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Old 06-08-2019, 16:06   #1
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Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Just a quick question, realizing there are a multitude of ways to learn and courses to take, and this question may have been asked before.

I'm currently on a career break pursuing personal passions for a few months. Other items are taking precedence over purely going after learning to sail - not the least of which is I don't have, and won't have a boat for a while. It's a long term dream and I know I will learn and invest in it at some point, and follow the theory similar to piloting/flying, that staying current is important and you should train and stay current in a discipline rather than be all over the place.

Now, since I do have some time, I thought it may work out that I can gain some basic sailing experience, and feel out offshore cruising/living aboard - more than the weekend Lightning crewing I did one summer. I currently live in the desert southwest and won't be using all my time off to head to the ocean, but can afford some stretches here and there.

Question is - will an ACA course be worth it given it won't be applied for several years (better to invest in courses when I am closer to owning), OR can I go use my time off (in 2-3 week increments - I can't abandon responsibilities entirely back home) to crew on someone's boat in a great location (South Pacific, Caribbean, etc.) and have it be a fair trade (my novice but willing attitude & timeframe) or would this onerous for the captain? Obviously I would prefer the latter as it requires less investment, and would get me the experience/awareness I seek at this time.

Just thought I'd check before continuing my search & checking out possibilities, thanks you! (Edit to add - basically I don't want to be an idiot on board and respectful of the captain's investment/needs, but looking to get the experience of being on board an offshore boat, the good & the bad).
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Old 06-08-2019, 16:48   #2
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

You dont need to own a boat to learn to sail or to continue sailing.

Where do you live?
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Old 06-08-2019, 17:45   #3
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Arizona, for the time being. We have longer term plans to return to Florida once careers line up.

I'm just concerned about learning a lot of good knowledge, at say some not quite cheap ACA courses, and having it be somewhat for nought as time erases it.
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Old 06-08-2019, 18:31   #4
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Everyone's financial situation, geography, past, goals, and methods of learning are different.


Some people learn well in classes.


I bought a crappy boat and have been sailing it for a couple of years and that has worked out far better for me that classes ever would have. For one thing, I think that I have learned things about the practical and mechanical aspects of boating that I never would have learned in class, because they don't teach you how to put on bottom paint or what kinds of sail damage can be repaired or how to reinforce a bow eye.


I have never taken an ASA class and probably never will. They're probably good classes, they're just not for me, and the one guy around here who was big into teaching went missing after an early spring sail when the water was really cold 18 months ago.


If classes are your thing then go for it.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:28   #5
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

If you can find someone to sail with consistently, BertUSG, that would build your experience far more than a one-time ASA course (it's ASA, by the way = "American Sailing Association").

As is often recommended on this Forum, is there a small local lake where there might be a sailing club you could join to get yourself back into the swing of things?

Then once you've had some time back sailing, that would be the time to do the ASA stuff....

Your thought of doing 2-3 weeks on passage might work - if you can find someone to take you on board. Try casting your name into the crew pool on this Forum by placing a "Crew Available" post.

Good luck! Sailing is truly a passion - and an addictive one at that. Welcome to the Fraternity of Sailors!
Warmly,
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:44   #6
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Sailable water is pretty limited in Arizona. Are you close to any of the lakes?
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:20   #7
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

I saw a guy having a ball sailing his Hobie 16 on Senator's Wash back in the day.

This "lake" is just north of Yuma, AZ. You can see Castle Dome from there I believe

Also, you don't need to go to the coast to learn sailing.

I learned boating on the Chesapeake Bay (and on the seaside mostly inside) as a child and on my own boats as a teenager and learned sailing on lakes in Tennessee and Mississippi.

If you do go to the Coast though say in Florida you can rent small Beach Cats and sail pretty much where you want.

https://www.keysailing.com/sailboat-rentals/
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:30   #8
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Since you are in Arizona.. Drive to San Carols for a couple weeks. Meet people from local Sailing Club. Hire someone for a couple day sails to get overall feelings about sailing.
In mean time concentrate on mechanical/financial aspects of owning a sailboat.
It will bite you first and way before your actual "sailing" skills come to play.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:59   #9
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

If you have zero sailing acquaintances or not in a position to acquire them, then some sort of a commercial class is probably your best bet – might be anyway. Classes are good (if the instructor is good) and often can condense a lot of learning into the least time – on the other hand the more laid-back atmosphere of crewing on a friend’s boat can be indispensable if the acquaintance is willing to “teach” as they go along. However, as Jammer noted – the formal classes probably won’t teach you how to replace a fuse, apply bottom paint, teal oil or the fine art of winch lubrication… and for most of us, these are significant parts of sailing as well…
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Old 07-08-2019, 09:31   #10
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Read up on what is offered here:

cruise and learn

"Cruise and learns" are offered by reputable sailing schools everywhere. This one is offered in the Salish Sea by the successor school to the one that pioneered the concept half a century ago. But just ask Ms. Google for "Cruise and learn" and you'll find plenty of them all over the world.

Given a good instructor - which of course is always the sine qua non - there is no better way to get off to a good start.

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Old 07-08-2019, 09:51   #11
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

buy a sunfish and go sailing - a lot

absolute best way to understand sailing. You REALLY pick up on currents and wind when you're fighting a current to get back home, where to lose means you have to walk the boat around the lake, and you learn exactly what you can handle before capsizing.

Then scale up as opportunity allows. Something with a jib. At that point you can sail anything - the bigger the boat, the more BS gets in the way between you and the wind/water - winches, then wheels

I think it's a big mistake for folks to start sailing in keel boats - you lose a lot of the 'feel' in sailing larger boats, and definitely spend a lot more time on logistics than on actually sailing.

Notice most discussion threads on CF aren't actually related to sailing.....it's all 'my fridge gave up', 'which fridge should i get', 'which anchor/bottom paint/varnish/etc is the best', etc.

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Old 07-08-2019, 11:25   #12
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

While San Carlos may be a good place to go if you CAN stay for a couple of weeks, San Diego is actually a much shorter trip from a lot of Arizona. Not to mention no passport required. Otherwise, the suggestion about a finding a local sailing club is very good advice. A friend of mine has never owned a sailboat, but sails a couple times a month, in several different boats, courtesy the club he joined. The members pay pretty minimal dues, and have to put in some sweat equity on a regular basis, and in return have access to quite a variety of craft from Sunfish to 30 footer sloops.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:32   #13
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlydon View Post
buy a sunfish and go sailing - a lot

absolute best way to understand sailing. You REALLY pick up on currents and wind when you're fighting a current to get back home, where to lose means you have to walk the boat around the lake, and you learn exactly what you can handle before capsizing.

Then scale up as opportunity allows. Something with a jib. At that point you can sail anything - the bigger the boat, the more BS gets in the way between you and the wind/water - winches, then wheels

I think it's a big mistake for folks to start sailing in keel boats - you lose a lot of the 'feel' in sailing larger boats, and definitely spend a lot more time on logistics than on actually sailing.



Notice most discussion threads on CF aren't actually related to sailing.....it's all 'my fridge gave up', 'which fridge should i get', 'which anchor/bottom paint/varnish/etc is the best', etc.

Matt
Agree. Buy some small car top or trailerable sailboat and learn on it. You will be light years ahead when you actually move to a keelboat. I really like lasers for learning. They're fast, fun and as you get progress they become even more fun. Can't outgrow the thrill of a laser.

Most importantly when you make a mistake, fail to read the wind puffs, adjust the sheet etc you will know it because you'll be in the water and have to right the boat, get back onboard and try again. On a keel boat this doesn't happen and people buying 40-50 1st time boats will probably never learn to truly sail. Example: I had a rich client who get his sailboat in/out of the slip, even sailed it into the slip once, can do longer coastal trips but has never learned how to trim the sails. I tried to teach him but he was convinced he knew how it all worked. result, sail damage from flogging and lack of speed etc. In 10 years he never figured it out.

If there is a lake that has racing on it, beer can stuff, show up with a 6 pack (they are unrelated but showing up with a small gift goes a long way) get on a boat and show up for every race, especially when the conditions are crappy and you'll always have a boat to sail on. Racing teaches you about sail trim etc
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Old 07-08-2019, 16:36   #14
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

Most all the expectant boat buyers or ever sailors to be, start their posts with a laundry list of classes, certifications and other "learning" methods, none of which typically involve time on the water experience or at least not much of it.

Then they ask which one do you (meaning us) suggest? None of the above is my answer. Get down to a dock, the marina or a yacht club and beg someone to give your a ride, let crew on a trip or delivery or a race. That's how the vast majority of us did it.

ing boats or the sea and then ask what shuld I do.
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Old 07-08-2019, 20:25   #15
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Re: Best Way To Learn, Given Circumstances

A long time ago I took a sailing class. Independent school. End of class we had to sail the boat into the slip, no motor to pass. Lessons I learned then stuck with me forever. ASA's and the like, model of basic and a bunch of add-on classes are great if you want/need them. You may find that just learning the basics is more than enough for you to get going and feel good about it when you go out on your small boat
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