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Old 11-08-2009, 01:44   #16
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I learned to sail as 13 year old on a Super sailfish that I built from a kit. Learned everything I needed to know about the wind/boat interface. The intimacy of being that close to the water and the wind with a boat that reacts almost instantly to any thing you do really teaches you to sail efficiently. Can't think of a better way to learn to sail. Second the idea of getting a small boat with a jib and a spinnaker and doing some racing as your skills improve. From there, it's just scaling up your experience to a larger boat. One thing you might think about is buying an 8'-10' sailing dinghy that you can use as a tender on the big boat that you eventually end up with. That will be a cat rig so won't have a jib or other sails to mess with but it didn't seem to hurt me when I moved up to a sloop.

If you need more proof. My wife had never been on a Sailboat before we got together. She was my crew when I delivered my Morgan 35 from St Pete to Norfolk, later on two deliveries from SF to Newport Beach and sailing our own W32 around SoCal for most of a year. Several thousand miles under her belt, still, she didn't have the innate gut feeling for sailing. More importantly, she didn't have the confidence that she could sail the boat if something should happen to me. She could steer the boat and trim the sails but didn't have that innate feel for what she was doing. When we stopped at Newport Beach for a month, she signed up for a dinghy course from the parks and rec. department. Actual instruction really wasn't a lot, mostly how to set the sail to capture the wind, something she already knew, and how to right the sabots in case of a capsize. After one morning of instruction, they turned them loose. Had a chase boat the first day to give them some on the water tips and then 3-4 days sailing on their own with some impromptu races among the students. The light came on for her. After messing about in the sabots for a week, she understood what sailing was all about and felt she could sail the boat on her own in an emergency and was completely self-sufficient on her watches.

I'm not a big fan of wasting a lot of money on sailing lessons. I read a couple of books and taught myself how to sail. Did go through Navy pilot officer training with a short course in navigating a carrier. How in the hell did I get that carrier into Kansas?? Also took an adult ed. night course in celestial navigation to learn the basics. Must have taught myself well as I've managed to sail most of the East Coast, California, Tahiti and the Islands.

Can't say how strongly I agree with your buying a small boat to learn on. Big boats are just too big and slow to react to really pick up the gut feeling for sailing. Not that you wouldn't, it's just that I think you'd learn more and more quickly on a small boat.

Peter O.
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Old 11-08-2009, 01:58   #17
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I dove straight in with the boat I want long term. It seemed to me that money expended on an intermediate boat would teach you alot that wasn't relevant.
Get some experience crewing, join your local or intended Sailing Club and spend a lot of time on here. RYA courses, or your local version, up to Coastal Skipper will reduce your insurance costs considerably. I'd also recommend a fortnight's holiday rental of a size smaller boat of the style you fancy. Interior layout and equipment provided will give you a much better idea of what you will need at less than the cost of owning a boat for a year.
I have no regrets though the learning curve is steep. Fair winds, always.
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Old 11-08-2009, 17:50   #18
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I don't know why they would want so much money for a Flying Scott but a Flying Junior is nearly the same boat only smaller with a much smaller price tag. The Lightening is better value if it has a fiberglass hull. It, though, is a racing machine.

I'd forgotten to mention Sunfish but thought you might like to have the jib experience. Sunfish are the most successful design ever and the easiest to rig and trailer or cartop. Good little boats.

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Old 11-08-2009, 21:17   #19
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The Flying Scot is an ideal boat to start on. I think you are doing a wise thing by starting on a dinghy rather than a keelboat. The Flying Scot has enough lines and sail trim adjustment options that you'll be able to learn about cunninghams and adjustable outhauls, the difference weight distribution can make in boat speed, and how a spinnaker works.

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Old 11-08-2009, 21:35   #20
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You can't learn two people sailing by putting them in a Flying Whatever. All you will get is yelling at each other, believe me, I was not only there myself but have seen it a million times. It will be about who's fault it is that things don't go smooth; nothing about sailing is learned. You (at least the helmsman) must know how to sail before taking off in that.

John loves the Sunfish, even his avatar shows that ;-) My thing was the Laser, just as easy to rig and all. Both will allow a person with basic knowledge to become an excellent sailor.

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Old 11-08-2009, 22:04   #21
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Ah, about the Flying Junior (FJ).... this boat was designed to be a training boat for upcoming Flying Dutchmen (FD) (both Dutch designs of course ;-) sailors (too young for the real thing). That will never get out of my head, no matter how many adults sail it. See Flying Junior - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So, the FD is the real deal, still the fastest upwind dinghy in the world and a very long track record at the Olympics from 1960 to 1992. It's just under 20'. See The fastest ones are built out of plywood, no plastic!

If you feel the FD might be too much to handle (it might well be) you should really consider the 420 instead of the FJ. This is the trainer-class for the 470 Olympic class. (French, not Dutch unfortunately ;-). From the wiki I understand that the club420 is very popular in the US (a sturdier version). I think the 420 is just a bit more challenging than the FJ: the gap between 420 and 470 is smaller than the one between FJ and FD.

So, the 470 is the real deal just like the Flying Dutchmen. It's still an Olympic class. See

After writing all this I changed my mind. For an adult to go from knowing nothing to a competent sailor: 1) instruction in open keelboat; 2) Laser or Sunfish; 3) 420 4) your first yacht. Sail the Laser for a year at least. The only problem with it is that you might get hooked and never trade up ;-) And to be honest I must say that I think it's not a problem to skip the 420 if the first mate can also sail the Laser.

I used to train kids in Optimists and Lasers and oh boy was I happy when they stepped up to the Laser. Suddenly, the boat needed all their attention and they had no time to throw water at me anymore. That fun lasted until they finished in front of me with the club races ;-)

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Old 12-08-2009, 22:25   #22
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i like the way s/v Jedi thinks, and i believe he has it pretty right all around./
good on ya
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Old 13-08-2009, 01:32   #23
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Nick likes Lasers and I do too but they are a bit more tender and don't have the option of lowering the sail quickly. They are faster on the wind because of the marconi sail but have the same sail area so on a beam reach they are nearly equal in speed.
Good luck in whatever your choice.
Kind regards
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Old 13-08-2009, 02:24   #24
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WHY WAIT to buy your ideal cruiser?

I have not posted in quite a while, because I have been out cruising! WE live onboard and have sold off everything, with no land ties, so you get a good idea of where my head is at. Please check my thread from 2 years ago "First sailboat at 50". As you could tell, I was as green as they come. We bought what we are now cruising in as our first sailboat (28 year old 52' fiberglass ketch rig) and it was a great choice from the begining to go this route for the following reasons:

1. Despite all the naysayers, learning on your cruising sailboat allows you to learn all the systems as well, and to get comfortable with YOUR sailboat as you learn. It was comfortable and equipt as we thought we would need from the beginning, and continues to be so today.

2. A small sailboat will perform quite differently from a full size cruising sailboat, and while you "see" the results of your actions, your results will be on YOUR boat, with your sail arrangement and your systems, and not something to re-learn all over again (or learn for the first time, since most small boats are completely differently fitted out compared to a real cruiser.

3. Many thought that a larger boat is harder to work, and while partially right, is also is more forgiving in that it moves slower in response to your actions, and feeling that lag time will be more important than "feeling" the response, because in a bigger boat, the "feel" will be quite different.

4. Don't get bogged down with theory and adjusting. It will come naturally as you sail YOUR boat. Quite a few companies that teach you will spend endless amounts of time on this, as well as endless sail changes, BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND CRUSING AND HAVE NEVER DONE IT. While it is important to know the points of sail etc, the truth is that when you are destination sailing (as opposed to going up and down the bay on a Saturday afternoon), the wind will be more consistant for the whole day, meaning not too much tacking and not too much adjustment. Too much of this in the begining may sour you or make you feel it is just too complicated, but the truth is you want to get someplace, not adjust your sails endlessly because you keep changing direction!

5. Spend lots of time learning about motoring in tight quarters. This is where you will need the most practice and will potentially be able to cause the most damage. Learning on a tiny boat with no engine will not prepare you for the inevitable docking sceanario. It is the most tense moments in sailing, I can assure you, and if we hadn't spent hours practicing (during the week when no one was at the marina), it would never have become as second nature as it is now. Let's face it, it is a sailboat, but the truth is, you have to dock and you have to get fuel, and you have to back in from time to time, and that is where you have the most potential to screw up. I saw many great sailors make a mess of things when docking/leaving the dock, because they just didn't practice enough, and the Colgate School or some other school never spent time on that, again, because they just don't understand cruising. Most of the time the instructors are racers on their time off, or crew on race boats, and that is quite different from a cruiser/destination sailor. They also always tend to run with too much canvas, a practice that is both hard on the equipment and dangerous in a lot of situations, great for that exciting "well heeled over" look, but not a real world cruisers sailing experience, nobody wants to do that for 12 hours, really!

Now, while I am sure there will be lots of brew ha ha about my post, understand this: We had zero experience before our purchase of our 52' cruiser. We took instruction on her (three full weeks) and then headed out, going from Miami to the Bahamas (far south, the Exumas to be exact) and then back again, stopping briefly in Miami and then piloting up the east coast where we are now sitting at the dock in NYC waiting for our return south after hurricane season. We took our time, traveled in only good weather, and listened to all that offered advise, all with a grain of salt. So far we have traveled about 2000 miles, most of it in new water (except for the backtrack to Miami) and experienced some bad weather here and there. While we don't consider ourselves big shots by any stretch of the imagination (like some on this board), we do have the miles under our belt, and they aren't weekend miles or miles in our old familiar bay etc (not that there is anything wrong with that, but being a destination sailor is quite different from being a weekend/summer/vacation sailor).
One other thing, the always stated "everything will break on a boat". We have found that a well founded vessel, properly gone over in the begining, and properly maintained, will have far fewer "surprise" breakdowns than most advise you. We found that with your systems (watermakers, engine, generators, pressure water etc, steering, toilets), if you don't understand them (and I mean completely), have a service call done, and ask lots of questions of the service tech. They love to talk and will be happy to give you all the info on your particular system, a cheap lesson (usually a couple hundred) that will save you plenty later on. Don't skip on this part! After all, this is about crusing, not fixing your boat, and lots of things breaking will break you far faster than anything else. We have seen it all the time in vessels that had been cobbled together by "know it alls" that took to sea without proper preparation.

"Good luck" is the direct result of proper preparation.

Now that I have pissed off about half of the posters on this board, I will bid you farewell once again, I have some crusing to do! And any of you that compare me to Bum . . . can just eat me, I'm out here DOING IT!
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Old 13-08-2009, 06:02   #25
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After reading all of the other posts again, I think by the time you step up and up and up, you'll be old and older and then too old, but then again, you didn't state your age or time frame . . .
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Old 13-08-2009, 07:55   #26
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I did it your way..

First, Waterworldly's approach can be a good way to go, if you are sure. However, certainty without trying is a difficult thing. If you do buy a cruiser, I also find the suggestions right on target (especially the motoring one).

Having said that, we started on a small 18' O'day (Lazerish type) and I really like Flying Scots (I am not associated with Flying Scot other than a fan). Here is why I think it would fit the direction you have chosen:
1. Drop Keel and Dry boat. You can get wet if you want but you can stay dry which means sailing in November in Buffalo or April in Atlanta.
2. They are stable boats. I can capsize a Sunfish, lazer, etc. in seconds. That is a rare occurrence without real effort in a Scot. Even flooded they float.
3. All the major components of any size boat are there. Main, Jib, Spinnaker, standing and running rigging, and even a small motor if you wish. All the other things are not there - so there is less information to understand all at once. (When you own a cruiser, knowing how to fix the head can save big dollars - but learning how at the same time you are learning everything else is a little much.
4. Easily trailerable behind most vehicles. This means you can move it place to place to figure out where you really like to sail.
5. A large club base for hints, tips, tricks. Including racing if you really want to expand the options.

I think they are more forgiving when it really matters than a larger boat. I see Waterworldys point, but I think "potential energy." Like an airplane, it can be 3 hours of boredom followed by 10 minutes of sheer panic. Coming into dock, you may bump, even hard, but not so hard you do damage (unless you are really trying). A 35' boat coming into dock too fast is going to damage something or worse hurt someone. I watched as a guy jumped off and tried to slow down a boat with his foot. Luckily, it knocked him onto his pride and the dock.

Some people however love the allure of cruising - yet find they hate sailing. In which case, a beach house is better option. Others, like many of the people here, find they want more than to "just sail," and cruising fits the bill. Committing 10s of thousands of dollars before you know is a high risk venture. (Boats never increase in value)

Like most things in sailing, you need to find what best fits your needs. Good luck - let us know what you decide.

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Old 13-08-2009, 08:45   #27
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All Of the Responses have been Good So Far...yet:

Original Poster,
I'm so thankful at least a few mentioned hobies, sunfish, sailfish (NOBODY MENTIONED THE "PRAMS"...what I LEARNED ON), other sailing "dinghy's", many mentioned flying scots, YOU Mentioned "lightnings"(& for $900. I'd love to know where that 1 IS!?), also there's the 20' International daysailor (of which I'm partial & own 1 after graduating up from Lightning racing to same; lightings(all the FG 1's) were also made by International, the 20' 'ers were created for non-racing day sailing crowd with a VERY LARGE Cockpit & traditional masthead rig...

I come to this thread w/a little bit different angle;

After having taught over 2000 people to sail in this lifetime...think REAL HARD about that sunfish (or super sailfish...for 2 adults), car toppable, EXTREMELY Simple rig, daggerboard (for shoals which You will surely "find"), easy setup (You're "SAILING" in 10 minutes), and if taking a class simultaneously, they are a nice performing, almost Bombproof, read=tough little well made boats FOR BEGINNERS that perform exceptionally well, You can tack, You Can Jibe, You can skull with the rudder, You can have a pot full of fun & all for significantly less than $1k as a rule. No trailer needed, No special storage space required (just take the sail inside), and 'viola`' You're on the WATER. Yes, it IS small enough to NOT fit Your ideal range posted...
It IS also quite simply ALL YOU NEED to learn ALL of the scientific fundamentals of sailing while doing so on a more than fairly stable platform. Look hard & long at these little boats, their advantages (Starting w/PRICE) outweigh disadvantages & I've never had 1 that didn't sell for At Least what was paid for it. Ergo, You learned to Sail, for free. You'll just need to sell in the spring.

You may say "oh, that's too small"...well the maker(s) including AMF have made over 150,000 of the sunfish, & probably well in excess of a million people have learned the fundamentals on/in them. Your desire was to learn, w/o spending a fortune, & ideally being able to dispose of thereafter w/o significant financial loss.

Sunfish (for singlehanding) & Super Sailfish (for 2-3, third being a child) certainly fit the bill, to a "T".
Don't forget Your PFD(s), a paddle, and a piece of dockline to double as a towline for the bow grab handle;
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Old 13-08-2009, 09:17   #28
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If anywhere near Texas, I know where there's a Venture 21 and a Catalina 22 swing keel on trailer. Excellent shape and price! The Catalina's just had a refit and the cast iron keel is now encapsulated in epoxy.
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But not for long! Now she's gone!
and peace and tranquility reign forever!
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