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Butterfly for 55 year old beginner?

enigmaquandry

New Member
My dad has always talked about sailing with his childhood friend (and friend's dad) when he was a little boy. He never fully described the type of boat they were on but I'm guessing it was a very large one. I know how much he would like to get into it again so this year I wanted to try to find him a sailboat to surprise him for his birthday. Last week I found an old Butterfly (complete and in really good shape with trailer) for $500 and bought it.

My husband and I took it out yesterday for the first time (we have ZERO experience and no one around to teach us), I was terrified and we didn't accomplish much, except dumping it over. Today we got right back on the horse and took it out again, my husband has really gotten the hang of it and enjoys it, I still need some work.

Anyway, my concern is that we're in our early twenties and this boat was super challenging for us (even in very mild wind), my dad is in his mid 50's (and hasn't sailed for probably 40 years) and I just want him to be safe and enjoy himself on his new boat. Is a butterfly a good choice for him? I had looked at a Jet 14 that was a little bigger with a jib as well but it was much more expensive and far away, now I'm not sure if I should have considered it more.

Obviously I'm BRAND new to sailing but I think it's a sensational pastime and I'm hoping our family will really enjoy it. Thank you so much for your experience and advice!
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Since you have had no responses up to this point, I will chip in.

Sailing isn't a skill that one totally looses over the years. Getting used to a new boat (such as a Butterfly) will take time, but can be a fun challenge. If your dad is in reasonable shape and able to right a Butterfly by himself, let him take a go at it, assuming he is thrilled by the whole idea. I haven't sailed a Butterfly, but assuming it is about as unstable as a Laser, I imagine that getting wet more than a few times will be part of the educational experience.

Safety is of course of real importance. Hence, going out in light winds in a shallow and protected area is recommended.
 

enigmaquandry

New Member
Wavedancer, thank you. My dad is in excellent shape for his age and has no health problems really so I expect he would be able to right it himself. I don't think my mom would be able to get herself back on the boat if it capsized (bad back) so perhaps it is not a good idea for her to go on it.

It seems most of the time when people go sailing they have other boats around them or a motorized "trailing" boat of some kind for safety, we do not have these things since sailing is not a common thing here, so I'm hoping that us on the shore are sufficient for keeping an eye on him should anything go wrong. He is very safety conscious as well.

I'm thinking we have had so much trouble because of our inexperience, just this weekend we took it out and were blown into some power lines hanging over the lake by the boat launch (won't be going back there again!) and then the boat fell off the trailer when my husband got tangled in some ropes. We're definitely learning the hard way, I wish there was someone to teach us here.
 

monkey_feet

Arlington, TX
My advice is to look for a local yacht club. Go through the front gate and tell them you want to learn to sail. I think you will be amazed on how receptive they are.
 

Vuch

New Member
Since you have had no responses up to this point, I will chip in.

Sailing isn't a skill that one totally looses over the years. Getting used to a new boat (such as a Butterfly) will take time, but can be a fun challenge. If your dad is in reasonable shape and able to right a Butterfly by himself, let him take a go at it, assuming he is thrilled by the whole idea. I haven't sailed a Butterfly, but assuming it is about as unstable as a Laser, I imagine that getting wet more than a few times will be part of the educational experience.

Safety is of course of real importance. Hence, going out in light winds in a shallow and protected area is recommended.
Wavedancer, thank you. My dad is in excellent shape for his age and has no health problems really so I expect he would be able to right it himself. I don't think my mom would be able to get herself back on the boat if it capsized (bad back) so perhaps it is not a good idea for her to go on it.

It seems most of the time when people go sailing they have other boats around them or a motorized "trailing" boat of some kind for safety, we do not have these things since sailing is not a common thing here, so I'm hoping that us on the shore are sufficient for keeping an eye on him should anything go wrong. He is very safety conscious as well.

I'm thinking we have had so much trouble because of our inexperience, just this weekend we took it out and were blown into some power lines hanging over the lake by the boat launch (won't be going back there again!) and then the boat fell off the trailer when my husband got tangled in some ropes. We're definitely learning the hard way, I wish there was someone to teach us here.
I am in my mid 50's and started sailing a Butterfly this August. It was a blast! I dumped and turtled her my first pass out on a windy day. Was feeling pretty good after half a dozen more sails until one very windy day, I capsized three separate times and had to right the boat nine times with about 5 turtles in there! It was quite a work out but fun, like a long run down a black diamond fun. I broke the boom vang that day. I mounted the new one on the mast, the old one now hanging on the wall in the shed as sort of a reminder of the day when the seas were angry and, oh I'm getting carried away now. Looking forward to next season.
 
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