Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 46

Thread: Recommendations for sailboat for novice sailors

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    501

    Recommendations for sailboat for novice sailors

    Hello,

    Iím looking for advice and recommendations for a good plan or kit to construct a sailboat for a novice crew.

    My 10yo daughter went to sailing camp last summer and had a blast. It was a skills based camp that eventually leads to racing and ASA certification. They used what appeared to be small dinghies that were considered pretty stable and relatively easy to right if capsized. We had been planning on her attending again this year, but with limited class sizes due to coronavirus she has been waitlisted for every session.

    Since my wife and I would also like to learn to sail, we thought this may be an opportunity for our family to do something together. The crux of this whole plan is that, other than my daughters experience, none of us have sailing experience. Our sailing will be on smaller reservoirs so the it will be predominantly flat water with minimal waves (although motorboat wakes could be present). While I know the best way to get started is from someone who knows how to sail, given coronavirus precautions we will be teaching ourselves.

    From an experience perspective I have small watercraft (including watercraft safety) experience with canoes, kayaks, rowing shells, and outboard powered skiffs. From a woodworking perspective directly related to boats, I have built a strip built kayak and have helped repair wooden rowing shells.

    Iím looking for something that will handle 2 adults and 2 children but can easily be managed with a crew of 2 or even solo. It should be stable but be manageable to right if capsized. Speed is not a performance factor. Ideally, it should be easy to transport (our only capable vehicle is a Honda Odyssey mini-van with a towing capacity of 3000-3500 and without a hitch at this point), and light enough to easily get into and out of the water. Iíd prefer a quicker build but do not want a disposable boat either. Something we could be proud to give away or sell when we upgrade to something else (like a daysailer). Cost is also a factor.

    I have considered used boats, although I still need recommendations, but from what Iíve seen many or most in the sub $2k price range look like they need quite a bit of work. I also like the idea of building a boat together with my daughter since we will have so much time together for the foreseeable future. However, I would consider a used boat if the price/condition was right.

    What do you all think? Iíd appreciate any and all suggestions.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    280
    I’ve been sailing since I was a kid and have maintained, co-owned or owned a sailboat for most of the last 45 years. I’ve built two small sailing dinghies as well. My advice is that if you want to learn to sail as the primary goal, rather than build a boat, you should buy a used boat and get on the water. I think it would be next to impossible to build a boat for less $$$ than you can find an decent older used one for. Fibreglass lasts a long time. If you want a father/ daughter project you can engage her in helping clean and spruce up the older boat. Whatever boat you buy, you should look closely at the condition of the sails, rigging and motor (if there is one) as those items can add up quickly if they need replacement.
    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,174
    What is your size, and how athletic are you. I've been sailing most of my life, and can sail anything that floats, and some things that don't. My Wife and I have taught sailing lessons on anything from Sailboards (we were Windsurfer Master Instructors in the early '80's), to big boats, and catamarans (raced professionally).

    I would suggest to learn to be a proficient sailor yourself, before dragging the family along. Take lessons (shouldn't take many), or if you live near water, buy a used Laser if you are fairly athletic, and not unusually small. Most of the best sailors in the World started on a Laser. They make different sized rigs for different body weights. If your Daughter enjoyed sailing an Optimist at camp, she'll love the small rig Laser when she's a little bigger.

    Lasers have gotten more expensive since it became an Olympic class, but there are thousands of used ones around. Don't get one with a soft hull, or hull that leaks. You want to be able to sail, and not have to work on the boat.

    I would advise to become a proficient sailor before deciding which design boat to construct. There are so Many different designs because there are so many different requirements, and you don't have any valid requirements if you don't know how to safely get out, and back, and have fun in the process. It's one of those things that's simple, once you know how, but it's far from simple when you first start. Most who start decide it's not for them.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 06-05-2020 at 4:22 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    280
    I agree with Tom that you should develop some skills and experience before deciding to build a boat. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time and money building the wrong boat for you.
    In my experience, the biggest reason families stop sailing is that Dad didn’t develop the skills he needed and didn’t recognize his limitations. The result is he scared the crap out of Mom and the kids and, poof, sailing life is over.
    I suggest a simple boat, some coaching, and carefully choosing the weather on sailing days with the family.
    Last edited by David Publicover; 06-05-2020 at 4:50 PM. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    501
    Thank you all for your responses!

    I Just looked into joining the yacht club that my daughter attended camp at last year. I am actually surprised how little it costs to join. They have weekly racing and potlucks. It has the feeling of a family summer camp. It also includes onsite boat storage. My wife and I may go this route as it will give us access to other sailing families and the potential to purchase user gear including boats. It also sounds like quite often skippers will enlist a crew of other members for some of the less competitive races and many of them are more than happy to take inexperienced crew members. There are adult classes, but being that we are located in central Ohio away from major sailing destinations, and the fact that this club is on the smaller size to begin with, the offering of adult classes is limited and the current summers classes do not fit into our schedule as we don’t have any childcare for our youngest so that my wife and I could both attend.

    As for deciding this may or may not be the sport for me or my family, I’m pretty confident it will be a good fit. My wife and I forged our relationship traveling the west sleeping out of a van, and backcountry travel including weeklong backpacking trips and canoe trips. I’ve lived out of a pack for several months on the Appalachian Trail and also did a fair amount of mountaineering and climbing. It’s uncanny the number of climbers who end up “retiring” on the water in a sailboat. When you think about it, it actually makes sense as sailing and climbing/mountaineering share a lot of the same skills; self sufficiency, discipline, risk assessment and management, and rope work, just to name a few. Then there’s my love affair with wood and restoring old rusty things and I’m pretty sure there’s a place for me in sailing.

    However, you have all brought up a common theme and one which does make a lot of sense. Learning to sail and getting a chance to sail different designs before investing the time/money in constructing one, may be a wise choice.

    Another interesting idea I read on another thread in either this forum or over at wooden boat magazines forum, was to build a dingy that would work well to travel back and forth between shore and a larger boat. That way, if we ever take the leap to something larger that we can take out for a few days or more (my dream) the dingy gets to ride along and still gets regular use. Are there any classic designs that would serve this purpose. Something that could be sailed, rowed, or even used with a small outboard motor?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,174
    Sounds like it will be a good fit. I would completely not even spend time thinking about what boat you will need in the future, and certainly not which one to build.

    To become a proficient sailor, you need to be able to sail the boat while you are watching the water upwind, and all around. To do this, you have to get your eyes off the boat. To start with, everyone is watching the boat. It's not mostly about the boat. It's about using what wind you have, or what wind you will have next.

    You certainly have to learn to understand everything about the boat, but that only comes with experience.

    You are most fortunate to have a club nearby. Use it. There will be much help available there. Tune in to the Laser sailors. You might not be a fit with the group, but there is a lot of information there. When I was actively racing a Laser, my practice sessions here on the lake would include 100 fast tacks going upwind, and 100 roll-jibes coming back downwind, in all conditions. Some decades later, I can sail a big boat in the ocean at night, while I'm asleep.

    My BIL did just that with building a small dinghy. I helped him. He now lives in a development at Beaufort that has a marina to keep his big boat. Sadly, some hurricane took the dinghy off the rack, never to be seen again, but I forget which one.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,174
    The Summer while I was building our house, my Wife (wasn't quite yet then my Wife) and I lived in a tent on a private cove on this lake. We had a campfire on the beach most nights, and kept a Laser rigged up, and laid over on the beach. It ruined that sail, but all I had to do was flip it up, and go. That was 1979, and this lake hadn't been built up much by then. We sailed many nights that Summer.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    280
    When the time comes, a great little dinghy that is fun and pretty easy to build is a Nutshell Pram. You can probably still find the plans for that through the WoodenBoat site. I would not rush into that though as there may be better choices depending on your families level of interest as they develop their skills. Some families get hooked on racing, some never race but love cruising to new places. Horses for courses....
    Joining a family friendly yacht club seems like a great idea.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    501
    While the clubs focus is on racing -according to their website they they routinely race Lasers as well as Comets, Thistles, Daysailer, Lidos, and Lightnings- and my aspiration is more towards cruising, I figure the basics of sailing should transfer that direction eventually. Again, being in the middle of Ohio, opportunities to cruise are not plentiful. Now, we do live just a few hours south of Lake Erie. When the time comes, if we are still in Ohio, that is where we would likely have a cruising sailboat.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,174
    Nothing will make you a better sailor in general, than racing. Even if you don't continue with it. Start with the Laser. Your family will thank you later, even if they won't understand. The other classes there, you will probably decide to pass on, if you don't take to racing the Laser. They are all, even the Daysailer, more complicated than the Laser.

    Simple is best to start with, as is a very reactive boat like the lightweight Laser. And don't expect to do very good racing to start with. All of us were at the back of the fleet our first races.

    You didn't answer the size, and athleticism question. They matter with a Laser. When I was a young man, racing a Laser, I didn't weigh much over 150 pounds, and I couldn't hang with the big boys upwind. It mostly only matters in strong winds, but they used to have Nationals, and Worlds in places with strong wind. For club racing, regardless of size, you will have some conditions that suit you, at some times.

    There is, and has never been a better boat for developing a good tiller hand than the Laser. I was known as Half Knot back when I was helping deliver big racing boats up, and down the East Coast, because I could keep from stalling the rudder on a 50 footer in big waves. Half Knot because I was a half knot faster than the others, in my sleep. Might sound like bragging, but it's true, or at least it was one night. All those other guys had only sailed big boats. My tiller hand was developed in a Laser.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 06-05-2020 at 7:21 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,174
    One part I didn't address is the athleticism required for sailing a Laser. You will capsize a lot. You have to be able to be comfortable in the water, right the boat, and get back in. It's a lightweight, powerful little boat. I've capsized one hundreds of times. Maybe even more than hundreds. By now, I rarely capsize, but when pushing the edge, to learn different maneuvers, and things like sailing by the lee, you end up going over a lot. Back when I was practicing, I got to the point, at some point, that I didn't get wet any more. I could feel when upright was going to be lost, slip over the gunwale onto the daggerboard, and flip the boat back up.

    My Wife, and I were racing a Vanguard 15, with boats provided by the company for the first time once. It was planing conditions. Pam couldn't get the board up rounding the mark, but we were in a group of three leaders, and staying with them planing downwind towards the next mark. It tripped over the daggerboard at the bottom of a wave, and we capsized. I didn't get wet. I drug Pam back in the boat as it righted, and we didn't lose a place. She made sure she could get the board up the rest of the weekend.

    So, the point of this relative to the Laser asks for some athleticism, and comfort in the water. You will get wet. If this is not okay, look on to some other class of boat.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    501
    Thank you for your input Tom!

    The only problem I see with the laser is the inability to get on the water with my whole family (2 adults and both children) when cruising. The investment and the drive to do this at this time is the current lack of summer camps and activities due the situation with coronavirus. While a Laser may be the best boat to learn to sail single handed it does not appear ideal for 2 people to race and a 4 person cruise would probably not be a good idea even if its even possible. I suppose we could consider 2 Lasers, but there are some practical issues that would need to be worked out first including transporting and storing multiple boats.

    We did head to the sailing club tonight and received a warm welcome. We will be heading back to the weekly race on Sunday. Apparently, that is by far the busiest day of the week and almost all of the boats I mentioned mentioned in a previous post will be on the water at some point during the day. All of the club members present tonight implied that it shouldn’t be too hard to get out on the water to crew any of the boats and begin to get a feel for them.

    There were a bunch of trailered Lasers there tonight. I didn’t inquire, but it would not surprise me if some of them may be property of the club and available for use by club members. If so, that may be the best of both worlds if we decide to buy a bigger boat.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,174
    The Laser doesn't need to be a long term deal. Any amount of time you can put in one will be a benefit. It will be important for your family for you to become a competent sailor, not only for their enjoyment, but for their safety.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    280
    There is no doubt that a Laser is a great boat. However, it might not be an ideal family boat. There are a ton of small daysailers that would be capable of taking your whole family on the lake. Look for an easy to sail model as opposed to a racer that requires a lot of skill to keep moving or under control. I’m sure that there is a variety of boats at the club you can look at and maybe bum a ride on to learn more. Sailors, like woodworkers, are usually pretty helpful to the new guy who wants to learn. That can also spend your money pretty fast lol! You can hone individual skills racing with club members or finding a way to get into their sailing programs.
    It’s very unlikely that your first boat will be your last boat if your family has positive experiences and takes to the lifestyle.
    Last edited by David Publicover; 06-06-2020 at 5:58 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,211
    Tom isn't saying to buy a laser for a family boat. He is saying if you want to have fun with your family, you need to know how to sail first. The place to learn to sail is a laser. They are cheap, bulletproof, and a heck of a lot of fun.

    If you don't learn to sail first you will be frustrated when you try to sail with the family on a larger boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Publicover View Post
    There is no doubt that a Laser is a great boat. However, it might not be an ideal family boat. There are a ton of small daysailers that would be capable of taking your whole family on the lake. Look for an easy to sail model as opposed to a racer that requires a lot of skill to keep moving or under control. I’m sure that there is a variety of boats at the club you can look at and maybe bum a ride on to learn more. Sailors, like woodworkers, are usually pretty helpful to the new guy who wants to learn. That can also spend your money pretty fast lol! You can hone individual skills racing with club members or finding a way to get into their sailing programs.
    It’s very unlikely that your first boat will be your last boat if your family has positive experiences and takes to the lifestyle.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •