Learning how to sail can be a daunting experience for most, sometimes even scary if you’re not too sure what you’re doing. It’s highly recommended that you attend some professional courses first, in order to learn all the terms and the basics of sailing while under the supervision of an instructor. Under no circumstances should you try to learn sailing on your own, no matter how calm the waters might be. The tips we have for you below will allow you to experiment on your own, but only after getting trained by an instructor first or if you have a friend with you that knows what he’s doing.
The first thing to keep in mind when you’re just starting out is to do all your initial training on very calm waters that don’t have a lot of traffic. Go out on your boat whenever there is a light wind, little traffic and there is not much chance of bigger winds coming around. Before you go out, do a bit of research and figure out what kind of weather you can expect, what wind power is expected for that day and learn about the tide as well. This is part of the preparation process and besides research it should also include some gear to help you deal with bad weather if it should manifest itself, plus some clothes and other provisions.
The same research process includes knowing the various sailing terms that even beginner sailors need to know. Things like the starboard or the port are basic terms that you should keep in mind.
The size of your first boat is important as well. The smaller boats don’t have as many sails and lines to take care of, so they are easier to get the basics on. You will find that a dinghy is easily maneuvered and responds quickly to what you’re doing. Ideally, whatever boat you choose should have only one sail. It takes considerably less time to learn how to maneuver a boat that has a single sail and it can give you a bit more confidence that you’re on the right path.
Controlling the sails is one of the most important things you can learn. The sails are adjusted depending on the winds and on the water, so you can take advantage and get the best speed or safety. Typically, you will need to keep sails flat if there is either strong or light wind, while moderate winds will require them to be full.
Especially as a beginner, trying to keep in mind the safety rules is an important part of the learning process. Preparations are part of that, giving you the right gear for the job and knowing what to expect from the weather. Another aspect is learning some safety rules that will keep you from making beginner mistakes.
An example is the boom’s swing that can hit you on the head if you’re not careful. It’s something that everyone onboard needs to be careful with.
At one point or another you will probably capsize your boat, especially if you’re using a dinghy. It’s a good idea to try doing it yourself on purpose, but only in controlled conditions and under the supervision of an instructor.
It’s a good idea to take advantage of the experience of others, so buy a book on the matter, look at videos online, take a course to get the basics right and try to become a member of a local sailing club.