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Old 01-02-2013, 03:20   #31
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

ottawakyle, As a long time instructor, albeit flying, and a long time sailor, I would recommend getting a very basic, but respected, sailing instructional book and learning as much about the basics of sailing prior to taking a moderately priced, comprehensive, basic sailing course. You will get a great deal more out of the course with some prior knowledge. After you have the basics down, you should be able to pick up most of the more advanced stuff from books and online videos, then going out and practicing with those more knowledgable and, ultimately, by yourself. Follow this same course of action with each of the associated disciplines, ie; Navigation / Weather / etc. It is enjoyable and by far the most cost effective way to learn the skills needed to be a competent sailor. I would also suggest that you try to line up a mentor that you can refer to when stumped by some aspect that you don't understand. Best of luck in your endeavors!!
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:52   #32
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

Wrong way: buy as much boat as you can afford. Right way: Learn first, sail a few different types of boats, then get a cheap transportable one.
Me- I bought a dingy with sails at a garage sale. (20 USD) Went to a lake with lots of wind, plopped it in and pitch polled it. But I kept at it (with a renewed appreciation for life vests). Then I learned that I didn't have to capsize each time out and that there were other people around that like to sail too. Not only that, but they would let me sail on their boats as crew- it was called racing.
Eventually (in 2-3 years) I outgrew my need to race (esp with drunk captains) and outgrew my dingy (it basically just delaminated into shreds from almost daily hard use) So I bought a bigger boat and now, 30 years later, I have two boats and a wife all of whom I love. The problem is that I must choose two out of the three.
See what you have to look forward too??
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Old 01-02-2013, 17:05   #33
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

I learned to sail on a boat I built myself. Self taught, or rather, untaught, at both the building and the sailing. Didn't even have a book. No internet back then, either. "Just Do It" is certainly not the right way, but it either works or it fails spectacularly, and either way gives you a story to tell if you survive to tell it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 17:10   #34
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

The wrong way to learn would be go out and try to figure it out for yourself. Pilots don't learn to fly this way. I am glad to see you will be taking lessons.
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Old 01-02-2013, 17:21   #35
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

There's a lot to be said for not trailer sailing. It's a big deterrent to just getting out on a whim and getting some sailing in. Nearly impossible on your own. (how do you connect the stays even if you can hold the mast up on your own?) You can readily teach yourself to single hand on 25-30ft. You will learn more and spend more time if it's in the water ready to use.
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Old 01-02-2013, 17:30   #36
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Originally Posted by gts1544 View Post
ottawakyle, As a long time instructor, albeit flying, and a long time sailor, I would recommend getting a very basic, but respected, sailing instructional book and learning as much about the basics of sailing prior to taking a moderately priced, comprehensive, basic sailing course. You will get a great deal more out of the course with some prior knowledge. After you have the basics down, you should be able to pick up most of the more advanced stuff from books and online videos, then going out and practicing with those more knowledgable and, ultimately, by yourself. Follow this same course of action with each of the associated disciplines, ie; Navigation / Weather / etc. It is enjoyable and by far the most cost effective way to learn the skills needed to be a competent sailor. I would also suggest that you try to line up a mentor that you can refer to when stumped by some aspect that you don't understand. Best of luck in your endeavors!!
Ottawakyle is right on point, and as another pilot/sailor I can add that they are very co related-aerodyniics, weather, situational awareness,maintenance and experience. And before you spend the big bucks on your own money pit, charter a boat for a week to make sure it's the lifestyle for which you yearn
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Old 01-02-2013, 17:50   #37
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

Ideally the best way to learn to sail is in a small boat. Preferably a boat with a centerboard which would require you to shift your body weight to keep the boat upright and balanced. Sailing in a small boat requires faster reaction times and a smaller boat is more sensitive to small changes in the environment. In light air, one would be able to sail and make way and in windier conditions it would require one to react quickly to avoid mishap. A couple of weeks in small dinghy sailer such as 420, a boat used in High School and collegiate sailing, could teach you more about sailing than a whole summer in a big boat. Some people who learn to sail on bigger boats never learn the nuances of sailing learned in a small boat. Learning to sail on a small boat will give you greater confidence when moving up to a larger platform. So there is a wrong way to learn to sail.
The wrong way is to learn in a big boat.
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Old 01-02-2013, 18:29   #38
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Ideally the best way to learn to sail is in a small boat. Preferably a boat with a centerboard which would require you to shift your body weight to keep the boat upright and balanced. Sailing in a small boat requires faster reaction times and a smaller boat is more sensitive to small changes in the environment. In light air, one would be able to sail and make way and in windier conditions it would require one to react quickly to avoid mishap. A couple of weeks in small dinghy sailer such as 420, a boat used in High School and collegiate sailing, could teach you more about sailing than a whole summer in a big boat. Some people who learn to sail on bigger boats never learn the nuances of sailing learned in a small boat. Learning to sail on a small boat will give you greater confidence when moving up to a larger platform. So there is a wrong way to learn to sail.
The wrong way is to learn in a big boat.
As a person involved ( or more correctly was involved ) in sail training I don't agree.

Dinghy sailing is really an activity for younger people. It requires a degree of physical fitness and in some cases a relatively small stature. It teaches a set of specific skills generally applicable to dinghys. That's not to say that's not bad or good but it is specific

Sailing larger yachts. , yes you must develop wind awareness and most dinghy sailors are good at that. But it doesn't teach you anything about say taking a 40 footer through a bad weather system at sea.

The actual physics of sailing , etc can be taught to someone in a weekend.

What takes time is to,build up a store of knowledge of how to handle a larger boat, the skils of being a skipper . The art of navigation., How to care for and manage crew Etc etc. , dinghy sailors know none this. I've seen dinghys sailors try to handle 40. Footers like lasers, with unfortunate results. Dinghy sailors often make good racing crew, but rarely good cruising crew ( not without considerable further training and specific experience)

There's a reason in all structured sailing courses that keel boat sailing is separated from dinghys. Yes there is common crossover. But knowing how to roll gybe a 420 is useless on a 40 footer when what you need to know is when and how to rig a preventer.

By all means do dinghy sailing , but if you wish to sail ( in the total sense of the word) larger keelboats on extended trips in unprotected waters, then the place to start is on keel boats. It doesn't matter of you intend to buy a 30 footer or a 60 footer. Start the learning process , get shown the ropes and build appropriate experience

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Old 01-02-2013, 18:39   #39
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
As a person involved ( or more correctly was involved ) in sail training I don't agree.

Dinghy sailing is really an activity for younger people. It requires a degree of physical fitness and in some cases a relatively small stature. It teaches a set of specific skills generally applicable to dinghys. That's not to say that's not bad or good but it is specific

Sailing larger yachts. , yes you must develop wind awareness and most dinghy sailors are good at that. But it doesn't teach you anything about say taking a 40 footer through a bad weather system at sea.

The actual physics of sailing , etc can be taught to someone in a weekend.

What takes time is to,build up a store of knowledge of how to handle a larger boat, the skils of being a skipper . The art of navigation., How to care for and manage crew Etc etc. , dinghy sailors know none this.

There's a reason in all structured sailing courses that keel boat sailing is separated from dinghys. Yes there is common crossover. But knowing how to roll gybe a 420 is useless on a 40 footer when what you need to know is when and how to rig a preventer.

By all means do dinghy sailing , but if you wish to sail ( in the total sense of the word) larger keelboats on extended trips in unprotected waters, then the place to start is on keel boats. It doesn't matter of you intend to buy a 30 footer or a 60 footer. Start the learning process , get shown the ropes and build experience

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We are talking "learning to sail". You don't learn to fly in a B52. Quite the opposite, you learn to fly in a 420. After principals, comes graduation. Most if not all great big boat sailors come from the dinghy ranks. Surfing a big boat down a wave is second nature to a dinghy sailor. Of course, seamanship is another part of the sport.
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Old 01-02-2013, 19:02   #40
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We are talking "learning to sail". You don't learn to fly in a B52. Quite the opposite, you learn to fly in a 420. After principals, comes graduation. Most if not all great big boat sailors come from the dinghy ranks. Surfing a big boat down a wave is second nature to a dinghy sailor. Of course, seamanship is another part of the sport.
The comparison is not appropriate.

Firstly dinghy sail training is relatively modern. Many famous yachtsmen did not start in dinghys.

For example the RYA keelboat course takes you from competent crew all the way to Yachtmaster. At no time does it involve dinghys.

Of course I wouldn't reccomend a newbie run out and buy a 60 footer. But the dinghy route is not the most appropriate way , it is merely A way. Surfing a big boat down a wave is a tactic best employed by a skilled driver, most people would prefer to learn how to avoid such situations or sail conservatively in weather likely to generate such conditions. For all you know the boat simply mightn't surf well.

The " principles" of sailing a larger keelboat are significantly different then doing so in a dinghy, sail handling, line handling , winches, safety , loads , etc are all widely different. Then add pilotage skills, navigation, yacht systems etc. these the the principles.

I am not deriding dinghy sailors , my own kids became very proficient in it and one went on to be an instructor. But it only teaches you a small part of the total necessary.

Remember the basics of cruising under sail can be taught in a weekend. It's the experience building that requires time , relevant time afloat. Etc. a 10 year experienced dinghy sailor will have an advantage over a newbie cruiser. A 10 year experienced cruising sailor will be better then both. ( for a keelboat )

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Old 01-02-2013, 19:30   #41
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

I only briefly skimed the previous posts but its pretty much the same ole CF crap. Dont listen to the start small advice, get the boat you want and figure the **** out. 60 feet might be a little much, but if thats your goal why waste time and money on some other boat. Taking a bunch of ASA classes, a 420 dinghy, crewing, hanging at yacht clubs, does that sound fun? Screw all that. A good starter cruising boat should be 30'-35' get something like that, if you wanna go far get a morgan OI 41 and start today.
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Old 01-02-2013, 19:40   #42
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I did learn to sail at a rather advanced age and did it in on a keel boat. Later I learned dinghy sailing, did it for 1or2 seasons and stopped, because I do not like it. Just not my kind of sport. But I am considering myself as a cruiser, not a sailor. I also took classes and later chartered different sizes of boats in SE Asia, the Med and Australia. After a few years, we knew what we wanted and it had to be big. Last year we bought aTayana 55 and we are very happy with our joice.
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Old 01-02-2013, 19:56   #43
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
The comparison is not appropriate.

Firstly dinghy sail training is relatively modern. Many famous yachtsmen did not start in dinghys.

For example the RYA keelboat course takes you from competent crew all the way to Yachtmaster. At no time does it involve dinghys.

Of course I wouldn't reccomend a newbie run out and buy a 60 footer. But the dinghy route is not the most appropriate way , it is merely A way. Surfing a big boat down a wave is a tactic best employed by a skilled driver, most people would prefer to learn how to avoid such situations or sail conservatively in weather likely to generate such conditions. For all you know the boat simply mightn't surf well.

I am not deriding dinghy sailors , my own kids became very proficient in it and one went on to be an instructor. But it only teaches you a small part of the total necessary.

Remember the basics of cruising under sail can be taught in a weekend. It's the experience building that requires time , relevant time afloat. Etc. a 10 year experienced dinghy sailor will have an advantage over a newbie cruiser. A 10 year experienced cruising sailor will be better then both. ( for a keelboat )

Dave
As US Sailing Instructor and USCG Master w/Sail Endorsement I appreciate what you are saying. I don't think I was saying one can't learn to sail on big boat, I was saying one would glean the finer points with a small boat experience. Of course, if one were stay a dinghy sailor, one's experience would remain constrained to the platform. I would say, a small boat experience translates to the bigger platform better than moving from a big platform to a smaller. Which is why I recommend learning to sail on a smaller platform if not prohibited by age which the OP didn't say either way. You are correct, experience is the best teacher. One weekend to teach basics? Sure, but my money would be on the smaller dinghy being the more insightful experience. Lighter platform, superior performance in light air training conditions, better feedback from the boat to helmsman's input, less effort and time to trim sails. Just sayin'
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Old 01-02-2013, 20:37   #44
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Exclamation Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

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There's a lot to be said for not trailer sailing. It's a big deterrent to just getting out on a whim and getting some sailing in. Nearly impossible on your own. (how do you connect the stays even if you can hold the mast up on your own?)
Bite your tongue.

I won't go into detail about how trailer-sailing is possibly the biggest bargain in cruising: low cost, yet with easy access to different areas that most big-boat-owners are jealous of.

Let's just concentrate on your knocks - mast and launching first: I know people who can raise the mast and launch a 25' trailerable single-handed. It's not a big deal, with the right mechanical aid. And many of us keep our boats at clubs with mast-up, so I can arrive, launch and leave in under 15 min, solo.

And as for sailing on a whim - the smaller the boat the more you sail. period. It's just easier, and more fun.

Ok I am definitely biased. We are actively planning for a large, 'proper' cruiser, but I intend to still keep the trailerable Sandpiper. For the low cost, it's just too much fun. In the light fluky winds of a Toronto summer, I can sail rings around larger boats. We can be sailing on a primo cottage lake, or at the start of the North Channel in a day. Also, I've run into too many sailors who upsized only to find that everything is just a bigger hassle now, and they wish they stayed small.

Last point, used trailer-sailor boats are cheap to buy and maintain, and easy to sell as well. There's no reason not to get one if you're still unsure about the commitment or cost of a bigger boat.

(sermon over)
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:56   #45
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Re: Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

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As US Sailing Instructor and USCG Master w/Sail Endorsement I appreciate what you are saying. I don't think I was saying one can't learn to sail on big boat, I was saying one would glean the finer points with a small boat experience. Of course, if one were stay a dinghy sailor, one's experience would remain constrained to the platform. I would say, a small boat experience translates to the bigger platform better than moving from a big platform to a smaller. Which is why I recommend learning to sail on a smaller platform if not prohibited by age which the OP didn't say either way. You are correct, experience is the best teacher. One weekend to teach basics? Sure, but my money would be on the smaller dinghy being the more insightful experience. Lighter platform, superior performance in light air training conditions, better feedback from the boat to helmsman's input, less effort and time to trim sails. Just sayin'
I think we are all agreeing with each other here. Dinghy sailors tend to have a good understanding of the things like wind awareness, weight distribution and sail trim ( in general , of course there are good and bad dinghy sailors). They have a instinctive relationship with the tiller that is absent on bigger boats

Of course thats the good stuff , They often have a underdeveloped sense of danger, often push the craft beyond its limits and do so generally in a safe inshore , rescue boat orientated environment. They learn little or nothing about crew management or traditional navigation techniques.

Larger keelboat trainees, tend to start as competent crew. Here things like deck work, safety and boat awareness is taught. Things like getting comfortable with living sleeping and eating on a moving platform are a key factor. ( and its often these that put people off).

In Dinghy sailing, even quite large versions, too many older newbies are too concerned about ending up in the water to focus on enjoying the experience. In these latitudes dinghy sailors are hardly individuals bedecked head to toe in wetsuits ( and even drysuits). Equally learning to balance out on a trapize isnt everyones idea of fun.

In particular older women are not attracted to dinghies in any fashion. ( in general)( older = > 30). Most adults want a comfortable training environment within the limits of the vessel and an experience that doesnt involve large amounts of swimming, Kids of course have the exact opposite view!!.

Actually sailing the vessel , ie sail handling, sail selection and sail trim are fed in over the next series of training steps. again the specifics of larger boat dynamics are emphasised. Often sail trim is the least of the issues. Ive seen people sail safely around the world without being too bothered about sail trim.

good dinghy sailors come with an already proven enthusiasm for the sea and boats, thats great, they often have as many hangups as advantages. Good sailors can be taught by several complementary methods. Dinghies are just one route.

Most adult sailing training these days takes places on quite large vessels, I remember years ago doing my Day Skipper on a 50 foot Beneteau. Adults like the comfort camaraderie , etc thats such vessels offer. Equally they tend to want to learn on a boat similar to what they think they will purchase ( in their dreams). Nothing wrong with this approach, some very good and competent sailors every year come out of that route.

Dinghy sailing is a sport, cruising is a hobby. Many people arnt good at sports but make excellent hobbyists.

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