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Old 01-07-2015, 19:37   #1
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Progression Competency timeline

Im a complete noob, (except for power boating, I have a 22ft cuddy cabin) about to pull the trigger on sailing lessons. My 5 year goal (or you tell me what is possible) is to have a comfortable sail-type boat to goof around the Caribbean with my wife (just us, so a crew of 2) for a few weeks at a time.

So after a typical 4-day beginners course, what size is a good "first boat" that I can begin on my competency? And is there a recommended rule-of-thumb of some such as far as moving up in size? As in, is it not recommended to get more than 10ft of boat at a time, or some other number like that?

Thanks in advance for any advice for a noob!
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Old 01-07-2015, 20:23   #2
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

Best boats to learn on are smaller boats, because they are more responsive. So for experience building after class ~25-30' is a good range. Or go even smaller & faster to really tweak your skills...like a Laser.

In many ways larger boats are easier to sail not harder. Hone your skills on a smaller boat and the bigger boat will be easy. Bigger boats can be intimidating to handle under power in close quarters, but that just takes practice to build your skill & comfort level.

If the goal is to sail in the Carib a few weeks of the year then charter dont buy. A few months out of the year or longer then owning becomes more practical.
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Old 01-07-2015, 20:25   #3
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

Folks will say that sailing is sailing, but I do see a difference between dinghy sailing and "big boat" sailing.
You have to be more conscious of the load forces on a boat above 30 feet. How you handle dock lines when docking and leaving are a bit different. On a smaller sailboat, you can push off; a bigger boat will usually require using spring line with engine, etc...
Systems to learn, use of winches, windlass, checking seacocks, etc... really add a much greater complexity and care.
Learn the rudiments on a small boat and then get on something you're likely to own as soon as you feel comfortable with handling a small boat.
Others will chime in and add their views.
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Old 01-07-2015, 20:45   #4
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

As Snort points out, a key difference between "big" boats and small boats is systems...huge body of knowledge to absorb which is not directly related to just sailing.

I bought my first "big" boat (37') after I was already a sailing instructor. It didn't do much to expand my sailing skills, but boy did I embark on an intense learning experience in systems and maintenance...still learning 20 years later!
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Old 02-07-2015, 00:26   #5
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
As Snort points out, a key difference between "big" boats and small boats is systems...huge body of knowledge to absorb which is not directly related to just sailing.

I bought my first "big" boat (37') after I was already a sailing instructor. It didn't do much to expand my sailing skills, but boy did I embark on an intense learning experience in systems and maintenance...still learning 20 years later!

After getting back into sailing a few years ago I found that actual sailing
(19' Day Sailor) is the easy part
As I make plans to move up in size
and shove off I am gaining experience
By crewing on other peoples boats
Some of the skills I plan to acquire
Before then are
Disel mechanics
Electrical
Plumbing
Radio ops
Fiberglass repair
If anybody can recommend good courses for the above that would be great, not looking to become a go to expert but to get a decent working knowledge.
Actual sailing and navigation no problem
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Old 02-07-2015, 01:15   #6
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

Lots of good advice here.

If you want to divide the skills into broad categories:

1. sailing and boat handling
2. navigation, pilotage, collision avoidance
3. vessel management - keeping the systems working.


Some cruisers never really learn much at all about sailing. It's not actually necessary, since most cruisers really use their boats as slow power boats with auxiliary sail. But this is a mistake, because sailing is glorious. If you really want to learn how to sail, start with dinghies like Lasers, and best of all, go racing. Racers sail at a completely different skill level from the way most cruisers do. Getting even a little of this skill level will greatly enhance your cruising.

The rest of it you learn as you go along. There's a lot to learn, so this sport is for people who like learning and acquiring new skills constantly and over years. Opinions vary, but I don't think there's much point going for smaller cruising boats as a "learning experience" or "starter boat". Learn to sail really well in dinghies, then buy whatever boat you plan to spend years on, and can afford, and spend the "starter boat" period getting it into good condition and set up the way you like it. This process takes years and $$$$$$$$.
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Old 02-07-2015, 04:19   #7
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Noob.
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Old 02-07-2015, 06:39   #8
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Re: Progression Competency timeline

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
... Learn to sail really well in dinghies, then buy whatever boat you plan to spend years on, and can afford, and spend the "starter boat" period getting it into good condition and set up the way you like it. This process takes years and $$$$$$$$.
I take the opposite tack, I always encourage people to postpone buying a boat in favor of building experience, but they rarely listen to me!

I think an advantage of sailing lots of other boats is gaining knowledge and learning what you like before you buy.

It helps to broaden your experience too if you can sail lots of boats in lots of different venues & conditions.

You can do this by crewing in races, joining a sailing club, chartering, crewing on deliveries...

Of course it also depends on where you foresee your sailing future going. If you just want to cruise your own boat then maybe experience on lots of other boats is less important (though I think its still valuable). I wandered down the path of sailing instructor...charter captain...cruiser...so the experience on a lot of different boats served me well.

Something I really enjoy about sailing other people's boats now as a charter or delivery captain is that I can hand them my maintenance list at the end of the run and walk away! Can't do that on a boat you own...you get a lot more sailing time in, versus maintenance time & $'s, on boats you don't own.

Learning on other peoples boats still takes years, but a lot fewer $'s.
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