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Old 20-08-2013, 09:52   #1
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Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

I wanted some advice on what path you would recommend on learning to sail. I have some basic knowledge of sailing, we own a Catalina 25 and did a flotilla in the BVI a couple years ago. My husband typically has taken the lead when sailing and I have not gained too much experience. However, that is something I want to change.
We plan on buying a boat in three years and living aboard with our two children and I need to gain as much knowledge and experience between now and when we leave. Would you recommend taking ASA courses or gain experience with the sailboat we currently own? What are the benefits of ASA certification? Do you have any book recommendations? Thanks for any advice you can provide!
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Old 20-08-2013, 10:12   #2
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

You are in a great spot. Get out in your Catalina WITHOUT your husband an make some mistakes. Check with some of the pirates around the Maritime Museum, someone will be glad to sail with you. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 20-08-2013, 10:23   #3
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

If there are any races going on they are a superb way to learn sailing, volunteer your self as crew. Check the yacht clubs and marinas for race schedules. Sometimes people just show up at the docks on race day with their stuff and ask around, otherwise, post on a buletin board.
Racing teaches you how to get from point A to point B quickly, how to sail from 5 knots to sudden 20 knots, reefing, headsail changing etc... and how to do it fast!
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Old 20-08-2013, 11:05   #4
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Like Captain Ron said, "If anything is gonna happen, it's gonna to happen out there!"

Get your boat out there. Read a few books in the mean time.
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Old 20-08-2013, 11:10   #5
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
You are in a great spot. Get out in your Catalina WITHOUT your husband an make some mistakes. Check with some of the pirates around the Maritime Museum, someone will be glad to sail with you. Good luck and have fun!
Good advice. Also race separately and do short deliveries separately. That way, you bring different experiences to bear. Insist to hubby that you do 1/2 of the sailing, including the docking/motoring/navigation. Racing, even at the club level, exposes you to different boats, different techniques and the habit of quick execution and problem-solving. You will incorporate racing techniques into your cruising and thereby get more out of your boat.

Parity is not only the basis of harmonious sailing, it's the basis of safer sailing. Either of you should be able to sail to safety solo should one of you suffer an injury or illness that keeps you from crewing.
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Old 20-08-2013, 13:07   #6
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

The ASA 101 and 103 will include about 20 hours of on-the-water training with a certified instructor, a 200 page textbook that covers all the basics, and two written exams which you will no doubt pass if you possess halfway decent reading and study skills.

As others have stated, racing is a great way to learn and meet some folks. If you can, join a club and participate in their races and other sailing activities.
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Old 20-08-2013, 13:41   #7
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri] My husband typically has taken the lead when sailing and I have not gained too much experience. However, that is something I want to change.
The best way to learn to sail is with your hand on the tiller. Other than for the fact that you don't live in a community-property state, what's keeping you from negotiating more tiller time?
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Old 20-08-2013, 13:54   #8
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

I asked a similar question before, I got similar advise that has been given here. Another thing some one told me was: "It only takes a little bit to learn how to sail, but it takes a long time, sometimes many years to learn how to sail well. It's a life long learning experience."
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Old 20-08-2013, 13:54   #9
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Different people learn in different ways so my way may not be the best for you. However no matter what methods you try: classes, books, charters, racing, with or without the hubby you need to take charge, take the helm, make the decisions, give the commands. Like I can never remember how to get to someplace in a city if I'm riding and someone else is driving. But let me take the wheel and do it myself and I can do it.

This may be hard to do with your other half on board for all the usual reasons, so may be better to leave him home and go out with a couple of friends. Go out on a calm day and as long as you can crank the engine and have enough nav skills to find the dock again it's unlikely you will get into too much trouble.

For me I learn by alternating study and hands on. Went sailing and caught the bug but was a total novice at doing it myself. Back home I read and studied everything I could, a lot of which I didn't really understand very well but went sailing again and the light bulb got a lot brighter. Back home, more reading, back sailing more understanding.
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Old 20-08-2013, 14:27   #10
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Knowledge from reading. Experience from experiencing. Skills from doing it.

b.
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Old 21-08-2013, 06:08   #11
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds like just getting out on the boat we current own, without my husband is the way to go! We do have a local yacht and sailing club, so I will check into that too.
Is there any benefit to having the ASA certifications? As I stated before we plan on living aboard and cruising with our two daughters three years from now. We plan on starting down the east coast to the Keys, and then over to the Bahamas.
Any particularly good reads you would suggest? I have found reading this forum to be particularly helpful.
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Old 21-08-2013, 06:34   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
My husband typically has taken the lead when sailing and I have not gained too much experience. However, that is something I want to change.
You are already 90% of the way to being a sailor. The "spouse with a dream" issue is a huge problem in the cruising community. The fact that you are hungry to learn to sail on your own merits say a lot. Hopefully your partner will understand - if not there will be a line around the block of Sailing suitors I am sure.

As said before the best way is to get out and do. A good balance of instruction on the water, reading at home and going out and making the mistakes yourself is the way to go.

I hope I don't offend any ASA instructors but as a 20+ year USSailng and RYA instructor can I advise that you shift away from ASA and look for a local USSailing school. Schools vary DRAMATICALLY in quality and you want to find one that is not a certificate factory. Usually these can be identified by their free "re test" policy. A great school in this vein is OCSC in San Fran. The basic sailing is notoriously difficult to pass, and is expensive. But if you don't pass the test at the end you get unlimited additional instruction and test until you do. A good sailing school, for example, will have over 40 hours of on the water instruction for their basic sailing classes - that is as much as it takes to get a basic flying license I believe.

Something to keep in mind is that that actual sailing part of cruising is not the biggest part - you can get around the world and still be a shitty sailor. You also need to learn proper navigation, diesel maintenance, basic electronics, meterology, radio/ham license etc.

Good luck!
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Old 21-08-2013, 07:27   #13
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds like just getting out on the boat we current own, without my husband is the way to go! We do have a local yacht and sailing club, so I will check into that too.
Is there any benefit to having the ASA certifications? As I stated before we plan on living aboard and cruising with our two daughters three years from now. We plan on starting down the east coast to the Keys, and then over to the Bahamas.
Any particularly good reads you would suggest? I have found reading this forum to be particularly helpful.
If you prefer learning in a more structured environment then take the ASA class. You can also ask your insurance company if they will offer a discount for those with formal training. Other than that no one else will ever ask to see your certificate.

Books and reading:

To read about other's adventures and how they did it:

- The books by Eric and Susan Hiscock sailing on Wanderer.
- If you lean towards minimalist sailing, the on the water version of living in a log cabin in the woods the books by Lin and Larry Pardey cover that subject but also expert advise on seamanship and boating in general.
- Maiden Voyage, Tania Abei for a womans perspective.

Browsing and reference

- Chapman's Piloting and Seamanship
- Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manaul, Nigel Calder. Required book to have on board.
- Any of the books by Steve and Linda Dashew.

For fun and adventure
- Two Years Before the Mast. What it was like in the olden days.
- Adrift. Steven Callahan.
- Sailing Alone Around the World. Joshua Slocum, the first one to do it.
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Old 21-08-2013, 07:58   #14
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

Hi,

Looking back on my years of "learning to sail", outside of the practicing which Jim (a more experienced sailor than I) made me do, I think I learned most from crewing in the Midget Ocean Racing Series out of San Francisco. My skipper was the kind of chap who wanted all of his crew to learn to work all the positions on the boat. As these were relatively inexpensive and small boats, it was just one step up from round the buoys racing, but I did learn a lot. Being focused on working as a team provided a good environment in which to learn about sailing on the ocean.

If your finances permitted, the OCSC (Olympic Circle Sailing Club) mentioned above by Foolish Sailor, would be a good way to go, if that it the kind of training you want, but it's really a long way from where you live. Otherwise, going racing on similar boats to your own (if you have a competitive spirit) will definitely improve your sailing.

The suggestion above, that you find out whether your insurance company gives a discount to people having an ASA certification, might help you decide whether or not to go that route. It really seems to be likely that some kind of licensing will be required here as in Europe.

Finally, a comment. One's husband can be the hardest person in the world for one to be assertive with. Whatever you do, sailing-wise, or maintenance-wise, that increases his respect for your skills, will make it easier for both of you to accept your assertiveness.

Ann
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Old 21-08-2013, 08:12   #15
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Re: Best Way to Gain Sailing Knowledge/Experience

[QUOTE=awaywego;1318535]
Is there any benefit to having the ASA certifications? [/QUOTE]

That's the way I began learning how to sail but I knew nothing when I started and didn't have my own boat. It worked very well for me.

Here is a course synopsis from the club/school I am a member of. If the curriculum looks valuable then consider it. If not, then you have no reason to pursue it:

Marina Sailing - Instruction, Rentals & Yacht Charters Southern California
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