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Old 17-04-2012, 09:32   #1
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Learning to Sail on Your Own Boat

New to the forum. Hello! However, have been lurking for 3 years. learning everything i can and reading all the posts about almost everything. So i hope you will understand my anxiety in asking the following question. please read the rest of the post before slamming me--it won't help me or you.

What is the best way to learn to sail AFTER you buy your own boat? Private lessons only? start with ASA classes then private lessons? Do you really need ASA if your sailing your own boat and not ever going to charter etc? just find a really good sailor to teach you how to sail on your own boat?

Here is the deal. We are in a position to buy the boat of our future NOW. market is good and we are financially able to. We live 3 hours from chesapeake Bay and our long term plans are to, within 5 years sell house, retire to boat and sail at first islands and coasts. maybe or maybe not across the big blue.

We have very limited sailing experience, but don't really see trading up several times when we can buy a boat that will do, upgrade her, maintain her, over the next 5 years while we sail on weekends and at least one entire month each summer getting experience in all kinds of conditions, etc.

I know, we are doing this backward. but we have thought about this for a number of years. we know what we want to do. we moved to NYC like this, and it worked. we bought full complement of scuba gear before first class, we think about things and KNOW OURSELVES and what we want.

we understand the financial cost of boat ownership--i know what the slip will cost and what all the upgrades will cost. i am very handy and can do plumbing, electricity and all kinds of things. i can do some myself, some with instruction, and some will hire an expert. So please, unless someone really has a better plan to get us in the water sailing for about 45 days a year for the next 5 years and then retiring early, we are only looking for advice on the Learning to sail on your own boat question.

Thanks for all your advice in the past and the future
J and B
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Old 17-04-2012, 09:52   #2
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

Welcome to the forum.

Private instruction is certainly available. The problem with waiting until the boat is commissioned to learn to sail is that you won't know how you want your boat set up. Two years later, once you've realized the type of sailor you've become, you'll find yourself wishing you'd set things up differently during commissioning.

The whole point of a first boat is to get everything wrong so you know how to get everything right on the next boat.
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Old 17-04-2012, 10:08   #3
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

Hello and welcome

You will get the best advice here, plus a few knockers too, unfortunately, but thats human nature.

Your robust enough to pick the best and leave the rest. Sounds like you know what you want and will do it anyway. If YOU feel its right, go for it.

As for getting life in the right order and doing things the right way around, consider this....old chinese proverb

Tell me and I will forget
Show me and i might remember
Involve me and I will understand

That last line is the only way I can learn, so I have to do it hands on and practice makes perfect so maybe learning in your own boat is best for you.
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Old 17-04-2012, 10:08   #4
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

May I ask if you have taken any professional advice on the model/type of boat that you are proposing to buy?

From my own experience I found it extremely useful to sail with an experienced coach right at the beginning of my sailing career. He then suggested the style of boat that he thought would best suit my pocket, temperament and future plans. In essence he suggested a boat that we could grow in to, which we have!

I thank heavens on a daily basis that we had the sense to listen to somebody with years of practical knowledge. It saved us a huge amount of money and heartache.

We spent two years coastal cruising and having regular tuition from our mentor. He encouraged us to sit our formal sailing exams and helped us in many, many ways.

So, in short, there is absolutely no reason why you should not buy the boat and then get the experience BUT if you also have the self knowledge to understand what you DON'T know you may find that sourcing a good coach/mentor may save some nasty learning experiences!

Best of luck in it all............
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Old 17-04-2012, 10:10   #5
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

Jill_Brian,

We both did a basic sailing class on the water in the instructors 27 foot sail boat.

Next week read two sailing books cover to cover.

Next few weeks purchased a Catalina 30. Motored around for a week then put up the jib for a few hours of jib sailing. Next week just put out the main sail for a few hours then the next day we put out both the main and the gib sail.

Sold the boat at the end of the season, because it was to small for us.

Over the winter we purchase a Catalina 380 and sailed that for 5 years, first mate and kids hated leaning for four hours proped in a corner.
Sold the Catalina 380 at the end of that season.

Purchase a FP Mahe 36 cat in France. Had a Captain bring her home to Newport Rhode Island.

First mate and kids love this boat and we will retire on it.

Recommendation is to buy the boat you want now and just take it slow and do your homework and be safe.
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Old 17-04-2012, 11:21   #6
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

I agree with above: even under the best of situations you will go through many boats. Buy small (which can be taught on) and only go up carefully.
I sailed a dingy for 15 years, chartered for 3 years, now owned for 3. Kinda felt like I jumped the gun a little...
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Old 17-04-2012, 11:26   #7
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

Private instruction for a couple of sessions will do just fine. Then sail often and learn! Another option is to offer to crew on local races...
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Old 17-04-2012, 12:32   #8
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

When you FIRST thought of it (sailing away) you should have bought a small day sailer and taught yourself...Large boats tend to be hard for a beginner to feel the hull respond to the wind..Good luck with your plans...
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Old 17-04-2012, 12:36   #9
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We had very limited sailing experience when we bought our first boat, a 42' catamaran. We had taken some sailing lessons on small boats (J24s), and we got ASA-certified through 104. Now we are learning as we go. When we first moved aboard, we were afraid to start the engines. We had our awesome broker take us out for a day sail, which gave us a little courage. We started motoring down the ICW, now we have made a couple of offshore passages, done a lot of day-sailing in the Abacos. We still have a lot to learn, but we're having fun and living the lives we want. I think the idea of hiring someone to teach you on your own boat is a great way to go. We will probably do this when we are ready to learn how to use our spinnaker. One thing at a time. Best wishes to you!
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Old 17-04-2012, 12:43   #10
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

I did ASA 101, then bought a boat, sailed it for a year, then did 103 and 104.

It was quite common to meet people who had recently purchased boats, who were doing the ASA classes with me.
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Old 17-04-2012, 16:45   #11
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

We have in the past, helped folks to start sailing by haveing them start with us on our 42 ftr. And have sailed with them on there own boats, until they felt safe sailing on there own ! never charged anyone, except for the little expenses of haveing folks aboard for a few days like extra food ect. If ya can't help folks to get started, how ya gonna have friends to cruise with ?? Over the years we have re-met folks at ancorages and had a great time telling storys both ours and thiers !! Just sayin help the new folks if ya can cus it's the old bread on the water thing ya know !!
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Old 17-04-2012, 17:16   #12
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

G'Day J_B,

IMO, "learning to sail" is kinda hard to define. A reasonably attentive person can get the basics in a weekend, but one continues to learn for the rest of ones sailing life. There are lots of us older folks who learned on our own with no formal instruction... because back then there were far fewer "sailing schools", and because we were not indoctrinated with the need for commercial instruction. Seemed to work just fine, and likely would for you as well.

But, without some (nay, really without a good deal) of practical and personal experience, deciding what boat is suitable to you and your style of life/sailing/cruising is going to be nearly impossible. The advice that you receive from brokers, friends, CF pundits and others will likely be contradictory, self-serving, and based on limited experience on the part of the adviser. Selecting a good vessel for long-term live aboard cruising isn't easy even with experience, and the chances of expensive mistakes are lurking in the shadows!

So, my thoughts tend towards doing it in progressive stages, even though you have the fiscal means to buy your "final" boat now. I would lean towards buying a boat just big enough to achieve your short term plans: learning the basics of sailing, weekend and summer excursions, and very importantly, learning about all the many systems that comprise the support for all these activities. This knowledge will give you the intellectual means of selecting your final cruising home with a greater chance of success.

Besides the smaller fiscal exposure of the smaller boat (and IMO this means on the order of 30 feet or so) you likely will find it easier to get out sailing on short weekends than it would be with a larger and more complicated vessel... and lots of sailing is what you need to build the experience base.

Good luck, and above all, have fun... it's a great life.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 17-04-2012, 17:37   #13
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

See Jill & Brian, that wasn't too hard, the good folks here at CF have given you solid advice. Bob & Connie are class acts, and have been cruising for quite awhile. My experience was minimal before I made the jump to a 15 year old Cal 40, 17 years ago. In the early 60's sailed the family's Flying Junior, then sailed a friend's Rhodes 19 to Catalina Island a few times. I was a bit intimidated sailing my new to me Cal 40 at first, but dialed into it and sailed single handed to the Sea of Cortez. The entire time of that passage I was quite pleased with myself for thinking outside the box and just buying it. Now, 15 years after selling it, I'm going to give a cat a try, and hope the seller or his agent will spend the time for a decent check out.

I hope your boat choice works as well for you as the old Cal 40 did for me.
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Old 17-04-2012, 17:55   #14
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Cotemar is giving great advice. We bought our 33ft Hunter and we didn't have experience either. Buy the boat you want now and take things as slow as possible, learn as you go and get to know YOUR boat. It's better then buying and learning a different boat every year. We are taking ours cruising in June and we now know our "Caprice".
The biggest thing to remember is that you have to have fun while you learn and ALWAYS be safe.
Good luck and enjoy
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Old 17-04-2012, 18:10   #15
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Re: Learning to Sail on your own boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill_Brian View Post
New to the forum. Hello! However, have been lurking for 3 years. learning everything i can and reading all the posts about almost everything. So i hope you will understand my anxiety in asking the following question. please read the rest of the post before slamming me--it won't help me or you.

What is the best way to learn to sail AFTER you buy your own boat? Private lessons only? start with ASA classes then private lessons? Do you really need ASA if your sailing your own boat and not ever going to charter etc? just find a really good sailor to teach you how to sail on your own boat?

Here is the deal. We are in a position to buy the boat of our future NOW. market is good and we are financially able to. We live 3 hours from chesapeake Bay and our long term plans are to, within 5 years sell house, retire to boat and sail at first islands and coasts. maybe or maybe not across the big blue.

We have very limited sailing experience, but don't really see trading up several times when we can buy a boat that will do, upgrade her, maintain her, over the next 5 years while we sail on weekends and at least one entire month each summer getting experience in all kinds of conditions, etc.

I know, we are doing this backward. but we have thought about this for a number of years. we know what we want to do. we moved to NYC like this, and it worked. we bought full complement of scuba gear before first class, we think about things and KNOW OURSELVES and what we want.

we understand the financial cost of boat ownership--i know what the slip will cost and what all the upgrades will cost. i am very handy and can do plumbing, electricity and all kinds of things. i can do some myself, some with instruction, and some will hire an expert. So please, unless someone really has a better plan to get us in the water sailing for about 45 days a year for the next 5 years and then retiring early, we are only looking for advice on the Learning to sail on your own boat question.

Thanks for all your advice in the past and the future
J and B

If you want to buy the boat, buy the boat. Just ask around and get a GOOD surveyer to look at it for you first. Do not let yourself fall in love with a boat before having it surveyed. Keep it down to a wild hot crush!

And then YES take lessons. Personally I think ASA is a fast way to a jump start, and then private lessons on your own boat with a good teacher -- it doesn't get any better than that.

You can't learn to sail JUST from reading books. They can help a lot, but I urge you to not just teach yourself. The problem is that you won't know what you don't know, what you didn't learn could make it very hard to deal with some difficult and potentially dangerous situations.

Then sail that boat all you can. Don't wait five years to do that either.
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