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  1. #11
    WilliamUK is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by William_H View Post
    I would not however suggest a dinghy course for learning. Far better a course on a boat like yours. Dinghies demand so much attention to keeping the thing upright and not capsized and are so discouraging when you do capsize while a bigger boat enables you to concentrate what you need to learn.
    Just wanted to address this. With the right dinghy for learning in (a stable one) it doesn't take much attention at all to balance it just so, and on a decent course your first efforts will be accompanied by an instructor who will take care of it while you get to grips with the mechanics of making the boat move and turn.

    Also, capsizing a dinghy is only discouraging if you see capsizing as a failure. It isn't - especially not when learning. Getting them back up again is a piece of cake, especially if you learn to do it properly; which - again - a decent course will teach. You can see capsizing as a failure or as part of learning what effect poor sail trim and course steering have without the consequences they can have on a big boat... and most beginners I've seen on an Level 1 or 2 course don't capsize until their capsize drill. (I used to sail at a training centre, so I've seen quite a lot.)

    Everything... tacking, gybing, sail handling and so on is far, far easier on a dinghy than on a bigger boat and most of the skills learned in the first couple of days on a dinghy will transfer almost seamlessly to a bigger boat.

    Of course, there will always be disagreement about the best way to learn the basics.

    As I see it, you need to be on a big boat to learn some of the elements of big boat sailing, but I think the basic mechanics of sails, steering and so on are easier to learn in a dinghy than on a yacht.

    With less weight to move (both in sails and in boat weight) actions on a dinghy are smaller, easier and have more immediate effects.

    Once the basic concepts have been learned, I think the process of learning to handle a yacht is made easier with the "how it works" bit already learned.

    Besides - all the best sailors start in dinghies.
    William
    Blithe Spirit - Lark 1804.

  2. #12
    CAPTAIN FANTASTIC's Avatar
    CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamUK View Post
    Just wanted to address this. With the right dinghy for learning in (a stable one) it doesn't take much attention at all to balance it just so, and on a decent course your first efforts will be accompanied by an instructor who will take care of it while you get to grips with the mechanics of making the boat move and turn.

    Also, capsizing a dinghy is only discouraging if you see capsizing as a failure. It isn't - especially not when learning. Getting them back up again is a piece of cake, especially if you learn to do it properly; which - again - a decent course will teach. You can see capsizing as a failure or as part of learning what effect poor sail trim and course steering have without the consequences they can have on a big boat... and most beginners I've seen on an Level 1 or 2 course don't capsize until their capsize drill. (I used to sail at a training centre, so I've seen quite a lot.)

    Everything... tacking, gybing, sail handling and so on is far, far easier on a dinghy than on a bigger boat and most of the skills learned in the first couple of days on a dinghy will transfer almost seamlessly to a bigger boat.

    Of course, there will always be disagreement about the best way to learn the basics.

    As I see it, you need to be on a big boat to learn some of the elements of big boat sailing, but I think the basic mechanics of sails, steering and so on are easier to learn in a dinghy than on a yacht.

    With less weight to move (both in sails and in boat weight) actions on a dinghy are smaller, easier and have more immediate effects.

    Once the basic concepts have been learned, I think the process of learning to handle a yacht is made easier with the "how it works" bit already learned.

    Besides - all the best sailors start in dinghies.
    Capsizing dinghies is great fun and the best way to understand and appreciate, when young, wind direction, wind force, sail trimming, balance, water exposure fatigue and so many other things. Those who learnt sailing straight on yachts, by-passing dinghy sailing, don't know what they have missed out on; provided you were in your teens, of course.

  3. #13
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    Consider golf while you've still got some money left ... or needlework ... or anything!

  4. #14
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    We were total novices when we started. We began with a "taster weekend" with an RYA school in Poole. The Saturday was glorious, blue skies, flat sea and just enough wind to get the boat moving. I did begin to wonder whether we needed to do all that RYA training first.

    The Sunday brought a SW gale 8, gusting 9. The skipper, sensible fellow that he was, refused to take us out of Poole Bay in those conditions but we did take the boat out in the bay so that we could experience a full gale and get some idea of the sea that comes with one. That did it, we understood at once that the little we knew could easily kill us in conditions like those.

    If nothing else, the RYA way gives you confidence in what you do know and (gently) introduces you to how much you really do need to know to be safe.

    One valuable lesson has stayed with me forever; we were motoring into the Needles channel from the south (and had just passed the Needles) with me helming when a moderate sized freighter coming up fast from the SW and closing on us sounded one short blast. I was wondering what that meant (we were pretty new then) when the skipper told me to head for the nearest red can and stay there. After the freighter had passed us he explained that one short blast is "I'm turning to starboard" and yet he was obviously turning to port (and did to enter the channel). "When you don't know where a big ship is going" our skipper explained "put yourself where he's never going to be". Remembering that lesson has saved us on at least one other occasion since.

    Experience is a great teacher, but she often puts in big bills!
    Let's make better mistakes tomorrow
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  5. #15
    WilliamUK is offline Registered User
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    Great post there, Roundtop.

    Quote Originally Posted by CAPTAIN FANTASTIC View Post
    Capsizing dinghies is great fun and the best way to understand and appreciate, when young, wind direction, wind force, sail trimming, balance, water exposure fatigue and so many other things. Those who learnt sailing straight on yachts, by-passing dinghy sailing, don't know what they have missed out on; provided you were in your teens, of course.
    I'm in my 30s (learned about 20 years ago), my girlfriend is currently learning to sail for the first time in her mid 20s. Others on the course are older still (40 and up - we're the babies on the course by a long shot). All of them enjoyed the capsize day and two boats went over prior to that too.*

    I'm reminded here of the wise quote from George Bernard Shaw:
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."



    * I may or may not have been helming one of them, a valuable lesson in being sure everyone really is ready to go about and that the windward jib sheet isn't still cleated when you tack. I'm denying all responsibility though.
    Last edited by WilliamUK; 04-05-12 at 14:08.
    William
    Blithe Spirit - Lark 1804.

  6. #16
    ukmctc's Avatar
    ukmctc is offline Registered User
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    I too had the same problem when I got into sailing, I just bought a boat I liked the look of and started to play with her till I got the hang of it.
    I started in Tollesbury, and sailed all around your area too.
    You don't need to do any courses, you don't need to join any clubs, people in your area will help you, go sailing with you and give any info you want, you will even be invited out on other boats. Now for those who are getting shirty, yes you can join a club if you want, there are plenty out there.
    Any boat will do, buy the one you like and can afford, I had a trapper 500 and around your area it was brilliant, friends of mine had a Westerly 21, nice too, horses for courses they say.
    The main thing is, chill, enjoy and have fun, it doesn't need to be expensive and you don't need any gadgets, just local knowledge, local people, and a local pub or club house bar.
    Enjoy and keep it fun...

  7. #17
    WilliamUK is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukmctc View Post
    I too had the same problem when I got into sailing, I just bought a boat I liked the look of and started to play with her till I got the hang of it.
    I started in Tollesbury, and sailed all around your area too.
    You don't need to do any courses, you don't need to join any clubs, people in your area will help you, go sailing with you and give any info you want, you will even be invited out on other boats. Now for those who are getting shirty, yes you can join a club if you want, there are plenty out there.
    Any boat will do, buy the one you like and can afford, I had a trapper 500 and around your area it was brilliant, friends of mine had a Westerly 21, nice too, horses for courses they say.
    The main thing is, chill, enjoy and have fun, it doesn't need to be expensive and you don't need any gadgets, just local knowledge, local people, and a local pub or club house bar.
    Enjoy and keep it fun...
    I like this post. I do think lessons are valuable if you've got a good teacher but the point of this reply isn't to argue that particular toss.

    The bit I've bolded is important.
    I was looking for a dinghy to go cruising in and when I realised I needed about 10 times my budget to get one in half decent condition I looked at other things. After making the decision that it's better to have any boat at all than not have the perfect boat I got something more suited to racing than cruising, and intend to cruise it anyway.

    You learn far more by having a boat and sailing than by looking for one and not.
    William
    Blithe Spirit - Lark 1804.

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