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Old 30-04-2009, 13:25   #1
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Learning to sail

My girlfriend and I are completely new to sailing and looking for ways to gain experience before we buy our first boat.

I have been on plenty of boats and have a grasp of some of the basics but have never had anyone willing to teach me to sail.

Although we do plan to get professional training, we hope to gain some basic knowledge and 'hours at sea' before hand.

As we dont have any friends/family that sail or want to learn how to sail, finding a suitable introductory opportunity is proving difficult. We have looked into a crewed charter in BVI but we will end up paying the same price as a group of six when there is only two of us.

Can any of you suggest alternatives?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 30-04-2009, 13:36   #2
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welcome. My advice is to buy a small dingy and a "how to sail" book. You'll learn more in one season on a dingy than years of bigger boat sailing.

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Old 30-04-2009, 13:39   #3
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Can you find a sailing club? Maybe only 6 meter boats, but they handle the same for basics. Maybe even more challenging.
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Old 30-04-2009, 13:53   #4
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30 years ago I was looking at my neighbors garage sale when I came across what looked like a big surfboard. Always being on the lookout for new ways to fish ( I had recently used an inflatable mattress) I asked him if I could paddle with it. He said no- but it comes with this aluminum pole and this white Dacron type stuff. Oh, and this little rudder with a stick attached to it.
Well, it was getting late in the day and he was getting anxious to get rid of his garabage (stuff). He said give me 25 dollars and its yours.
I took my little treasure home and looked up sailboats, thus figuring out how they work and how to get it together. Next weekend I ran out to a local lake, and with the wind blowing (it was April) and warm (60's) I put it in the water, jumped on it and pulled up the sail. It took off like a rocket and in all the excitement I pulled on the sail but left the tiller alone...I flipped in less than 50 feet, and I found that the lake was still near freezing. I paddled back to the shore and that was the end of my first day sailing.
But I didn't give up, and before long I was sailing all over in that little dingy...
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Old 30-04-2009, 13:56   #5
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I'll second the small boat, and or club as a cost effective way to learn. In addition to my bigger boat, I purchased a 17-foot keelboat for our sailing club 12 years ago used for $2,500. Maintenance has been under $500. The only thing cheaper than buying a boat like that is paying club dues to sail it when you want.
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:39   #6
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Dingy sailing is a great idea - something that we have already looked into. We are planning to join our local club and have signed up to take the RYA Level Start Sailing and Basic Skills courses (Levels 1 & 2).

Obviously there is a big difference between sailing a dingy in a reservoir and a yacht in tidal waters or even in the deep blue. My original post and the reason for us trying to find a sea-going option is that I am not sure that my other half will cope out at sea (she has motion-sickness issues).

We went out on day trip in a Bavaria 36 last year and she got very sick. So I am thinking that regular exposure or prolonged exposure may help us to understand if its likely to ever get any better. The other option will be for us to get out on a catamaran as I hear they are a bit easier on the stomach.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:57   #7
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The first time my wife sailed with me on a keelboat, she was miserable from seasickness. The second time, she even felt queasy on the boat in the slip, but she stuck it out for a four day trip by using Scopolamine patches. The third time was on a sailboat in the broad, smooth Pacific swells. She felt great, and hasn't been even slightly seasick since, and we've put in a lot of sea miles in some very rough conditions.

Don't give up on sailing based on a couple of bad experiences. Also, the efficacy of the available remedies for seasickness varies person-to-person. If one doesn't seem to work, try another.
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Old 01-05-2009, 05:20   #8
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Let me echo what others have said about learning on a sailing dinghy. I learned on an 18 foot Flying Scot, and have since then have moved "down" to 14- and 15-footers for pure sailing pleasure.

In a dinghy, everything one does counts: sail trim, balance, how you take a wave, reading the wind off the water, playing gusts and lulls, and on and on. Sail a dinghy a few times and you will know from experience that if you do X the result will be Y and if you don't do it quite right you may find yourself righting a capsized boat Which you will anyway, since the only person who hasn't capsized a dinghy is the person who has never sailed a dinghy.

Once you move into larger boats, you will find they respond to the same forces, and react the same way as a dinghy, just much slower and more subtly. You can be doing something wrong in a big boat for a long time before realizing it. But the person who starts out dinghy sailing develops a second sense for sailing the larger boat well.

Having said that, it's also good to have some theoretical knowledge before you start sailing your dinghy. Best way is to find a sailing school that will give you the basics, some will do it in a concentrated weekend course. Then it's just a matter of sailing to really learn what you've been taught.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
- William Arthur Ward
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