by David "Shorty" Routh

First Time/Newbie Sailor Advice

How To Sail, The Easy Way
Point the boat where you want to go, and trim the sails till they stop flapping. Ofcourse there are many details that you will learn along the way, but essentially that is all there is to it. There are many books on how to sail, and many web pages. I think the best way to learn to sail is with someone else, so ask around & post up to the yahoo groups to find someone to help you in person. And the PDRacer just happens to be able to carry a 2nd adult, so you can invite them along on your newly built boat. :)

The Dream
Sailing is a dreaming sport, and we usually dream all sorts of expectations for a sailboat. Then the first time we launch it, we find out what it is really like, and become very discouraged at our dreams being ruined by reality. Can almost guarantee you will hate every sailboat you try, on the first 3 times you have it out. Each sailboat performs differently, has different capabilities and limits, and has it's own personality that you have to get used to. What you need to do is understand the boat, objectively think about what the real problems are, and work on fixing those problems, and trying your boat again. Unfortunately many sailors become so discouraged on those first couple trips, that they end up getting rid of the boat, only to regret it later and then going back to get (or build) another to give it a proper try.

Understanding Types Of Sailor
Sailing is a sport that is more than just being on the water and wiggling the stick. It is a sport that starts off with a dream, and reaches as far as a life encompasing home on the water. I am explaining these different types of sailors to help you understand our hobby, and to encourage you to feel better about the part of the hobby you are interested in. It is OK to just enjoy one part of sailing -- this is just a hobby. For me, I enjoy it all, but mostly enjoy being around all type of sailors and going to messabouts.

  • "The Dreamer" - A person who is mostly interested in looking at boat plans, pictures, and talking about the good and bad charactaristics of a boat. Often they don't own a boat, bum rides from others, and have a huge stack of boat plans, every book on the planet, and CD's full of pictures. Very fun to talk with, you can discuss off into dream land for hours with them.
  • "The Builder" - In a cloud of sawdust, you can find the builder hard at work on the next boat. There really are a couple types of builders, one is a boat factory that enjoys producing many boats, the other is the artist, spending thousands of hours on a museum quality boat with hundreds of details. Launch day comes (usually at a messabout), and sailors from all over flock to see the new boat. At the end of the day, the builder is already thinking about the next boat he is going to build, and what new home his current master piece is going to.
  • "The Sailor" - Just for the love of it, he launches his boat and becomes part of the wind and water. Feeling every shift, trimming the sails just right, adjusting every control, he moves with nature. Doesn't matter to him if he never goes far from his launch point, he could enjoy sailing in cow pond (a pond only big enough to hold drinking water for cows).
  • "The Racer" - Tacking back and forth, the sharp eye reads the field taking in every boat's position, the wind direction and is continually accessing the mental database of what happened last time. Almost a primal feeling, the pack animals move upwind towards that empty chlorox bottle as if it were made from gold. All those evenings spent over the past couple of weeks making a new sail rig to drive my boat faster, is it working? Do I need to work on my tactics? It is all fun, especially when you loose - for that is the time you have something to work on. Chasing your own personal nemesis is an incredible feeling, especially when you can have lunch right after the race and he will give you advice on how beat him.
  • "The Weekender" - Found in bondage during the week, wrapped in fax paper, tied with Cat5e networking cable, and gagged with a phone, the weekender checks the weather report Friday night for a go signal. If the conditions are right, you won't be able to contact him till Monday morning because he will sever his ties from the rest of the world and dissapear, launching from civilization and sailing to a deserted place on the far side of the world, or atleast as far as he can get in a single day. Anchoring in his own personal paradise, he takes in the surrounding area while eating something right from the can. As night falls the lap-lap on the hull and gentle rocking puts him to sleep. He knows that he has to come back to reality by Monday morning, but for the the weekend he is going to enjoy every minute away from it all.
  • "The Voyager" - Constantly looking at maps, the voyager is searching for the next place to go. Calculator and map scale in hand, he trys to figure how much time he has, and how far he can get. On launch day he sets out for his battle with mother nature, testing to see who will win today, and how many miles he can put under the keel. Upon reaching the coveted destination, he marks his spot by leaving a geocache, or tying a ribbon on a tree, or soemthing like that, for he has made it.
  • "The Live Aboard" - Every sailor has the dream, and the live aboard figured out a way, and had the guts to make it happen.

More That One Sailboat
It is OK to have more than one sailboat !! I don't know why, but we sailors keep thinking that we have to own only ONE sailboat, and be loyal & faithful to it. Yes, we do give them girl names, but that doesn't mean they are women that we have to get married to and have an exclusive relationship with? Each boat has it's own capabilities and charactaristics. With understanding of each boat's compromises, you can see how each boat is good for a certain purpose.

The PDRacer is a very simple boat that you can launch very quickly, it is very small so you can store it out of the way, but it is big enough to comfortably carry a 2nd person, and performs best in protected water. There are many times when you have a couple hours to go sailing, and the weather is just right, so the PDRacer would be great for those times. With the racing class, you can be a part of group and do fun sailing activities with others. The best part is when you loose a race, because that gives you motivation with clear goals and a perfect opportunity to tinker with your boat, and talk to others about figuring out and fixing the problems.