Sailing is nothing short of an adventure. It’s peaceful, it’s invigorating, and it’s sometimes a bit of a challenge.
But with sailing, Carl Deane says that the rewards far outweigh anything else. Start the adventure by effectively preparing to get on the open water as soon as possible. Ahoy, mateys!
Master the Language
Learning to sail is likely less difficult than the average person would expect. A good place to start is reviewing and mastering the lingo. Sailing vocabulary uses words likely heard before — port, velocity, starboard — and a few that may sound like a foreign language.
Start with the boat’s anatomy, such as the mast (the tall pole that carries a sail high above), the boom (the horizontal pole that connects to the mast that controls its shape and angle), then the keel (the fin under the water that guides the boat).
The sails and the keel are two of the four main parts of a sailboat, along with the hull (the boat body) and the rudder (a part connected to the steering wheel that also helps direct the boat).
Understand the Wind Direction
Add these four to your vocabulary list as well since they are needed to navigate communication while on a sailboat. The port tack is when the wind is coming from the boat’s left or port side. Starboard tack is when the wind is coming from the ride side, or starboard.
Face the front (or bow) of the boat when determining and referring to left and right. Downwind, or leeward means the sailboat is moving away from the wind, while windward refers to the way the wind is blowing at any given time.
Get As Much Help as You Can
Never start out sailing alone. Instead, learn the basics quickly and step up the experience level over time through a few different avenues. There’s a plethora of instructional sailing videos available and many good ones are online for free.
Sailing schools and online classes are extremely helpful, though lessons aren’t required to learn how to sail.
Sailing gear can get extensive, but there are really just a few essential items to pick up before getting on the water. For clothes, don’t forget a good all-weather jacket, shirts and pants that dry quickly, and sturdy boots or shoes.
Other must-haves: hats, sunglasses, and waterproof bags to protect the gear. Many find a good sailing watch and heavy gloves — and sunscreen, of course — also helpful.
Safety is key to sailing — and learning about them should be a big part of any classes or sailing schools. Safety equipment to secure would be lifejackets (never go sailing without them), a safety tether (if one falls overboard, the tether is what holds people on to the boat), sea sickness medicine, a proper first aid kit (that also includes personal medication).
Another good item is some type of personal location beacon (PLB) that is clipped onto a life jacket and alerts others on the boat that someone has slipped overboard.
So, get out on the water and enjoy bouncing through the waves and viewing the world from a different angle – seaward.