When it comes to sailing, there are two types of people.
There are those who come from sailing families and have grown up on decks, with the salt in their hair and the wind at their back. And there are those who are drawn to sailing by a love of the water or a desire to learn something new. Ultimately, they both share a common goal.
They want to escape the limits of the land and experience the boundless freedom of life on the waves. The most important lessons are the same for everybody, but people learn in different ways. Some take formal courses. Others practice with seafaring friends. Where you decide to start your sailing journey is up to you, as long as you stay safe.
This beginner’s guide to sailing will give you all the information you need to get out there and test yourself on the water.
Start with a Small Boat
The smaller and simpler the boat, the easier it will be to grasp the basics and start improving your skills. You would not hop in a monster truck to pass a driving test. Similarly, you need to save the luxury catamarans and multihulls for later. Complete beginners need a small boat with a single sail, as it will be easy to manoeuvre.
Consider Formal Lessons
Most people tend to take lessons with a qualified instructor, because it is important to have the right information. It is not impossible to learn how to sail alone, but you will be missing out on essential safety and handling tips.
There are some excellent sailing schools in Australia. Pick one which is endorsed by Yachting Australia or the Royal Yachting Association.
Take One Step at a Time
Sailing is such an exciting hobby that you are bound to be tempted to run before you can walk. Resist the urge to jump ahead and try things which are more advanced than your current knowledge and skills.
For instance, when you head out without an instructor, stick to calm and uncrowded waters, at least for the first few times. Work your way up to bigger things in a slow, smart, fashion.
Follow the Rules
There are some basic safety rules which all sailors, no matter their level of experience, are expected to follow. The first is telling somebody before you head out, even if it is just a friend at the marina.
Real crises only really develop when sailors cannot be located. If somebody is keeping watch, you cannot go missing for long. Also, you must include a flotation device on your boat. It is a legal requirement.
Look After Yourself
Whether you are cruising off the coast in a simple vessel or powering your way towards the Caribbean on a beautiful yacht, take care of yourself. The conditions on the water can change in an instant and being stuck on deck with no raincoat is a good way to put a dampener on the sailing experience.
Pack plenty of warm clothing, wear sturdy shoes and have thick gloves to hand for the rougher tasks. Your boat might be impressive, but you are its brain, so make your comfort and safety a priority.
How to Turn Your Sailing Dreams Into a Reality
Sailing is the kind of thing which lots of people talk about doing, but secretly assume is not really meant for them. Ultimately, anybody can learn how to do it, as long as they have access to a good boat and the right learning resources. So, if you have long dreamed of calling yourself the Captain, it is time to be bold and take that first step.