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View Poll Results: Which of the two for singlehanded learning?
Laser 9 69.23%
Sunfish 4 30.77%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-04-2022, 09:44   #31
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

I started out learning to sail and race dinghies. Did it train me as a sailor? It sure did. Am I a better sailor than someone who started out in a 40 footer? I certainly think so.

Now, there are plenty of things to learn about the handling of a larger boat, and the many systems aboard - but one step at a time, is a good approach.

One last thought. A sunfish isn't exactly a sailing dinghy due to its unusual rig. You might look into whether there is a local sailing club where you could start out with lessons and access to their dinghies.
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Old 03-04-2022, 09:49   #32
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

There are many good comments on this thread. What I would recommend before you do anything else, however, is to buy “First You Have to Row a Little Boat” by Richard Bode. It gives you a number of life lessons as well as sailing lessons, and you can see for yourself how they go hand-in-hand.
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Old 03-04-2022, 09:59   #33
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

That’s how I started.

I did sunfish for a few weeks on my pond so I knew the basics of sailing, then did ASA101 on a 23’ keelboat, ASA103/104 on Bavaria 46, then joined a sailing club and used j/24’s all summer. Then bought a 40’ boat.

The best things I did to learn to sail was the sunfish, the best thing I did to learn to handle a boat was the j/24 sailing club as the boat is big and mostly resembles the larger boats plus you’re on your own and can learn quick. Each of these scenarios allows you to make mistakes and learn, and the classes give you good fundamentals.

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Old 03-04-2022, 11:16   #34
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

It's a good start and true seat of your pants sailing. But to go from a sunfish to a catamaran or larger single hull is like going from a bicycle to a Winanabego.
you will have to work your way up and, while the sunfish will give you some sailing principles, yopu will need to learn much more as you get into a large sailboat. I'd check out some of your local sailing schools.
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Old 03-04-2022, 12:01   #35
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

You won't learn much about running a "big boat", even a forty-footer, from dinking around in a Sunfish. Would you use roller blades or a peddle car to learn how to drive an 18-wheeler?

I started with a Hobby Cat of my own while racing as crew on several other monohulls. I read over 100 books on every facet of sailing from navigation to first aid at sea. My first "big boat" assignment was as skipper, caretaker and maintainer on a Columbia 57' while her owner was tied up for a year on business. He said she is your boat now take her wherever you want. We raced and cruised all over the Hawaiian Islands. With a beautiful big boat like that at my disposal I had no trouble getting crew to go anywhere anytime. I always had two or three guys with me who had done way more sailing than me. Maybe I was too young to know that was not the way it's usually done.

I continued to race on other people's boats at every opportunity and bought my first boat (a Newport 41') in 1978 which I still own today. Racing, if you are really dedicated and observant about every aspect of sailing from inspecting the boat and rigging before leaving the dock to redocking upon returning you will learn most of what you will need to know. The rest you will learn at the school of hard knocks.

Go to the marinas and yacht clubs, make acquaintances and finagle a crew position on a race. Most skippers enjoy breaking in new crew.
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Old 03-04-2022, 12:26   #36
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

I think sailing lesson are all good and well, but "owning" your own boat, however small, is a big deal.
Just running your hand over the hull can be magic.
Sometimes, just looking at it, can get the heart beating.

A sunfish is not a big $$ outlay. Used one's can go for as little as $500...to maybe $2,000, depending on age, condition, etc.

You can spend several 100's of dollars on sailing lessons....but have no boat...
Or buy the boat and learn to sail it...
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Old 03-04-2022, 14:59   #37
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

I've read all of the comments. Wow, if I tried to answer them all one by one, the thread would be all over the place. Thank you, folks.

Some more info about me. I'll be sailing the Sunfish in a Harbor by the ocean, around plenty of similar sailboats. I'm in my 40s. Yeah, I have minor issues over here and over there, but overall, I'm in good shape - 5.8, 150. I, on and off, have done freediving - I surely am not the best, but I, at least, am not shy of cold water or getting wet. I am planning to enjoy a Sunfish for a few years, and then yes, I want to directly hop on a 30 - 40 ft sailboat.

I just wondered if the Sunfish would be a good platform for me to start with. Imagining the experience in my mind in the light of the feedback to my both threads, a Laser or a Hobie 16 might require a second hand in certain conditions, and maybe more than a 40-something-year-old body wants to deal with singlehanded. Or something like Flying Scot would be ideal but unnecessarily expensive for the purpose. A used Sunfish seems to me as if the option that can give the most benefit with the least cost.

I really do not want to discuss the step after the Sunfish phase, because the answer to that will be depending on many circumstances that I cannot predict now. Whatever I will do, I will do single handed. If I wanted to cruise around the Bahamas, a catamaran could be a wonderful option. If I wanted to be a weekender in Long Island Sound, I would want a fin keel monohull.

What I don't want is owning a small keel sailboat as an intermediate learning platform in-between. Of course, ideally, a small keel sailboat with tiller rudder, fractional sloop, outboard, portable head, no galley, as simple as possible, would be a sound step after the Sunfish phase, but something like that also potentially could turn into a money pit situation - the money that could be used in the sailboat at the end of the rope. I just cannot stop myself from thinking, how lovely it would be to be able to hop on something like Ericson 32-2 after owning a used Sunfish for a while - can it get any cheaper than that? I think I will figure out the answers to these in the coming years by myself; for now, let's go back to the Sunfish question.

Thanks again.
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Old 03-04-2022, 15:15   #38
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

Laser is easy easy to single hand and definitely better in a stiff breeze. Also points better, sails better, planes better. I kind of miss sailing Lasers.
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Old 03-04-2022, 15:17   #39
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

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Originally Posted by Patrick of M View Post
Laser is easy easy to single hand and definitely better in a stiff breeze. Also points better, sails better, planes better. I kind of miss sailing Lasers.
I didn't know this. Guys, should give Laser a serious thought then?
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Old 03-04-2022, 15:30   #40
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kite View Post
I've read all of the comments. Wow, if I tried to answer them all one by one, the thread would be all over the place. Thank you, folks.

Some more info about me. I'll be sailing the Sunfish in a Harbor by the ocean, around plenty of similar sailboats. I'm in my 40s. Yeah, I have minor issues over here and over there, but overall, I'm in good shape - 5.8, 150. I, on and off, have done freediving - I surely am not the best, but I, at least, am not shy of cold water or getting wet. I am planning to enjoy a Sunfish for a few years, and then yes, I want to directly hop on a 30 - 40 ft sailboat.

I just wondered if the Sunfish would be a good platform for me to start with. Imagining the experience in my mind in the light of the feedback to my both threads, a Laser or a Hobie 16 might require a second hand in certain conditions, and maybe more than a 40-something-year-old body wants to deal with singlehanded. Or something like Flying Scot would be ideal but unnecessarily expensive for the purpose. A used Sunfish seems to me as if the option that can give the most benefit with the least cost.

I really do not want to discuss the step after the Sunfish phase, because the answer to that will be depending on many circumstances that I cannot predict now. Whatever I will do, I will do single handed. If I wanted to cruise around the Bahamas, a catamaran could be a wonderful option. If I wanted to be a weekender in Long Island Sound, I would want a fin keel monohull.

What I don't want is owning a small keel sailboat as an intermediate learning platform in-between. Of course, ideally, a small keel sailboat with tiller rudder, fractional sloop, outboard, portable head, no galley, as simple as possible, would be a sound step after the Sunfish phase, but something like that also potentially could turn into a money pit situation - the money that could be used in the sailboat at the end of the rope. I just cannot stop myself from thinking, how lovely it would be to be able to hop on something like Ericson 32-2 after owning a used Sunfish for a while - can it get any cheaper than that? I think I will figure out the answers to these in the coming years by myself; for now, let's go back to the Sunfish question.

Thanks again.
I say NO on the sunfish yes on a vessel that has a jib, learning to tack around the points of sail is what you want to build experience with.
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Old 03-04-2022, 19:38   #41
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

Well, folks, I think I've made up my mind. I'll go with the Sunfish. It's cheap, so it's easy to get rid of if necessary. After mastering it, I'll know what to do, I assume. Despite my plan, I might end up having to have a small keel sailboat phase in-between before finally shopping for something over 30 ft.
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Old 03-04-2022, 19:51   #42
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

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Originally Posted by Patrick of M View Post
Depends on what you weigh. At +200 lbs, I would need a lot pf wind to not sink a sunfish. Even Lasers are overwhelmed by a full grown person (again +200). Plus as others mentioned, past a certain age, they are damn uncomfortable.
This is completely not true regarding a standard Laser being overwhelmed. The added weight enables sailing is significant winds with proper experience.
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Old 03-04-2022, 20:06   #43
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

I didn't see in the thread were you plan on sailing and what is the average winds. Sunfish are a beginner boat and for lesser winds. Lasers can be used as a beginner boat in lighter winds but are capable of higher winds (15+ knots) with proper technique and proper rigging and require hiking out which means a limited amount of time sailing in winds like per your physical abilities. If you plan on staying dry and not taking a swim in moderate winds when starting out then you may want to consider a different style of boat. I've been sailing a Standard Laser for about 10 years on a lake which is highly variable winds which I would consistently go out in 15+ knot winds after I got very competent and capable of dealing with almost anything myself. I broke the top spar of my mast a couple years ago and jerry rigged it back to the dock. Lasers give more variables for trim that has really helped me to sail faster in my Hunter 30. You cant tell the dingy drivers in a larger boat, they are always messing with trim. A previous post mentioned a 200+ person would have problems (not specific wording) on a Laser. BS, I'm 240. I have had mine out in winds that the proper weighted sailor (165) would be flipping left and right.
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Old 03-04-2022, 21:46   #44
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

I see you added a poll. I vote for the Laser given the choice. I would say to not get a boat with a jib right off the bat. When I was learning, the jib was an added level of complexity that was unnecessary and did not help me learn anything better or faster, it just made things more intimidating at first. The Laser is faster, more fun, more competitive (if you find yourself wanting to race, which you will) and more expensive. I see you said you are set on the Sunfish which is fine, but given the choice, go with the Laser.
A buddy of mine who had a Laser mastered the trick of letting the boat get knocked down, stepping over to step on the center board and righting the boat without getting wet. I got wet when I tried it. Fun though.
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Old 03-04-2022, 23:04   #45
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Re: A Sunfish to teach myself the ropes???

I was watching the high school teams drilling on their lasers this week, obviously having a great time, and thinking, “Wow, could I even roll around like that any more?” I know some of their Dads take the boats out for fun too, but I’m prolly more their granddads age.

Dunno - Sunfish is a good boat for young kids too, but I think you’ll outgrow it after a week or two.

You know, when the wind is up, sometimes I reef down my 30-footer and sail it just like a big dinghy. Sheet and tiller. It’s still a blast.
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