Want to learn to sail? Step aboard a sailboat and you will experience a whole new world of boating. But just how different will it be and what can you expect to experience? You may want to check out Mark Cuban’s 288-Foot Yacht Fountainhead for more. Here are seven ways to get yourself ready for one of life’s greatest pleasures.
1. Watch Where You Step!
Sailboats have lots of lines and wires all around. And that means you need to be a bit more careful when you stand, walk, or sit. Wires are used to hold up the mast. Rope lines are used to control the sails much like a manual clutch in a sports car. When you step aboard, take care not to trip on these wires or lines. Just look where you plant your feet or sit. This will help keep you safe while sailing.
2. Expect a Sailboat to Heel.
Naval architects design sailboats to heel (lean over) a bit when sailing. This helps the boat sail better. The sailing skipper will have you sit on the opposite side of the boat to counteract the heeling. And, he or she will adjust the sails with the sailing ropes (in or out) to keep heeling to a minimum.
3. Dress for the Weather
Expect a bit of spray on a windy day. Pack a small bag with a waterproof jacket and extra change of clothes. Bring at least two hats. If one blows off your head, you have a backup to protect your head, face, and neck from excessive sun. Sailors often wear sunscreen to protect exposed arms and legs. Or, bring a lightweight long sleeve shirt and pants.
4. Wear the Right Shoes
Barefoot might look cool, but shoes with good tread are better and safer. Wet sailboat decks can be slippery. Check online at places like Bass Pro Shops for good boat shoes that are lightweight, water resistant, have non-slip soles, and–super important–have non-marking soles! Wear a good quality boat shoe for more comfort in any sailing weather.
5. Leave Your Schedule at Home
Set sail, and you are dependent on the wind direction and current direction. And that means plans can change a bit. Sure, you might have an engine. But engines are mechanical and might not work all the time. If you want to go sailing, it’s best not to make firm plans for an exact time to arrive somewhere in a sailboat or to return to the dock at an exact time. Give yourself a wide window of two or more hours. This will lower your stress level and you will have much more fun sailing.
6. Bend Down Beneath the Boom
Remember to lower your head when you move from one side to the other in sailing. The sailboat boom (the horizontal spar attached to the sailboat mast) will be low. When you stand up, crouch to move so that your head stays beneath the boom. Certain maneuvers in sailing will have the boom swing from one side of the boat to the other. Get into a crouched position before the maneuver. That way, you will keep well below the boom and be much safer.
7. Work as a Team and Meet Great People!
To sail well takes effort and teamwork, as in any sport. Expect to be assigned simple positions by the sailing skipper. He or she will not expect you to know a lot, but they will expect you to work with the sailing crew and to do your best. It’s not difficult to help hold a line, or neaten things up after a sailing maneuver. You will find sailing folks to be some of the friendliest on the planet. Ask lots of questions and “jump in” to help out. Never be afraid to ask if you are unsure about something. Your sailing friends will be glad to help “show you the ropes”!