Aerial view of the deck of a sailboat in Caribbean waters

The Best Advice You Can Get About Sailing

By: Learn To Sail, Quiz, Sailing Tips

Sailing is my passion. Sailing is what makes me feel most alive, relaxed, invigorated and…well, you get the point: sailing does a lot for me.  If I get asked a question about sailing, I am guilty of offering up advice in an instant. It is who I am.  

My most common suggestion about sailing is that it is easy and anyone can learn to sail.

Don’t let anyone tell you that sailing is difficult and that it takes you a long time to learn.

While I believe that sailing is easy and anyone can learn to sail, it is always essential to add in the caveat that it will take some work to learn to sail, but it can be done, and it will be a lot of fun along the way. You will never stop learning, and the wind and the water will never stop teaching.

Sailing can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, but it requires skill, knowledge, and attention to safety. Here are some common pieces of advice for sailors.

Learn the Basics

Before setting sail, make sure you have a good understanding of basic sailing terminology, navigation, and boat handling. ASA 101 covers these essential skills.

Take a look at Online Intro to Sailing.

Respect the Weather

Keep a close eye on weather forecasts before heading out. Sudden changes in weather conditions can be challenging, especially for inexperienced sailors. Always be prepared for unexpected weather changes.

Learn about Weather with Chris Bedford.

Prioritize Safety at All Times

Ensure that life jackets are available for everyone on board, and know how to use safety equipment. Discuss safety regularly with your crew to be well-prepared for emergencies.

Take the Safety Gear and Procedures Quiz.

Understand Wind and Tides 

Develop a good understanding of wind patterns and how tides can affect your route. Knowing how to use the wind to your advantage and accounting for tidal currents can significantly improve your sailing efficiency.

Take the Marine Weather Quiz.

Start on a Small Boat 

If you’re new to sailing, begin with smaller boats in calmer waters. As you gain experience and confidence, you can gradually progress to larger boats and more challenging conditions. Did you know that American Sailing offers a certification in Basic Small Boat Sailing?

Check out ASA-110, Basic Small Boat Sailing.

Practice Navigation

Learn to navigate using both traditional methods and modern technology. Basic navigation skills, including chart reading, GPS use, and understanding buoys and markers, are crucial for a safe and enjoyable sailing experience.

Take a Navigation Quiz.

Maintain Your Boat

Regularly inspect and maintain your boat to ensure it is in good working condition. Check the rigging, sails, engine, and other essential components before each trip. Preventive maintenance is key to avoiding issues at sea.

Take the Cruising Boats Systems Quiz.

Communicate Effectively 

Clear communication is crucial, especially when sailing with a crew. Utilize your sailing education to establish a protocol for communication on board, and make sure everyone understands the process. Effective communication can help prevent accidents and ensure smooth sailing.

Learn more about how to talk like a sailor.

Stay Calm in Emergencies

If you encounter an emergency, stay calm as panic can make the situation worse. Have an emergency plan in place, including how to use safety equipment, and ensure all crew members are familiar with it.

Learn more about handling marine emergencies.

Respect the Environment 

Be a responsible sailor by respecting marine life, following environmental regulations, and disposing of waste properly. Leave no trace and contribute to the preservation of the oceans and coastal areas.

Look good while doing good; learn about Buy One Pull One.

Learning to sail is a lifelong process; frankly, the more experience you get, the more likely you are to be the sailor offering the advice. However, you should always be open to learning from others and improving your skills on the water.