I am lucky enough to live within an hour of several cities (or large towns) on Lake Ontario, and near "cottage country" which is full of lakes. I'm considering a learn-to-sail program this summer. A quick search reveals a large array of possibilities, all requiring about an hour's drive each way. Some of the distinguishing features among them are:
- the size of the boat you're learning on. I think I would prefer dinghies (14 foot) to the 20+ and even 40+ foot options at some places. How different is the experience? Can you learn more easily on a big stable boat, then apply that to a dinghy, or vice versa?
- the size of the lake - Lake Ontario behaves very differently than a small cottage lake, I'm sure, but I don't know precisely how they would differ
- the likelihood that I would want to join the club or association that offers the lessons, and use their facilities after the lessons are over
- the schedule. Once a week all summer, 6 consecutive evenings, 3 full days, and so on.
I am not looking for recommendations of specific clubs. I am looking for the relative importance of these factors to the overall experience of taking the lessons. I am reasonably hard to train - if I can't follow what's going on I get angry and stop wanting to participate, but if I feel I'm being patronized or the level is too introductory I tune out. Spending hundreds of dollars on a training course that I bail on partway through, or that is not fun at all, is something I want to avoid. Feeling stupid because I can't follow instructions everybody else can follow, or do something that a mere child can do, or that I should know how to do because I knew it when I was 12 (and could sail a dinghy alone) is the major reason I would resist doing this. The typical summer camp experience where the counselor talks for 5 minutes, then sticks everyone in boats and some of them are great at it and one person is stuck up against the bushes and can't seem to get turned around and is just melting down and has to be rescued but doesn't end up actually being able to work the boat - that's the situation I desparately want to avoid. If a particular size of boat or lake, or pace of training, or qualification of the offering organization, can contribute to the success of this project, I would like to know.
I have some experience as a child with very small boats and a little with a 26 footer. I don't like engines. I believe I might enjoy using a boat that is small enough to actually land somewhere, and there are plenty of lakes in Ontario, whether a small cottage lake that you can see across, or something bigger like Georgian Bay or the Thousand Islands, that we could sail on if we wanted to. We could also try renting a small sailboat (again, small enough that you don't anchor and row ashore in a dinghy, but you pull up on the beach or to a dock) in more far flung places like the South Pacific as part of a larger trip. A picnic on a deserted isle or a tootle around a lagoon would be lovely.