Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reader Question for the Community: What is The Best Way for An Adult to Learn Sailing?

No Wind
Question for the Community,
I quite enjoy this bit of New England that comes into my Wisconsin home... 
I grew up near Lake Michigan and would ride my bike to the beach and look at the beautiful boats sailing on the blue water. I was not fortunate enough to be exposed to this lovely pastime. I wasn't sent to camp to learn as a fearless child. So, are you ever to old to learn how to sail? It must feel amazing!

18 comments:

  1. Look to see whether your local YMCA/YWCA offers sailing classes. Similar with a college or university if it's near the water, like UC Berkeley--they sometimes have affiliated student/community sailing clubs that offer lessons.

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  2. My husband and I learned to sail as adults. If you wish to travel to the East Coast, I can recommend the Offshore Sailing School. They're located in Florida but offer week-long courses in other states such as New York and Maryland.

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  3. My father taught us how to sail, starting at age 10 through my school years. We sailed deep water of San Francisco Bay in an Islander Bahama full-keel 24-foot sloop rig. It was a unique design, based on a wooden boat design but with a fiberglass hull. My dad made sure that I learned every station. Those are good memories.

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  4. Are you my mother asking this?? She's from Wisconsin and we were just having a conversation about her learning to sail as a 60-something adult. Most Yacht Clubs (at least here in Michigan) will have some sort of "learn to sail" program. I find the best way to get info is to call them up, let them know you're an adult beginner, and see what recommendations they have for you. I have found that most of these places are enthusiastic about helping beginners learn and get involved. - ER

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  5. I second the call to the local yacht club. They often offer sailing classes, and it is not uncommon for some boat owners have been known to offer classes on their boats to defray costs. Then, once you know the basics, including the names for the rigging and the actions, volunteer to crew on weekend races. There is always someone looking for crew, either regularly or for a one day fill-in for someone who can't make it. Show up on race days and be available. Just be prepared to feel like an idiot for a while, and some skippers will treat you that way as well. Racing can be fast and unforgiving, but you WILL learn to sail, and you will learn more about sailing by crewing in a few races than you would in several full seasons just puttering about. Oh, and one other thing. Go out in nasty weather. Not small craft warnings, but cold and wet and gusty and miserable. Sailing uses technology that is millennia old, and there is nothing else like it.

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  6. For $20.00 up at our little yacht club in Maine a seasoned teen sailor will take adults out in a turnabout for an hour or more. I learned to sail just out of college on the San Francisco Bay. I think I could charter up to 34 feet after the lessons. There are some great programs all around the Bay, but my stomach just could not handle it. I think the gentleman above spoke of "grippiness" in an earlier post. I did not have that. Put me off totally. Were I to do it again, I would take some time on calmer waters to learn at a slower pace.

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  7. There are so many benefits at any age, not to mention what fun you will have. My recommendation would be to get your certification from a reputable local school - the American Sailing Association website has lots of information. Once you get the basics down, sail as much as you can before winter comes! Find a school where the conditions & the equipment is compatible to where you live/where you will be doing most of your sailing. Being a competent/confident novice sailor means being able to handle a variety of weather, wind & currents in the locale where you will be sailing. My recommendation is to build your chops closer to home to begin with, then, venture out!

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  8. If you are near Madison look into the Hoofers club at the UW. They offer sailing lessons at the Union Terrace. You will start out on a Badger Tech (dingy), but they are VERY fun.

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  9. Make sure to learn on small boats before moving to big ones. Sailing with a sheet (sail trimming line) in one hand and a tiller in the other is the only way to hone instincts and develop a feel for the weather. Instincts which will be necessary as you graduate to larger vessels. I have sailed with people who have only sailed larger boats who were out of their element on a small daysailer where things happen much more quickly and the weather instincts are needed to react. Happy Sailing!!!

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  10. Wow! As a 60 something, I've just decided I wanted to add sailing to my bucket list. Booked a seat on a sailing boat that will be in a yacht race. I'll just sit and observe. Once again, Saltwater New England seems to be written for me. If I like being a passenger on a large boat (50'), I plan to take lessons on a small boat. Thanks once again.

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    1. Sounds like an adventure! Enjoy it.

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  11. I dunno it would seem so much easier to just die on land...

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  12. I received a sailing lesson from my wife for Christmas when I was 43. I had a 4 hour lesson from the owner if our local (Nashville, Tennessee) J Boat dealer. Now, a dozen years and a few boats later, I'm soon to be the owner of a second New England Catboat and I teach at our yacht club's education program.

    I agree that starting on small boats is best, as they give you immediate feedback of what you did right, and wrong. If you think you want to sail, try it now, don't put it off. If you like it, you'll have that much more time to enjoy it!

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    1. Immediate feedback? My first time at the helm, I broached a Colgate 26 which gave me the fright of my life while the instructor laughed his head off thinking it was a great joy ride!

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  13. Community Boating on the Charles if you live in Boston is a good place to start.

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  14. I agree that learning on smaller boats will give you more hands on learning. In my opinion the best way to learn is to sail is to race smaller/one design boats. You will get yourself into situations that if you were just out for a pleasure sail you would not be forced into and would avoid. Your learning curve will be quicker, thorough and more intense. Your skills learned on a smaller boat will eventually be transferable to larger boats as well. Volunteer to be crew on a small racing boat this summer.

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  15. If you are willing to travel, J World is great! http://www.jworldschool.com/

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  16. Like others said, take a class. If you can wait until summer when the water is warm, I highly recommend going out on a catamaran (hobie wave or similar). It teaches you what to do if your boat flips and will help you get more comfortable in the water. Any reputable club will make you do the capsize test (where you flip and then right the boat) before you're allowed to take it out on your own. The hobie cats are great for learning those skills.

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