Beginner Sailing Courses Tips

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Will handling a man overboard situation be covered in my learn to sail class?

Practice Emergency Recovery When Learning to Sail

You may sail for 20 years and never have to recover a crew member who has fallen overboard. Or, it may happen the first day of your basic sailing classes. In this event, emotions can take the best of you and you can easily panic; that's why you should practice responding to a man overboard when you are learning to sail. The most likely cause of someone falling overboard is a strap breaking or coming undone so it's always wise to double check yours before you set sail. When a crew member falls overboard, keep in mind that--especially in a smaller boat--the sailboat may capsize due to an uneven distribution of weight. This is less likely in a bigger boat with a larger beginner sailing class.

Make sure your sailing instructor carefully goes over the man overboard procedures before you learn to sail. When a crew member goes overboard, you must first alert everyone else in the boat by yelling "crew overboard," or a similar command. Then, you should throw a personal flotation device to the crew member. All members of any sailing course should be wearing life vests so the crew member will be safe while you get control of the boat. This type of quick and non-panic response takes practice. Then, designate a spotter to watch as you sail away from the crew member far enough to give you room to maneuver the boat, but keep him or her in sight at all times. When the victim is abeam, turn quickly to come alongside them. Haul the crew member to the boat and come pull him or her aboard.

Learning to handle a man overboard situation is hard to learn from a book. That's why a certified sailing course with an experienced instructor is the best way to learn to sail.

How do I avoid sea sickness when I learn to sail?

Avoiding Sea Sickness When You Learn to Sail

You're probably very excited about your upcoming learn-to-sail class. Enjoying the beautiful water as you learn basic sailing techniques is one of the best benefits of the sport. But, some people who take beginner sailing classes quickly learn that they are prone to sea sickness. No one wants to feel the effects of sea sickness--including dizziness, a sick stomach and vomiting--on their first day out to sea. Fortunately, there are some remedies that work well, including those you get from your doctor and those that are drug-free.

You may want to have some sea sickness pills with you just in case--even if you've sailed before and not had symptoms. But, be aware that like any drug, sea sickness pills and patches can have side effects. A fairly new cure on the market is called Motion Ease, an oil you rub behind the ears. You may find other solutions at your local drug store or health food store. Also, prior to your class, ask your instructor what he or she recommends. Here are some tips for avoiding sea sickness:

*Don't drink alcohol the night before.

*Avoid greasy foods.

*If you have a choice of berths, choose the one forward in the cabin as it it likely to have less pitching motion. Also, sleep on your back.

*Keep busy and positive. If you worry too about getting sea sickness, you probably will.

*Stay up on deck. Offer to steer when you are ready. Keeping your eyes on the horizon helps.

*Get in good physical condition.

What basic sailing terms should I know before I learn to sail?

Study Basic Sailing Terms Before You Learn to Sail

If you just signed up for a basic sailing class, you are probably quite excited. We've all seen how majestic sailing can be. It looks effortless as a sailboat glides along the water but it's not. But when you first attend your sailboat lessons, you may feel very overwhelmed. Sailors talk a different language and--at first--it may not make sense. There are a lot of new terms you will be required to learn. What is the keel? What is the rudder? What does it mean when a sailboat is 'running'? Before you begin to learn to sail, it might be helpful to study some of the basic sailing terminology. Here are some terms and definitions to get you started:

  • A hull is the body of the boat.
  • A cockpit is where the crew sits to operate it.
  • A keel is a vertical fin under the boat that adds stability.
  • A rudder is an underwater fin that moves to help with steering.
  • A tiller is a stick used to steer the boat from the cockpit.
  • Rigging is the adjustable lines and hardware used to control the sails.
  • Sheets move sails in and out while halyards move sails up and down.
  • The mainsail is the larger sail that sits behind the mast.
  • The mainsheet is its sheet.
  • A jib is the sail set between the forwardmost mast and the headstay.
  • A headstay is a line of wire or steel rod that supports the mast and adjusts its bend.
  • The port side of the boat is its left side as the boat moves forward.
  • The starboard side is the right.
  • The bow is the front and the stern is the back.
  • A tack is the way the boat is heading in relation to the wind. Tacking is changing direction from one side of wind to the other--while sailing towards the wind.

At first, these terms will seem hard to remember. But the more you are exposed to the 'lingo' of sailing the more it will stick with you. By taking a sailing course through a certified school, you will have the best chance of learning basic sailing in a way that becomes second nature to you.

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Mary White