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Old 21-08-2012, 01:56   #1
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Is There a Wrong Way to Start Sailing ?

I have recently decided to take up sailing. One of the first things I have learned is that there is alot to learn. I plan on spending the winter looking into boats and taking lessons in the spring.
I have an idea what I want in a boat but am not sure if its a good way to start out. I would like something big enough for 2 to sleep comfortably, the small amount of research I have done so far has led me to believe that something in the 25 foot range is suitable (30+ looks very comfortable but my budget and complete lack of experience keep me in check). In ontario there seems to be a good amount of Tanzers, C&Cs and similar boats.
The one thing i have no idea about is wether or not its foolish to think I would be able to learn to sail single handed on something like that. I plan to spend a few summers learning and staying on Big Rideau lake near my home before venturing out onto bigger bodies like Lake Ontario. Any advice or input would be much appreciated.
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Old 21-08-2012, 02:15   #2
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We chose to go with something even smaller, in a trailer sailor. We spend weekends on our Precision 18 with just a bit of menu planning to get around the fact that we don't have a stove. We love our boat and will only replace her when we are ready to live aboard and be full time cruisers.
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Old 21-08-2012, 02:27   #3
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

25 ft is a perfect size to learn on and yes, even single hand. There are plenty of boats in that size range. I would highly recommend some lessons. This will ensure you are taught not only how to sail, but what not to do. There are many self taught sailors who "can" sail. But their seamanship is lacking. Just watch at any marina late on a Sunday afternoon. Many instructors will even teach on your boat. This way they can also assist with any safety or rigging issues etc as well as provide information on the boats idiosyncrasies.
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Old 21-08-2012, 02:27   #4
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

I have considered the possibility of a trailer sailer with my single burner stove used for canoe trips. Where do you sail your boat?
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Old 21-08-2012, 02:30   #5
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

Trailer sailors are a great option as you dont need to tend to them in winter, after/during storms and antifoul annually etc. The only thing is that you will always need a second person for raising the mast. Which may make it difficult if you plan to single hand often.
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Old 21-08-2012, 02:36   #6
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

Thanks Oz. I am definatley getting the lessons, your point about raising the mast is a very important one as I will be solo often and dont want to inconvenience others with lending a hand.
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Old 21-08-2012, 02:41   #7
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

No prob. The other thing that comes to mind with the TS is getting it on and off a trailer when solo, particularly in a strong cross wind. However, having owned both, the TS does take a lot less work and you can pack the beer, food and Bedding while its in your front yard. Thats the yang to the ying
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Old 21-08-2012, 05:37   #8
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

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Originally Posted by ottawakyle View Post
Thanks Oz. I am definatley getting the lessons, your point about raising the mast is a very important one as I will be solo often and dont want to inconvenience others with lending a hand.
Find a copy of Bruce Bingham's "Sailors Sketchbook". It contains multiple detailed drawings of how to raise a mast single handed. Plus a goldmine of other sail boat related info. Don't leave home without it.
(not related, but a big fan of his work)
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Old 21-08-2012, 05:44   #9
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

I've never had a trailer boat. At 25-28 foot sail like aAlbin woud be perfect to learn on. I do suggest you get something with an in-board motor, outboards are a pain.

You can easily learn to single-hand a 25 footer (I did it all the time when I had mine). Everything will be small (meaning less musclepower needed) and easily within reach if it is rigged properly.

Another good point with a 25-28 footer is that if you decide you don't like sailing - then it is usually fairly easy to sell again and usually for close to what you paid for it
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Old 21-08-2012, 15:05   #10
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

I agree with lessons and reading and really concentrating on rules of the road.

A 25 is on the upper edge of trailer sailing. If this will be your first and last boat then 25 to 27 might be ok. If it will be your first boat with many more to acquire then consider as small as 22. I started with a Catalina 22 and it was pefect for me and it comes in trailer form or fixed keel. There are other Canadian brands that are good as well.

Good luck in whatever you choose.

kind regards,
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Old 21-08-2012, 15:15   #11
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenhand View Post
We chose to go with something even smaller, in a trailer sailor. We spend weekends on our Precision 18 with just a bit of menu planning to get around the fact that we don't have a stove. We love our boat and will only replace her when we are ready to live aboard and be full time cruisers.
Just a plug for my boat: The west wight potter 19 sleeps four, and has a stove, unusable sink and porta potty. Its easy to sail, and trailer. I raise the mast by myself by hand. I'm an old guy. It draws 6" with the center board up, 3' with it down.

I wish I could afford a catamaran.
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Old 21-08-2012, 16:06   #12
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

A slightly different approach to the trailer-sailor is to leave it in the water during your sailing season, remove it for maintenance or winter storage. This solves the solo mast issues but allows cheap wintering and home maintenance when needed.

I did this many years ago with a Catalina 22 in the SF bay area. Initially I kept her at home on the trailer, but soon found that I was dreading all the hassle with launch/retrieval so much that the fun of our weekly sails was diminishing. A marina berth plus some bottom paint (applied at home on the trailer) solved the dilemma.

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Old 21-08-2012, 16:07   #13
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

Since you already know what lake you'll be sailing on for the first few summers, a smart approach would be to see whether people on the lake have already settled on a certain boat. For example, if there's a sailing club where people have beer-can races in Colgate 25s, then start looking for a Colgate 25. As a starting point, check out whether people on that lake tend to use trailer sailors or keep their boats in the lake during the summer. If you show up on a trailer sailor and everybody else is zooming around on fixed keels, you're going to feel terribly slow.
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Old 21-08-2012, 16:14   #14
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

I think your plan is solid. You certainly can single hand one that size. I have a 37' Islander that I single hand. It depends on how it is set up in reguard to control lines, winch placement, autopilot and a hundered other details. I have single handed a Hood 53, but it was all automatic. Electric furling. autopilot. The works. Lessons and friends with boats is the way to start. Don't be afraid of 30' (other than the price)
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Old 21-08-2012, 16:51   #15
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Re: Is there a wrong way to start sailing?

Yes, small trailer sailor (< 30') is a great way to learn...and costs you way less. Once you start getting up over 30' the purchase and operational costs rise exponentially. And, big boats are not the best way to learn to sail -- small, forgiving, monohull is the ideal way to do it (from 20 years of teaching sailing).

Intersperse your lessons with time on the water. When the skills & knolwedge from your last class become routine -- then sign up for the next one.

Single handed mast raising is no big deal if you have the right set-up, take your time, and be careful (even a small mast falling from almost full up can generate a big impact). Make sure you have all the bits to do it properly for the boat you buy (for some boats there are after-market mast raising rigs and recommendations which make a big difference).


Enjoy!
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