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Old 26-07-2007, 14:19   #1
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Landlocked family looking for experience...

Our family is very new to this forum. This is only my second post. The first was a little introduction about where we are and how we got here. We are a family of four (mom, dad, and two boys age 5 and just shy of 2) looking to join the cruising community if only for a little while after we sell our home in Atlanta. We do not have much sailing experience and we are signed up for our first hands on sail this next week at a lake just north of here. As all of you well know, chartering boats can eat up any savings kitty you have. If anyone has any knowledge of child friendly and economical ways to get some introduction to water sailing">blue water sailing, please feel free to pass along the suggestions. We plan to move forward in our sailing education as we can but are always looking for ways to get the kids involved on a more casual basis as they are young. We are a very laid back family and just looking to spend more time together to escape the "rat race" here in the city. We hope that our future experience will "reboot" our souls and shed some light on where we might should go next. I look forward to getting to know more of you as time goes on.
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Old 26-07-2007, 14:37   #2
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Good for you. For NOW forget about blue water sailing and get a small dingy. You'll learn more about sailing in a small dingy than on a large sailboat. As you gain experience find someone with a coastal boat and see if they'll take you out on a day when small craft warnings are up. Don't even consider blue water sailing on your own till you've been out, preferably on someone elses boat, in a good blow (winds above 25kts). It can, and WILL, get nasty out there at times and you must be prepared. Not knowing what to do when the **** hits the fan is what causes panic. And panic is a killer.

You must learn to crawl before you walk.

Good luck and best wishes.
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Old 26-07-2007, 15:39   #3
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Try heading to your local yacht club and introducing yourself and asking about opportunities to sail. Most yacht clubs will have a list of members who are prepared to take "newbies" on low-key ("twilight" or "cruising") races. This can be a good way of getting some low-stress experience and learning opportunities and can also be a good way of getting to meet the local sailing community.
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Old 27-07-2007, 04:11   #4
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... For NOW forget about blue water sailing and get a small dingy. You'll learn more about sailing in a small dingy than on a large sailboat ... Good luck and best wishes.
I agree - you could learn more in an afternoon of dinghy sailing, than in a week on a keelboat; at a much lower cost (rental, lesson, etc).
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Old 27-07-2007, 09:19   #5
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To make your finances work you need to avoid the blue water for a while. You are correct it will eat up a lot of money quickly at a time you won't really use the new skills. I suppose you could find a boat in poor shape and just go for it, but I wouldn't suggest that as a responsible way to start the family. That type of sailing requires a lot of equipment and training and experience you just don't have yet.

Building confidence and having fun would be the top priority agenda items. Just finding more ways to get out on the water is the cheapest solution. A small trailerable boat can take you to a lot of places and get your time on the water and experience up to a higher level for every member of the family. With that will come greater skill and you will be better able to make future plans based on desires and money. You'll know more and be able to see your plans clearer than you do now.

Please share your adventures with us as we have a fair number of families that sail here.
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Old 13-09-2007, 23:20   #6
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I agree - you could learn more in an afternoon of dinghy sailing, than in a week on a keelboat...
True, but some of it only applies to dinghy sailing. I've been aboard with a few dinghy sailors that are afraid to let keelboats heel over. On the other hand, I've also been aboard with a few keelboat sailors that are afraid to let keelboats heel over.

In general, however, I'd have to agree. Most of the admittedly little I know about sailing I learned on a dinghy. The first time I got in a keelboat, what I added to my store of knowledge was how to operate a winch and a roller furling jib.

At the time, someone mentioned that with a ton or so of lead hanging below the keel that you could put the top of the mast in the water and the boat would right itself. I didn't test it, but I believed him. I can definitively state that a dinghy will not right itself from the same position.
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Old 14-09-2007, 03:07   #7
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Welcome and best of luck! I agree with the above - and your kids' sailing must remain a novelty as they learn or else they'll turn against it. It's important to maintain the enthusiasm in them by introducing them gradually, and as you're on a steep learning curve yourselves from here on in, it's vital that lack of experience does not compromise family safety if conditions catch you by surprise - no surer way to dash what should be an attainable dream. It's like having a goal of going to the moon - logical first step? We need to build a rocket. Start building on your experience now - I know it's not always easy to get a whole family on the water unless a close friend owns a boat - but a trailer sailer 18-20 feet seems the best short term educational vessel - easily sold when the time comes, but giving you great scope and overnighting ability anywhere you choose to tie up. You've hit on the right dream! Nurture it, embrace it! But one step at a time!
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Old 14-09-2007, 14:03   #8
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Not got any kids - and not (yet?) gone blue water........but since I was 2 foot tall I spent extended periods onboard for coastal cruising / living aboard in France.

Sometimes this was grrrrreat. But also could be a royal PITA - being cooped up on a small boat (27 foot) with up to 5 people is not always fun - especially as a teenager

But one thing I always had (and still have) is 100% confidence in the Skipper (Father) - even though he has since admitted he was on a steep learning curve himself and that many times he did not know exactly what he was doing / was also very concerned if not scared........and way way pre GPS we often did get kinda lost - even if usually only to the extent that a decision had to be made at landfall whether to turn left or right for our intended destination........I have also been on boats where the skipper has scared me witless, even if never actually doing anything "wrong"........but what I am saying (in my usual long winded style!) is that now is the time to build up your confidence and your children's confidence in you / you both simply by not destroying their confidence - bad weather and boats can be very scarey when you are not in control (for kids and adults alike)......it's not Disneyland where you are scared in complete safety for only a few minutes.

As already suggested, the sensible approach would be not to head straight off into blue water with family (although it has been done) - but to build up the experiance and confidence of the WHOLE family on a smaller and cheaper coastal boat.......if you buy with the intention of selling you should be able to contain your expenditure / costs by picking something popular that has a good s/h market and by not over spending on her (of course being boats, this is never a zero cost transaction!).......being an owner and also THE skipper will bring you experiance that will be more than repaid in / $$$ terms when you buy a "Blue Water" boat..........even time spent "gently bobbing around" a quiet bay teaches a lot.....

At 30 foot my "big" boat is one of the smaller vessels on the board........but I still miss my old 21 foot sailing boat (was tempted to buy her back this summer when she came up for sale again!)........so size is not as important as you may think when it comes to learning.
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Old 15-09-2007, 20:42   #9
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"and way way pre GPS we often did get kinda lost - even if usually only to the extent that a decision had to be made at landfall whether to turn left or right for our intended destination"

When ded reckoning a very common strategy is to "aim off" on purpose so you are absolutely sure which direction to turn when hitting land fall.
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Old 15-09-2007, 21:17   #10
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You will find a lot of inexpensive used boats that you can trailer and use to learn how to sail. You will have great times with the family on the boat. Sail on lakes and protected bays until you build up your confidence. If you have any friends that know how to sail, take them with. When you are ready for some bigger adventures you can sell that boat for roughly what you paid for it. For a young family, whom normally don't have lots of financial resources, this is the best way to go. When all is said and done you haven't spent alot of cash to learn, you just had it tyed up for awhile.

Jeff
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Old 16-09-2007, 05:26   #11
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"and way way pre GPS we often did get kinda lost - even if usually only to the extent that a decision had to be made at landfall whether to turn left or right for our intended destination"

When ded reckoning a very common strategy is to "aim off" on purpose so you are absolutely sure which direction to turn when hitting land fall.
That was worked out quite early in the Learning curve .....probably my original statement suggested we were always lost - in defence of Aged Parent, not the case. honest

But given the strong tidal streams locally their is only so much "aiming off" one wants to do (to avoid punching the tide) and in poor viz not always immediately comfortable to go right in close to a murky strip of coastline.........BTW we always got the left or right decision correct!
Probably more often we would just miss a Cardinal Mark (Bouy) or 2 and have to decide not to look for it and rely on the DR to set the new course - course tolerances were a bit more generous using only DR pre GPS, so in poor viz quite easy to miss a mark.......actually the biggest help for course accuracy was the purchase of an autopilot.....GPS was just the icing on the cake. Neither Aged P or myself have yet got into Chartplotters! (but it is on my list!).

One thing that growing up / learning with DR taught me is being comfortable with not knowing exactly where you are 24/7, unlike freinds I know who learnt with GPS......I am not sure if this is a good thing or not or indeed even matters - but it gives me comfort that if / when the GPS stops I am not going to be phased (upset maybe! - cos' it does make life so much easier ).
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Old 16-09-2007, 09:00   #12
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Most of the admittedly little I know about sailing I learned on a dinghy. The first time I got in a keelboat, what I added to my store of knowledge was how to operate a winch and a roller furling jib.
We took the basic keelboat course just to learn those things (and how to use the electrical systems, which are not standard on most dinghies.)

And, of course, not to try to use the head on the port tack.

I confess I still prefer to have the boat closer to upright -- after years of dinghy sailing, a large heel makes me want to hike out and on Connemara it's (sigh) just not possible and/or useful.

But I've gotten calmer about a 25-degree heel and can even sit quietly on the lee side and steer.

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Old 16-09-2007, 21:40   #13
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That was worked out quite early in the Learning curve .....probably my original statement suggested we were always lost - in defence of Aged Parent, not the case. honest

<snip>

One thing that growing up / learning with DR taught me is being comfortable with not knowing exactly where you are 24/7, unlike freinds I know who learnt with GPS......I am not sure if this is a good thing or not or indeed even matters - but it gives me comfort that if / when the GPS stops I am not going to be phased (upset maybe! - cos' it does make life so much easier ).
My comment wasn't aimed at anyone in particular. Just didn't know if everyone knew of the aiming off concept.

Regarding GPS - It's easy to get lulled into thinking you are lost without GPS. One time on a cross country airplane trip the GPS went dead - I immediately thought, "Oh, crap. This ain't good." Until I took a deep breath, realized that two second ago I knew where I was within 30 feet. I was in the middle of nowhere Ohio. The VORs were dialed in, the ADF was tuned to a Cincinnati radio station, the Ohio river was 20 miles ahead and visibility was >100 miles. Oh yeah, i was really lost - LOL.
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Old 17-09-2007, 02:30   #14
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I think Sir Francis Chichester pioneered the Deliberate Navigational Error or "aiming off" when circumnavigating in his Gypsy Moth bi-plane. He would use it to open up the angle of landfall probability by measuring distance travelled, knowing which side his little island destination was aimed off, and then turning 90 degrees to find it . .
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Old 23-09-2007, 08:29   #15
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You may want to look at this site: Trader Online Magazine New and Used Classifieds For Sale - TraderOnline.com. It will have trailerable sailboats for sale. You could buy a 22' boat with a trailer. To really get some cabin room you may want to go to a 25+ size. Of course you could pay to have a larger boat in a slip & stay in the water. There should be some yacht clubs on Lake Sinclair or the lake above Lawrenceville. That is how I got my experience was at a yacht club here in Mobile Bay.
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