Ahoy sailor ― well, soon to be sailor! Breaking into the sailing world can be daunting, but with the right knowledge, learning the basics will not take long. This guide will highlight tips to help you get started as well as simple techniques to help you properly maneuver your boat. With enough practice, you will be able to tackle all kinds of wind and sea conditions. But remember, despite the advice I’m going to give you, get some sailing lessons as it remains the best way to learn.
Before you hop into the water, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The number one rule about sailing is to always be prepared. For example, research the weather conditions beforehand so you can prepare accordingly. If you are embarking on a long trip, pack along a few sandwiches. Afraid of getting sunburned? Bring a hat and shades.
- We cannot emphasis enough how important safety procedures are. It is vital to follow these, regardless of how experienced you are. Always let someone know you are about to head to sea. Always equip your boat with a life-vest or other flotation device. Lastly, you are on water: know how to swim (seems obvious right?).
- Begin learning on calm, un-crowded waters. Start with a small boat (preferably a boat rigged with one sail) to make learning the basics easier. When you feel comfortable, then proceed to sail larger boats.
- At all times, be cautious of the “boom”. This way, your chances of being hit will be less likely.
There are three main skills needed to become a great sailor. Below is the main gist of each skill. With practice, you’ll become an expert in no time.
Learn to Tell Which Way the Wind is Blowing
A useful skill to learn is knowing which way the wind is coming from in relation to the boat. If you need a little assistance, here is a helpful trick: tie a small piece of string to the boat’s shrouds to see which way the wind is blowing. As the boat starts to move, you want to position yourself such that you are sitting on the side that the wind is blowing over. The wind should be sitting against the sails. This is important, because your weight is needed on the other side of the boat to move in the right direction.
Learn to Steer
Once you are sitting on the correct side, you are ready to steer. In boating, remember that the direction you steer is opposite of the direction you intend to go. If you wish to go right, you must steer the tiller to the left and vice versa. Although this may seem tricky at first, you will get better with practice. Before you know it, this will be automatic.
Learn to Position the Sails
Adjusting the sails using sheets is called “trimming.” When it comes to sails, the closer you sail towards the direction of the wind, the tighter you will have to pull your sails. Hence, the further you sail from the direction of the wind, the less you pull on the sails.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Hopefully, you are more prepared for your first sailing trip. Remember, practice makes perfect! Have fun and sail away matey.