7 mins

Top tips on how to sail

Kate Reeves, Sailing Director of Essential Sailing, gives her tips for hauling anchor

Top tips on how to sail (dreamstime)

1. Wear the right kit

Required clothing varies with climate, but always take something cool, something warm and something waterproof. Lightweight shoes with non-marking soles are best.

2. Choose a lifejacket

Select an automatic 150-Newton lifejacket that’s suitable for your weight. These are non-restrictive, light and – if you fall in – will automatically inflate.

3. Know how to board

The easiest places are from a pontoon onto the low swimming platform at the stern (back) or by climbing up the side, using the stays or stanchions (strong metal fittings) to help.

4. Learn the lingo

You don’t need to be fluent in ‘sailese’, but some basic terms are helpful. Start with: port – left; starboard – right; stern – back; bow – front; sheets/halyards/lines – ropes; mainsail – the main sail; foresail/jib – the smaller forward sail.

5. Find the wind

The mast’s wind indicator should point to where it is coming from. Failing this, slowly turn your head until you can feel wind on both cheeks or hear the wind in both ears – the direction you’re looking in is where the wind is coming from.

6. Master the ropes

Use both hands to pull, keep your fingers clear of any moving parts and, if it’s too heavy to hold onto, let it go! You may cause some noise but you won’t cause any damage.

7. Get qualified

If you enjoy your first sailing trip, learn more – but stay safe. Choose a recognised Royal Yachting Association (RYA) sailing centre such as Fowey Maritime Centre (foweymaritimecentre.com). Start with your Competent Crew certificate.

8. And finally, know what NOT to do

Do not jump in! The average speed of a 40-foot sailing boat is about 7mph; the average speed of an amateur swimmer is 0.5mph. That’s a long chase!

Did you know?

The sail was invented by the Mesopotamians in around 3000BC. Made from papyrus, they provided a faster form of transportation, allowing Mesopotamians to trade with countries previously out of reach.

Tips by Kate Reeves, Sailing Director of Essential Sailing.

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