Things You Need to Know Before Starting Sailing
Sailing is an incredible experience which gives you the freedom to explore the great outdoors. But just the prospect of getting started can be daunting especially if you have never been sailing before.
Everyone dreams of sailing off into the distance right? With the cool wind in your hair, soft noise of the ocean waves and the chance to get away from civiliasation, see wildlife and capture that perfect sunset.
There are so many benefits of going sailing, from relaxation, improving heath, learning new skills and getting the freedom to explore. But like any skilled sport there are some essentials things you need to be aware of and know before embarking on a trip.
This goes for whether you are looking to book a tour, cruise, go island hopping or are keen to learn the skills and techniques needed to sail independently.
Check out our essential pre-sailing tips for beginners today...
If you have no experience of sailing you will be starting from scratch and need to learn all the basic boat terms. These are something that you are going to research, study and memorize so you can try to master the craft of sailing.
Below we have provided you with the basic terms that as a beginner you should know:
- Aft – in the back of the boat
- Abaft – in front close to the stern
- Stern – the after end of a vessel
- Bow – the front of a vessel
- Port – left of the boat when facing the bow
- Starboard – the right of the boat when facing the bow
- Leeward – opposite direction of the wind
- Windward – direction of the wind
- Spars: what holds the largest sail
- Boom – the horizontal pole at the bottom of the largest sail
- Rudder – use to steer the boat
- Tackling – when the bow needs to be chanced due to the wind shifting
- Jibing – the opposite of tackling
- Sheets – rope
- Abeam – 90 degrees
- Furl – fold the sail
This terms might sound confusing at first and a lot to remember but you will soon learn them. Even if you are just planning to book a sailing tour it is still important to know some of of the words and phrases so you know what staff are talking about.
How a Sailboat Works
Most people love sailing because the rush you get is majestic. However, when newbie sailors come around they often have no clue how a sailboat works in general and this is understandable.
Below is the process a simple explaination of how a sailboat works:
- When the wind blows over the sail, high pressure is created on one side and a lower pressure on the opposite site.
- The two pressures combined provide a forward force
- As the wind continues it forms a drag
- Sailboats are equipped with keels that go under the boat so the boat goes forward
This means when you get on the sailboat the wind is not just going to blow you in the direction it wants you to go. Instead, you have control over the sailboat.
Take a Course with a Certified Instructor
From sailing a dinghy on a lake to joining a sailing adventure somewhere more exotic, the basics of sailing are the same. But just because a friend or relative knows how to sail you should not go out with them on the boat with the hopes that they will teach you how to sail correctly.
Certified instructors are the only ones who can ensure safety techniques are taught properly and that you learn the ins and outs of sailing. This is important as you don't want to risk for example, feeling confident after a few trips out to take your own boat out then get into trouble.
There are also so many things to learn from how to stay safe, what to do in an emergency, how to handle different weather conditions etc.
Join a Sailing Club
You can find sailing clubs all around the world which are a great way to meet new people, improve your skills and find out more information about boat licenses and certifications needed.
Don't Be Afraid
The first time you go sailing you may think that the whole experience is daunting and quite scary. Many people, when first starting out, are afraid that when they go out alone for the first time sailing is going to be hard because they have to keep in mind all of the things that they learned.
However, the truth of the matter is you can get by as a sailor by just spending just a few days or weeks practicing with lessons.
Three things you need to know:
- Which direction the wind is blowing – This can be determined by looking at the clouds and observing the direction that your flag is blowing. Determining the wind direction will be easy as pie and will be a second nature to you as you go out to sea more.
- How to Steer Properly – With the help of an instructor you will be steering as if you have been doing so for years in no time. It is very simple to learn the proper techniques and it is nothing that you should be afraid of.
- How to properly trim the sail – This is something else that you will learn from an instructor.
Try to read information online or watch videos on YouTube which is a great place for tips and advice.
Decide What Boat to Charter
If you are a complete beginner you will need to have lessons and it is also recommend to only book trips with experience sailors so you can learn the skills needed.
Chartering a boat is not recommended for total beginners since this only provides with the boat and if you are lacking experience you might encounter issues.
We recommend a skippered charter of a small vessel with an experienced sailor to being with. You could also choose crewed charter where staff take care of all the essentials.
If you are going past the beginner stage and would like to take your own boat out then these are some important things to consider:
Know Your Destination
When going sailing you should be aware of your destination, whether this be a small lake to the ocean and no matter what your experience level.
What are the routes you will take? What are the water conditions like? How long are you going for? Knowing these things will really make the experience more safe and enjoyable.
Research Tide, Wind and Weather Conditions
Unbelievably some people think that they can go sailing just because the current weather conditions are great. Even if it is sunny outside, you still need to see what the upcoming weather projection is like because a storm or change in weather conditions can arise out of nowhere.
Making sure that you know what the wind and tide forecast is very important too. Whenever you go out sailing, it is important to make sure that you are putting your safety first. If you join a tour you will get all this taken care of but still it is recommend to double check.
You should alway take puppies when sailing, for example warm clothing, sunglasses, suncream, a waterproff bag, a first aid kit, food, water, the right clothing and footwear. Other important things to buy include a a phone, GPS, map and compass. If you suffer from motion sickness you might also want to bring medication.
If you are going out on your boat, be sure to tell friends and family where you are going just incase of any accidents.
Purchasing a Boat
Some people tend to think of the idea of sailing is a dream, but it isn't for everyone and not everyone enjoys the experience of being out on the ocean. If you have never been sailing before, or you have only been on a few sample trips, you may find out that it is not an experience for you.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that you go out sailing lots of times to make sure this experience is for you and before you make a big purchase and get your own boat. Sailboat require a lot of work and money even after purchase and you don't want to waste your hard-earned money on something that you are not going to put to use.
If you do want to buy a boat there are so many to choose from and lots of places you can by, from locally around the world to on the internet where there are lots of boats and catamarans for sale. Research all before making the final purchase to make sure it is right for you.
Upkeep of a Sailboat is Required
When new sailors get their boats, they think that they are free to sail as much as they want. This is true however; you have to upkeep and maintain your boat just as you would a car.
Your boat will require servicing at least annually for the main checks and some of the minor things will require you to get your sailboat service every three to six months.
Now that you have made it through this article, you know the basic things that you should know before you start sailing. You are one-step ahead of most and we wish you the best of luck with your sailing endeavors. Are you an experienced sailor? If you have something to add that, you think we missed feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.