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Best path to become comfortable soloing a keelboat?


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Hi,

I know next to nothing about sailing, but have always loved going out on a keelboat when I've had the chance. In the past, I took a sailing course, and while I learned stuff, I never felt comfortable enough to take a boat out on my own. I crewed a few times, but racing just isn't my thing, so while I enjoyed being on the boat, I mainly wanted to relax, and not worry about racing and such.

That was like a decade ago, and now I've forgotten basically everything, and I want to learn things properly this time and make sure that it sticks with me. So my thought is that I would take a course again, but how do I go from learning things, to becoming comfortable on my own? I don't know anyone with a sailboat, and I'd be way too nervous to rent a boat out on my own, and while I'd be down to crew again, I honestly never learned much doing that in the past, as I just did what they told me to do, but I never really understood why I did specific things. 

Are there any type of class or something that takes people who have just passed a course, and keep training them until they're comfortable? Even with driving, once you pass a test, you have a probationary period where you need to drive with someone experienced. Is there some sort of class where you can hire out a teacher to go out without a bunch of other people like once a week?

My goal is to eventually be comfortable enough to have my own keelboat so I can take my kids out on it. 

Cheers!

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I went from crewing on a race yacht about 4 times (Ross 930) to owning a trailer yacht (23' Moonraker)...

I think the best way is re do a coastguard course (though i haven't) and just buy something. Start at the smaller end (your probationary period), something not too powerfull and let experience be your guide. Read up, keep crewing for a bit, its amazing what you pick up once YOUR the skipper for yourself but crew for someone else...

Experience is the best way in my opinion....nothing beats it.

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I always wanted to but didn’t (and couldn’t) sail. 
My best friend bought a 727, put her back together and launched her. 
I didn’t want to race; too stressful I felt. But I ended up as regular race crew. I (we) learnt fast. By the Second season I was comfortable enough to skipper for a race with the other regular crew member and pick up a third spot to keep our series alive when the reg skipper and owner couldn’t make it over the bridge on time for the start. We took home the Richmond wed night g division trophy that season. 
My  advice would be - go to the Richmond and find a boat where you can crew. Regularly. Bring beer, be nice and go racing. Listen, ask, watch, do, learn. It may not be „your thing“ but you will learn damn fast. After 3 months, if you still like it buy a sailing dinghy and go out sailing every spare moment. you don’t need something flash. And keep crewing. 
If it works out well, in 15 years you’ll be effectively single handing your new Pogo 36 through one of the world’s renowned tidal current passages into 25knts in the dark while your partner and toddler puke their guts out below…


 

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5 hours ago, DrWatson said:

I always wanted to but didn’t (and couldn’t) sail. 
My best friend bought a 727, put her back together and launched her. 
I didn’t want to race; too stressful I felt. But I ended up as regular race crew. I (we) learnt fast. By the Second season I was comfortable enough to skipper for a race with the other regular crew member and pick up a third spot to keep our series alive when the reg skipper and owner couldn’t make it over the bridge on time for the start. We took home the Richmond wed night g division trophy that season. 
My  advice would be - go to the Richmond and find a boat where you can crew. Regularly. Bring beer, be nice and go racing. Listen, ask, watch, do, learn. It may not be „your thing“ but you will learn damn fast. After 3 months, if you still like it buy a sailing dinghy and go out sailing every spare moment. you don’t need something flash. And keep crewing. 
If it works out well, in 15 years you’ll be effectively single handing your new Pogo 36 through one of the world’s renowned tidal current passages into 25knts in the dark while your partner and toddler puke their guts out below…


 

Now write us a short story on how to finance a pogo 36 for beginners 😂 

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Sail Nelson does 5 day live-aboard skipper courses you could look into, but it sounds like you need to buy a smaller yacht and re-learn how to sail - maybe take the plunge and buy a trailer sailer or 7-10m keeler? (There's a few good trailers out there and you might pay more up front but save it in mooring costs and antifoul.)

In my own experience I've found that sailing solo is a big combination of experience, familiarity with the vessel, and having the correct setup for single handed sailing. That, and a calm resolution when things go horribly wrong!

It wasn't until recently I was crewing/teaching a mate on their boat that I realised just how convenient, enjoyable and safe it is to have all lines led back to the cockpit. I guess I'd always been spoiled with generous length sheets, good winches, familiarity with what sails work will in what wind, ideal traveler positions, etc etc. Even if you don't plan on sailing solo, it's well worth having the boat and rig set up for it.

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On 24/11/2022 at 6:52 PM, Riki said:

Are there any type of class or something that takes people who have just passed a course, and keep training them until they're comfortable? Even with driving, once you pass a test, you have a probationary period where you need to drive with someone experienced. Is there some sort of class where you can hire out a teacher to go out without a bunch of other people like once a week?

Probably the best way forwards is join a club and race regularly, its pretty easy to get a spot and work your way up as your skills improve, you just need to find the right environment/skipper. You will also get an idea of the kind of boat to get and you'll  pick up a lot of general sailing and local knowledge as you go.

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Thanks for all the comments. To answer some of the questions above, I'm in Auckland, around Howick, so Bucklands Beach and Pine Harbour are relatively close to me. I found a 2-day class in Opua that I think I'd like to give a try with my kids, as it'd be a private session, and we'd get to actually go out on our own with the teacher. The long term goal here would then be to take their followup class that will let us sail on our own for a few days, but I'll probably wait on that course for a bit.

I'm also gonna take everyone's advice and take a class that teaches on small boats, as there are several places that hire them out, and I can continue learning doing that on my own after I finish the course. It'd also be fun to do that with my kids as they're keen to learn as well.

If I feel the need, and time permits, I'll check out the Richmond races as some of you mentioned. 

Hopefully between all those things, in a year or two I'll be comfortable enough to go out on our own.

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