Beginner sailing tips
New to sailing? Let us help you master the basics with these sailing tips and instructions for beginners.
Get sailing gloves!
The most important beginner sailing tip to remember is to practice in ideal conditions of light winds and low traffic.
Follow sailing safety guidelines – there are certain sailing basics for safe boating that should go without saying, no matter how experienced you are
Research the wind and weather conditions – check the weather forecast and prepare yourself for whatever the weather might bring. Be sure to take adequate provisions, clothing and basic weather gear as needed. Boating and sailing basics means always being prepared!
Get familiar with sail control – the best sailors are the ones who are able to adjust sail settings to take the best advantage of different wind and water conditions
Respect the boom – some of the most common sailing injuries are a result of not being aware when the boom is about to swing
Learn basic sailing terms – be sure to acquaint yourself with basic sailing terms
Practice makes perfect – invest in a sailing course, books, manuals and learn from experienced instructors. It is much more difficult and far too risky to engage in learning sailing without professional assistance.
Sailing basics: 10 nautical and sailing terms everyone should know
If you are learning how to sail, these terms are an overview of sailing basics you need to become familiar with.
1. Stern – the back of a ship
2. Bow – the front of the ship
3. Port side – port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow
4. Starboard side – starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow
5. Leeward – the side of the boat away from the wind
6. Windward – the side of the boat closer to the wind
7. Boom – the boom is the horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast.
8. Rudder – located beneath the boat, the rudder is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used to steer the ship
9. Tacking – this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side
10. Jibing – this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side.
Sailing tips – sailing rules
Basics of sailing means being familiar with essential right-of-way sailing rules as well. There are different right-of-way sailing instructions for sailboats as opposed to powerboats. Here are some helpful overview of basic sailing rules:
1. Always maintain a proper lookout by sight as well as hearing to avoid colliding with other boats
2. Maintain a safe speed at all times so that you remain in control of your boat
3. Use common sense when assessing risk of collision with other boats near and around you
4. Port tack gives way to starboard tack: If two sailboats are approaching each other and the wind is on a different side of each boat, then sailing rules are that the sailboat which has the wind on the port side must always give right of way to the other.
5. Windward gives way to leeward: If two sailboats are approaching each other and the wind is on the same side of each boat, then sailing rules are that the vessel which is to windward (the direction of the wind) must give the right of way to the vessel which is leeward (the opposite direction of the wind).
6. If you are at risk of colliding with another boat and all else fails, then agreed sailing rules are that whichever boat has the other boat on its starboard side must yield right of way.
7. Any vessel overtaking another should always keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.
8. A sailboat should always keep out of the way of any boat that is: a) not under command, b) restricted in its ability to maneuver, and c) engaged in fishing
9. When passing through a narrow channel, sailing instructions are to keep as close to the outer edge as possible
10. Non-commercial powerboats usually give way to sailboats, unless the sailboat is overtaking it. However, general sailing instructions are also that sailboats should try to stay out of the way of large vessels and ferryboats that may find it harder to slow or change direction, especially in narrow channels.
How do I find my way while sailing?
Navigation is a skill needed to manage the boat safely from one place to another through the best and safest way. in order to do this you will need to solve two main problems:
determining your position
determining the course towards the desired position
For this you will need to learn at least basic navigation – to be able to read a chart, plan a course and steer accurately by compass. It’s easy to learn, and you don’t need much in the way of math skills. If you take a sailing course, the curriculum will include all the above, and more.
Here’s what you need and it is all available at any marine store:
– chart of the area where you’ll be sailing.
– parallel rulers or nautical triangles, dividers
– hand-bearing compass,
– handheld GPS.