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Old 20-06-2009, 17:05   #1
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First Cruise

So, my husband, Ken, and I decided last week that we wanted to pursue sailing as a future lifestyle or hobby. Neither of us had ever been sailing but he has a lot more experience in motor boats than I. Today there was an open house at the local sailing club so we decided to go play!!

YEAH!! We went out on a 22' Catalina, Ken also went out on a tiny little Sunfish. We had a very good time overall. Ken did very well with all of it, he says I did, too, but I'm not sure I did. I tend to be a lot harder on myself than he is on me. It did leave me with a few more questions.

I am not sure that I would be happy with the 22' boat even for learning to sail and taking "baby steps". It is important on learn on a very small boat? Should I take a professional course of some sort or is it okay to learn from experienced sailors in a non-professional capacity? If I do take a course from somewhere (I don't even know if there is a course nearby) would it still be better to start with a tiny boat or would a not-as-small boat be okay? Can anyone recommend a good sailing manual, with vocabulary? I noticed that I would have been much more comfortable if I had had some previous education even just from a book.

The leaning over thing made me very nervous (I don't even know the word for that). That will definitely take some getting used to. I didn't notice it til the Skipper mentioned it, then I got freaked out and couldn't calm down!! Gonna have to work on that for sure.


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Old 20-06-2009, 17:37   #2
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The leaning over thing is called heeling....unlike what you tell you're dog.

I go through this debate all the time. Some people say you can pick up sailing casually by going out with your buddies and some people say you learn quicker and better by taking formal lessons. I tend to believe the latter category is better. I used to teach sailing and I would quite frequently find people who have been sailing for years who did not know some pretty basic tie a proper cleat hitch or do a man overboard. There are though excellent sailors out there who have never taken lessons.

Some people say you can buy a boat first knowing virtually nothing about boats and then learn how to sail it. Others think it is best to learn sailing first, learn what types of boats you like best and then buy a boat. I fall in the latter camp because I think an educated buyer is much more likely to find the most appropriate boat for him or her.

There are LOTS of beginner books on sailing out there. Really the best thing to do is look through a bunch of them and then pick out the one that works best for you. If I were to pick out one book for learning how it would be the ASA sailing manual.

However you go about it, I'm sure you are going to have lots of fun learning how and owning your first sail boat.


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Old 20-06-2009, 18:49   #3
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Ken & Missy- congratulations!! You're about to enter a great lifestyle and hobby. When we started a few years back, we had absolutely zero experience about sailing. My wife thought I was nuts in wanting to learn and buy a sailboat. Today, she's a better sailor than me (and I'll deny I ever said that if you let on about it) and is an avid cruiser.

We learned on a Catalina 25.... we bought the boat, but we knew a bit about boats, just not about sailing. A couple of things I'd sure consider: first, yes, learn on a smaller boat. They react quicker and give you more of a sense of how the wind, current, and waves affect the boat. On our Tayana, after I turn the wheel to tack, I joke that I can go below and make a sandwich and still come back on deck in time to finish the tack. A lot of sailing clubs have smaller boats (less than 25' or so) in which you can learn to sail. I'd recommend formal instruction. I've met lots of good intentioned and knowledgable sailors, but they don't always know how to teach.

Second, take it slow. The heeling thing and all the lines can be intimidating to some. I have friends whose spouses now 'hate' sailing due to the other sailing too aggesively and taking it too fast. Figure out which one of you is the most conservative, and stay at that pace.

Yes... books and videos can be a good tool. Lots of them around. We made a trip to our local library and checked out several books and videos on sailing. It didn't replace the lessons, but it gave us a good intro and reinforced the points we learned in class.

As far as sailing lessons, a quick internet search or a call to your local parks and rec department, or community college might lead you to nearby classes. If there are sailboats around, I'll bet classes are nearby. The harbormaster at the marina might also be able to steer you in the right direction.

And finally, have FUN. Like I said, my skeptical wife even quit her job to be able to cruise full time. Sailing can be addicting.....

Oh, and if you have kids.... what a learning and life experience for them. Best thing we ever did.

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Old 20-06-2009, 18:56   #4
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Welcome, and you guys are doing just fine....Allan
Our Coronado 25, Not named yet!
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Old 20-06-2009, 19:20   #5
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Welcome BrightWolf!
" Wisdom; is your reward for surviving your mistakes"
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Old 20-06-2009, 20:16   #6
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Welcome Brightwolf,
Missy, I didn't know sailboats heeled until I sailed one for the first time, wished someone would of at least hinted
Happy sailing
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Old 20-06-2009, 22:39   #7
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There are two aspects to a fear of heeling. One is logical, the other at more of a gut level. For the logical part, realize that keep boats are like weebles (if you remember that 70's toy): under normal circumstances and keel boat cannot tip over.

For the gut part, find a small boat with no keel. Take it out and tip it over. It is actually really fun. Once you do that a few times it really gets you over the fear of heeling at the gut level. While you are out in the small boat, sail it a bunch. It is the fastest way to learn how to sail.
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Old 20-06-2009, 22:53   #8
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Not liking the fact that a sailboat heels is the same as not liking skydiving because one falls so quickly: it's physics that you are not going to change. The only thing to do is to understand why/when it happens, what its limits are, and then get used to it.

I'm sure that when you begin to feel more in command of the boat and can anticipate its maneuvers, most of this irrational fear will subside. The desire for the perceived relative safety of a larger boat will subside along with it.

Good Luck,
s/y Eagle's Wings Catalina 30 MkII
"Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them." G. K. Chesterfield
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Old 21-06-2009, 17:14   #9
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Aloha Missy,
Since you haven't bought a boat yet, I'd take a basic sailing course to get started the right way. If you like it then continue with more courses. I recommend the book "Start Sailing Right!" It is the simplest and best for small boat basics. There are a lot of other books in the public library that you can look up too.
The Sunfish is a great boat to learn on because it is a bit forgiving -learn quickly what not to do because it will capsize if you make a big mistake. Capsizing is part of the learning fun!
My first boat was a Catalina 22 but I had the experience of learning to sail and then instructing before I bought it. You will get used to heeling and instructors can explain that all you have to do is ease the sheets or turn up into the wind a bit to stop heeling so much. Even the many very large monohulls heel.
If you just can't get used to it then there are always large catamarans.
Welcome aboard!
Kind regards,
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Old 21-06-2009, 18:26   #10
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Hi Missy

I suggest you purchase Royce's Book of Sailing. It has everything you need to know. should be able to provide you with a cheap used copy. You're just going to get it wet anyway, the first time you have to anchor and you get that book on deck to guide you ;=> (at least I did....)

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