Sailing Techniques Tips

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What is a sailing jibe?

Performing a Jibe While Sailing

One of the best ways to understand sailing is that is is a series of techniques executed at just the right times. That's why a good sailing guide always reinforces the importance of proper communication among on sailors on a given boat. A jibe is a common example. When a boom swings from one side of the boat to the other, the boat is said to have changed tacks. When a boat is sailing downwind, this change of tacks is called a jibe.

Before a jibe is performed, the crew starts to trim in the main sheet to avoid the boom flying across the boat at high speed, which can cause injury. As the boom nears the middle of the boat, the helmsman calls the jibe command. If you are a first-time sailor confused about where to put the tiller in a jibe, turn the bow of the boat toward to the mainsail.

If a jibe isn't executed correctly, it can cause the boat to go out of control. But, jibing--handled safely--can be a good way of changing tacks. Many beginners turn the boat too far in a jibe, further contributing to its feared reputation. Only attempt a jibe if the helmsman is an advanced sailor and any novices aboard understand jibe sailing techniques as they should be performed.

   
How do I launch a sailboat from the shore?

Launching a Dinghy from the Shore

Many sailors prefer to be with a group. This type of sailing experience is the perfect execution of teamwork. Plus, if someone has less time on the water, someone else can pick up the slack. But, there are those sailors who love to go it alone and they are the ones who love the agility and versatility of a one-person dinghy. If you plan to launch your dinghy from the beach, you will have to use some special sailing techniques to do it safely and efficiently as they power of the tide coming in will be working against you.

It is always easier to be pushed down wind that to fight it the other direction. You'll have to get used to steering your vessel as close to the eye of the wind as you can while holding your sails tight. If wind is blowing offshore, start by launching in as deep of water as you can, then quickly turn the rudder to sail parallel with the shore. Once you are out of shallow water, drop the daggerboard as far as possible. This will help the boat drive straight.

If the wind is blowing onshore, you have to work quickly. Set both your jib and mainsail before you launch. If the wind is blowing parallel to the beach, you have the best conditions. Set both sails but do not tie the sheets off. Allow the sails to luff.

If you are a newcomer to sailing, you should only attempt to launch from shore using the buddy system. Get sufficient sailing advice before you attempt to launch from the beach. Make sure you are in a location where other people can call for help if you get in trouble.

   
How does weather affect sailing?

Know the Weather Before You Sail

When you first learn to sail, you'll quickly learn that--between the parts of the boat and basic sailing techniques--there is much to absorb. But, one of the most important lessons you'll learn is to watch the weather. Any good sailing guide should cover how the weather affects your sailing and sailing technique. You should actually begin looking at weather forecasts up to a week before you sail. If you record such weather conditions--and the weather changes that follow--you will be able to better predict conditions for the sailing excursion you have planned.

Every time you are on your sailboat, you should record all details about the weather including wind condition and direction, cloud cover and how the wind affects the water surface and waves. One of the best sailing tips you can get is to find a good book or Internet site that describes different types of cloud cover such as Cirrus, Altostratus, Cumulus and Cirrostratus. But, your record book should also indicate not just what you saw but the changes that occurred in the weather during your sail. That way, over time you can understand the weather and wind patterns in your area at different times of the year. Here is some additional sailing advice with regard to the weather:

*Learn to observe sea swells closely. Are they from an offshore storm? Are there white caps?

*Utilize a wind-angle indicator if you have one. If this information is translated to the cockpit, write it down in your log book.

*Note the direction of the wind by standing over your compass, feeling the wind on your face and determining its direction. Is it chilly? What does that usually predict in your area?

Remember the weather is fickle and storms can arise quickly and possibly capsize your boat. The more you learn about weather and the better your written records are, the better able you will be to choose the best sailing time of the day or week.

   
What do I do if my sailboat capsizes?

Righting a Capsized Sailboat

If you truly want to learn to sail, you have to prepare for the event that your boat might capsize. But, having this happen--even on the open water--doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds. If the proper sailing advice is used, a capsized boat can be righted safely and efficiently. First, you should make sure the mainsheet is completely loose so you don't lift water as you try to right the boat. If your boat has a center board, lean out with your weight to get the mast free of water. When the wind comes up and gets under the sail, the boat should right itself. Then trim the sails and you should be off again.

If the mast comes out of the water on the windward, not the leeward side, the boat will blow over and you'll start all over. This is a common mistake of a novice sailor.

If a boat turns 'turtle' this means the entire boat has turned upside down. If this happens, you should grab the daggerboard and lean back until the sails and board are parallel to the water. Then follow the procedures above.

If your attempt to right a capsized sailboat fails, stay with the boat. Most drownings occur because sailors try to swim to shore instead of waiting for adequate help. Believe it or not, good sailing tip is that you should practice capsizing on purpose! This will build your skill and your confidence as a sailor and you won't fear the water.

   
How do I anchor and dock my sailboat?

Anchoring and Docking Your Sailboat

Let's say you just experienced the best sailing trip you've ever had. You are really starting to get the hang of all the boat terminology and equipment, and your response time has never been better. Now, it's time to get the boat safely back to the dock. It's not as easy as it may seem. Successfully anchoring and mooring a sailboat to a dock is tricky business and, just like sailing on the open water, it takes a good deal of practice. When planning your initial sailing trips, it might be best to save some extra time and energy for docking. Performing a good dock when you are frustrated and tired is nearly impossible.

Here is a guide to sailing when it come to anchoring a vessel alongside a dock:

*Start preparing for your dock long before you start to execute it. You should check the wind and water conditions and any currents that are running, consider any crew that will need to take direction from you, and any mooring equipment you will have to use.

*Never wrap your arm or other extremity around the rope or chain that holds an anchor to the boat. Even anchors on small boats are heavy enough to do harm if you use this approach. Consider developing a series of hand communications to be use between the helmsman and the person on the foredeck. Keep in mind that a motor might be running or sails might be flapping and cause a miscommunication.

*If the current is enough for your boat to swing, consider using two anchors in both directions the current is moving. When you approach the dock, have your fenders in the deployed position. Make sure your lines are untangled when you attempt to secure the boat.

*Finally, it may be necessary to back the engine down as you get close to the dock, letting the wind take you in to the dock. If wind is coming off the dock, you need to be more aggressive in your approach as the wind will keep pushing the bow away from the dock.

   
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Jerry Mayo