There are many options to consider for training these days. You can watch a few vids on Youtube and give it a shot. Go to the local yacht club for lessons and get your ass handed to you by a 5 year old kid in a 50K Laser. You could try and crew on a boat. Keep in mind nothing is free in this world, these old sea dogs will want something in return 😬😬😬. The options are endless really. We landed, on a liveaboard sailing school. Meaning we would live on board for 7 days while receiving structured training that would result in a few sailing certifications that could be useful moving forward. We found said school was offered in the Sea of Cortez. That is the Gulf of California for you US based folks (it is in Mexico you know😏). This seemed perfect as we would likely spend a couple years cutting our teeth in Mexico before retirement and really sailing off. We also thought it could provide a good "sailing" experience that we could build off. So we signed up to attend Nautilus Sailing School in November of 2018.
So let's set the stage. There will be four students, total strangers and an instructor, all living on a 44ft sailboat. We had an ice breaker via email, which was a great idea. Then in person at a restaurant in La Paz before kicking off the training. For me, this was a serious week. I needed to get more than my money's worth. I had a ton of questions, but mostly Tami and I need to know if this would be a viable lifestyle, fun, fulfilling - you know all the good stuff you want for a retirement. Can we actually become sailors??? Well this is a big question. A term not to be taken in a trivial manner as we have learned.
So off we go and this is when the first point of confirmation landed. We pulled out of Costa Baja Marina, yep we will come back to this place later with our own boat and motored out the channel. Then our instructor, Mark Brown, said "put up those sails and turn that damn motor off." Have you ever seen a bunch of 5 years old's playing soccer??? expect with the exception of Courtney, we were older people. Thank God Kent knew what the hell he was doing, turns out Courtney did also. As ordered, sail went up, motor went off and our love affair with sailing began. First the beauty of silence - The sound of silence if you will. How the hell do these sails propel this boat forward? I was and still am simply amazed by the power of the wind captured by a well trimmed sail. It was exactly what we need to keep this idea alive. By evidence of how much was involved in raising the sails, it was clear that we had to learn a ton of stuff.
Sheets, halyards, lines, jib, genoa, mast, boom, spar no one told me we had to learn a new language, WTF. Turns out it is vital, and you must know what this all does individually and together with other pieces. Do you think the wind direction matters a bit?? Hey "please pull the thing" isn't helpful. There are about a million things to pull, go on and have fun with that one for a bit 😆😆.
This could really go on and on, we learned so much, Most importantly we need to keep learning - rapidly. Turns out sailing a vessel, on the ocean, can be super awesome but also super dangerous. You have to be able to operate your vessel, repair your vessel, understand weather WELL, navigate in places you have never been and hope the charts are correct and about a billion other things. But it is possible, we don't recommend the Youtube route - sorry.
So we graduated, with our three certificates. Full of ourselves and wondering what comes next. Fortunately for us we met quite the character, as we went to depart La Paz named Laird. This quick friendship would turn out to play a huge role in our cruising future, boat purchase and quite frankly just providing support and advice to topics we had no idea were even important yet. Laird and his bride Glenda are still very close friends of ours to this very day and I have even been able to help them a time or two. If you are planning to sell it all, buy and boat and sail into the sunset I recommend some good training, but most importantly you better have a Laird.
"I have seen many people start down the path you are on and if you remember nothing about tonight remember this - You must leave the dock! It is terrifying at first but you must do it to be a cruiser." - Laird November 2018
PS - I still don't consider myself a sailor, but we are off to a good start.