Hey Castaways. This is a guest post by Janice Collins, a blogger and writer who also loves to sail on weekends. Cheers!
Learning to sail any vessel on the water takes plenty of time and practice, but it offers fantastic rewards and experiences by the end.
From small boats to yachts, power boats and dinghies, mastering the basics is key to an enjoyable sailing experience.
Building a Strong Foundation
Once the basics are known, sailing is simply a case of building upon existing skills through time on the water and using guidance from experts of how to improve technique.
In many ways, the process is very similar to learning to drive a car and the excitement of being able to skipper a yacht at the end of the process is what makes all the effort worthwhile.
When it comes to sailing there are few limits, provided that those wishing to use a vessel have the necessary skills and qualifications to do so. Skippering a vessel showcases the excitement that sailing can bring but also provides a reminder of the responsibilities of being out on the water.
The RYA Day Skipper Course highlights the important skills and helps sailors to progress, ensuring they have all of the information they require to cope with different vessels or weather types.
When learning to sail, knowing which lines and sails are for what is important as this how the vessel will be controlled.
The ‘sheet’ for example is the line that will control how far, or how near, the sail is to the boat – and the majority of sailing can relate to adjustments such as these.
There are several other wires and lines that alter the shape of the sail too and the slightest changes can make all the difference. The shape of the mainsail will depend on the conditions that a yacht is sailed in as blustery days will require looser sails.
Sailing is something where the process is one of continual learning and development and this makes the initial stages of understanding the basics very important. These basics are then developed with a lot of time and effort and may never be entirely mastered – even sailing greats such as Sir Ben Ainslie and Ellen MacArthur say they are still learning.
Coming To Terms With The Terms
Sailing is full of words and terms that need to be understood, especially those that relate directly to a boat. These terms are important to an instructor or any other sailor would refer to ropes and beams by name – you won’t hear the words “pull that rope over there” at any stage.
Knowing these basic terms will make learning a much simpler process and should ensure that all sailors in a boat are able to communicate effectively.
Many of the words can be picked up along the way but having a basic understanding will enhance the sailing experience from the first moment of learning.
Learning Simple Controls
When sailing, wind direction is the most important thing to consider as it will control how a boat should be sailed and how sails should be positioned.
While sailing in a set direction is relatively easy, changing direction – which will have to happen eventually – will require tacking and jibing to turn the boat across the wind.
These maneuvers require the repositioning of body weight and the sails, but it is not without risk – small vessels could easily capsize in strong winds. Practice of how to carry out these turns is, therefore vital. As is knowing how to right a vessel or recover should it tip.
The Need For Safety
Going on a first aid course should also be a priority for those wanting to learn sailing as there are a number of reasons why such knowledge and skills are needed.
From dealing with relatively minor injuries to having an understanding of how to deal with an emergency situation, going on such courses can actually make someone a lifesaver.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, maintaining a calm head and acting appropriately could help to bring about a quick and safe resolution. While nobody wants to think about injuries or dangers when sailing, the natural world is fraught with risk so being prepared is absolutely essential.
This helps to mitigate some of the risks and manage them effectively, providing a safer sailing experience.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Sailing skills are constantly developed and that is a fact which cannot be stressed enough. Even skills such as knot tying or turning maneuvers can take plenty of time to truly master and, as the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’.
The enjoyment of sailing comes from striving to do everything in the correct manner so that a journey is as relaxing as possible.
Everyone has to start somewhere and that comes by learning the basics of yachting. More advanced courses can then develop skills further and turn novice and amateur sailors into experts and pros.
(Photo by Findmycharter.com)