-knowledge of how you learn best. If you took courses to get your master mechanic's license, and felt comfortable learning that way, then you might like another course after a while. Some people do better in formally structured learning situations, others, self-teaching works quite well. [Of course, the ASA are not unbiased, it's their rice bowl, so to speak, and more students is how they fill it. Of course, they've done course work to get their instructor's permit/license.]

If your ultimate goal is to go offshore, you might want to consider a small, easy to deal with on all levels trailer sailer. Get water miles/hours. Learn how to interface with the bodies of water and the weather, you'll also be learning how to interpret what your boat tells you. You'll know when your first boat has taught you all she has to teach. At the time of moving up to a larger boat, then think about some private instruction, specifically in a context where you can be in the ocean in some vigorous weather, with a guide. Your self-confidence and competence will increase accordingly.

If you crew for more experienced skippers, you will learn a lot both by observation and by asking after the race about why particular decisions were made at a particular time. I never had the courage to do the latter, but there's knowledge there to mine, if the strategy fits for you. Worst skipper instruction I ever received? under spinnaker, a newbie strapped to a winch where she was shivering, and he yells, "Stop the boat!" Most of us were not very experienced sailors out in the ocean that day, and I don't know if anyone had had enough experience to effect that maneuver quickly and safely.

Ann
this is an excellent and wise answer.
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Old 25-06-2016, 20:11   #10
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

Good advice from all. Just keep your EGO ....we all have one...in check and use common sense. the best way to learn something is to do it. books and class' are only part of the equation experience is the rest.

Learn how to read the weather! most boats are lost due to weather.
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Old 25-06-2016, 22:32   #11
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

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Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
Go for it! We regularly see people who are new to sailing on boats under 30 feet pass through and they are just fine learning as they go. We also see folks on million dollar, fully equipped 40 footers who should have never left the dock. You sound fine with your background. Just use common sense


Way to go bro. If you survived learning to fly you should have no problem with the boating thing.
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Old 26-06-2016, 00:00   #12
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

My only formal training was earning the Boy Scout sailing merit badge back in 1969 at the Newport Beach, CA Sea Scout base camp on a Sabot. It took a few hours as a twelve year old.

Adults make it way more complex than it really is.
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Old 26-06-2016, 00:09   #13
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

I would go for it.

I never took a sailing course, and never felt the need to take one.

Sailing is not rocket science. It's more about situational awareness than anything else in my experience.

Being that you are rock climber and pilot, I am sure you are well grounded in the concept of situational awareness, and you should do well at sea.

Start out with a smaller yacht that is easier to handle, and work your way up if it suits you.

Enjoy.
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Old 26-06-2016, 11:20   #14
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

You guys are awesome for the responses! This did clarify much for me. The instructors I have spoken with make it seem like there are crucial sailing mysteries that will only be unlocked by taking all of the ASA courses, and that no person should go in the water without them. I purchased and read Chapman, Piloting and Seamanship, and came away with 1. know and maintain your boat 2. watch and know the weather 3. use common sense!

Like my flight instructor used to say "You're never going to learn to fly sitting in the terminal." I guess it's time to hit the water, start out slow, and go from there. Happy sailing guys!
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Old 26-06-2016, 11:33   #15
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Re: New to Sailing, General Question

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Originally Posted by aaronroesner View Post
I recently got bit by the sailing bug and don't know how fast I should dive deep into sailing.

My background is that I am a master automotive mechanic, as well as a pilot trained in the old days of dead reckoning, stick and rudder, and reading the weather. I have also spent 4 years as a technical rock climbing guide. I recently took the ASA 101 basic keel boat course. I read the study materials before hand and understood everything. On the water felt quite natural, except for getting a feel for working a 26ft boat, which I imagine everyone goes through with any new boat. My goal is to cruise The Bahamas. My ASA instructor, of course, advises that I proceed through the various certifications that they issue prior to expanding my horizons beyond our small lake in Minnesota. I have also talked to sailors who have never had any formal instruction and advise to just go out and do it, learn while you go (within reason of course). What are your thoughts on this? Is it reasonable the for a newbie to purchase a small boat and island hop, or should I stick with the with structure that the ASA established? Your thoughts, stories, or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
What's your time schedule for moving? If I were you I'd follow the advice of getting a Laser or other fun boat and getting out every chance you get where you are now AND I'd go through all the ASA courses available so that when you move you'll be able to charter various boats easily in Florida to give things a try. However if you are talking about island hopping around the lake I'd say a trailerable Catalina 25 or 22 with a cuddy cabin to camp out in is a good idea (as long as you have a car to tow it or a yard to store it near the lake.) They are fairly common and easy to resell.
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