Beginner sailing

Sailing, Dinghy, Optimist, Sailboat

In the last article of sailing newcomer, I went over some sailing conditions related to rigging and raising the mainsail. In this sailing beginner article we are going to discuss how to sail from day one, this being the first day. Hopefully, the wind is just at 5 or 6 knots, making it effortless to maintain control of the sailboat, particularly when this is your first time at the helm.

Sailing Tip:Also to keep things manageable, I would suggest using just the mainsail for now, it’s better to wait till you have gained a certain amount of experience using the sails individually initially.

You’ll have plenty of opportunity to use both at a later time. Assuming that the main is up, next you will need to turn the tiller towards your intended direction of travel until the sail finds the end. By the way, a tiller is the steering mechanism on smaller sailing boats. However take note, the tiller steers in the opposite direction you will want to go. If you turn the tiller to the vent or [left] side of the boat, it will direct to the right or the starboard side. So unlike a car, the tiller works just the opposite! On the other hand, a ship wheel works precisely the same as the steering wheel on a vehicle. So depending on how your sailboat is equipped with a tiller or a ships wheel will determine how you’ll steer with it.

Sailing Tip:I would suggest learning how to sail with the wind for a little while before tacking or sailing upwind.

Just bear in mind that sailing downwind is much faster and simpler than tacking! It is a good reminder to be aware of the time and allow a lot of time to return to your original destination. The boom block is a sailing term that’s a set of pulleys which are attached to the end of the boom and allows you to position the boom in a variety of angles up to 90 degrees perpendicular to the mast.

Running or reaching is the sailing term for traveling downwind and depending on the angle of the mainsail in connection with the end, determines if you’re running or reaching. If running, the job of the mainsail is approximately 90 degrees to the center line of the hull. However if you’re reaching, then the mainsail is at an angle less than 90 degrees in relation to the wind.

Depending upon your natural abilities, you may be happy reaching at first. By experimenting with angling the boom, you will gain the essential skills for running or reaching. But there a wide selection of boom angles between a beam reach and running downwind. The sails are eased away from the boat, but not as much as on a run or dead run (sailing directly downwind).

Next you’ll need to turn or come about. There are essentially two ways to accomplish this, by tacking or turning upwind is one way, or you can jibe or turn downwind that is quicker than a tack turn. The reason being is that in a jibe turn you’ve got the wind behind you pushing the sailboat through the turn, instead of a turning to the wind in a tack turn. I suggest you practice both ends the tack and jibe till you feel comfortable, as you will need this skill to tack or sail upwind.

Hopefully, this article about how to sail is going to be a basic building block in your lifelong endeavor of sailing.

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