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Teaching it --- useful tips?


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Sailing.  I've taught it off and on over the years, or done lessons on the water, and on land.  

Presently I'm helping out occasionally at the new Community Sailing program here in "Nola".  Gig tomorrow for "adult introduction to sailing (keelboats)", 2 hours.  It'll be on land for the first session, parts of the boat and sails, how it works on various points of sail, diagrams to give out on both.  

Keelboats are Freedom 21, a bunch of 420s, couple of Lasers, and one small 26-foot overnighter.  Very nice facility.  And the marina location means frequent tacks or jibes, it has historically been a "sailing marina", not just a marina with some (auxiliary) sailboats.  Getting from dock to "outside" Lake means sailing west, then north, then east.  Which makes for good boathandling experience in tight quarters, borne of necessity.

So--Tell them how it works reaching, running, beating, the "push" versus the "pull" aspect of wind and sails. Bernoulli's principle if any aviators or engineers in the (small) crowd.  If time, rig up a 420, and breeze permitting, rotate it around on the dolly to illustrate the points of sail and trim on an actual boat.

 

 Enough blabbing from me.  Any particular tips or ideas or phrases for the beginner on-shore class that you've learned or used  and might suggest, in keeping interest and attention alive for the students?  And in not laying too much on them in the first session?  Or too little?  thanks for any wisdom or insight.

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Quick thought: Biggest barrier for really new newbies is the wind. Most of them don't understand that sailors are constantly and unconsciously aware of direction and variation. 

So, in the parking lot, the most basic and useful skill newbies appreciate is learning to "see" the breeze . . .

Get them to call the direction and changes, using the feel of the breeze on their cheeks, and make it a game.

They'll go home and impress their fellows with their new found nautical skills :) 

(this also helps the instructor learn who needs what kind of help)

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7 minutes ago, stief said:

Quick thought: Biggest barrier for really new newbies is the wind. Most of them don't understand that sailors are constantly and unconsciously aware of direction and variation. 

+1

 

Continually amazed at how unconscious this is for folks who sail - and how invisible it is to people who don't.

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Another quick bit that students find cool--have then hold two pieces of paper slightly apart (finger-width works), and see if they can blow between them to get the two pieces to separate. They are usually puzzled when the pieces counter-intuitively want to come together. 

Good way to teach that sails can suck, not just blow :) . Easier than aerodynamic theory.

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52 minutes ago, nolatom said:

rig up a 420, and breeze permitting, rotate it around on the dolly to illustrate the points of sail and trim on an actual boat.

 

Start with this - they are much more likely to absorb your blabbering with "show and tell" instead of a lecture.  After they see what happens you can go back through the theory and they have the pictures.

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4 minutes ago, Breamerly said:

+1

Continually amazed at how unconscious this is for folks who sail - and how invisible it is to people who don't.

Too, newbies find it cool calling gusts on the water, once they can "see" gusts coming by the catspaws (etc) 

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9 minutes ago, stief said:

Too, newbies find it cool calling gusts on the water, once they can "see" gusts coming by the catspaws (etc) 

Even sailing with my significant other, who has been sailing with me of and on for 5+ years, I notice she has to 'watch' the wind in a way I just don't. I feel where the wind is coming from, and by looking at the sails I can see where it is in relation to the (and vice-versa). She has that sometimes - but other times I can see she still has to stop, look at where it's coming from, then orient that to the centerline of the boat and the set of the sails.

Still remember sailing as a teenager with a crusty old wooden boat fella who mocked me for looking at the anemometer when the sails luffed. 

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Grateful for the tips so far, thanks gang. 

 I'm aware there are different learning "styles"--visual, kinetic, auditory, reading/writing---because I looked it up.  So I guess I try to shape teaching or hands-on accordingly, but I probably don't.  Honestly, I prefer to take them out, let them steer and trim and ease and tack and jibe their asses off, then let them read and find out afterwards how the book is "right".   Maybe because that's how I learned. 

Had a Turnabout back in the stone age, no lessons other than sailing with family where Dad usually steered.  The kids at the Pleon YC got the classroom teaching, I, a "townie", didn't, just kept sailing that little 9-footer until I knew it as if i was wearing it for clothes.  Then started racing and getting killed by the better ones (the Doyle brothers, among others) on boatspeed and tactics, til I learned those the hard way.  Then dinghy racing in  College, then Coaching them during grad school.

I still don't have an ASA Cert, it didn't exist back then.  I suppose I should.

I don't suggest this as the right way.  It just happened to work though.  But I have to realize not everyone will want to do it in that order.

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My $.02 is to connect the compass to the wind and landmarks. Throw in brief info concerning typical prevailing conditions / compass directions and what usually happens when other than typical weather is afoot.

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47 minutes ago, stief said:

Quick thought: Biggest barrier for really new newbies is the wind. Most of them don't understand that sailors are constantly and unconsciously aware of direction and variation. 

+1

For really-really-really newbies, before getting on a boat I put a fan (like, literally, an electric fan) on a table and tell them it's where the wind comes from.  Gives them a context for understanding going upwind (towards the fan), tacking (turning the boat so the fan goes from one side of the bow to the other), etc. 

Really shallow, but super-effective, and it "sticks" - once we get out on the water, if a student is confused I ask "ok, so, where's the fan right now?"... and when they get good at paying attention to where the wind is coming from, a lot of other stuff gets unlocked.

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I agree, keep whiteboard time in the first session to a minimum. Getting out into the yard with a rigged 420 on a dolly is more important than explaining Bernoulli. You can teach parts of the boat, terminology (port, starboard, etc.), wind direction, points of sail and sail trim in that setting probably more effectively than in the classroom.

Might emphasize "when in doubt, let it out." Ease sheets until the sail starts to luff, then trim in until they just stop. I expect most beginners tend to overtrim.

One of the first things my dad taught me was if things start to go pear-shaped, push everything (tiller, sheets) away from you.

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Good stuff, i teach informally and welcome being taught. Since I mainly race I like to start with my 3 rules

1. have fun

2. be competitive

3. learn something   

  I strive for those every time I go out.  The worst to teach are those who bought a boat with all the electronics and won't get their head out of the boat - a sail maker years ago shared how his coach would blindfold him to learn how to feel.  So much has to be felt beyond what can be seen. If someone wants to learn I try to ask questions to ascertain what they know as it then helps to correct anything wrong right away.  The best learning is a mix of theory and practical as you mentioned earlier better to get some practical in then study to see how it applies and reinforce it.  Asking questions is helpful also since if they can't explain it they don't really know it (also applies to me as I have learned over the years).  Someone somewhere also explained the only way to really know something is to teach it and students coaching each other gets that started as well.

And remember #1 is the most important.

 

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14 minutes ago, nolatom said:

...take them out, let them steer and trim and ease and tack and jibe their asses off, then let them read and find out afterwards how the book is "right"

IME, that works great with kids who have sponges for brains and no conceptual barriers.  For older learners, people will tend to think of things in terms of "stuff I already know won't work", and it's sometimes difficult to get them around those barriers.

My approach (back in the day) was to layer the topics.  My theory was that there are a number of discrete steps in the journey, and until someone really "gets" a step the next one will be confusing.

So.... things like
-- steering (knowing which way the boat will turn when you move the tiller)
-- using that knowledge to adjust the boat's orientation to the wind
-- using that to add in adjusting the sails to suit the boat's direction
-- adding "feel" as a way of noticing that the sails and boat and wind are working together

...etc

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I've found that getting them to DO stuff is much more effective that telling or showing them. Boat parts & terminology... play "snipe hunt" with a short list of basic boat parts... rudder, tiller, boom, mast, side stay, fore stay, gun'l, port jib sheet, starboard, jib sheet, main halyard, centerboard, vang, jib halyard, main sheet... I have a box with little pieces of paper that they draw and hunt.

Rig and hoist the sail. Practice steering while in the slip. Practice tacking, once it looks like they've got some slight familiarity with steering.

The more familiar they are with the basic workings of the boat, BEFORE going out to do battle with the gods of wind and sea, the less they are going to struggle with yanking on the vang thinking it's the jib sheet, turning the wrong way into a crash gybe, etc etc.

The first on-water maneuver I like to teach is to bring the boat to a controlled stop.

We're getting geared up to do an adult sailing course this summer, hopefully it will work out

The main lesson I always go back to, once we're no longer struggling with "what does this rope do" and "how do I stop falling out of the boat," is WIND DIRECTION. For some reason this is very elusive for many people.

Warning: Always use the SAME simple terminology. One of the biggest blunders I always see in sailing classes is the instructors using 4 different words for the same thing. Yeah we have to learn that, at some point, "luff" means the front of the sail and it also means "turn the bow towards the wind (which way is the wind?)" and it means "head up" etc etc etc. Unless your goal is to confuse the students and convince them that sailing is impossible... and this seems to be the true goal of most sailing instructors I interact with, I think subconsciously it makes them feel smarter.... then DO NOT USE words you have not taught them, repeatedly.

Being a sailing instructor is kind of like being a stage manager. You have to do a lot of work that you will never never get credit for, to make everything seem easy and have student succeed.

FB- Doug

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Great point about terminology - understanding nomenclature is key to understanding any subject - makes me think of the scene in Princess Bride where Vizzini yells "pull that thing, no the other thing, sail faster".  When using words the student doesn't understand confusion follows. Then frustration.

 

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These are great ideas and viewpoints.  I know I'm stuck on land for this first class.  I'm a fill-in I think, so not sure if I'll keep teaching that adult group.

But there is also a high-school student class who have made it off the parking lot and into the keelboats.  Small rectangle of water to go back and forth in, then a narrow connecting "alley" to the next larger piece of marina water.  

One thing I noticed at first was a couple of them, when told Okay, tacking, push tiller away from you and then change side, would face aft while doing it.  Which in a way  would seem logical to them?  But once told "Nuh uh, face forward, and pass the tiller into the new hand behind your back", they soon they got downright graceful at it.  Teenagers learn fast.  And I'm happy to note that it's a decidedly mixed-race group.  

Even more basic, a few of them try to use their dominant hand/arm on the tiller on both tacks.  I tell them their (usually left) arm is going to become "smart", and equal to that trusty right arm.  Man, I'm grateful I'm not teaching them on a wheel.

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Well this is ironic.  Just got word tomorrow class is cancelled.  Ah well, there's next time... 

And your feedback is most welcome, and will last til the next outing and all the others after that.

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1 hour ago, tizak said:

My $.02 is to connect the compass to the wind and landmarks. Throw in brief info concerning typical prevailing conditions / compass directions and what usually happens when other than typical weather is afoot.

Which makes me realize everyone with an iPhone has that "utility" app that has a GPS-based compass, that most have never used.  I do use it.

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1 minute ago, nolatom said:

Which makes me realize everyone with an iPhone has that "utility" app that has a GPS-based compass, that most have never used.  I do use it.

Oho! Good, until the high-schoolers learn, often the hard way, that taking their phone out in a dinghy is not like in a car :P

Best wishes for your courses. So satisfying when a student suddenly 'gets it,' and advance from where they were towards where you know they want to be.

(and for nervous newbie instructors: who also learn like a doctor to run all plans through the 'do no harm' mantra)

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Sorry for this, but to have fun, pretend to try and keep a straight face, and tell the students that learning Japanese can help.

Then have them watch this video after they've tried the blow over a piece of paper trick. 

 

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2 hours ago, tizak said:

My $.02 is to connect the compass to the wind and landmarks. Throw in brief info concerning typical prevailing conditions / compass directions and what usually happens when other than typical weather is afoot.

just my opinion but this is too much theory.

You can sail small boats all summer without ever knowing - or needing to know - where 'north' is, or how weather works. With sailing student there is already a glut of theory/abstract stuff they have to absorb at the front end - why glom even more on

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I was going to take my kid out to shoot some baskets. But then I realized I had not taught them about the principals of ball inflation, ballistics and court markings.

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The best first lessons are not about boats, rigging, sails, rudder, wind or water - it is about creating confidence, self reliance and having a recovery plan.  Making new sailors to not be afraid of the water, of being in the water and recovering a boat that has fouled or capsized is gold.  Being taught how to manage a stressful situation starts at having confidence recovering from a problem or setback - a huge life skill. Slowing each student down after a capsize or fouled so they learn a planned recovery is far important than any other lesson you will teach them. These skill lessons and "tests" will make sailing classes fun and bonded through shared expereince which will pay off in their sailing future.

Wind, water and breakage are part of being on a boat. How a person learns to be composed and think during these times are what begins to makes great sailors. The boat, sail, how to steer, using a compass and how read the wind come later. Rules of the road later in stepped fashion.  Do not forget that many people do not know how to do things in real life, are rarely asked to engage with a vessel they put into motion that relies on what they directly effect nor are they taught life skills which stress taking on personal safety, can offer assistance to others and most importantly being situatually aware to see the big picture around them.

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13 minutes ago, Black Jack said:

The best first lessions are not about boats, rigging, sails, rudder, wind or water - it is about creating confidence, self reliance and having a recovery plan.  Making new sailors to not to be afraid of the water, of being in the water and recovering a boat that has fouled or capsized is gold.  Being taught how to manage a stressful situation starts at recovering from a problem or setback is a huge life skill. Slowing each student down after a capsize or fouled so they learn a planned recovery is far important than any other lesson you will teach them.

Wind, water and breakage are part of being on a boat. How a person learns to be composed and think during these times are what begins to makes great sailors.  This is the life skill you are teaching. The sail, how to steer, using a compass and how read the wind come later. Rules of the road later in stepped fashion.  Do not forget that many people do not know how to do things in real life, are rarely asked to engage with a vessel they put into motion that relies on what they directly effect nor are they taught life stills which stress personal safety, can offer assistance and most importantly being situatually aware to see the big picture around them.

Beginners right?

I start with a quick roundtable of "what are your goals for taking the class?"  I even as my 12 year old beginning double handed kids this.  Then I explain MY goals for the class. Some may not be the same, but that's ok, get everyone on the same page.  Besides, if all of them want to learn how to get back to their Significant Other who normally runs the boat if s/he falls off, well, you may change up your idea of teaching racing starts.

 and you have lasers available? How's the water temp? First thing just have them flip the boat, right it. Now they've experienced the worst there can be. Nothing to be afraid of.  Now they can learn.

 

 

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In thinking about this I would add ask why are you here? Background - I have a degree in teacher ed and realized that I would hate the profession because many don't even want to be there much less learn anything. Since it's not mandatory what Raz'r said, find out their goals and expectations and proceed from there. It's not a one size fits all.  I race a lot and some with hard core and some with folks just wanting an excuse to go sailing - I adjust my actions to fit in with theirs (the laid back started a couple of years ago and I had to deal with my frustrations) so we all get to have my 3 rules.  I view those races as cruising with a specific course and we are all happy.

edit: This is a fun thread and a big reason why I read these forums. Kudos to nolatom for an excellent question.

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4 hours ago, d'ranger said:

....... blindfold ...... 

This.  I taught kids and adults.  First lesson was blindfold everyone and have them point into the wind on land.

In the boat early on, usually 2nd lesson on the water, if the wind was medium light, take the tiller with the blindfold on.

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Really don't get linking a compass and landmarks to theory - they're not theoretical. My take is that knowing a little about where the wind is coming from, where you want to go and how the sails / rudder work is vital to reaching a destination and then getting back to where you came from.

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I’ve used an RC sailboat to show new sailors what’s up. Set up a W/L course and have them try to sail around it. They get to see how sailing works and can ask questions about mistakes they’ve made. 
 

After they can get around the course a few times then we learn to rig a boat and go out sailing for real.

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There are a bunch of mature, well respected syllabuses around for teaching learn to sail.   At a minimum I'd suggest do some googling and have a look at their basic modules if not pay to get them.  

I don't teach learn to sail but from memory most if not all of them start with an on land exercise on steering and how to pull the sail on so it doesn't flap.  (a flappy sail is an unhappy sail) and then just get them going from beam reach to beam reach between two marks. 

Things like capsizing doesn't get taught untill week 3 or 4 at least (from memory) 

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  • 1 month later...

Well,

I finally did do the first teaching session in  Adult Basic keelboat instruction" yesterday evening.  Four students, little to no sailing experience, all nice folks.  Two hours to teach them.

I gave out diagrams showing parts of the boat, and points of sail.  They gave it a quick look and then it was "okay, what's next".   Nice 10-12 out of the south, and we are on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  Keelboats in their slips, 420s on dollies. So we rolled out one of the latter, and all pitched in to get from sails rolled up in big bag, to sails raised, boat heading south, luffing.  So they learned about halyards first, and sheets slack.

Then we just rotated her clockwise slowly around in a circle, trim in at port tack close-hauled, then easing sails, reaching, eventually ddw, then jibe, start trimming in, broad reach beam reach etc etc until we were back up head to wind. This was good since it got everyone involved with sheets and sail trim, and turning the boat.  And made them aware of what it felt like to jibe (if you don't duck, you'll learn why they call it a boom, ha ha).  

With more than an hour remaining, out we went in one of the 20-foot Freedom keelboats. Good breeze, lots of course changes and sailhandling on all points of sail to get from slip to Lake, in a "box" shape heading west, then north, then east, and finally out past the breakwater and the Southern YC, into the "big water".  I think marina sailing teaches you way quicker than open water does, all your tacks, jibes, etc, are done for a demonstrable reason.  We're lucky to have a "sailing" marina with wide lanes.  We sailed kind of close to shore, which I think demonstrated our motion better than just looking at water (and makes the parked car folks on Lakeshore Drive jealous?).  Interest level remained high, and we made it in right at dusk.  So we we packed a lot into two hours.

They agreed out on the water that the 420 dolly demonstration was much more real to them than the paper diagram.  I encouraged them to look on the web nevertheless at any how-to-sail site, and weather gods willing, we will head out again tomorrow evening.  

I think I tend to teach "do it,  then read about it", rather than vice-versa.  I know that's not everyone's learning style.  

 

Thanks for your comments and ideas earlier in this thread, and I welcome any more.

 

 

 

 

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Lots of good suggestions above . . 

to me, the first thing to emphasize is safety - I'd show them a waist pack PFD which would be more tolerable to wear in NO heat. (see below) 

Also good to mix up the teaching approaches - reading, lecture, hands on, learn by doing. Not everyone learns the same way. As is suggested above, learn by doing is important for sailing. 

Keep it funny and fun. 

Give them a pop quiz every half hour or so . .  where is the wind ? direction ? velocity ? What tells are they using to answer that question ? (flags, water, smoke, trees, etc) 

I have introduced a number of people to sailing, several of whom have become MUCH better sailors than me. 

Check your ego at the door, or leave it in the car. 

Overton's M-16 Manual Inflatable Belt Pack - Gray - OS

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2 hours ago, nolatom said:

Well,

I finally did do the first teaching session in  Adult Basic keelboat instruction" yesterday evening.  Four students, little to no sailing experience, all nice folks.  Two hours to teach them.

I gave out diagrams showing parts of the boat, and points of sail.  They gave it a quick look and then it was "okay, what's next".   Nice 10-12 out of the south, and we are on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  Keelboats in their slips, 420s on dollies. So we rolled out one of the latter, and all pitched in to get from sails rolled up in big bag, to sails raised, boat heading south, luffing.  So they learned about halyards first, and sheets slack.

Then we just rotated her clockwise slowly around in a circle, trim in at port tack close-hauled, then easing sails, reaching, eventually ddw, then jibe, start trimming in, broad reach beam reach etc etc until we were back up head to wind. This was good since it got everyone involved with sheets and sail trim, and turning the boat.  And made them aware of what it felt like to jibe (if you don't duck, you'll learn why they call it a boom, ha ha).  

 

I think you've done what I would've suggested doing if I weren't so late to the party.  When learning to drive, do they teach you the fundamentals of an internal combustion engine and what makes the pistons go up and down?  No - they tell you what the care does when you push down on the pedals.

Likewise, I always think it's best to teach sailing newbies what to do instead of why they're doing it.  This rope is a sheet.  This one is a halyard.  The sheets do this.  The halyards do that.  You can know all the principles of physics involved and still not have a clue what all these stupid ropes do, and that would make you useless on a boat.  Fuck Bernoulli - just put the sail in the right place and watch the boat start to move.  Anyone who's learning to sail so they can go cruising will never give a damn about the physics; anyone who's learning so they can go racing will find it much easier to learn if they know what things are called and what they do.

About the only physics lesson worth giving in the beginning is that the boat can't go straight into the wind.  The rest, people just pick up as they go - but they'll never pick it up if they can't figure out the mystery of all the ropes.

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#1 for for learning sail control.

if in doubt, let it out.

My favorite part of teaching is when I can get someone to sail a keelboat close hauled, blindfolded while steering from the low side (flatish lake water 5 to 10 kts wind, especially with moderately changing strength and direction because of shore features. When a student can do that, they achieve enormous self satisfaction.  At that point the total concept of wind on skin, heel / power etc just seems to click.

And of course have fun.

 

 

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Every session we go down to the water. We talk about the theoretical forecast. We check our "flags"(anything that shows us wind speed/direction). Decide how to setup the boats, where to launch and sail on that day based upon the conditions.

I spend 15 minutes with a whiteboard and a small bath toy boat(looks like an optimist). If possible always put the board on the ground or table so everyone is looking down in plane view. keeping it vertical makes no sense. Go over the point of sail diagram with the no go zone. If they can get that concept they are way ahead.

On the shore boat demo. Show them how to steer not tacking. Steering. Point out the rudder, tiller, tiller extension. Then tell them never to look at them again. Explain the 50/50 choice of going left or right. Testing which way the boat will turn. Do not let them think. Only do. Explain that steering a boat is like riding a bike. 99% of the time the handlebars are in the center. This is steering. If you want to turn, mover the bar/tiller and ......wait. No fast jerky movements, the tiller is never more than a few degrees from center, until you tack or gybe.

Keeping it interesting. Explain them the differences between a plane, sailboat, submarine in that order. Planes fly thru air, boats fly sideways thru both air & water , subs fly thru water.  I'm talking basic lift like they experience in airplanes. Rudder, wings,foils/ sails. No complicated physics(until that one guy asks and you have the correct answers to tell him after class)

The most important thing I have learned in teaching sailing(or anything) "You don't know what they don't know". Make them ask you 3 questions as you go from section to section. 3 at the white board, 3 at the on water demo, 3 at the end. It forces them to think on the spot. It creates group discussions. It let's you know what they don't know. Ask them as a group to volunteer 3 questions about anything. If no one volunteers pick someone real quick, they will give you a blank stare, say we skip you and pick another. They will get the game eventually. I do it more on the water if I'm in the boat with them. 

Have fun, get creative. Teaching sailing is one of my passions.

 

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I use 2 basic lessons for beginners, hands on, no theory (at first).

Steering: I put them on the tiller sitting to weather with their inboard hand on the tiller and outboard arm over the lifeline, I have them steer for a point on land ahead and let them go- no explanation of right to go left etc, they push and pull on the tiller a couple of times and it soon becomes automatic. Explain it later.

Wind: I try to get them to forget about N, S, E & W. The only direction that counts is where is the wind coming from. On the dock have them turn their face directly into the wind a couple  of times. On the boat, point out that the tiny wavelets are going with the wind. They start to pick it up. 

Then, you can start having them trim/ease.

Talk about it on the dock later. 

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5 hours ago, nolatom said:

I think I tend to teach "do it,  then read about it", rather than vice-versa.  I know that's not everyone's learning style.  

It's pretty common.  Some people learn by doing, some reading, some listening, some watching.  The trick is using all four.  The risk of giving people a bunch of things to read upfront is they bury themselves in the notes and don't watch, listen, or do...

this is where things like whiteboards can play a role.  You can have students draw or write bullet points while you demonstrate.  Eg:  "here is a full rigged 420, let's see if we can draw it and name all the bits...".   They're doing things but looking at the boat and drawing, watching others, reading what's on the board, and listening to what others are saying.

The really great teachers at just about anything have two really great skills.  The first is this abillity to take in several learning modes in the one lesson plan.   The second is understanding what are the most basic elements you need to understand the concept.

it definitely sounds like you had a great lesson so well done.   I learned to sail as a pesky 7yo in the confines of a marina wall too ;)

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8 hours ago, Parma said:

drink & scream a lot 

show up late and hung over out of your mind . . 

seriously, some sailing "instructors" do that. 

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7 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:
16 hours ago, Parma said:

drink & scream a lot 

show up late and hung over out of your mind . . 

seriously, some sailing "instructors" do that. 

Well, that's how my grandfather taught my cousins and I... apparently something worked.

On a more serious note: It works very well to spend time familiarizing the student with the working parts of the boat. It's not "theory" it's like teaching student drivers what that big round thing and the pedals do.

It works very well to get them thinking about wind direction. There must be thousands of different methods, but once again, without the ability to observe wind direction, they will struggle and remain confused.

It also works very well to get them IN a boat and doing stuff, hands-on, out on the water. But you have to do it without scaring them or confusing them too much or embarrassing them.

It's like a magic trick. It's like stage-managing a play. It's also helping your student(s) become better people... to be a sailor is a life accomplishment.

FB- Doug

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An important safety tip for Learn to Sail that I forgot to mention earlier . . . 

and curiously, I have never seen it mentioned in sailing instructional materials  . . 

Stress to the students that about 80% of boating injuries occur while people 

are getting on or off the boat, and to take extra care while doing so. 

(And I can personally relate to that, having busted up myself pretty badly while so engaged.) 

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On 6/3/2021 at 7:41 AM, Latadjust said:

I use 2 basic lessons for beginners, hands on, no theory (at first).

Steering: I put them on the tiller sitting to weather with their inboard hand on the tiller and outboard arm over the lifeline, I have them steer for a point on land ahead and let them go- no explanation of right to go left etc, they push and pull on the tiller a couple of times and it soon becomes automatic. Explain it later.

Wind: I try to get them to forget about N, S, E & W. The only direction that counts is where is the wind coming from. On the dock have them turn their face directly into the wind a couple  of times. On the boat, point out that the tiny wavelets are going with the wind. They start to pick it up. 

Then, you can start having them trim/ease.

Talk about it on the dock later. 

Steering: The quickest way to get a newbie to understand how a tiller works is to put them in a dinghy with an outboard motor. In about 5 mins they will have it. Then you can start teaching them how to sail.

Wind: anyone teaching a newbie about wind talking about compass points should be dragged to the rigging lawn and repeatedly violated with a thick tiller.

 

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On 6/3/2021 at 4:28 AM, coyotepup said:

I think you've done what I would've suggested doing if I weren't so late to the party.  When learning to drive, do they teach you the fundamentals of an internal combustion engine and what makes the pistons go up and down?  No - they tell you what the care does when you push down on the pedals.

Likewise, I always think it's best to teach sailing newbies what to do instead of why they're doing it.  This rope is a sheet.  This one is a halyard.  The sheets do this.  The halyards do that.  You can know all the principles of physics involved and still not have a clue what all these stupid ropes do, and that would make you useless on a boat.  Fuck Bernoulli - just put the sail in the right place and watch the boat start to move.  Anyone who's learning to sail so they can go cruising will never give a damn about the physics; anyone who's learning so they can go racing will find it much easier to learn if they know what things are called and what they do.

About the only physics lesson worth giving in the beginning is that the boat can't go straight into the wind.  The rest, people just pick up as they go - but they'll never pick it up if they can't figure out the mystery of all the ropes.

This. The vast majority of people who cruise under sail have no idea about 'twist' or other terms and nor do they need to. I find many racing sailors who try to teach (without first having been taught how to teach) simply want to show the newbie how much they know about sail trim. 

I have a simple test for budding instructors. I ask them how they would answer a question from a newbie about what the boom vang does. If they start waffleing on about 'twist' and 'closing the leach' I know I have work to do with them.

The correct answer for a newbie is that its stops the boom from lifting and latter on you will learn when you need to use it.

Most people who have cruised around the world have done so with the simple principle that 'If its flappy, its not happy'.

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45 minutes ago, AJ Oliver said:

An important safety tip for Learn to Sail that I forgot to mention earlier . . . 

and curiously, I have never seen it mentioned in sailing instructional materials  . . 

Stress to the students that about 80% of boating injuries occur while people 

are getting on or off the boat, and to take extra care while doing so. 

(And I can personally relate to that, having busted up myself pretty badly while so engaged.) 

And were the fuck did you get that 80% number from AJ? The greatest risk of injury to you would be tearing when pulling facts out of your arse.

Rope burns, crushing injuries and boom and mainsheet strikes are the most common cause of injury. Having personally taught over 10 000 people to sail, I have only ever had two injuries from students getting on and off the boat- and one was a pre-existing injury (a recently broken arm) that the student failed to tell us about prior to the course.

Obviously teaching them how to safely get on and off the boat is the first thing they are shown. That would be obvious to anyone except a stupid old blowhard like yourself. Stick to giving advice about subjects you have the faintest clue about. Clearly that excludes sailing.

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On 6/3/2021 at 3:12 PM, AJ Oliver said:

show up late and hung over out of your mind . . 

seriously, some sailing "instructors" do that. 

So do some Professors, but the sailing Instructor is far more likely to bang to hot student.

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Much to consider, and two hours to put it into motion.

Second lesson this past Thursday, 6-8pm.  
Main issue was weather-rain and some storms and thunder all day, but at 6 we were between bad weather East and west of us but radar and “Dark Sky” app showed us in a no-rain zone that might last an hour.  I could’ve justified staying ashore but we all wanted to sail, so we did in-marina sailing that all enjoyed what with all the course changes and necessary tacks and jibes. They are catching on.

Then ashore for some whiteboard scribbling and push versus pull sail impulsion, plus some sea stories to stave off boredom (I confess I did mention “Bernoulli” once, don’t shoot me).

Best part was the rain came back while we were indoors. Made us all feel smart. Going sailing first was the way to go.

 

 

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1 hour ago, nolatom said:

Much to consider, and two hours to put it into motion.

Second lesson this past Thursday, 6-8pm.  
Main issue was weather-rain and some storms and thunder all day, but at 6 we were between bad weather East and west of us but radar and “Dark Sky” app showed us in a no-rain zone that might last an hour.  I could’ve justified staying ashore but we all wanted to sail, so we did in-marina sailing that all enjoyed what with all the course changes and necessary tacks and jibes. They are catching on.

Then ashore for some whiteboard scribbling and push versus pull sail impulsion, plus some sea stories to stave off boredom (I confess I did mention “Bernoulli” once, don’t shoot me).

Best part was the rain came back while we were indoors. Made us all feel smart. Going sailing first was the way to go.

 

 

Good decision making, that's a good example for your students.

IMHO Bernoulli is not particularly useful for discussing the physics of sailing. It's just applying the law of energy conservation over the volume of fluid flowing around/thru any constriction. The Coanda Effect is a bit more useful to explain lift, and you can explain the physics of how a sail drives a boat forward with the simplest Newton's action/reaction principle.

One thing I have found useful to students is a debriefing after a sail. Did you tack? (well, yeah). How did you do it, what did you do just before, and what are the steps of a successful tack. Did you observe any problems a student had, discuss what happened and how they solved it or could have solved it better. Let them talk and tell their new sea stories, too.

FB- Doug

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On 4/30/2021 at 6:37 PM, SuddenlyBrown said:

I’ve used an RC sailboat to show new sailors what’s up. Set up a W/L course and have them try to sail around it. They get to see how sailing works and can ask questions about mistakes they’ve made. 

Is this better than putting them into the boat?

Personally I find it harder to orient (to the wind) a remote object than one that I’m on.  I know that this is more intuitive for a lot of people. 

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10 hours ago, LB 15 said:

Rope burns, crushing injuries and boom and mainsheet strikes are the most common cause of injury.

That is sailing, I wrote "boating" . . . 

Most "boats" do not have the accoutrements that you describe. 

but you are correct that I should have nailed down a solid source first. 

This data is reasonably good . . and shows I was wrong. 

boating-accidents-leading-to-injuries-chart.ashx?h=321&w=500&la=en&hash=EC2057ABFEED466BC3D01C4486F3F1B7

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10 hours ago, LB 15 said:

Having personally taught over 10 000 people to sail,

I call BS on ya for that one . .  the maths don't work out . . 

And OK, lets grant that it is true - however implausible. 

How can you do that while being such a mean and cruel peep ?? 

Seriously, why don't you post some of your PA/SA greatest posts 

on your office bulletin board ?? 

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I don’t have on office anymore Professor- I have recently sold my sailing school after 24 years. 

As I have pointed out before, I couldn’t give a flying fuck what you think cupcake.

 

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2 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

That is sailing, I wrote "boating" . . . 

Most "boats" do not have the accoutrements that you describe. 

but you are correct that I should have nailed down a solid source first. 

This data is reasonably good . . and shows I was wrong. 

boating-accidents-leading-to-injuries-chart.ashx?h=321&w=500&la=en&hash=EC2057ABFEED466BC3D01C4486F3F1B7

Nice graph - I see you teach at the google school of knowledge like your ex BFF Jack.

Jack however would have changed the graph to back up his bullshit.

And you went two posts without calling me a punk or a Reichster

You are really coming on Professor.

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I believe I shall spare the students the "how we get injured" pie chart, at least at this stage.

But I do think they can handle at least the name Bernoulli and what the principle is when a fluid (air) flows along a surface having two sides, especially with an engineering type and a flying lessons fellow in our group.  In describing how "wind pushes" us downwind, and the "wind pulls us" upwind, I don't think a bit of upwind science is too much too soon.  And you can demonstrate on the sheet of notes how the paper rises as you blow along the upper side of the page.  

And then advise them that a beam reach has the happy medium of both push and pull, ergo the "easiest" point of sail.  So, when they take their first group of friends out, beam reach out, tack once 180 degrees, beam reach back in, and your friends will think you're a brilliant sailor.

;-)

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29 minutes ago, nolatom said:

But I do think they can handle at least the name Bernoulli and what the principle is when a fluid (air) flows along a surface having two sides...

Not as easy as telling them to "put the sail here". Are kids learning to walk taught Newtonian Physics? 

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Fourth lesson of five, last evening in near-perfect weather, brisk warm SW, gorgeous sunset.  After some brief shoreside yakking about various boat types --full and fin keel, wheel steering tiller steering, little jibs, big overlapping jibs, stand-on, give way, and some more whiteboard about points of sail, we cast off and tried real hard to raise the main, but the resistance really stiffened when 3/4th raised, something up high (flat plastic slides inside aluminum sleeve, nothing fancy), and would go no farther despite being all aluff with five turns on the halyard winch and all the muscle we could crank. Halyard and shiv looked fine at a distance, lower slides looked free, so it has to be what, a kink or hard spot or discontinuity in the sleeve up high (?), these boats generally don't have easy-raising main luff, but this was way worse. 

So, new unexpected lesson topic--how to deal with that problem--go back in and change out boats? Would take some time.  Make an improv reef in the foot with materials on hand and just sail that way? It would look dorky and not sail that well.  I still didn't want to give up and waste time swapping boats, so we steered away from head to wind and tried various points of sail on both tacks.  I didn't expect it would work, raising main with sail filled usually doesn't, but what the hey, worth a try, sail her in a circle while sweating on the winch, no go all on all points of sail (as I had expected) until we got to port  tack broad reach, when it grudgingly began to yield to the halyard winch with our designated-deck-ape student giving his all.  Who'da thunk, it worked, slowly but surely, all the way up (thank you, sailing Gods), and with a nice tight luff too. 

Added bonus was I had the students (other than deck-ape) take turns at the tiller during all this, in rather tight quarters between the marina slip rows, sailing with just jib, so it was good boathandling and sailhandling experience, out of necessity.

Okay, so we'd earned some fun, and still had enough time to broad reach out int the lake, see some other boats and comment on their tracks and who would have right of way.  Oscar the lifejacket managed to fall overboard without notice twice, how to do the figure-8 pattern to get back to him, how to kill headway when needed, and he ultimately survived.  Good upwind work to get back inwhile seeing a great sunset sky, lots of tacks, docking when wind astern.  Then at the slip in fading daylight we riffled through a copy of an old ASA booklet from my bag, to show how they had pretty much done most everything in the book--getting the boat ready, cast off, raise/lower sails, points of sail, tacks and jibes, crew overboard, a little bit about buoys and colors,  running light colors, and what they mean.

Maybe the things we don't expect teach us better than the ones we do?  The jammed halyard was kind of a PITA but it was good experience in a way--your plans won't always work out, look at it as a chance to try something new.  And for me who didn't think filling the main would make the jam give way, "don't pre-judge what won't work, you might end up happy-wrong rather than grumpy right  ;-)

 

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