Basics Of Sailing – Top 5 Things You Need To Know

Lifebuoy with the text 'Welcome on Board'

Few things are more amazing than sailing off into the sunset for a weekend adventure, or charting new courses with your own boat, or yacht. 

With the taste of the fresh salty air, the sound of the waves lapping against bow, and the incredible scenery all around you, it’s easy to fall in love with the open water after just a single excursion. 

However, if you’re new to sailing, it’s important to ensure you’re familiar with the basics of managing your own boat before you start travelling. A boat is just like any other vehicle, with its own unique components and challenges to consider. The best way to prepare yourself for life on the waves is to seek out training from the right professional or team. 

Still, you can get one step ahead of your education right here. Let’s cover some of the most important things you need to know when you first start sailing.

  1. The Terminology: Get to Grips with Basic Terms

Before you head out on the water, it’s worth making sure you know some of the basic terms you’re going to need when communicating with your crew. Even if you’re planning on learning how to sail with an instructor, memorizing these terms before you start your lessons can be extremely useful.

Some of the key terms you’ll need to know include:

  • The Aft: The back of the boat
  • Abaft: The front of the boat, close to the stern
  • The Stern: The after end of your boat
  • The Bow: The front of the vessel
  • Windward: In the direction of the wind
  • Leeward: Opposite to the direction of the wind
  • Starboard: To the right of the boat (when you’re facing towards the bow)
  • Port: The left of the boat
  • Boom: The pole at the bottom of the largest sail
  • Rudder: The tool used to steer the boat
  1. How to Plan: Mapping your Journey

Planning is crucial to any safe sailing trip. Every destination has its own set of challenges and benefits to consider when you’re venturing out on your boat. Whether you’re heading out on a distant voyage, or you’re staying close to home, you’re going to need to know how to plan your route, and prepare for any issues you might face along the way. 

Make sure you have a GPS, compass, and map on you at all times, and remember that it’s important to consider the weather conditions before any journey. The direction of the wind, and the choppiness of the water can make a huge difference to how dangerous a journey becomes. 

  1. What to Pack: Being Prepared

Knowing what to pack for a sea-faring adventure is crucial. Alongside your GPS, map, and compass, you’ll also need to ensure you have various other resources on board. Ensure you have a carefully provisioned first-aid kit on hand, complete with bandages, tape, pain relievers, and anything else you think you might need along the way. 

Some outdoor stores even carry first-aid kids specifically designed for sailors. You may also need to pack extra resources, such as fresh food and water you can store safely throughout your trip, pills for motion sickness, extra rope, and waterproof clothing for choppy waters. 

  1. What to Wear: Dressing the Part

What you wear can be more important than you’d think on a sailing trip. You’ll need to ensure your clothing can keep you comfortable and warm in any environment. Researching the weather conditions before your trip will ensure you know whether you need to bundle up warm. Packing layers is a good way to ensure you’re prepared for any changes in weather you might encounter.

Shoes are something worth paying extra attention to when you’re packing. You’ll need the right footwear to ensure you can navigate the slippery deck of a boat without falling over. Rubber-soled boat shoes can be useful for preventing injury.

  1. How to Stay Safe: Protecting Yourself

Sailing can be a wonderfully relaxing hobby, but it also has dangers to be aware of. Accidents can happen at sea, and it’s important to be prepared for anything. If you take sailing lessons and courses, you’ll be taught how to protect yourself and your crew members by your teacher. Remember to ensure your boat is always equipped with safety equipment, such as life jackets, flares, lifebuoys, and so on. 

You should also know exactly what to do if there’s a “man overboard”, or you encounter an issue with a part of your boat not working as it should. 

While there’s still a great deal to learn about sailing beyond the five points above, focusing on these key areas will help you to prepare for a safe water adventure. 

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