Top 10 Basics about Sailing

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BOATS! BOATS! BOATS! Everyone loves to go for sailing. The adventure, excitement, peace and self contentment you get after sailing is priceless. But along with these things, its dangerous too, if you don’t follow some basic simple rules relating it. Its always better to go prepared rather risking things. Plus,knowing these basics could also provide you with some extra adventure

So, if you are going for sailing, here are the basics you must know before you start doing it.

10. Sailing Terms Everyone Should Know.

Before getting to know the basics of sailing, the most important of all of them is to get to know the glossary page of boating. This short list of sailing terms that everyone should know, can provide a helpful overview of sailing basics you need to become familiar with.

1. Aft – The back of a ship. The aft is also known as the stern.
2. Bow – The front of the ship is called the bow.
3. Port – Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. 4. Starboard – Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow.
5. Leeward – Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing (windward).
6. Windward – The direction in which the wind is currently blowing. Windward is the opposite of leeward (the opposite direction of the wind).
7. Boom – The boom is the horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. Adjusting the boom towards the direction of the wind is how the sailboat is able to harness wind power in order to move forward or backwards.
8. Tacking – This basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side.
9. Jibing – The opposite of tacking, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side.


9. Mind the boom. 

Some of the most common sailing injuries are a result of not being aware when the boom is about to swing. To avoid a bump on your the head, or even worse, being knocked overboard, one of the most important sailing tip( especially for the beginners) is to always remember (for both passengers and crew)  to be conscious and respectful of the boom at all times.


8. Trimming the sails.

Trimming the sails on your sailboat is the process of positioning the angle of the sails in just the right manner so that they catch the wind most efficiently. When trimmed correctly, the wind will flow evenly over both sides of the sails at the leading edge–that closest to the wind. You must learn to recognize when a sail is properly trimmed. An incorrectly trimmed sail is said to be luffing. A luffing sail is easy to spot, for it flaps in the wind and is serving no purpose but to slow down your boat. Trimming is the process of trial and error that puts your sails in the position of maximum efficiency and stops them from luffing. You can immediately tell when the luffing stops for the sail fills with air and tightens up.

7. Distance from the other boats.

A sailboat should always keep distance from any boat that is: a) not under command, b) restricted in its ability to maneuver, and c) engaged in fishing. Usually non commercial boats give way to other boats but still in case it doesn’t, you have to stay distantly from them. However, general sailing instructions are also that sailboats should try to stay out of the way of large vessels and ferryboats that may find it harder to slow or change direction, especially in narrow channels.

6. Knot Knowledge.

There are two general types you should know: bend and hitch. A bend is a knot that fastens rope ends together. A hitch loops a rope around itself to secure the boat to a rail or post. There are hundreds of knots but only a few of them you can add to your practice list!

Bowline: A bowline knot is your standby. It creates a loop at the end of a top, is strong and easy to untie. When in doubt, use this knot.

Square knot: The square knot, or reef knot, is used to tie two ropes (lines) of the same size together. You may be familiar with it from tying your shoelaces.

Clove hitch: This loop is a quick way to temporarily moor a small boat to a ring, rail or post.

Round turn and two half hitches: This knot is frequently used to secure a boat to the docking ring or post.

Figure-of-eight: This stopper knot is used to prevent a rope from unraveling or slipping out of a ring or other device. This type of knot is essential in both sailing and rock climbing.

Sheet bend: Need a longer rope? A sheet bend knot is a quick way to fasten two lines temporarily.


5. Rules and regulations.

There are certain rules and regulations to be followed by people while sailing. Every vessel in coastal and offshore waters is subject to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (the COLREGS). In some sailing events, specific racing rules such as the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) may apply. Often, in club racing, specific club racing rules, perhaps based on RRS, may be superimposed onto the more general regulations such as COLREGS or CEVNI. In general, regardless of the activity, every sailor must maintain a proper lookout at all times, adjust speed to suit the conditions, know whether to ‘stand on’ or ‘give way’ in any close-quarters situation.


4. At the time of collision with other boats.

First of all, use common sense when assessing a boat! If two sailboats are approaching each other and the wind is on the different side of each boat, then sailing rules are that the sailboat which has the wind on the port side must always give right way to the other.

If two sailboats are approaching each other and the wind is on the same side of each boat, then sailing rules are that the vessel which is to windward (the direction of the wind) must give the right way to the vessel which is leeward (the opposite direction of the wind).


3. Licensing.

Licensing regulations vary widely across the world. While boating on international waters does not require any license, a license may be required to operate a vessel on coastal waters or inland waters. Some jurisdictions require a license when a certain size is exceeded (e.g., a length of 20 meters), others only require licenses to pilot passenger ships, ferries or tugboats. For example, the European Union issues the International Certificate of Competence, which is required to operate pleasure craft in most inland waterways within the union. The United States in contrast has no licensing, but instead has voluntary certification organizations such as the American Sailing Association. These US certificates are often required to charter a boat, but are not required by any federal or state law.


2. The steering.

You must be able to steer accurately. This takes most folks about five minutes to learn, maybe ten for those who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. But you can’t trim (adjust) your sails properly unless you can steer a straight line. Rapid or excessive movement of the tiller results in an increase in drag and will result in braking or slowing the boat. In steering a boat, the tiller is always moved in the direction opposite of which the bow of the boat is to move. If the tiller is moved to port side (left), the bow will turn to starboard (right). If the tiller is moved to starboard (right), the bow will turn port (left).


1. Research tide, wind and check the weather conditions. 

Check the weather forecast that will help you to be prepared for whatever the weather might bring. Be sure to bring along basic weather gear as needed. Boating and sailing requires being always prepared. Where is the wind coming from is the most important question! When sailing, one doesn’t drive in a certain direction, one holds the wind at a certain angle. This is an important concept to get your head around early. One of the sites beautifully illustrated this fact by an example- Pretend your buddy comes over, points at a distant shore and says, “Sail me to that restaurant over there and I’ll buy you a Cheeseburger.” The typical car driving, plane flying horse jockey will look toward the restaurant; point his machine in that direction and go. Whereas,

The sailor first looks at the wind direction. Then he checks how the wind direction compares to the direction he needs to go to get to the restaurant. Is it a reach? (Wind across our path) Is it a run? (Wind at our backs) is it a beat? (Wind on the nose) Can we lay the restaurant? (Get there in one shot without changing direction.) Or will we need to tack? (Change direction by bringing the wind across the bow.) Or, God forbid, will we need to gybe? (Change direction by bringing the wind across the stern.)


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