Have you been watching YouTube sailing videos to get you through the winter months? Are you longing for a bit of salt spray on your skin, the sun glittering on the waves, and the wind filling your jib? There’s lots to know that will make your sailing adventures this year more rewarding, from basic skills and racing rules to preparing your gear and charts for a destination cruise. The more you know, the more your skipper can rely on you — and the better the results when you’re the captain of your own boat!
A Pre-Season Sailing Basics Online Course
If you’re counting the days until your first time on the water this season, why not cover the basics for the first time or as a review with this free ASA online course.
Knots, Rope Management and Nautical Terms
These are the skills that every sailor should know by heart — the essentials that make you a versatile sailor. If you can tie a bowline or a clove hitch and belay a cleat, it’ll give you a sense of sailing pride to fashion a nautical knot as easily as tying your shoes. Get your knot knowledge down, learn proper techniques for managing your lines, and review basic nautical terms. Here’s a beautiful video for further reviewing sailing terms visually.
Casting Off and Docking
From freeing the vessel for the open seas to securing it when the sailing day is done, if you can leap from shipboard to the dock and back again, plus navigate a cleat with ease, you’ll have a skill valued by any captain. Keep this PDF file handy for an in-depth review, and use this step-by-step guide to be prepared for the real thing. On windy days, this simple activity can get very real!
Race Terms and Strategies
From the infamous “coming about” — which really means “duck!” — to the more strategic aspects of a race which all crew members should know and anticipate, one of the quickest ways to build instinctive sailing skills is to learn under a bit of pressure but with the chance of trophy-winning success. If you use Steam, try this sailing simulator to get some hands-on practice. Review these essential tips to be ready when someone needs an extra hand for a race. Breathtaking videos of J-Class racing and the Volvo Ocean Race will help you to get inspired and maybe pick up a bit of technique. Now is the time to immerse your mind in the intensity of sailing teamwork!
Sails and Sail Management
When do you put up and take down the jib? Can you furl the mainsail? What about tailing the winches as you adjust the sails? Learning the basics of sail use and management can help you sail safely and effectively whether there’s a light breeze you need to squeeze for all it’s got, or strong gusts you don’t want to overwhelm your vessel. Think you know plenty? Try this quiz!
Your First Overnight Trip on the Water
Have you been imagining waking up on a boat in a marina or anchoring overnight somewhere new? Whether you’re in a secluded cove or visiting a new marina, there’s lots to know about living onboard, even for a night or two. Start planning your trip with a comprehensive list or two.
Recognizing Foul Weather
Check the tells on your mast and identify the clouds on the horizon to get a feel for whether you’ll be becalmed on open water or racing for home as a storm rolls in. Check your knowledge with this quiz, and review visual indicators with this great YouTube video.
Getting Experience as a Crew Member
Captaining is its own joy, and once you have the right skills you’ll be welcome as a crew member for those who love to lead a team of sailors. Make new friends, find a mentor or learn sailing techniques only experience can impart! Whether they’re taking on crew for an exotic voyage or a day sailing trip, a lot of the things captains look for are similar.
When You’re Charting Your Own Course
From your first sailing lesson to the day you’re skippering a small boat, you’re learning skills that could one day come in handy on your own vessel, even with your own crew. It’s a lot of responsibility, and you have to be prepared for a host of “what ifs,” but if you want to stand at the helm and look out over the ocean that supports you, you have to learn how. Though the basic ASA course linked above covers much of what you’ll need, the course for commercial licensing adds an extra dimension of confidence, even if you’re not going to be a working captain.
If You’re Looking for More Advanced Sailing Tips
Already at one with the sea? Now is a great time to add to your mastery. UK Sailmakers offers a series of specialized notes on sailing technique that will get you hungering for more ways to put your sails to use. Watch this singlehanded trip from LA to Hawaii to learn how to rely on yourself on long voyages from an old hand.
New Boat Excitement
The Best Boats 2020 selection by Sail Magazine can help you dream of a yachting vacation or retirement and feel the salt spray and sunshine on their YouTube channel, where you can see magnificent craft in action. Feel it, live it and get your sea legs ready!