Things You Need to Know Before Starting Sailing
Sailing takes practice.
Sailing takes practice. If you are new to sailing, you might be surprised at how much skill is involved in learning how to sail and how much work goes into preparing for a day. It requires a lot of practice because there is so much to learn about operating a boat and different sailing techniques that you must learn and master before you can safely operate a small or large boat. But if you are up for the challenge, then you will find that sailing can be an exciting pastime and a great way to spend your time.
It is not just about using the wind, but it’s also about using the sails and other equipment on the boat to navigate through the water as efficiently as possible. Unlike driving on land, which is fairly straightforward, navigating water requires a lot more skill and knowledge due to the nature of the waterways themselves.
Watch the weather
The weather can have a great impact on sailing. For example, the wind speed and direction will determine the conditions on the water. Wind affects your boat’s speed and direction through waves and wind gusts. It may also affect your visibility by blowing rain or snow into your face.
- Watching the weather means paying attention to all of these factors:
- Wind direction and speed
- Clouds (types, locations)
- Low cloud height (low clouds mean bad weather)
- Air temperature
Read the weather forecast
If you plan to sail in rough seas or inclement weather, it’s important to know how to read the weather forecast and understand its meaning for your trip.
Sailing in Light and Heavy Winds
Sailing in light winds requires skillful boat handling techniques that take practice to master. In heavy winds, it is exhilarating but requires careful attention to safety precautions at all times. You need to understand that you can’t just look out at the ocean and guess what’s going on. In fact, that’s how people get killed — they don’t pay attention to their surroundings and don’t know when they need help.
It’s all about wind direction.
The critical factor in sailing is wind direction. The wind blows the sails and propels the boat. Its direction determines where you’ll go and how fast you’ll get there.
Leeward and windward
The wind is always blowing somewhere, but it’s not always blowing at your back. The direction that the wind blows from is called the “windward” side of your boat (or “tacking to”). The opposite side is called “leeward.”
Upwind and downwind,
If you want to sail toward a particular destination, pick a point on land that’s about as far away as you’d like to go — say, three miles away — and tack upwind from there. If you’re sailing from one harbor to another, tack upwind from the harbor entrance and tack downwind once you reach it.
Port Tack and Starboard Tack
If you’re on a lake, then it doesn’t matter much, but if you’re on open water, then it does. When the wind blows from the port, it pushes your boat backward (port tack). And when the wind blows from the starboard side, it pushes your boat forward (starboard tack).
Before you jump into any plans for a future on the water, I would encourage you to spend some time educating yourself about this lifestyle. As with anything, once you get used to it and understand what you’re getting yourself into, it can be gratifying. On the other hand, if you are clueless as to what’s required of you once you make the transition, you may regret not taking more time to prepare for how to sail beforehand.
We hope that this article has provided you with useful information on the sport of sailing.
Blue Pacific Yachting
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BPY does reciprocity with other sailing clubs! It’s like a buddy/sister club system where if you’re a member at another sailing club, you might get membership discounts at BPY too. Talk to Ruth in the office — she’s very nice and helpful if you have any questions.If you have a story to share about Blue Pacific Yachting, please click a review platform icon below to tell your story — or if you have something newsworthy for our blog, please feel free to reach out to us here.
We look forward to helping you achieve your nautical goals. If you're just starting out, or hoping to increase your experience level and skillset, we'll get you there. Blue Pacific Yachting has served the Marina del Rey community for more than 30 years. With Sailing instruction, powerboating courses, trips to Catalina Island and the Channel Islands, yacht racing classes, spinnaker clinics, catamaran courses, docking clinics, instructor certification courses — we cover it all. Plus, we have a beautiful fleet of boats to bareboat charter. We are proud to be LA's premier boating destination.