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Old 18-09-2008, 14:27   #1
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what's a good way to get experience sailing?

I'm a retired Navy sailor and now planning to buy my own boat and sail the Pacific again. The problem is I have absolutely zero experience handling sails. I live in West Texas and there isn't even much water around.
Are there any recommendations for schools in Texas or anything so that I can learn sailing?

I wouldn't even mind going out on cruises with a nice family or person willing to teach just so I can get the experience. Please let me know if anyone has any ideas to get me started.

Thanks
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Old 18-09-2008, 15:11   #2
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buy a small sailboat on a trailer and take it to the closest body of water and learn to sail. The smaller the boat the quicker you'll learn to sail.

And welcome to the wonderful world of sailing.
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Old 18-09-2008, 16:12   #3
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I may be dong just that this weekend. Someone near us has a 23 footer for sale real cheap. It's ugly but solid and best of all cheap. We have one lake close by that is deep water. It's only a couple miles long so I'll get plenty of practice turning too. Best of all, we NEVER have any windless days around here. In fact I laugh when I hear weathermen in other parts of the country freaking out over 50 mph winds. We normally don't worry till it's over 70 or so.
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Old 18-09-2008, 17:30   #4
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I joined a local sailing club, took a class and got ASA certified, now I can choose from about 8 of their club boats whenever I feel like going out.

$150 a month for unlimited boat access with zero liability and minimal responsibility is awesome, and cheaper than even a free boat.
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Old 19-09-2008, 07:42   #5
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We don't have any local ones that I can find but I will look for one in other lakes a little farther away. I know Lake travis has a lot of sail boats on it and isn't too far away.
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Old 20-09-2008, 22:12   #6
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For experience I'd say a combination of big boat crewing and small boat sailing. Little boats (El Toro, Laser, Club 420, etc) give you an in-your-face lesson in sailing dynamics, and you can't hide behind an engine and an ton of sails in the air to back you up. I would absolutely recommend dinghy sailing; it will make you an excellent big boat sailor.

For big boats, I'd find someone doing local races that needs a hand, or just anyone who goes sailing a lot who needs some help. Work hard, carry your own water, and be polite: you'll be invited back constantly more times than you'll be able to go.

But I'd really say to get started on dinghies. Whenever I see too much rudder on a big boat I know that skipper hasn't spent time in a dinghy (and is probably losing 1kt - 2kt of boat speed because they're out of balance).
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Old 22-09-2008, 00:43   #7
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Complete agreement on Rebel's small boat advice. Small meaning one man, single sail, no keel (centre board) like the Laser or Topper. Get some lessons then race your buddies a few times.

Small boats react much faster to mistakes and to you finding the groove.

If the boat is a Laser watch out when going dead downwind
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Old 24-09-2008, 13:03   #8
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Umm here's a question. I see a lot of stuff on the internet (forgive me, I'm a noob to this so my questions are going to sound dumb to a lot of you, but I can't seem to get the right answers yet).... about ASA certification. I've checked them out, know what that's about - HOWEVER, what's it "REALLY mean".


That is, is it like a "drivers license" or something or just just your paperwork to prove you can handle a boat?

Secondly - learning to sail - does it have to be "under tutelage" - because there seem to be only a couple places here in Colorado and they so far have been less than helpful in answering questions (hey, they wanna make money off me by giving me lessons then they will answer everything). While I don't have a problem with companies making a profit, I'm still on the "waiting to see if this is for me" line. Oh and it seems to me their fees seem rather steep... for three hours or so in a classroom and 3 sailing sessions.... (with multiple students that is).
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Old 24-09-2008, 13:25   #9
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Umm here's a question. I see a lot of stuff on the internet (forgive me, I'm a noob to this so my questions are going to sound dumb to a lot of you, but I can't seem to get the right answers yet).... about ASA certification. I've checked them out, know what that's about - HOWEVER, what's it "REALLY mean".

Actually not a lot unless you want to end up teaching sailing. Some think you need ASA certification to charter but the fact of the matter is that most companies will charter to anyone with a credit card. If they think your experience is lacking they might say you need to take a skipper for a few days. Having said this, I still think it's a good way to learn. You get a comprehensive course which covers many of the aspects of sailing that you might not get from just hanging around boats and learning from friends. It might be advisable to get some of their study material and check it out.
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Old 24-09-2008, 18:22   #10
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That is, is it like a "drivers license" or something or just just your paperwork to prove you can handle a boat?
Vasco has it right. In the US they are interested if you can pay the deductible. They don't want the boat wrecked but for a day sail there really isn't a ton that can go wrong in protected waters.

The classes really are useful to improve your sailing. Sailing is easy, sailing fast is hard, sailing fast where you want to go is very hard.

I have never been asked for a cert but when I was a young guy I went with my sister's bf to try and rent a boat.

Desk Manager "Do you know how to sail."
BF "Sure. No Problem."
DM (pointing) "What tack is that boat on?"
BF "Off-wind."
DM "The power boat rental place is next door."

But like Vasco says - Before they give you a 42 foot cat they'll sus you out. If you appear to need help they will "suggest" a couple of days to check out.

Here you are required to have a boating license for any craft that has an engine. I have attempted to proudly show my license in the US and no one cares...

I am a strong advocate of taking some basic lessons, especially if you have never sailed keelboats before.
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Old 24-09-2008, 20:21   #11
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I was a to one time an ASA certified instructor. ASA certified does not mean nothing. It means you have reached a certain skill level. Is it necessary to have sail a boat in the US? No. Is it worthless?...certainly not. The same goes with US Sailing.

What is certain is that you are going to learn more and a lot quicker than trying to figure it out on your own.
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