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Old 13-06-2014, 22:13   #31
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Definitely Dinghy ! In a small craft one has to actively make decisions fast and accurate, or he ends up getting wet (which is not problem either, but character forming). I sailed dinghis as teenager and for years before I had my first experience aboard a 40 footer keel yacht. Actually I still remember how disappointed I was on that first daysail experience. Despite of (voluntary) having the helm the entire afternoon (the owner wanted to go auto anyway) I was utterly bored and felt more like a passenger. It took me a longer cruise at a later time to get and enjoy that other (bluewater) feeling. However, the experience in Dinghy is always present and has helped me to make correct and fast decisions in any problematic situation, especially in "competitive" ones. My advice - do dinghy as much as you can, it is fun and teach you the "sixth sense". Plus it's cheaper to rent a dinghy and can be done virtually anywhere (lakes,rivers etc.)
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Old 14-06-2014, 00:30   #32
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Dinghy! Sailing and docking without an engine as a backup is a good thing when learning to sail.
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Old 14-06-2014, 06:58   #33
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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Originally Posted by Scouserat View Post
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.
I agree, an over responsive/tender boat is not a good initial teaching platform. I think having some dinghy experience in the mix is good, but not the most effective way to start. Fun and more effective once you have some basic skills. A small responsive keelboat is a good compromise: Something like a Colgate 26 being ideal.

I have a Hobie 33 (high performance mono) which I originally acquired for sailing school use (that was a good excuse anyway! ). The H33 is a fast responsive keel boat. What I learned is that during the first day or so of instruction, it is best to tame it down a bit. So I usually start out with a reefed main and working jib. Then as the students gain confidence, shake out the reef and let her rip! By the last day it is great fun for the students. Switching to a high performance dinghy at that point would be a fun learning experience for them (not just a frustrating way to get wet).

Also, regarding learning on larger keel boats (mentioned in other posts). This is not ideal either because most are not responsive enough. Also most large boats will have biminis/dodgers etc which effect the ability of students to learn to sense wind direction (an important basic skill). I've had students who's only experience was larger boats, you can definately tell the difference in sailing skills. Those who learned on smaller boats are consistently better sailors. Many who learned on larger boats, can't find the wind without instruments.

(sailing instructor since '94)
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Old 14-06-2014, 07:06   #34
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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Dinghy! Sailing and docking without an engine as a backup is a good thing when learning to sail.
Absolutely a good skill + dropping/picking up a mooring under sail only. A small responsive keel boat can be used for this too.
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Old 14-06-2014, 07:11   #35
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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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
Example pic below of Lasers.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...d=0CDwQMygXMBc
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Old 14-06-2014, 07:37   #36
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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FWIW,

...

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
Yes, its becoming common to meet cruisers with little sailing experience. I've met a number of them who didn't even bother with the training first...just bought a boat and set off. Not very prudent decision making.

I've also had a few of these folks as students, who in a state of blissful ignorance, set off in their bright shiny new boat, not even bothering to check the forecast...and promptly got their butts kicked...terrorizing their family/mate in the process, who then insisted on training before they would set foot on the boat again.

Know one such couple who lost their boat at sea due to poor seamanship, but many do not, a testament to the strength of modern boats with fancy electronics which can mask the need for good basic seamanship...until its really needed. Met a guy with a nice big beautiful Oyster once, totally clueless, watched him plow aground several times, IN THE SAME SPOT, because the chart plotter said he could go there (despite the obviously visible shoal). He almost ran into a boat at anchor because he was glued to his chart plotter (guess the anchored boat did not have AIS!). It was painful to watch.

I think that, once the blissful ignorance stage wears off (or gets knocked off by the first big squall), then cruising would be less fun because of the stress of not knowing what you are doing.
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Old 14-06-2014, 08:12   #37
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Airplane pilots get their start in small planes. It is very similar, I think, to sailing. Any person can steer a large plane or boat. It takes an understanding, a feel, for how the hull responds in order to truly master the way it responds to the forces working on it. Boat handling/take offs and landings, that's where the rubber meets the road, if I am allowed to totally mangle the metaphors.

Start with a dinghy. If you can maneuver that in tight spaces in a variety of sea/wind conditions you can handle the big ones much more competently in the wide range of situations.
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Old 14-06-2014, 12:52   #38
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Dinghy sailors who are taught sail trim are almost always better big boat sailors when they move up. That's from the perspective of joining big boat sailors as crew. I met one big boat sailor that never turned off his engine in all the times I sailed with him. Sail trim for him was raising main, jib and mizzen (until he took off the mizzen mast) and sheeting them in no matter where the wind was. That was an extreme example and out of the norm but an example of someone who never had the experience of sailing a dinghy and having to know how to trim sails in order to get from one place to another. This guy was not an inexperienced sailor and had done the ICW, Panama Canal, the Hawaiian chain and South Pacific. A very good man in every respect but just had his own way of sailing.
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Old 14-06-2014, 15:46   #39
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

A local sail rental place rents Hunter 14' monohulls. Main and jib. Main can be reefed, I believe. Very forgiving. Not real tender. Not very fast, either. I think a good first boat. Can be single handed but can take 3-4 folks without too much trouble. Cockpit is not open so the boat can't be swamped. They put a small ball at the top of the mast - prevents turtling.

I learned on an O'Day 7/11. Cat rigged open cockpit rowboat adaptable for sailing. A pain when trying to point. A bitch going downwind - weather helm so powerful I broke a rudder trying to prevent a round-up. Minimal freeboard and no deck. Never swamped her - learned much under pressure on her. Sailed a lot on a Flying Scot. 19', open cockpit racer. Overpowered on purpose as she was built to race. Very tender and unforgiving. Spent much time learning sail handling and maneuvering in tight places. Very challenging when you were in shallow water and had the center board up. But, then, if you got into trouble you just jumped out and pushed.

I feel for adults who have never sailed and are just starting out. I grew up on sailboats and don't really remember "learning". I have taken many people out who have never sailed and then worked as hard as they did. Me - trying to think thru what comes automatically, and them, trying to understand my silly explanations.

Small boats, lessons, much time just messing about. I have seen what it looks like when someone who has never sailed buys a 40' sailboat and then tries to dock in tight quarters.

I saw one man who sails his boat buy tying off the tiller and then using his bow thruster to adjust his course. Oh, Prunella.
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Old 23-06-2014, 20:13   #40
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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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
Martin,it's not your ignorance.

This is a misuse of the word "dinghy", though it's a good example of how usage of a word eventually makes it's way into language.

In this context, the word "dinghy" refers to any small sailboat that can be easily handled by a single person.

Often, it is used as shorthand to refer to a very, very small class of sailboats commonly used in instruction such as Lazers and Sunfish. These used to be collectively called just "Sunfish", but that brand has kind of fallen away. A more accurate term might be "training" sailboat, or something like that. There is no specific term for a boat like this. It is sometimes called a "daggerboard" boat, as that is a unique feature of the boat besides it's tiny size. These boats are absolutely minimal, and designed to react quickly to inputs and tip over at the slightest provocation.

Look at SkiprJohns avatar photo for an example.

To me, a "dinghy" is correctly defined as a small boat towed behind a larger boat for tendering purposes.
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Old 23-06-2014, 20:32   #41
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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Airplane pilots get their start in small planes. It is very similar, I think, to sailing. Any person can steer a large plane or boat. .
"Better" pilots start in sailplanes (no engine) I soloed an L-13 Blanik - 4 hours on a 3,000 foot tow - this "really" teaches you that engines don't provide lift - they provide thrust.

However I will disagree with you. Airplanes and boats are not related in terms of how to learn.

In terms of dinghy vs. keelboat - I am in keelboat camp for "older' &/or less flexible beginners.

Not everyone can scramble around a dinghy and many folks just don't want to get wet all the time.

I also think a light displacement boat teaches better as the boat reacts faster to changes. it can take 1-3 minutes for a heavy boat to react to trim changes.

22-27 feet or so is fine - the attention paid to learning and quality of the instructor is more important than which actual boat.
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Old 25-06-2014, 08:30   #42
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

You're going to get a much better feel for sail trim and boat handling, and be a better overall sailor if you have time on a dinghy, or on a small, light keelboat. Why? Because when you make adjustments on those boats, you can feel the difference right away, it's not as subtle as it is on big heavy boats. I recently did an offshore passage on a big cruising boat with an experienced crew. They were solid sailors, but I was the only one who had spent a lot of time racing dinghies, and as such was the one person who paid the most attention to sail trim, weight placement, and boat speed.
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Old 21-08-2014, 04:08   #43
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

Is an AMF puffer a good dinghy to learn on? There are a couple on craigslist for less than $500 with all sails and sitting on a trailer. Any opinions.
Thanks Martin
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Old 21-08-2014, 14:03   #44
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

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Is an AMF puffer a good dinghy to learn on? There are a couple on craigslist for less than $500 with all sails and sitting on a trailer. Any opinions.
Thanks Martin
Perfect. Jib, Mainsail, and Tiller - a classic trainer with room for a few guests to boot.

Be sure to look at several before buying. $500.00 sounds suspicious for a boat in sailing condition. Watch out for money scams.
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Old 21-08-2014, 15:28   #45
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Re: Learn on a Dinghy or Keelboat?

I am careful with money, just figured the puffer was something of a low desired boat.
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