Learning to Sail

In the summer of 2018 we were traveling around the Costa Brava region of Catalonia and kept seeing the beautiful calas (coves) that were unaccessable by foot.

This image inspired our solution to this little problem.

The only and best way to the calas was by boat. This begin a process that started as soon as I returned from Europe.

Learning to sail is not a forgein concept; I had windsurfed when I moved to Southern California in 1996. The concept of wind powered sports is not new to me. We figured that we should get started learning to sail as soon as possible: our move to Europe date is mid-2020 and we want to have enough experience and time on boats to decide if we actually enjoy it and can picture using one as home for four or five months a year. We don’t want to learn this after going to the time and expense of buying a boat and then risking suffering that we don’t actually enjoy the experience when it is easy enough to figure all this out beforehand. The other thing is we want to get enough time on and around boats to form opinions about configuration, size, condition. We would learn to sail and prepare for our futures at the same time.

I enrolled basic sailing class at Advetura Sailing in Dana Point CA. The deal there is you take the class and join the club in order to charter a sail boat from the club. They’ve got 20 or so boats for charter. It’s a pretty straightforward process to get through the basic sailing class (12 hours classroom 12 hours lab on a boat) although it took me some time to break back into my working schedule to take the test. Fortunately I passed.

Basic sailing class complete I was entitled to charter two of the club owned boats: ME II ME II and Lady Luck. A 30’ Catalina and 27’ Newport respectively. They are basic boats that let you get experience being captain. After three charters total on the two basic boats moving on to other boats up to 32’ is possible. I think those first three charters show you can get the boat out of slip and out to the ocean and then back without wrecking anything.

Since passing the class we’ve chartered sail boats in four occasions. Limited to day sailing (not out allowed after dark) until I pass an upcoming coastal navigation class. We’ve been on ME II ME II twice, Lady Luck, and Mona Kai a 32 foot Hunter.

The structure of the club required that I complete 3 charters in basic sailboats before being allowed to move up to a larger more expensive boat. Those first three charters, ME II ME II, Lady Luck met the requirement for moving up to 32 foot boats. After a total of five charters I’ll have access to the entire fleet of boats up to 32 feet in length.

Before you’re allowed out after sunset with a charter coastal navigation is a required course. It’s 12 hours of classroom followed by a test. Once I complete the navigation class we are good to go for multi-day charters. I’m signed up already and will complete the class January 23rd. I plan to be prepared to take the test right away so we can charter overnight the weekend of Febuary 1st.

We are really looking forward to taking a weeklong charter the end of March (spring break) out to Catalina island and around thereabouts. But first, we’ll weekend to Catalina. Hoping to pull this weekend together in January, the rough sail plan is:

  • Friday evening drive to Dana Point, load the boat and spend the night.
  • Up early Saturday, motor/sail to either Avalon or Isthmus Cove on Catalina Island. There early enough to enjoy a afternoon and evening on the island.
  • Sunday, up and out of the mooring by 11 or so to catch some westerlies to blow us back to Dana Point in the early evening.

This will let us figure out the multi-day charter process, what to bring, what to leave at home.

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