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Old 15-06-2009, 22:39   #1
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Learning to Sail

I will say that my experience on a boat is very slim besides a few day trips on a 32 ft Beneteau. I can't however shake the feeling I felt after reading The Dove 4 years ago by Robin Leigh Graham. Ever since I have had a passion to sail. It is until now that I have the money to do so. The next step is the learning process in which I have talked with numerous people. I have looked at live aboard sailing schools for a week but it is a bit pricey. I have also thought of buying a small boat and starting out on a lake. But I have heard of people that need passage to a destination that are seasoned sailors. One example would be the Water In Between by Kevin Patterson. I would prefer just to purchase a boat find someone like this and hit the water. Is this at all feasible? I also have found a seller of a 1976 30ft Catalina in good shape that is in desperate need of money and is selling his boat for 6600. I really want to jump on this. Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

Happiness has no frontiers, it is a state of mind and not a possession, not a set route through life, and not a goal to be obtained but something that steals you gentally like a gust of wind, something uncontrollable.
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Old 16-06-2009, 06:24   #2
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Welcome to the forum. Catalina are good starter boats and 6600 does seem to be a good price if it really is in good condition. Do you have someone who is knowledgeable in boats that can take a quick look at it to make sure there is no major problem?
here is a link of a bunch of Catalina 30 that have been up for sale or is still for sale. It might help you get a feel for what they usually sell for, but
Catalina 30 Sailboat Photo Gallery
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Old 16-06-2009, 07:55   #3
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As an instructor I may be biased, but I highly recommend taking lessons from an experienced, knowledgeable instructor who can provide you with some of the wisodom that they have garnered. As example, when discussing emergencies on a boat, I often preface the lesson with "when this happened to me."

Navigation courses in a classroom setting are great when followed up with an application of the skills on the water. Rather than waiting for a situation in which a running fix possible, an instructor will actively work on teaching that skill.

Knots are much easier to tie when an instructor is sitting beside you showing how the hands and fingers move in tying a knot. Docking practice is much better under a watchful eye.

The live-aboard lessons are worth the money - if you have a good instructor. Experienced sailors may not make good instructors unless they can analyze and reflect upon their own practice. For many of them it is now ingrained, for a rookie it is hard.

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IYT Yachtmaster Coastal Instructor
As I sail, I praise God, and care not. (Luke Foxe)
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Old 16-06-2009, 08:11   #4
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I tend to agree with Jack being an ex ASA instructor myself. You will learn quicker and more thoroughly by taking lessons.

Sure, you can teach yourself but there will be nobody there to evaluate and correct you. There will also be nobody there to ask questions of. Man overboard drills are something where you definitely need feedback from someone who knows what they are doing. Docking drills are also something you are going to need feedback on regarding how you could have done it better. The same goes for anchoring and all your other fundamental skills.

Its my own biased view that sailing instructors are better at teaching sailing than your best buddy would be at teaching sailing. Sailing instructor courses teach instructors how to teach. Best buddies have never had these formal teaching courses.

Once you get all the fundamentals down, the rest is just adding to those fundamentals which is something that you can do by simply getting out there and sailing. Reading is mandatory if you are going to be taking a class. You are going to need to study the Rules of the Road for example.

I highly recommend a class, buying some books and of course getting out there and doing it as often as possible.

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Old 17-06-2009, 12:08   #5
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Aloha Staufson,
Welcome aboard! I agree that instruction is important, however, look for a club that offers discounted instruction. I've found that many private sail schools are just way too expensive. I've also been an instructor since the 70s and the majority of those years I did it as a non-paid volunteer with the American Red Cross or with a Yacht Club. Just start with a course in basic sailing and see if you want to continue with more courses.
A Catalina 30 in good condition for $6600 is a good deal. I'd recommend getting one with a diesel engine though.
Kind regards,
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Old 17-06-2009, 19:47   #6
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Thanks guys for the advice, any recommendations for schools in the mid Atlantic coastal area of the US. I have looked at a few in the Florida but have found that the more north you get the more reasonable the prices are.
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