No matter what sort of sailing you intend to do or where you would like to sail, the basic principles of how to handle any boat are the same. Firstly you need to know all the sailing terminology, this can often be the most difficult part of all. Secondly you have to know how to navigate where you are going and to be able to understand all about the weather and how different conditions can affect the water. Lastly you need to learn about all the safety aspects of sailing, especially if you intend to have passengers on board your boat. Being afloat on the water can be a very dangerous thing and something that should not be taken lightly.
Before you even step on to a boat, you need to understand everything that is remotely connected to sailing. The easiest way to do this is to study online or go down to your local library and read up all about it. A sailing course is the preferred route for beginners, as professional instructors know how to get sailing information over to their students both clearly and concisely. No sailor should ever set sail without first taking a course, no matter what type of sailing they intend to do.
The major terms that are used are common to all boats, you should be familiar with all of them.
- Hull – the bottom or lower half of the boat, it reduces drag and gives balance.
- Keel – a stabilizing device that protrudes from the hull and stops the boat from turning over.
- Rudder – part of the steering gear, normally connected to the tiller.
- Tiller – basically the steering wheel of a boat.
- Mast – the pole that the sails are attached to.
- Mainsail – the large sail that catches the wind for propulsion.
Getting on Board
Once you have learned all the required nautical terms your instructor will most likely then take you out on the water. There you will learn how to read nautical maps, weather charts, and how to read the weather conditions and how that effects the water. You are best starting in a small boat, and then work your way gradually up to larger ones. Starting with a single sailboat is the best, as you can learn the basics easier this way.
Safety on Board
It is imperative that you pay attention to all the safety aspects that your instructor will impart. You must follow all safety procedures as at sea this could well save your life. The first basic safety rule is always informed somebody that you are taking your boat out and where you intend to go. Add to this the expected return time or where you expect to moor for the night.
Then research in depth the expected weather conditions for your voyage but be prepared for the very worst. Check your communication gear is working efficiently and everything on the boat is working as it should be. Now you are ready to set sail and enjoy your time on the water, with the knowledge that you have done everything that you can possibly do to make sure you have the safest and most perfect sailing trip.