Do you really enjoy sailing?
A helpful sailing guide for beginners
The world of sailing can be very exciting, especially for beginners. Sailing is a physical activity, but it feels like vacation and excitingly adventurous at the same time. To be a good sailor, it is essential to be able to interpret wind, waves and other microfactors in order to make the right decisions about the best routes and speeds. Fortunately, one needs these skills for the pure enjoyment of sailing (as in many other sports) and does not need a fitness guru for it. As long as you know how to navigate, you can simply enjoy the sun on your face and the feeling of a cool breeze on your skin, and relax and concentrate on the "vacation aspect" instead of the adventurous part of your sailing trip. As already said, even - or even especially - sailing beginners can enjoy a trip to the fullest.
In this article, we've rounded up the basic elements of sailing that every aspiring sailor should know, to satisfy your curiosity or to prepare you for an official course.
Weather and wind conditions
Wind is absolutely essential for sailing. Without wind there wouldn't be sailing either (well, there wouldn't be a lot, but today we're just concentrating on sailing). The most important thing at the beginning: You should learn to interpret the wind. Strictly speaking, from which direction it is coming. What is the wind speed?
Of course, the whole thing is a bit more complex than just moistening your index finger and holding it in the air. But it's not that much more difficult. Just turn around in circles until you feel like you're being blown directly at. You can look at a flag and see which way it flies. You can also inspect the small waves on the surface of the water to see where they are coming from (i.e. which direction the wind is blowing from).
Sailors who have honed their craft over the years may even be able to read weather conditions from the clouds in the sky. When thin, narrow feather clouds cover the sky, a storm could be on the march. Isolated puffy and bulbous clouds signal pleasant sailing weather. Additionally, if you want to get a really deep understanding of this, you can use the topographical differences in your environment to try to predict changes in wind and weather.
The right boat
If you're just starting out, it might be a good idea to rent a boat to see what you like and what you don't.
Some experts will recommend a Sunfish, a 4-meter-long dinghy with a simple sail, as an entry-level boat. Others say that the best beginner boats for families are pontoon or deck boats. But almost everyone agrees that beginners should buy something used.
The best However, in our unbiased opinion, the way to start your journey on the way to your own boat is to go on a boating holiday. And we can definitely help you find the perfect boat for you.
Before hoisting the sails, every passenger, beginner or not, should make sure that the boat is equipped with some important safety-related items. These safety items should include a first aid kit, tool and repair kit, and full navigation equipment. If you are responsible for the operation of the boat, it is your job to make sure it is equipped with all of these things. And even if you've hired a skipper for your excursion, it doesn't hurt to find out about the safety precautions on board.
Before setting out to sea, it might also be useful to review the 11 most common causes of boating accidents, most of which can be traced back to fairly trivial reasons. The list includes careless behavior such as driving too fast at night, where it is more difficult to interpret the weather conditions, going overboard, insufficient fuel or even sailing under the influence of alcohol. As you may have guessed, most accidents happen when basic safety precautions are not followed. The best tip for beginners that we would like to recommend to you is never to forget what you learn at the very beginning of your sailing career, as it could potentially save your life.
What equipment should I take on board?
If you rent a boat from a charter service, they should already have made sure that the boat has everything that is needed in an emergency - regardless of whether it is large or small.
However, if you are outfitting your own boat, be sure to read our list of safety basics and tips carefully so that you don't find yourself in an awkward position where you need something you don't have to get back on land.
Basic sailing techniques and how to maneuver
To really learn how to sail properly, you should take a beginner's sailing course of at least 15 hours.
But to get a basic idea of how to sail, you can always refer to online sources with beginner tips and instructions on how to get your boat into position, put it down in the harbor or beach, handle the sails and, of course, how to the boat stops, consult. Here's a quick rundown of all the beginner's sailing skills that you should brush up on before heading out into the sunset on your own.
No other skill is so associated with sailing as the knot. Knots are essential when it comes to securing boats in port, repairing boat lines, etc. And each specific type of knot - and there are hundreds of them - has a specific role to play. A knot can serve as a stopper knot, be used to tie two lines together, or it can be used to attach the boat to a post or cleat. Here you can read about the seven most important knot types that every beginner sailor should know. The best thing about these knots? You can also often use them outside of the boot context.
Sailing books for beginners
When you're ready to tackle your sailing technique, it's time to pick up a book.
- The Complete Sailing Manual This classic guide covers the basics of sailing, navigation and boat maintenance, using diagrams and photos.
- Sailing for Dummies: Sure, the title might not sound very serious, but that's the point of this book, which focuses on taking away a beginner's fear of such an established sport.
- Sailing Fundamentals: As the official sailing guide for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, this book offers "the fastest, easiest and most systematic way to learn the basics of (offshore) sailing."
- Sailing Made Easy: This book does exactly what the title suggests, using overviews, photos, and even quizzes at the end of each chapter to help you learn on your own.
Of course, according to every seafarer, the best way to learn to sail is to sail. Even if you are a beginner, it doesn't take any special training or fitness level to just get started. After all, we all have to start somewhere!
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