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How to Sail on Your Very First Try: A Beginner’s Guide to Sailing

Sailing can be thought of as the skill behind controlling a boat with a big sails made from fabric. The sailor controls the wind’s force by manipulating the boat’s keel, rudder, and rigging. As a result, the sailor is then capable of changing the direction and the speed of a boat. To succeed at sailing, one has to have experience in different sea and wind conditions as well as knowledge concerning sailboats and familiarity with the surroundings. While sailing can seem daunting, even a beginner can sail on his or her very first try with the right coaching. This article incorporating resources and tips for the sailing beginner is provided as a service to the boating community by Action Donation Services® who has for more than ten years promoted organizations that educate the boating community about safety and provide other helpful services to the sailing community. Action also processes boat, yacht, truck, RV, and motorhome donations for some of America’s best known charities and non-profits providing them with income that helps them to fulfill their non-profit mission. Action Donation hopes the following resources will help the beginning sailor:

One of the first things a new boater or sailor should familiarize himself or herself with is water safety rules. For starters, the condition of the boat should be evaluated to ensure that it is seaworthy. Another important rule to remember is that the boat should not be overloaded, so new boaters should be mindful of this. Finally, if there are passengers, everyone has to be supplied with a life jacket.

The rules of the waterway depend on boaters looking out for each other on the water for everyone’s safety. When boats meet each other head-on, each vessel has to change its course to the right to pass the other on the port side; this intention must be indicated with a horn blast from one boat that has to be reciprocated by the other boat. If a boat wants to pass or overtake another vessel, the boat has to signal its intention to pass on the other boat’s starboard side with one horn blast. If the overtaking boat wants to pass on the other boat’s port side, it must sound two horn blasts before. Although there are more instances of interaction on the water, the aforementioned are the most usual situations a new sailor will find himself or herself in.

Before a new boater takes to the water, he or she should be familiar with some general boating laws. Boating laws vary from state to state, so it is advisable to check with the boating authority of one’s state before sailing for the first time. For example, some states require that a boater have a license before he or she can even operate the craft. Different states may also mandate boating education before a person can take to the water.

A new boater will have to learn basic sailing maneuvers to be capable of operating the boat. One of the most basic sailing maneuvers to learn is the tack, which is a zigzag pattern that relies on turning the boat’s bow through the wind by changing its course. Another basic sailing maneuver to be familiar with is jibing. Jibing simply involves changing the course of the boat by swinging the boat’s fore-and-aft sails across an oncoming wind.

It is advisable to be familiar with the basic positions of the sail. In sailing, there are particular terms used to denote the sail positions, and these are normally used in conjunction with calling the left side of the boat “port” and the right side of the boat “starboard.” The different positions of the sail are close-hauled, reached and running. For example, there may be an order to reach the sail on the boat’s starboard side.

When sailing, it is essential to pack all the necessary items to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip. A soft duffel bag is the basis of what to pack while out sailing because it can also be neatly rolled up on the boat as well as taken with the sailor when on a shore excursion. What to pack on a boat is an extensive list based on bringing along fundamentals. Some things to pack are sailing gloves, boat shoes, walking shoes, swimming attire, shorts, T-shirts, sleepwear, extra underwear, light windbreakers, hats, visors, sunscreen, bug spray, flashlights, books, card games, a first aid kit, and a camera.

A new boater should familiarize himself or herself with common boating phrases so the proper reaction can be taken. For instance, if there is a command shouted like “All hands above board!” a boater should know that that means everyone should make their way to the deck, in plain sight. Another shouted command like “Abandon ship!” means that there is imminent and great risk present, which should make everyone hearing that command leave the boat instantly. Being familiar with these boating phrases and commands is imperative even for a new sailor or a boater because every second counts in a theoretical emergency.

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