Beginners Guide To Sailing Part 1

Beginner Sailor, Sailor Journey, Sailing, Sail Beginning to Sail, Sailing journeyWHAT ARE THINGS I WILL NEED TO  FIRST LEARN WHEN I START MY SAILING JOURNEY?

Beginning your sailing sports hobby is quite different than beginning other sports. In football you learn by first throwing the ball back and forth with your friends or kicking it with a football tee, without worrying much about the field of play- the field boundaries or the height of the field goal posts. For sailors the field of play is always turned on!

The water, wind, other boats, and other elements are always changing course and there is really no other place to practice your hobby then by going out to sea with your vessel and challenging these elements. With wind, you are constantly gauging its direction and power. With water, waves and currents may change the playing field immensely and it is up to you to compensate and learn how to battle these changes. In all its glory, sailing can be consider Mother Natures way of leveraging power, and it is always important and very necessary to respect mom! 


Should I Take Sailing Lessons?

You will spot sailboats close to practically every body of water there is. Typically when there a big number of them in one area, you can rest assured there  will be some form of sailing schools/clubs nearby, the the experience necessary to help you with any questions you may have, lessons, or they may also even be looking for crew members to bring on board. If this experienced sailor uses a boat that is longer  than 15 ft, then also rest assured that he is looking to fill it up with crew.

sail lessons, sailing lessons, lessons on how to sail

Our suggestion is that if you are near a marina (please stay local at first!) and look up their bulletin boards to see if they have anybody looking for crew members. You will, for sure, be shocked at how many opportunities to jump on board with an experienced sailor and get your feet wet with his/her vessel before embarking on your own sea adventure in your own sailboat.

Obviously there will be times where you may have friends that would facilitate the process for you with their own sailing rig, and sure you will probably have a more comfortable time with them (maybe!) since you are friends, but with training the mind and body to learn something new, comfort isn’t necessarily the best option.

Also keep in mind that certified instructors will keep you safer and will generally know a lot more that may save you a trip to the hospital or your sailboat sent adrift , or worse! Red Red Your Dead! Disclaimer: Please Do Not Try And Sail Alone! Especially at this juncture!


Will Location Affect My Sailing?

You probably know the answer to this question without thinking too much about it. Water conditions along with weather conditions directly affect not only the playing field but whether there will be a game in the first place!

Sailing Location, sailing, compass, sailing compass, sail location

Many experienced sailors hang up their sailing gear during winter, but those that live Coastal-South and closest to the equator where it stays warm most of the year, sailing year round is definitely on the table! However, Bad in-climate weather such as snow or ice storms won’t halt die-hards from giving it an ol’ go!


This is especially true for those who sail ice boats in the frozen lakes in the north. On the flip side, daring sailors in drier desert like climates cruise on land yachts that have wheels attached to them! Now, under the assumption your plan of action is to sail on salt or fresh, water that isn’t ice-rink like, then you have problems to worry about:

  1. Water (as discussed earlier, waves, currents, water temperature and water depth)
  2. Wind (Power and it’s propensity to change)

Many areas have volatile, unpredictable conditions whereas others have a more steady consistent weather throughout its year. In a few areas, a usually windy zone and calmer location may be inside of a mile of each other. So it is crucial you are always aware of  your local conditions, even projected ahead for the week  if you are sailing for long periods of time at a time. If you can avoid strong wind strengths we encourage only starting out with areas of light-to-medium winds and calmer water levels( protected).

Rest assured if you have trouble with this, any local sailing school will know exactly how and when to find these conditions in your area. The longer you are around these schools of thought the more experience you will gain and the more you will be able to enjoy the challenges of say the florida bays in the winter, windy Chicago all year round  San Fran’s midsummer winds, or even better shooting down the Molokai Channel (Aloha!) Watch this fun video on how you can becoming a sailing traveler!

So No Wind, No Movement on Sailboat?

You at some point must’ve heard that sailboats will not go without some sort of wind pushing on the sails, right?! Sure you can install an outboard or inboard engine , utilize a tow or paddle or even jump and and push the boat into the ocean. However, this is the sport of sailboating! Therefore you must learn how to utilize the actual sails and harness the power of the wind using sails as a conduit for movement.No wind sailing,

Sailing is all about wind!!! That is what sailing is every which way you  may think otherwise. Wind! So your cognition of weather and wind conditions must be elevated! There is a certain feel you will need to learn with learning how to pinpoint where the winds are and which direction these winds are going!

We recommend you search for some nearby flag rippling in the air to give you a sense of what the wind is doing at that given moment. The next step would be to take that knowledge and adjust the sail’s angles in relation to where the wind is and what direction the wind is going! This may seem logical but for many it can seem a bit challenging.


Regardless of how the weather may seem on shore, offshore will see loads of variability in both wind shifts and speed. You must keep an eye on the conditional changes throughout your boating trip. Having a sense of when the wind will pick up or flatten out is a crucial and necessary skill to have. Being able to trust your instincts and potentially cancel a trip out when winds are getting too strong is also very important. Your safety needs to be your number 1 point of emphasis. There is no need to risk becoming one with the sea for good! On the flip side if the winds are dead then you want to avoid going out: This phenomena is called becalmed sailing! You won’t go far!

If you can turn on the local marine forecast the day preceding the day you are planning to go out, that would be an optimal option! You will hear about all the predicted conditions which are usually extremely accurate. Last conditions you want to be stuck in include:

  • Thunderstorms
  • Very strong winds
  • Sleat/Ice storms
  • Thick Fog (going back to our red red your dead saying which we will discuss more in depth later)


Should I always think Safety When Sailing?Life jacket, sailing life jacket

There is a short and long answer to this question. For now we will answer in summary form.

Yes 100% always no exceptions! Before even thinking about going out on a trip, consider bringing with you the fundamental safety gear. This includes safety jackets, along with other safety gear. You may also need to learn how to save someone after they fall overboard without wearing the necessary equipment and even getting a capsized sailboat back upright and back on track!

How do Sailboats Work?

Sailboats come in many different forms ( whether it be size, frame differences and functionality). One of the great things with sailboats is that you will very easily find one if not more different types of sails that you will in love with and that will be very specific to what you plan on doing with it. Almost all sailboats , regardless of shape or size have one or more of these components:

  • Rope (Tons of it)
  •  Sail
  • Mast (Sail is fixed to the mast)
  • Fin (That is submerged under the water and connected to the boat that helps steer the boat)
  • Hull

How do Sailboats Float?Sailboats Floating

I am sure there has been a time you floated out on a boat and wondered, “What the heck is going on here? Why wont this boat flip over or fill up with water and sink?

The reason is simplified to one word: Density. Density just means mass per unit of volume. Let’s just say for sake of argument that freshwater is 62.2 lbs per cubic ft. Now let’s also say that Saltwater is slightly denser at 64 lbs per cubic ft. All this means is that anything other mass( us sailors and our sailboat for instance) can float higher in saltwater than in freshwater. This also means that  if the boat and all the contents inside of the boat including us  has less density than 64 lbs per cubic feet , then the boat will be able to float over salt water.

And so if the boat is half the weight per cubic ft of the salt water, then half of the boat will float over the water and half the boat will be submerged under the water. Boat weight is also considered Displacement  and is called this because a boat acts to moves aside water volume that equates to its weight. If you think of a body board that has little to no weight in comparison to water, you can imagine why now in  how it displaces very little water underneath the board and will need extra force only by force to get submerged in water. The inverse would be a huge yacht or cruise-line that has a huge section of its frame submerged in water because of how much water it displaces to equalize with the water weight. Interesting stuff huh!?

What’s even more fascinating is that you can use materials heavier than water like steel and concrete(naval vessels for example) that can float if these vessels have enough volume in that their total densities are lower than then the density of the water that the vessel is being used on. Amazing!

What Are The Main Sailboat Parts?sailboat nomenclature, sailboat parts, part of boats, sailboat anatomy


Hull: the basic concept to a hull, which is found on most ever boat, is that it is, mechanically speaking the body of the boat that floats.

What Materials Are Used In Making the Hull?

Hulls come in all kinds of different materials used. This can include plastic, metas, fiberglass (most common) and wood. For Naval Vessels, cement is used. It comes in a variety of sizes depending on the size of the boat. It can be as little as a body board or long as a 3rd of a football field!
There is a lot of truth to looking at a boat and gauging its speed by the shape of the boat, almost as if you looked at a remote control hummer and compared it to the speed of a corvette you can pick up at the dealership. So when looking at a wider frame ship with a hull (body)  pulls up you would know that this is a boat that doesn’t fly like Usain Bolt!

What are the Different Types Sailboat Hulls?

There are three basic types of hull shapes that can found on the water today
  1. Monohulls: These boats are practically everywhere and are by far the most typical boat hull you will see. Mono means “One” so this boat type has only one hull. Most boating events, competitions and races will have monohull requirements. These are also called dinghies or keel-boating. If you were to join a sailing school, you would probably be taught in a monohull boat. If you are out in the tropics you may learn using a sail board which we will discuss in a minute.
  2. Multihulls: These are sailboats that have at least 2 or more hulls. One type of boat with 2 hulls is a Catamaran. One with three is a “Trimaran”. Both of these are loads of fun to take out on the water. There is a phenomena when taking these two types of boats out that almost give you that flying feeling. It only takes a little wind to lift one of their hulls out of the water, and then boom , we have take off! The bigger the multihull the potentially greater feel you will have cruising around with it, kind of like a Cadillac.
  3. Sailboard Hulls: These sailboats are practically surfboards with a sail attached to them. They come in a variety of sizes depending what your plans are for using it. This is the minimal style of sailing, but can be loads of fun and is honestly really the best way to recreationally sail because you are not having to bring with you loads of equipment so its much less of a hassle then with a monohull. And rest assured, if you are looking for a workout, this way of sailing will definitely do the trick.

Analogies: Monohulls are like bikes, sailboards are similar to roller blades and catamarans or multihulls are similar to plans


These fins are attached to the aft side of the hull .

What is the Purpose of the Rudder?

The rudder simply is the steering mechanism to your boat. It works together with your wheel pilot to direct the boat to where it needs to go.

Keel(middle fin)

Further, near the middle portion of the bottom of the boat is a second, larger  of the two, fins. This is also commonly known by “Centerboard.”

What is the Purpose of the Keel?Keel

The main purpose of a keel is to stop the boat from shifting sideways from the sheer power of winds and other elements and also to allow for lift so as to bring you closer to these winds. If a fin is attached and cannot be moved and looks and feels really heavy then you are probably most likely looking at a keel. Centerboards are lighter in nature and can be shifted around. Both are used for the same purpose

 Naturally you will find that keelboats have keels! What a shocker! They are usually comprised of some heavy material for ballast hanging. This helps keep the boat stable when faced with heavy wind gusts. Most keelboats are longer than 20 ft length-wise.

Dinghies: smaller sailboats which can be quicker shifting direction then boats with keels. They, however, have more of a propensity to capsize (flip over). Instead of utilize a ballast makeup with keels, they utilize a much lighter board that retracts. In this case the centerboard is sometimes called a dagger when the retraction happens vertically. Leeboards  are attached to the side of the boat. These boats usually come in sizes between 8 and 20ft. 

How are Sailboats Driven?Sailboat Wheel, Tiller, Sailboat cruising wheel

This question may seem complicated but it is nothing more complicated then driving a car but instead of wheels you are canvasing the water beneath you.

The rudder, is usually linked to a tiller, which acts as a long lever and allows you to direct (turn ) the rudder. If not a tiller then a wheel is used which also is linked to to the tiller. This wheel is usually harnessed to cables that moves the rudder in every which way. Most of your smaller sized sailboats will have tillers and bigger boats usually utilize wheels, because of the naturally greater pressure on the rudder .

Continued on Part 2.  

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