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Old 23-01-2010, 16:14   #1
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Discouraged and Trying to Figure Out How to Get into Sailing

Hey everyone, I'm here in Norfolk Virginia, and am trying to get into sailing, my problem is that I have no idea how to start, I went to the local marina looking at the sailtime instruction, and tried to meet some sailors to try to get answers and all they wanted to do was try to sell me fractional shares. And the people seemed stand offish and really didn't want anything to do with new people. Are cuisers a different kina of people then people who just due the boat time share thing because everthing I have read said cruisers were great acceptinging, helpful people. The people at that meeting didn't seem like that. And I'm really tired of people telling me its impossible for me to learn to sail well enough in 6 years to be able to move aboard a boat and and cruise the Caribbean. I do have one route I can try and that is getting lessons through the Navy, maybe I can meet some sailors that way. But I'm open to any sugestions, and would greatly appreciate any advise. Sorry for venting a little on here but tonight was a bad experience and really discouraging. Hey if you made it this far thanks for reading this.
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Old 23-01-2010, 16:34   #2
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Welcome aboard Sub Nate,

I fear you met the wrong type of boat people and maybe you met sells people.

I have been living aboard close to 3 years now and the people I have met are way different then what you say that you met.

Before I desided to buy a boat I got on this site and ask oh so many questions I beleive I spent a year on this site and others before I even got my boat. At the time I got this boat I had every little knowledge of sailing, I did a little on very small boats as a child and had motor boats before this.

I met one person on this forum that help me the most gave me adive on how to buy a boat and not get ripped off ( thank you so much John) when it came time to buy I came to Floride and drove from Marina to marina looking at boats talk to people and kept an eye on Yachtworld.com. after looking at a number of boats I found this and it was time to find a home for the boat. I moved it over land to this marina and started meeting people, watched U tube sailing videos read books then just got out there and tried what I had learn, I may not be the best sailor out there but I can now handle my boat very well.

The big steps for me was down sizing to live aboard, learning to sail was not hard at all but came with some pains.

If you hang out at the right marina's where people live aboard you will meet very friendley people and most of the time they will be willing to take you out and teach you things.

Best of luck


Dutch
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Old 23-01-2010, 16:43   #3
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I woke up one morning last year and decided I wanted to sail, having not an iota of experience. A few months research, a month looking at boats and we bought our 34' Bristol. Then I set about learning to sail. Along the way my wife got interested and we have both now acquired the knowledge and skills to really start learning. The guy we bought the boat from has now become a friend and frequent sailing partner / instructor.

But six years to get ready to live aboard or cruise? Really, somebody is seriously blowing smoke up your....

We have met some fantastic people, all of whom have gone out of their way to help and teach us. Now "yatch club types" may be standoffish so avoid them, but the average marina bum is generaly very welcoming to newcomers who show genuine interests.

Keep at it and learn patience first.
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Old 23-01-2010, 16:44   #4
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There are plenty of great people and a few jerks out there - keep trying and you will find the good ones. Don't get discouraged.
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Old 23-01-2010, 16:48   #5
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Hi and welcome to out Forum.

The short answer to your "figuring" is that there are very few "parcels" that you can open up and be sailing.

You don't say much about your physical abilities, age or even what sort of sailing you want to do.

But as this is the Cruisers' Forum, and as most of our members are a little older than some, but fitter than others I'll assume you are a bit like that.

I started sailing in a small plywood dinghy when I was a kid. It was Papua, the water was warm but (during the 1950's) few around me had any experience or knowledge of sailing. The locals sailed lakatois (large outrigger canoes with polynesian style sails up and down the coast so I figures it couldn't be too hard). From then on I picked up a bit here and a bit there, got educated, worked, built a few boats, sailed a bit. Just kept on going.

It's possibly not that much different today. Not that many sail, it's expensive, time consuming and in many ways an individual passion.

Crewing seems mostly for racing types. It helps if you can keep your head down, your mouth shut, your fingers out of the winches and do as you're told.

Cruising seems to be mostly couples, families and single handers. It can put huge stains on relationship so most crewed situations look to be short term arrangements.

At risk of being contradicted most on the Forum would have started a bit like me. Read a few books, begged, brought or borrowed a small boat and then just pushed off and worked it out on their own.

Some cruisers buy a boat with no knowledge or experience, and go, but this is not normally the recommended way. It doesn't take that long to learn really, a few weeks to get the basics, and we are all learning all the time.

There's no reason why you cannot do the same. Read a few books, have a look at what small boats are used in your area and see if you can get hold of one.

A little instruction so you don't actually kill yourself first time out is a very good idea.
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Old 23-01-2010, 16:50   #6
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Don't give up. If 5% of the worlds population are a-holes, then probbaly 5% of sailors are too. You probably met most of them at one place.
I can tell you as a boat owner for several years. The single most enjoyable thing I can do with my boat is take someone sailing for their first time. I think a lot of sailors feel this way. If you are ever up on the north shore of Lake Superior there are lots of people who will allow you to get experience and offer advice. But this forum is fantastic for that as well.

Good luck, but be careful. This stuff is seriously addictive.
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Old 23-01-2010, 16:52   #7
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I joined OPO (offshore passage opportinities). You can meet members in our area.

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Old 23-01-2010, 17:05   #8
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Sub Nate,
Welcome to the forums!
Of course you can learn to sail proficiently in 6 years. It has been my experience that sailors become more friendly & less judgemental as they get further from their home base. While most are friendly enough even when near home, some are a real pita(pain in the a**). Through forums like this, you can find other sailors from your area &, I'm sure, find a few who would enjoy having you aboard. You could post a few flyers at your local marinas, boating supply stores, etc., explaining that you are new to sailing & would like any opportunity to learn the ropes. You could state that you are not looking to own a boat at this point, until you have gained the knowledge to determine which boat is best for you. Do you have any work skills with wood, fibreglass, steel? If so, check the areas where people are working on their boats and talk to a few of them. You may find an older person who is refurbishing a boat, but could use the strength/stanima of a younger person. Heck, offer to help someone repaint their hull in exchange for a few lessons.

Most importantly; Don't get discouraged, opportunities will come along.

Hope some of this helps!
Mike
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Old 23-01-2010, 17:05   #9
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I can understand some being standoffish. Imagine walking up to a stranger in a parking lot, and asking for a ride. It wouldn't work would it? Maybe hanging around more often would help, but I doubt it.

Bite the bullet, and take lessons, and then you have something to offer. You actually know how to sail, and are not just a passenger. If you truly want to sail then you will find a way. I knew no one, and paid for lessons. 3 months later I was sailing my own 30ftr, and 20 yrs later I am sailing a cat. Happy sunsets & johnnar....you're welcome........i2f
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Old 23-01-2010, 17:31   #10
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SN, Your in Norfolk and not far from Annapolis, the sailing capitol of the world. Sailtime sells timeshares for the use of their boats and it is not a bad idea for occasional experienced sailors. But to get started, look at sailing associations and Yacht Clubs in your area. They are not all snooty blue blazer types and have races, and cruises all of the time. Find out if there are Wednesday night, or any other night, races and sign up to crew, they are always looking for extra hands. The Annapolis Sailing School is a good organization to learn to sail from sailors. Those are the types you will find that are going to be willing to help you along your new journey. Start looking at boats and wander the docks asking questions of owners. I would bet you will get invited for an afternoon sail on occasion. Hang in there because this is a great community. WG
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Old 23-01-2010, 18:29   #11
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The fastest to learn how to sail well is to race. The Yacht clubs in the area hold regular races and someone will always be looking for crew. Find out where they are and post a note on their bulletin board offering your services. If there is a local boating magazine, like Latitude 38 in SF Bay, they will have crew want ads and an online crew data base. A skipper will be willing to train you if you'll commit to being there every weekend to race. It may take you a few times out to find a compatible crew and skipper. Once you've shown your commitment, and learned a bit, especially if you'll help with maintenace, you'll have skippers falling all over themselves to get you aboard. The rest of sailing, navigation, etc, can be learned from books. If there is any distance racing, you can get the navigator to ease you up the learning curvre real quick.

In the interim, buy as many sailing magazines as you can afford and study them from cover to cover. I say study, not just read, as a lot of the terminology may be Greek at first. You will need to learn the vocabulary and basics of the process of sailing. Personally, I subscribed to Sail Magazine from the first issue till we left for SoPac. Taught myself most of what I know. Bought a small boat and sailed it every weekend and a couple of evenings during the week and learned pretty much everything I needed to know to sail halfway around the world.

Your local Power Squadron and/or the Coast Guard Auxillary offer classes in the basics of navigation and may get you some on the water time if you join and volunteer. The local JC's on the west coast also offered classes in various aspects of boating. I learned Celestial at the San Pedro Junior College.

Keep asking, keep your ears open and you'll be out on the water in no time. BTW, you might think about buying a small sailing dinghy. That is the fastest way to learn how to sail and you can use the boat as a tender when you buy your ultimate cruiser. You can find really nice 8' dinghys for under a $1,000, used. Fixer uppers can be had for under $500, sometimes way under.

From my first boat, to building a Westsail 32 bare hull to cruising the South Pacific was six years. Don't dispair about the time. If we hadn't built our boat, would have gone cruising in 3 years.
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Old 23-01-2010, 20:55   #12
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Hey sorry I should of said, I'm in pretty good shape, I'm 34 and my wife is 32 no kids and no plan to have any. I retire from the Navy in 6 years thats where I get my time frame. Both my wife and I love being in and around the water, both scuba divers I do underwater photography. I have only really looked at the used 32ft. Gemini catamarans. NO sailing experience but been on alot of boats. Thanks everyone, ya I figured the people I talked to were the rich I own a big boat and don't take it anywhere, and I 'm better then you type. So I will look into lessons at the Navy base the seem alot cheaper then sail time, and you can Qualify to use up to a 32ft endevor. Thanks agian.
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Old 23-01-2010, 21:18   #13
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Originally Posted by Sub Nate View Post
Hey sorry I should of said, I'm in pretty good shape, I'm 34 and my wife is 32 no kids and no plan to have any. I retire from the Navy in 6 years thats where I get my time frame. Both my wife and I love being in and around the water, both scuba divers I do underwater photography. I have only really looked at the used 32ft. Gemini catamarans. NO sailing experience but been on alot of boats. Thanks everyone, ya I figured the people I talked to were the rich I own a big boat and don't take it anywhere, and I 'm better then you type. So I will look into lessons at the Navy base the seem alot cheaper then sail time, and you can Qualify to use up to a 32ft endevor. Thanks agian.
Sub Nate,

I kept Layla at Tidewater marina (Portsmouth side - ICW MM 0 ) for a season - If I recall correctly, there is a sailing club right next door to Tidewater, across the street from the hotel - They seemed to race once in a while... Wherever there is racing, there is need for new crew Also, most racing clubs have on-line crew lists, etc that you may be able to take advantage of.

Annapolis is quite a ways from you but -as stated already by Waterwayguy- that would be a great place to find a ride or two.

Best of luck!

Sailndive
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Old 23-01-2010, 21:28   #14
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Buy a 20' boat tomarrow an get on the water ...you don't "Need" lessons...it aint rocket science.
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Old 23-01-2010, 21:53   #15
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And I'm really tired of people telling me its impossible for me to learn to sail well enough in 6 years to be able to move aboard a boat and and cruise the Caribbean.
I don't know if this means anything Nate but I bought a 42' sailboat two months age and moved aboard a month ago. I hired a pro to teach me how to handle the boat at 35 an hour. Well spent money. Today I spent the day sailing with my son. So far my experience has been nothing but positive in fact I love it. I had only a minimum of previous sailing experience.
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