From Landlubber to Old Salt: Beginner Sailing Tips

By: Learn To Sail

studying with coconut Getting started with sailing is not as difficult as it may seem. When you get ready to head out onto the water you’ll want a little bit of information to ease your mind. Here are some beginner sailing tips for making sure you have a safe, fun, and successful voyage.

1. Pick a day with favorable conditions and dress appropriately. Depending on your area, good conditions come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Generally, you want fairly calm seas and lighter rather than stronger winds. Sunshine and 0% chance of precipitation is a plus! Remember that it is often windier and cooler out on the water than it is on shore, so dress appropriately.

The Art of Sailing

  • Understanding Points of Sail The direction of the wind dictates the direction a sailboat can sail. The Points of Sail describe the range of courses a sailboat can and cannot travel.
  • Understanding the Sails The sail is the driving force of the boat. A sailboat is only as good as its sails when you consider that capturing the wind’s energy is the premise behind what sailors do to propel their boats in a forward direction.
  • Understanding the Wind A sailor’s world revolves around the wind and staying aware of the wind’s direction is crucial. Your ability to accurately sense changes in the wind, its speed and its direction will improve as you learn.

2. Have the right boat. When you’re learning, a smaller, more responsive boat makes it easier to understand the dynamics of sailing. ASA 101 courses are taught on 22′ keelboats, which are bigger and sturdier than a dinghy, but small enough that you can really feel the forces of wind and water acting on the boat.

American Sailing Association First 22 built by Beneteau Sailing in Annapolis MD.

3. Be aware of the boom. The boom is the big, heavy bar at the foot of the mainsail. It swings across the boat whenever you tack or gybe, and you really don’t want it to hit you. It can injure you and even knock you overboard, but it’s easy to avoid as long as you’re paying attention. Whenever you hear talk of tacking or jibing, make sure you’re down in the cockpit, well out of the way. Experienced sailors also know how to control the movement of the boom, mainly by “sheeting in” when preparing for a tack or gybe, as allowing it to move freely causes unnecessary wear on the boat. By a combination of common-sense safety and good sail-handling, you can ensure that there’s no danger or unpleasantness.


Sailing Challenge App

Learn to sail right on your mobile device. This easy to use sailing tool will get you started on your sailing education.sails up!


4. Go with someone who knows what they’re doing. We recommend an ASA instructor. An experienced, trained teacher of sailing will make a world of difference–the difference between a frustrating, unfulfilling experience, and a safe, fun, highly educational experience.

5. Know some basic sailing terms before you go. (We’ve previously covered important sailing terms here.) Learning basic terms such as “tack” and “gybe,” the difference between port and starboard, and the points of sail, is recommended. This will make it easier for you to contribute to sailing the vessel. Once you’re safely back at the dock you can expand your nautical vocabulary to include key phrases such as “beer,” “rum,” and “more beer and rum, please.”

If you do these five things, you’re setting yourself up to have a great time sailing, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned plougher of the high seas. The best way to combine them all into one experience is to sign up for an ASA sailing course at one of our 300 schools nationwide. Find a sailing school near you here.

Learning to Sail

  • ASA 101: What You’ll Learn ASA 101 is your in troduction to Basic Keelboat Sailboat and is your key to a lifetime of sailing.
  • How To Sail Sailing a boat is part art and part skill but few activities offer such a variety of pleasures as sailing. Something special occurs when you cast off the lines and leave your cares at the dock.
  • 7 Tips For The Beginning Sailor There are the obvious things you need when you go sailing, sunscreen, a hat, a windbreaker, non-skid shoes, and wind. However, what do you really need to be ready to head out on the water?
  • How To Learn To Sail You won’t have to buy a boat or learn a new language or buy a new wardrobe to get a taste for sailing. You can dictate how much you want to experience.
  • Learning To Sail Is Just The Beginning Sailing means different things to different people. At ASA we understand that learning to sail is just the beginning of a relationship with a lifestyle that is infectious. Where will sailing take you? We have a few ideas but how you view sailing is the most important.
  • What Is Your Role on a Boat? What type of sailor are you and what role do you take on the boat? Your ASA sailing education will prepare you to be a skipper on a sailing vessel and with that comes the responsibility of keeping your crew safe and ensuring the safety of the vessel you are sailing.
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Darroch Cahen
Darroch Cahen
6 years ago

As an ASA 101 instructor I’ll share with with our newer members at ISC in Portland. For #5. I suggest teaming up with a member that has been sailing a couple years. Josh our manager keeps a list of members that are willing to go out with others on our message board. Seaforth in San Diego did something similar.

Islenya
Islenya
6 years ago

As I replied to this blog’s email, PLEASE, will someone open an ASA sailing school in Alabama? There is not a single one in the state. The only sailors here (and there are alot!) are crazy to race. They’re not laid back cruisers, or even enthusiastic, serious cruisers. The sailing is aggressively competitive, and not (to me) much fun.

I believe in ASA and the quality of its instruction and emphasis on learning and safety. A good place for a school would be on Mobile Bay, either side, in Mobile, or around Fairhope.