7 Things You Need to Know Before Going Sailing for the First Time

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7 Things You Need to Know Before Going Sailing for the First Time

A sport to some and a hobby to others, sailing is an adventurous activity that many would definitely love to try. It can be a source of enjoyable moments of silent meditation on calm waters, and also an adrenaline trip where you need to think and act quickly as you hoist the sails while following the direction of the wind.

Regardless of whether you’re drawn to sailing because of the serenity or the adrenaline rush, if it’s something completely new to you or you simply don’t know much about it, there are certain principles you should get acquainted with before going sailing for the first time.

Here are seven most important things that first-time sailors need to know before they ever step on a sailboat:

1. Learn the basics

If you’re thinking about taking up sailing, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself about the fundamentals. A simple Google search will do, but if you have the opportunity, it is best to take a sailing course. There, you will learn about the types of sailboats, their parts and the use of nautical flags. You’ll also acquire some basic terminology, understand how boats move, learn the differences between a bareboat and a skippered charter and obtain enough information to understand whether you would be able to travel with friends alone, or you’d need to hire a professional crew. Once you cover these basics, you can be sure there won’t be any big surprises later on.

2. Bring your papers

Don’t forget to bring all the necessary documents and papers. This includes your ID, your boat licenses and everything else that is mandatory. And if you’re planning to sail abroad, definitely don’t go without your passport. You might also consider bringing the currency of the country you’ll be visiting, but if that’s not an option, make sure you have your bank card with you, so that you can withdraw cash once you’re on dry land.

3. Pack the right clothes

You’ve most likely come across the term nautical style before. Even though its name suggests the opposite, when you’re actually going sailing, this style of apparel isn’t really appropriate. A sailor’s shirt and hat aren’t crucial to your sailing experience but, for example, the right footwear is. Make sure you have your boat shoes and sailing loafers, not only flip-flops or sneakers. They definitely won’t do you much good on a sailboat.

4. Bring the right food

Depending on the length of your sailing route, especially if you’re on the open sea for two or three days in a row, there aren’t any pit stops where you can go grocery shopping. That’s why you need to stock up on food that won’t spoil, such as pasta, cornflakes, rice and different canned goods that can last for a long time. There are almost endless options of canned meats, fish, veggies and fruits, as well as ready-to-cook meals that only need to be heated before consumption. You’ll need to bring bottled water as well, but keep in mind that sailboats are limited in space so bring only as much as you will need for the expected duration of your trip.

5. Bring the right tools and gadgets

While you won’t need to take your entire toolbox or entertainment center from home, you’ll definitely need to bring things that can be highly useful on a boat but won’t take up too much space. These are usually small, multi-purpose tools such as Swiss Army knives and multifunctional wrenches. It goes without saying that you’ll bring your smartphone and even a laptop or a tablet. Those devices are not only your connection with the world – which can mean the difference between life and death if you’re stranded in an ocean storm – but they can also be your compass, map, GPS device and weather-tracking equipment. Not to mention that you can use them in your downtime when you might feel like watching a movie, for instance.

6. Put safety first

Before you step onto your boat, you should check whether it is equipped with flotation devices and life jackets, as well as an on-board emergency kit that contains band aids, bandages, disinfectant, pain medication etc. Most boats are, especially those that are chartered, but it’s always advisable to check. Unfortunately, staying safe, which is actually the most important aspect of sailing, far too often gets overlooked.

To be extra safe, make sure you have the right medication. If you’re sailing for the first time, maybe you’ll experience motion sickness, so it is best you bring remedies for such ailments. If you suffer from allergies, bring antihistamines. Bring any medicine you might particularly need, especially the kind you can’t do without if you find yourself in a state of medical emergency.

7. Learn the sailing etiquette

The term sailing etiquette refers to certain ways of conduct that are associated with boating and that every sailor is expected to follow. For example, if you’re stepping on someone’s boat for the first time, you need to ask for the permission to come on board or otherwise you might seem rude. If you want to learn something, go ahead, but keep in mind that your enthusiasm shouldn’t interfere with anyone’s safety. Don’t be messy – pick up your trash and store it away and then throw it away as soon as possible. Respect other people’s personal space by limiting the amount of your luggage and offer to pay for gas or food if you’re a guest on somebody else’s boat.

Finally, never forget that sailing is supposed to be fun! It is an exciting holiday option and a great learning experience. Just make sure not to go unprepared and always remember to stay safe. You’ll be sure to have an unforgettable time and you’ll probably find out you have a new favorite activity!

Patricia Dimick

Patricia Dimick

She is a Denver-based writer and a fun stay-at-home mom. This passionate coffee drinker loves to write about parenting topics and enjoys DIY projects. Patricia spends her free time playing table tennis or enjoying trips to nature with her precious daughter and loving husband.
Patricia Dimick

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