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The are many courses that are available at various levels, this section helps you work out which which one is right for you. Completely new to sailing? Check out our checklists to get you started.
|Course||Assumed Knowledge||Course Content||Ability after the Course||Min Duration||Min Age|
|Level 1 Start Sailing||None||Sailing skills and manoeuvres||Basic understanding of yacht handling under sail and relevant background knowledge||16 hours||12|
|Level 2 Basic Skills||Sailing Skills To Start||Sailing techniques and manoeuvres as crew and helm, silpping and coming alongside sail, sailing theory, safety, sailing in tide or current.||Able to sail a yacht as crew and helm with skipper on board in light winds||16 hours||12|
|Course||Assumed Knowledge||Course Content||The Course Enables You to:||Min Duration||Min Age|
|Start Yachting||None||Introduction to sailing and seamanship||Have a basic knowledge of yachting||2 days||8|
|Competent Crew||None||Basic seamanship and helmsanship, navigation and meteorology||Be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day routines||5 days||12|
|Day Skipper||~ 5 days, 100 miles, 4 nights ~ ashore navigation Day Skipper course ~ Basic sailing ability||Basic pilotage, boat handling, watch organisation||Skipper a small yacht in familiar waters by day||5 days||16|
|Coastal Skipper||~ 15 days, 2 day as skipper, 300 miles, 8 nights hours. ~ On shore coastal skipper standard. ~ Sailing to Day Skipper Standard.||Skippering techniques for coastal and offshore passages||Skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night||5 days||17|
Before you venture out on your first trip, be sure to acquaint yourself with important sailing terms. When sailing with a group as part of the crew, the skipper (person steering the boat) may call out directions using these terms. You will need to know them to be an effective crew member and act quickly, as there are often situations that arise when sailing that will require you to act fast.
Stern refers to the back of the ship.
Bow refers to the front of the ship.
Port is the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow (front).
Starboard is the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow.
Before you sail, learn what it means to tack and jibe. Also, familiarize yourself with the direction of the wind—a sailboat can’t sail directly into the wind, so you’ll have to adjust the sails to maintain a certain angle to the wind if you want to move forward.
You can also use a product called Windex that will show you where the wind is coming from, but with time, you’ll learn to tell the direction of the wind just by feeling it on your face.
Tacking refers to a sailing maneuver in which the sailor(s) turn the bow of the boat through the wind. The wind will change from one side of the vessel to the other side.
Jibing refers to a sailing maneuver in which you turn the boat so the bow faces away from the wind. Jibing is not as common as tacking since it can be much harder to do correctly.
The boom is the horizontal pole which extends from the mast (the tall pole-like object) and is part of the mainsail. Some of the most common sailing injuries are a result of not being aware when the boom is about to swing. This usually happens during a tack or jibe. To avoid a bump to the head, or even worse, being knocked overboard, one of the most important beginner sailing tips to always remember for both passengers and crew is to be conscious and respectful of the boom at all times, especially when the skipper yells out for the crew to execute a tack or jibe.
When sailing, it can be much cooler on the water than it is on shore, due to the wind exposure. It can be helpful to combat this by dressing in layers. Comfortable casual clothes and non-slip shoes are usually suitable for sailing. If you know are going to get wet, wear a swimsuit underneath your layers and leave the nice clothing at home. Tie back long hair and avoid excessive jewelry, which could pose a safety risk if it got caught in the ropes or elsewhere. Bring a raincoat or jacket to protect yourself from rain or wet weather.
It’s best to wear closed-toe shoes for your own safety.
You can buy shirts with sun protection built into them. These are often sold at sportswear stores or can be found online.
If you are crewing a boat or sailing your own small vessel, wear clothes that can get wet, such as spandex or Lycra. These are usually materials used in swimwear. There are also websites that specialize in selling sailing gear, such as SailingWorld.com.
Wear a life jacket at all times. When sailing, there is always a possibility that your boat capsizes (overturns into the water) and you become separated from it, carried away in a current, or are too exhausted to swim to shore. Avoid a dangerous situation and wear a proper-fitting life jacket at all times. These can be purchased at boating stores.
Whenever you are sailing, you will be handling ropes. Sailing gloves provide protection, grip, and warmth. In order to handle these ropes without getting rope burn or being unable to adequately grasp the ropes, you will need to purchase a pair of sailing gloves. Sailing gloves look like gloves that are used for weightlifting and will usually be finger-less. They can be purchased online at sailing apparel websites or in boat stores such as West Marine.
It is difficult to shield yourself from the sun on a sailboat, unless you are onboard a large boat with a living area(s) below decks. Pack plenty of sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and be sure to wear a hat. Pack an extra hat or two just in case one of your hats goes flying off your head in the wind.
Pack a small drawstring bag or backpack with a few bottles of water, snacks, a towel, and some first aid items. For longer trips, you should also include extra changes of clothes, something nice to wear in the evening if you head to a coastal town for dinner, toiletries, non-slip shoes for walking around the sailboat and a suitable pair of shoes for wearing off the boat, your prescription medication, and a small flashlight.
Invest in a good sailing course through a community sailing club or center near you. In-depth, formal, and in-person instruction is the best way to learn how to sail. You can start at any age!
It is usually not possible to begin sailing without a course, as most sailing centers won’t allow you to take out their vessels without either taking a course from them or demonstrating your sailing knowledge.
The best way to get confident at sailing is to commit a lot of time to it. It’s a lifelong process, because no matter how long you’ve been on the water, there’s always something new to learn.
One of the most important parts of sailing is to notify the sailing club or another person of your whereabouts. Let them know the area you plan to sail in and when you plan to be back. This will give you and others peace of mind before you head out to the open water.
Even if you are going to meet your sailing instructor, notify a third party of your plans.
Always have a float plan before you leave the dock. Know where you’re going to sail, and about how long you plan to be gone, and give that information to your contact on shore. Also, be sure to include the names of everyone who will be on board.
If you’re just starting to learn sailing basics, one of the most important beginner sailing tips to remember is to practice in ideal conditions of light winds and low traffic. This will give you ample space and agreeable weather to practice and gain confidence in your skills.
It’s easier to learn how to sail with fewer lines and sails. A small dinghy will be more responsive and easier to maneuver, and is also perfect for practicing capsizing (tipping the boat underwater and then correcting it).
Choose a boat with a single sail or perhaps just the mainsail and a jib (the small sail located in front the main sail). Starting on a boat that’s rigged with only one sail will make learning sailing basics easier and less complicated.
Capsizing is inevitable in sailing, more so with small vessels less than 20 feet long than the larger yachts. This may seem odd, but it’s better to practice how to handle a capsized sailboat in a controlled environment, as opposed to an uncontrolled one.
New sailors learn best from experience, and the valuable sailing basics you’ll pick up from going through a test-capsize in a small dinghy will serve you well in the event of a real-life one.
The best sailors are the ones who are able to adjust sail settings to take advantage of different wind and water conditions. In general, sails should be relatively flat when the wind is either very light or very strong, and full when there is a moderate wind.