Learning to Sail

Learning to Sail

30 November 2011
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Learning to sail | Handling boats and general tips

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What type of boat should I start with – Start off with something small, like a dinghy and rigged with one sail. You will find it easier to learn and master the basics of what you need to know and also small boats are more receptive in light winds. Again this will help to quickly pick up and adapt basic experience.

Where to learn – Lakes are a good place to start as at certain times of the year they will be free of crowds and have calm waters. You should where possible avoid areas with swimmers and power boaters.

Don’t be alone - When going sailing at least for the first few trips its good advice to take someone with you who is a practiced and experienced sailor. As a precaution tell someone where you are going and roughly how long you will be.

Anticipate - Make sure to take a life jacket and another floatation aid, the right clothing and foul wear gear, provisions if required. It does no harm to be prepared and ready for anything.

Weather - The wind and weather forecasts can and does change so make sure to do the checking before you leave.

Deliberately capsize- If you have someone experience with you, practice capsizing, although may sound alarming if in the future it happens at least you will know what to experience and know how to handle it.

The boom - A common injury for beginners is getting hit with the boom, head injuries top of the list. Learn respect and be continually aware of the boom not only for your own safety for any crew or passengers

Control of the sail – Practice the sail settings and learn how to take the best advantage when encountering varying wind and weather conditions. As a rule of thumb your sails should be almost flat when the wind is either very strong or very light and full in balanced winds.

Get to grips with the language – Its good advice before you set off to familarise yourself with some of the common terms in sailing:

Boom: Attaches to the mast in a right angle; holds the bottom (or foot) of the sail

Bow: Front of the boat

Capsize: To overturn the boat; if it completely turns over, it is called “turtling”

Centerboard: Large piece that is attached to the bottom of the boat (or lowers into the water); keeps boat from drifting and help balance

Fall Off: turn away from the wind

Jibing: Turning away from the wind

Leeward: Downwind or away from the wind

Line: The “ropes” on the boat

Luffing: When the sail is not taught and flaps in the wind

Mast: Holds the main sail; is perpendicular to the boat haul

Port: The sailor’s term for left; the left side of the boat

Port Tack: When the boom is on the right side and the wind is entering the port side (left side)

Sheet: The lines that control the sails

Starboard: The sailor’s term for right; the right side of the boat

Starboard Tack: When the boom is on the left side and the wind is entering the starboard side (right)

Stern: Back of the boat

Tacking: Turning into the wind

Windward: Upwind or where the wind is blowing from