Teaching it --- useful tips?

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. 

 

Spoonie

Anarchist
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Sydney
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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Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
42,279
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Eastern NC
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

 

AJ Oliver

Super Anarchist
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Sandusky Sailing Club
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.) 

 

LB 15

Cunt
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.

 

LB 15

Cunt
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'.

 

LB 15

Cunt
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.

 

nolatom

Super Anarchist
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New Orleans
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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Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
42,279
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Eastern NC
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

 

Alex W

Super Anarchist
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310
Seattle, WA
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. 

 

AJ Oliver

Super Anarchist
12,894
1,804
Sandusky Sailing Club
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


 

AJ Oliver

Super Anarchist
12,894
1,804
Sandusky Sailing Club
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 ?? 

 

LB 15

Cunt
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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LB 15

Cunt
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. 

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.

 

nolatom

Super Anarchist
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New Orleans
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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nolatom

Super Anarchist
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New Orleans
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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