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Old 02-04-2011, 17:51   #16
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I am a self taught sailor spending most of my later youth on a Sailfish during the summer. I never had a problem sailing bigger boats with the experience learned on that board boat. Sailed my first big boat (Columbia 26) for the first time at night, out on the Pacific Ocean, by myself despite it having been 6 years since I last sailed the Sailfish. Didn't want to do it solo but the guy from the dealer who was supposed to help me sail from the boatyard to the harbor where I kept my boat got drunk waiting for the launch and passed out.

My wife sailed with me as my only crew on a delivery from Tampa to Norfolk, 2 sails from SF to Newport Beach, and sailing all over SoCal on 13,000# displacement and larger boats. Even after those many many hours at sea, she didn't feel capable and/or have the confidence of being to sail our W32 if something should happen to me. When we spent some time in Newport Beach just before leaving for SoPac, she took a quickie sailing course in sabots put on by the City. Course consisted of a Saturday morning chalkboard class and an afternoon familiarization with the boats including righting them. After that, they had a morning of on the water supervised instruction and then a couple of days of impromptu racing and putzing around Newport Harbor. That short bit of sailing in a dinghy gave her the confidence to take over and sail our 'big' boat whenever she wanted to. Before the sailing course, she was an excellent deck hand but not a sailor. The course turned her into a sailor.

I've had an 8' Montgomery sailing dinghy on the deck of the current boat for four years or so. Used it to row around but hadn't put the sailing rig on it. Finally decided to rig it and sail it the other day. I was truly surprized at how much I had forgotten about sailing. I had to quickly react to changes in wind direction and velocity and just be aware constantly of the wind and it's direction. The dinghy reacted instantly to any input or shift in the wind. I found it a challenge to stay ahead of the boat and learned a lot about just sailing in such a small boat that you are somewhat insulated from in larger boats.

My reccomendation to anyone who wants to learn how to sail is get a small dinghy. Once you've mastered getting the most out of that, you'll have the senses and experience to sail anything. You'll then already have a dinghy for your 'big' boat when it's time to step up.
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Old 22-05-2014, 00:38   #17
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I have recently completed the RYA level 2 sailing course through a series of private lessons. The first lesson was on a Laser Dinghy and I have to say everything happened too fast for me to learn anything, except I enjopyed sailing.
All my other lessons were on a Sigma 8 keelboat, due to it being larger things happened more slower at times but it helped me learn to sail. I recently had a lesson back in the Laser, it taught me a few new tricmsas things happened quicker and you had to be more careful in how you did things as well.
I would advise people to have a go at a dinghy but go through to a slightly more bigger boat to learn the basics then go back to a dinghy for the finer details, as this will help you lose some bad habits you might have learnt.
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Old 23-05-2014, 04:19   #18
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I reckon on dinghy as a good learning craft as it punishes your mistakes instantly,and teaches you how to gybe gently.A slam gybe in a dinghy gets you wet in a keeler it can tear your mast out.They are also a heck of a lot of fun.
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Old 23-05-2014, 06:52   #19
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I didn't enjoy the first lesson in the dinghy, but after going through the RYA 1 & 2 courses in the keelboat then going back into the laser was so much fun. Thankfully the wind was not too strong to cause too many issues with gybing and tacking, it was just a case of getting used to the smaller area inside the boat to do all the manouvers in and getting used to the tiller extension not digging me in the ribs when gybing.

I still prefer the keelboat though, it seems quicker and doing all my sailing in the sea just outside of Brighton marina handles the sea a lot better as well. I will look forward to trying the dinghy a lot more though, it should be fun getting used to it as it more twitchy than the bigger boat..
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Old 23-05-2014, 07:16   #20
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Well, it's not absolutely essential but I think it is advantageous to have some dinghy time before trying bigger boats. And it is a lot of fun, too. Especially for the young or young at heart. Great for your kids or grandkids as well. It's a MUCH smaller initial commitment and practically zero ongoing expense.

I don't believe dinghy sailing as a gateway drug to daysailers or cruisers is a waste of time or money at all.
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Old 23-05-2014, 08:49   #21
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Well,
I had literally zero experience on any type of boat and i am (currently) learning on 41 foot catamaran..
I took no courses but i did read everything i could find..had the local french sailing guru go out with me for a few days...and then just went sailing.

This is my 2nd month of ownership and i just completed my 1st passage as captain of my ship(~800 NM north..out of panama and around moskjto coast)

Just prepare the best u can...seek all the help/opinions u can find (and listen to differing opinions).....then just do it.
Just go sailing.



Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
Another tread got me thinking. If someone who has zero sailing experience and knowledge and wants to learn to sail so they can soon live there dream. would you suggest to them to:

a) do a course like the RYA competent crew or sailing on their dream boat with a skipper and crew to teach them?

or

b) do a course on small dinghy's or beach cats getting to understand the basics and then do point (a)?


It seems to me is the best option, even if it is just a few days. Being smaller, lighter and that your weight acts as a ballast, you really get to understand very quickly how changes in the wind affect the boats balance, you more readily get to see what is and isn't possible and you get to be punished with a dunking when you totally screw up.

It feels to me crewing on a large boat means that your uptake of sailing basics will be slower.
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Old 23-05-2014, 20:21   #22
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Hello everybody
Please forgive an old cowboys ignorance but by "dinghy" do you mean inflatable boat with a motor, a fast sail dinghy or something like a pram or skiff with a sail. I have read quite a bit but have way more to learn than I can know.
Thank you Martin
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Old 23-05-2014, 21:25   #23
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

A small boat like a pram, with one sail like a Mirror or a Sabot, or El Toro. There are sailing dinghies that are racier, and they will have two sails, like a Pacer.

Ann
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Old 23-05-2014, 21:33   #24
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by martin0759 View Post
Hello everybody
Please forgive an old cowboys ignorance but by "dinghy" do you mean inflatable boat with a motor, a fast sail dinghy or something like a pram or skiff with a sail. I have read quite a bit but have way more to learn than I can know.
Thank you Martin
The latter 2. I like Scouserat's thoughts about some small keelboat sailing before dinghy sailing, at least to get the hang of the things. An introduction before you hit racing dinghys that leave you wet all the time and scare you out of sailing before you get into it. It happens.
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Old 23-05-2014, 21:42   #25
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

FWIW,

We're using the term "dinghy" to point at rather different types of boats. Tiny models, things like Optimists or El Toros are, IMO, too small for adult sized bodies to learn in. Racier ones, say a Laser or a 505 or such are great fun once you have grasped the basics, but may cause you to spend too much time in the water and not enough sailing.

My idea of the ideal training boat is something like what I learned in (fancy that): an O'Day Osprey, 15+feet long, swing centerboard, sloop rig, enough form stability so that you don't dump it all the time, enough capacity for two adults and a coupld of small kids (useful in my case). It was light and small enough to be very responsive, and large and heavy enough to be very forgiving. I bless forever the kindly lady broker who gently persuaded me not to buy the 505 that really looked good to me (having been sailing but once, the weekend before... a fatal addiction started). There are many such designs floating about, many of them fairly old and really inexpensive. We kept ours for about 18 months, sold it for exactly what we paid, and "moved up" to a Catalina 22. This made an excellent next step, and now the hook was deeply set and I was a goner -- Neptune reeled me in!

The current fad of newbies buying a big boat, taking some ASA course and setting out for a circumnavigation by the capes is unhealthy by my standards. We do hear of the occasional success (Bumfuzzles for one, though not by the capes), but seldom hear of the many that fail, except when they are involved in a dramatic rescue. Everyone seems to demand instant gratification in their activities... sometimes it works.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 23-05-2014, 23:08   #26
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I'm with Jim.

Not old and not inexpensive, but these are great boats to learn on:

RS Vision - Range - RS Sailing

(a lot of Sailing Clubs are going over to these for trainers)
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Old 23-05-2014, 23:29   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
FWIW,

We're using the term "dinghy" to point at rather different types of boats. Tiny models, things like Optimists or El Toros are, IMO, too small for adult sized bodies to learn in. Racier ones, say a Laser or a 505 or such are great fun once you have grasped the basics, but may cause you to spend too much time in the water and not enough sailing.

My idea of the ideal training boat is something like what I learned in (fancy that): an O'Day Osprey, 15+feet long, swing centerboard, sloop rig, enough form stability so that you don't dump it all the time, enough capacity for two adults and a coupld of small kids (useful in my case). It was light and small enough to be very responsive, and large and heavy enough to be very forgiving. I bless forever the kindly lady broker who gently persuaded me not to buy the 505 that really looked good to me (having been sailing but once, the weekend before... a fatal addiction started). There are many such designs floating about, many of them fairly old and really inexpensive. We kept ours for about 18 months, sold it for exactly what we paid, and "moved up" to a Catalina 22. This made an excellent next step, and now the hook was deeply set and I was a goner -- Neptune reeled me in!

The current fad of newbies buying a big boat, taking some ASA course and setting out for a circumnavigation by the capes is unhealthy by my standards. We do hear of the occasional success (Bumfuzzles for one, though not by the capes), but seldom hear of the many that fail, except when they are involved in a dramatic rescue. Everyone seems to demand instant gratification in their activities... sometimes it works.

Cheers,

Jim
Agree! Learned on 15' Cape Dories. Small boats like that are a a blast to sail...but not as touchy as the real small ones. Just something about sailing in decent breeze...one hand on the tiller, the other gripping the sheet. And you can fit up to four.
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Old 24-05-2014, 09:28   #28
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I learned to sail on a home-constructed Bolger "Nymph". Had a xeroxed sheet on how to sail in one hand and the main-sheet in the other. Did everything you can possibly do in a sailboat, including capsize, in the first 90 minutes!

After a 15 year break, moved to a 23' cutter and found the skill set translated quite well as far as the sailing goes. Handling the sails and docking was a different ballgame requiring a whole new skill set not attainable in a boat made out of two plywood sheets and a sprit rig.

Much to be said about learning in a small boat with no instruments, just the wind in your face. Somebody told me, "...learn to sail in a small boat and you'll be a sailor for life".

I've recently starting sailing the "Nymph" again - it's a blast!

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Old 24-05-2014, 13:56   #29
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

My experience is that sailing opportunities of all kinds are rare enough without being selective about them.

If someone finds that they have both opportunities at the same time, then let them do both!

I think most people will find they have one opportunity at a time.

That said, though, I would say that, for most people, it will be harder to get a "feel" for the wind and the wheel if you start on the bigger boat, as it will be slower to respond, especially if it is the "dream yacht" mentioned which is likely to be fat, heavy, and lazy.
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Old 27-05-2014, 23:52   #30
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Thank you everyone, my wife and I are starting down this road now, and are just starting to learn now. We have about 15 years which sounds like a long time, but not to truly learn and enjoy the learning, so many more questions to come. Some friends and us are taking a chartered trip in the Bahamas next April.
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