Learn how to sail a sailboat

Learn how to sail a sailboat

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

There are various ways to learn sailing:

  • You can go directly to a sailing school and get certified
  • You can ask a friend to teach you the basics of sailing.
  • you can teach yourself.

One great advantage of learning sailing is that the smallest modern sailboat applies the very same concepts as the biggest of sail boats. Obviously the size and complexity of controls and boat equipment would differ for sail boat of various sizes, the basic principles of sailing are exactly the same. You may start learning the fundamentals with a small sailing dingy in sheltered waters and moderate winds and later progress to larger boats and more open waters.

Teach yourself to sail

There is a multitude of good literature that can introduce you to the intricacies of sailing. There is also the option of online sailing courses to teach yourself to sail. One key element is to progress step by step and to be fully aware of potential dangers and safety procedures.

Teaching yourself the basics of sailing is feasible for recreational small boat sailing but when you are advancing to coastal cruising and extended itineraries where you may have to anchor and observe changes in weather conditions, it is advisable to have at least one seasoned sailor show you the ropes.  A great way to gather experience is to crew on other peoples boats for day sails or even for racing.

Sailing Certifications

Is is necessary to be certified to sail? Actually, in most countries no. However, having a sailing certification is useful in various aspects:

  • Reassurance in your ability and a structured approach to learning how to sail.
  • Possible discounts for insurances if you are a boat owner.
  • I you want to charter, most yacht charter companies demand proof of sailing capabilities.

Certifications for recreational boating vary in each country or region. Some sailing certifications are more commonly recognized than others.

Recreational Sailing Certifications:

  • RYA: Royal Yachting Association, based in the UK. More than 2,250 training centers in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand and USA.
  • US Sailing: This association’s history goes all the way back to 1897. US Sailing Seems to be more racing focused as opposed to ASA, it historically came into existence from merging various associations.
  • ASA: American Sailing Association – more than 25 years in existence.  They offer certification throughout the US and have over 300 sailing schools.
  • IYT: International Yacht Training, based in Florida since 1998.

Commercial Sailing Certifications:

Offering commercial cruises for paying passengers is a different ballgame and would necessitate some kind of official licensing from local authorities. Larger boats usually require further licensing and experience.