How safe is it for my inexperienced friend to sail?

Ten years ago he took a three month sailing course and received his certificate of competency. He says he has no sailing experience because he doesn't remember anything he learned and he just bought his first sailboat last year. He has a 12 meter (approximately 37 foot) sailboat located at a port in Liguria, Italy. He's taken the boat no more than 5 miles out to sea a few times and another time to move from one port to another in the same region. It took him 12 hours to sail the short distance from one port to the next becasue the wind was against him. (I don't know the exact distance, but it seems to be no more than 50 miles by land and he sailed the coast).

He says he paid some sailors to give him a few lessons and got tired of paying them and decided he wants to learn on his own. The problem is, he doesn't go out and practice. The boat stays at the port. He wants to wait until the summer for the warm weather. He says he will learn through experience and plans on sailing to maybe Greece, France, Spain or Sardinia.

Correct me if I'm wrong, because I'm not a sailor, but I think this is dangerous. I told him he should take lessons again and he refuses. I think it's dangerous for him to sail such a great distance before gaining experience. In the fall he plans on sailing around the world alone or with a friend with no sailing experience. I heard it's best to learn to sail on a smaller boat than his and that his size boat could be hard to handle alone. I also don't think he should wait for the summer to start practicing, because the sea is cold in any season.

I think he's embarking on something very dangerous and he's putting himself and others at risk. I'm worried.

Any experienced sailors out there with an opinion or words of wisdom?

10 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Capt. John is 99.8% right on this one. A 37 ft. is a pretty safe boat. I learned by doing as do most sailors. When i taught sailing years ago, I would insist the student take the helm and sail from the first day. I'd just watch, and give few instructions. The Student would make a ton of mistakes, but in doing so they learned what not to do. So, when I began to give them instructions they paid attention, and it didn't take long before they where competent enough to learn on their own.

    I would agree that he should wait for summer. There are several reasons for this. Survival in goes way up in water 20 F. degrees warmer. There will be more boats out in summer, which means more and quicker help if needed. The most dangerous winds are in winter and spring.......summer winds are always lighter (except for thunder storms) which are to be avoided.

    We see a lot of "Sail the World" hopes and dreams on Yahoo Answers. The reality is he is unlikely to attempt it, until he feels hes ready, and most of the time.......that never happens. See: Capt. Johns edit.

  • ben
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    Several good answers already. Long distance is not really an issue. Deep water is good, hard edges are the problem. If he can handle the Med marinas now you can stop worrying.

    Sailing on a racing boat will teach him to squeeze an extra 1% speed out of the boat whilst working hard and having a skipper shout and scream.

    Absolutely agree about waiting for warm weather. Sailing in the med is oft described as " motoring between gales"

    Source(s): Not as many miles as some here but some ocean passages.
  • 8 years ago

    some good advise here. I'd try crewing with some of the locals, dingy sailing, classes, reading whatever you can get your hands on, short trips with your own boat, and then possibly crewing with a passage maker first. Usually the latter can be done cheaply (sometimes just for food expense, or if they are short handed, even for free). Make sure and always know where you are on your charts, ask locals for knowledge about wrecks and other uncharted hazards, be well versed in anchoring (what kind of tackle handles what bottoms and how to check the bottom type/depth), and storm survival techniques. Oh, don't forget your man overboard drills also (hint: replace your steel lifelines w/spectra so you can cut them away with a knife and use a poly tarp for the victim to swim into then you can roll/winch them up into the boat like a burrito from lines tied to the outside grommets, even if they are injured)

    Source(s): personal experience.
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  • 8 years ago

    It's ok. A boat that size has an engine. He should not have any hesitation to use the engine and drop sails anytime he gets unsure.

    For some refresher he should get someone with experience to go out for an afternoon.

    The important thing to get back up to speed on is navigation and rules of the road. Get a copy of "Chapman's" book on boat handling if he doesn't have one. Take a classroom course like 10 evenings or a couple of weekends. Both of you, you'll feel a lot better.

    Source(s): Years on the water.
  • 8 years ago

    Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!

    The med can be not as safe as people here think.

    It would make more sense if he join a med based sailing club and sailed with a more experienced friend!

    Till he has a bit more knowledge under his belt!

    If he does not carry this out I will expect to be reading of yet one more yachting tragedy!

    The most telling line is " He paid some sailor's to give him some lessons then got tired of paying them"

    Sailing is not a cheap hobby which he is clearly finding out, and the thought of two inexperienced people attempting a round the world voyage would give any normal person night mares!

    scattered around the Med and the world are the wrecks of Yachts that belonged to people who had the same idea some survived it but many did not!

  • 8 years ago

    He is in good shape to go. . . As long as someone can handle their vessel safely - and know the rules or the road, they are good to go. For sure, the only way to get experience is by doing. He in fact probably has no less experience then most of us - when we took off and sailed into the unknown.

    My oldest son and I used to give lessons some years ago. . . Only we were pretty 'restrictive' about who we gave lessons to - and that was only for 'couples' with little or no experience with the dream, and a plan, and the determination to sail off into the sunset. In a rather 'crash course' total submersion method of teaching and learning - starting with 'dinghy sailing' and moving up to our customers own vessel for 'off shore over night' lessons - all were good to go in less then 2 to 3 weeks - depending on how much time they were able to devote to it.

    FYI - People (even many boaters) that will tell you it take 6 months or even years of study and experience - are those that have never done it - and never will. Fact is, sailing is quite easy. It is, after all, the most primitive form of long distance travel known to man. Additionally, it truly does require much-much more faith, then finance. Most of the worlds most accomplished sailors today, in fact, are self taught - and with all the GPS and technology - we have more teenagers & senior citizens sailing around the world then anytime in our history.


    PS - That big bad wolf that is waiting 'out there' is not near as big or dangerous as the one in your imagination. Fear of the unknown is much like paying taxes on income you haven't earned yet.

    Sadly, I know many more boaters with finances, the boat, the experience, and the desire - that will never leave shore - simply because they don't have 'the faith'.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    It's like riding a bike , once you have learned to do it it stays with you , although you might wobble about a lot after a long layoff , you soon get it all back .

    50 Miles to windward means tacking to get there ( zig zagging upwind ) so that is a fair test , especially on something that big .

    As for the rest of it , I wouldn't give it too much heed , most skippers dream , and when you buy a boat you basically are buying a Dream .

    Time to worry is when he loads a truckfull of toilet rolls aboard , THEN you know the intentions are serious .

  • 8 years ago

    There is no substitute for experience. Encourage him to sail as much as possible in a variety of weather conditions, even if its for short trips, day and night. Suggest he join the crew of a race team locally.

    Source(s): 40 years of experience.
  • levay
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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