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Old 20-01-2014, 18:47   #1
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Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

Greetings all,

My wife and I are retiring from the military soon and are looking forward to sailing in the near future. The problem is the only boats I've captained are my 12' john boat and a 17' canoe. Are sailing schools worth the money any and time? Our goal is to sail around the Caribbean. Also, based on the research I've done on the internet, I am leaning towards buying a catamaran vs a mono. any words of wisdom appreciated!
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Old 20-01-2014, 18:50   #2
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

Yes. Don't know where you are but in Toronto you can take sailing lessons from a community college. On modern keel boats. And the tuition is tax deductible. Well worth it if you haven't sailed before. Take a week's vacation and learn how to sail.
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Old 20-01-2014, 19:25   #3
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

Vasco,

how proficient will I/we be after a week's class? I would I be able to sail to Cuba ? Also, what type of accreditations should the school have? We currently live in Colorado.....
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Old 20-01-2014, 19:34   #4
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

You will know the basics (if you're a good student). Points of sail, rules of the road as they pertain to sailing. But not much more. You might learn to tie a knot or two. But it's a start. Any sailing school will do. Get the basics and then sail, sail, sail.

To sail to Cuba you will have to learn piloting and some navigation. Power squadron courses will help. How fast you progress will be up to you. Many do it, it's not very difficult. Common sense helps.
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Old 21-01-2014, 06:08   #5
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

For your sail to Cuba, you also have to know something about international law as US citizens will violate the long standing embargo. : /
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Old 22-01-2014, 12:07   #6
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

You can visit Havana - as a cultural exchange or as a participant in the Hemingway Classic. As long as you don't have US currency or purchase anything on c/c's - you'll be in the clear. You will need to buy a health card while you are there. Zerocare won't cover you.
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Old 22-01-2014, 12:08   #7
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

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Vasco,

how proficient will I/we be after a week's class? I would I be able to sail to Cuba ? Also, what type of accreditations should the school have? We currently live in Colorado.....
I'd recommend the advanced offshore classes and catamaran handling before attempting an open water crossing.
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Old 22-01-2014, 12:17   #8
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

So much about sailing is intuition/feel learned from years of sailing. It will be easy in calm weather but if it gets hairy those years of experience could save your life.

Start learning asap and hands on is the best method. I believe starting small(dinghy) and working your way up is preferable but many here will disagree. Don't rush this process. Accept now that it could take years before you feel comfortable. Or maybe you are a natural and will advance quickly but not likely.

Another big part of sailing to remote destinations is being able to fix your boat on the fly. And something will break at the most inconvenient time. There will be no one there to help you so knowing your boat inside and out and knowing how to fix your boat's systems will be crucial to having a safe journey.

Good luck and stick around to report your progress.
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Old 22-01-2014, 12:27   #9
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

h2o
If you still have some time left before you retire, I'd take the class and find a small trailer sailer you can drag to the lakes in CO, 18-26'. Learning the basics of sailing is the most important thing, being able to lean with wife will make it even better. Read everything you can find on sailing. Recommend something with a full set of sails as big as you can trailer. Push each other, you'll have a blast doing it. Then when you're ready to get a larger boat you'll know the basics, bigger isn't harder just different. Good luck on sailing an retirement.
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Old 22-01-2014, 12:37   #10
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

I'd personally skip the classes and save the money for a cheap dinghy/day sailor and get on the water. There's really no substitute for firsthand experience and trial & error. Sailing (getting from point A to point B with wind) can be as easy or as difficult/complex as you care to make it.

Having said that, seamanship and safety are paramount. Take the time and discipline to learn them if you don't already know them.
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Old 22-01-2014, 12:44   #11
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

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I'd personally skip the classes and save the money for a cheap dinghy/day sailor and get on the water. There's really no substitute for firsthand experience and trial & error. Sailing (getting from point A to point B with wind) can be as easy or as difficult/complex as you care to make it.

Having said that, seamanship and safety are paramount. Take the time and discipline to learn them if you don't already know them.
Which is a great reason to take a boating safety class. Sailing lessons will definitely improve the learning curve. even if it is as simple as a friend going out and getting you started. Going out on a new boat with absolutely no sailing knowledge can get you in trouble or very frustrated very quickly. Reading is not enough.
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Old 22-01-2014, 13:15   #12
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

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Originally Posted by h2ofowler View Post
Greetings all,

My wife and I are retiring from the military soon and are looking forward to sailing in the near future. The problem is the only boats I've captained are my 12' john boat and a 17' canoe. Are sailing schools worth the money any and time? Our goal is to sail around the Caribbean. Also, based on the research I've done on the internet, I am leaning towards buying a catamaran vs a mono. any words of wisdom appreciated!
I too have recently retired from the military.(Army) I love my WindRider 16. The WindRider 17 would have been a wiser purchase. I have a wife and 14 year old boy. The 17 is slightly larger and more sails. They trailer easy and rig fast. More time training means more skills acquired. That it's a Trimaran is a plus for the new sailor. Used 17 are out there and priced right. Class is for night or no wind days. I would hate to be the guy trying to right a Cat or a Tri. Avoid this at all costs. Most skills can be acquired "Certification," is another matter. If you plan to retire and acquire a second Career as "Captain," it will be required. If you plan to rent a Cat for personal use, they to require "Certification," as an insurance requirement.
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Old 22-01-2014, 15:32   #13
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

May or not work for you, but this is how me and my co-captain (or is it admiral) started.
We took the ASA sailing classes, then chartered a 37' catamaran with captain for 3 day weekends on several occasions (even had the kids with babysitter). (this we did in Miami, although were from Montreal)
It gave us our first taste of large sailboats in warm climates (we had done HobieCats, Lasers, windsurfing, ...) and first taste of sailing on a catamaran - we were hooked.

We then "graduated" to chartering in the Abacos (very easy sailing), then BVI's (easy sailing), and got to try out different catamarans and develop some opinions on what was important to us.
Only then did we buy our 1st catamaran (now buying our 2nd).

One step at a time is probably best - it's a big decision, big $$, and in the end, it's not so much about knowing how to tweak the sails, but getting from one location to another safely, in comfort and having the time of your life.

Hope to see you out there.
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Old 22-01-2014, 16:24   #14
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

Take the sailing lessons. Ultimately it may save your life. If you are in the forces you already know how well you are trained for your job. Now, imagine giving a green horn your job and telling them to just read a book and do it.

It would even be worth buying a small trailer sailor, then sailing every weekend once you have done your initial courses. The experience will be invaluable in the mean time.

For offshore sailing you will ultimately need to do a nav and seamanship course. But in the mean time, get into a basic course- together if possible. The next step would be to crew on OPBs (other peoples boats). The more boats the better as you will learn good and bad from each skipper. Even Racing. Racing will hone you sailing skill s very quickly. Your local sailing club will most likely have a list of boats seeking crew.

Cat vs mono is a personal choice. There are lots of threads here discussing the good and bad of each. But you could Charter one of Each for a few days and see what you love about each one, Plus it will give you more experience.

And just to double up,, Definitely get lessons!
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Old 22-01-2014, 16:42   #15
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Re: Best way to learn about sailing a catamaran

This online course takes about 45 minutes. Good place to start:

Online Sailing Course - Your First Sail from American Sailing Association
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