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Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Learn to Sail:
15 Things
You Need to Know
A Free eBook Provided By:
Offshore Sailing School
Table of Contents
1. What is Sailing? 3
2. Speak Like A Sailor With These Sailing Terms 4
3. How Can A Sailboat Move With Only Wind? 5
4. Is Sailing Safe? 6
5. Can I Afford the Cost of Sailing? 7
6. How Can I Continue Sailing After I Learn? 8
7. How to Choose A Sailing School 9
8. What Sailing Course Should I Take? 10
9. Your First Day of Sailing School 11
10. How Can I Get Sailing Certified? 12
11. How Does Sailing Feel? 13
12. Getting Comfortable With Sailing 14
13. The Fears of Sailing 15
14. Crew Overboard! 16
15. Sailing Isn"t Complicated 17
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
1. What is Sailing?
Centuries ago, sailing was the only way to cross a body
of water. Today, it is technically referred to as a sport.
However, those of us who have experienced the lore of
the sea know it is much more than that. For sailors who
cherish the unbelievable feeling of gliding across the
ocean, with a gentle breeze filling billowing sails, sailing
is a lifestyle.
Wikipedia defines sailing as “the art of controlling a boat
with large (usually fabric) foils called sails. By changing
the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or center
board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the
sails in order to change the direction and speed of a
boat. Mastery of the skill requires experience in varying wind and sea conditions, as well
as knowledge concerning sailboats themselves and a keen understanding of one's
The physics of sailing involves air moving across the sails of the sailboat. When you
properly position the sails with respect to the wind, the net force on the sails creates lift
and moves the vessel forward. Boats that are propelled by sails cannot sail directly into
the wind. To make forward progress, the boat is turned (called tacking) through the “eye
of the wind.” A series of maneuvers, crossing from one side of the wind to the other,
allows the boat to progress directly upwind. You’ll learn more in tip 3.
Sailing is much more than just the act of operating a sailboat, or the physics of the wind
and the sails. Sailing has been instrumental throughout history in expanding civilizations
and broadening our horizons. It has allowed us to participate in trade, transport, fishing,
and exploration. Sailing represents freedom, expansion, and adventure!
The first ship remnants discovered date back to 2,900 BC, and there may be older
remains not yet found! So we have been traveling on water for almost 5,000 years! One
of the first known ships was called a bipod. Built by the Egyptians, it possessed at least
40 oars and only one square sail. The steering device consisted usually of 2 big oars
from both sides. Later these ships were turned into warships, with an additional deck for
archers, planks like shields to guard the rowers, and bigger sails for faster speed.
The desire to sail is practically a genetic predestination. With two-thirds of our world
covered in water, most people dwell on or near a coastal area. This, combined with our
innate human longing for discovery and freedom, has created a desire to explore the
water around us. We want to see where the horizon expands to, and sailing allows us to
do this without the constraints of limited fuel or electricity. Wind is a limitless resource!
To truly discover what sailing is...you have to experience it for yourself at
one of Colgate Offshore Sailing School’s seven locations.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
2. Speak Like A Sailor With These Sailing Terms
Before you continue reading this eBook, you should probably do a quick study of this
sailing vernacular so that you understand everything we’re referring to. There is a long
list of terms that you will begin to learn to use as you get deeper into the lifestyle of
sailing. However, here are 15 beginner sailing terms that will help you as you read this
book and converse with fellow sailors. You will learn many more when you learn to sail.
1. Aft: The area at, near, or toward the stern. If something is located aft, it is in the
back area of the sailboat. “Abaft” is the direction toward the stern.
2. Stern: The extreme after end of a vessel.
3. Bow: The front of a vessel is called the bow. This is the forward end of a boat.
4. Port: Because right and left can be confusing terms when used on a boat, port is
used to define the left-hand side of the boat when facing the bow. “Port” and “left”
both have four letters (memory jogger).
5. Starboard: The right-hand side of the boat when facing the bow.
6. Leeward: Pronounced “looward” - the direction opposite from where the wind is
currently blowing.
7. Windward: The direction from which the wind
is currently blowing.
8. Spars: The “mast” is the vertical pole that
holds up the largest sail (“mainsail”). The
“boom” is the horizontal pole connected to
the mast that supports the bottom (“foot”) of
the mainsail.
9. Rudder: A flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or
metal located near the stern beneath the
“hull” of the boat, used to steer the boat.
Larger sailboats control the rudder via a
steering wheel, small to mid-sized sailboats usually have a “tiller” (a "stick" fitted
to the post connected to the rudder) which you push or pull to steer the boat.
10. Tacking: The opposite of jibing, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the
bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the
boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will shift from one side to the other
when performing a tack or a jibe.
11. Jibing: Opposite of tacking, this basic maneuver occurs when sailing away from
the wind (the wind direction is towards the stern of the boat). In this case you turn
the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind.
12. Sheets: Rope (called “line”) connected to a sail that you pull on or ease out to fill
the sail with wind efficiently.
13. Abeam: Right angles (90 degrees) to the boat.
14. Furl: Secure a sail by folding or rolling it. Many sailboats have furling “jibs” (the
sail in the front of the boat).
Ahoy Mate! Now that you know some sailing lingo, it’s time to put it into practice!
Choose a sailing course that fits your level and sailing desire.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
3. How Can A Sailboat Move With Only Wind?
The feeling of sailing is almost magical, with your boat cruising along, gliding across the
water, using nothing but the wind to make it move. You may ask, how is this possible?
Well, there is actually a fairly simple explanation...although it will require just a hint of
physics to understand.
Here’s how it works:
1. Think of the sail of a sailboat as a wing.
2. As the wind blows over the sail, a high pressure area is formed on one side and
a low pressure area is formed on the opposite side.
3. This high and low pressure causes lift (force, thrust) perpendicular to the sail,
resulting in a sideways and forward force.
4. As the wind flows over the sail, it creates “drag” parallel to the sail’s surface.
5. To counteract sideways force, sailboats have keels or centerboards which extend
under the boat, so the resultant force is forward.
So you see, the wind doesn't simply try to blow the sail (a wing) away in the direction it
is blowing. Instead, it creates a force that allows a sailboat to sail about 45 degrees
towards the wind direction.
To reach a destination upwind
(towards the wind), sailors perform
a series of “tacks”, basically
zigzagging upwind, about 45
degrees on either side of the wind
direction relative to the bow of the
boat.(Some high performance
sailboats can sail closer than 45
degrees to the wind.) These zig zag
maneuvers (tacking), allow a
sailboat to reach an upwind
The sailboat on the left is on
“starboard tack” - the wind is
coming from the right (starboard) side
of the boat; the sails are over the left (port) side of the boat. This 43’ cruising boat is
what you can learn on when you’re ready for a big boat cruising course.
If you are curious about the way a sailboat works, and want to see it in action,
you may be ready for the Fast Track to Cruising program where you can learn
everything you need to know for sailing, Bareboat Chartering, and Live Aboard
Sailboat Cruising in 7 days!
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
4. Is Sailing Safe?
As with any activity on the water, there are some risks. But if you learn to sail properly,
you will know what precautions to take to ensure smooth sailing and a safe voyage.
Here are a few “sailing safe” tips to consider:
Take a sailing course - Learn to sail at a reputable sailing
school with professional instructors. At Offshore Sailing
School you are taught by professional, US SAILING
certified instructors who make sure you understand the
“whys” not just the “hows” of sailing.
Learn on the right boat - It is important that you learn on
a safe, comfortable, high performance, well maintained
boat. Offshore Sailing School uses the Colgate 26
exclusively as its training boat for Learn to Sail,
Performance Sailing and Racing courses. Other schools
and service organizations enjoy the durability and
performance of this boat, including the U.S. Coast Guard and Naval Academies and
Maine Maritime Academy.

Follow these basic safety rules - Regardless of your level of expertise.
Always tell someone before you go out on the water.
Always have comfortable, wearable life vests aboard.
Know how to handle your boat in all conditions.
Know the Rules of the Road and at least basic navigation skills.
Research tide, wind and weather conditions - Check the forecast before going out
for a sail. Be prepared for whatever the weather might bring, with water proof gear
(jacket and pants commonly called “foul weather gear”) to use if needed.
Familiarize yourself with “sail control” - The best sailors adjust sail settings for
different wind and water conditions. They also know when and how to reduce sail area
for comfortable control in heavy weather. Generally, sails should be relatively flat when
the wind is either very light or very strong, and full when there is moderate wind.
Respect the boom - Some of the most common sailing injuries result from simply not
being aware when the boom is about to swing from one side of the boat to the other. To
avoid a bump to the head (or even possibly being knocked overboard), one of the most
important beginner sailing tips is to be aware and respectful of the boom at all times!
Learn basic sailing terms. A good sailing course will ensue you understand basic
sailing lingo so you can communicate and describe maneuvers easily aboard, and
explain accurately what has occurred if you have an emergency. Refer back to tip 2.
Practice makes perfect. Don’t try to teach yourself! Invest in a good sailing
school. Call us today at (888) 454-7015 to set sail!
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
5. Can I A!ord the Cost of Sailing?
The cost of learning to sail at a reputable sailing school, with high kudos from its clients,
is no more than learning to ski, golf or play tennis from an excellent pro at a reputable
ski, golf or tennis school.
Begin with sailing lessons. Choosing the right school is critical (see our suggestions in
Tip 7: How to Choose A Sailing School). It is also very important to be able to talk to
graduates and learn from them whether or not they felt the course they took met their
Sailing lessons can range from under
$500 for a two-day course to over
$1,000 for a complete five-day
certification course taught aboard
boats valued at $50,000 to $500,000
and more.
Offshore Sailing School’s Learn to Sail
course tuitions range from $595 to
$1,295 depending on location and
season, and you learn on a high
performance, safe Colgate 26 valued
at close to $50,000 new.
An Offshore Sailing School cruising
course provides bareboat cruising certification, and is taught on 43’ to 50’ cruising
yachts that sell new for $300,000 to $600,000. In this case tuition ranges from $1495 to
Don’t shop for sailing courses based solely on price. The quality of the boat you learn
on, the expertise of the instructor, and all the other facts mentioned in Tip 7 impact what
a school will charge. Decide what the course means to you. If you want to go cruising
with ease and comfort, without a captain to tell you what to do, and with the self-
confidence and respect of those who will sail with you, expect to spend at least $60 an
hour for your tuition alone (if you want to break it down).
In our 47 years of teaching more than 125,000 adults and their children, we have heard
too many stories from our students and instructors about how people have gone to
other sailing schools where they were not given proper instruction. If this happens to
you, if you choose the wrong school for the level of sailing expertise you wish to reach,
your costs could become very high indeed . . . or you may be turned off to sailing
completely. What a loss that would be!
No matter what your budget is, Offshore Sailing School will help you find
the perfect sailing course to fit your needs. Make sure to check out our
Learn to Sail Specials!
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
6. How Can I Continue Sailing After I Learn?
Once you learn to sail, there are many options available that allow you to keep on
sailing without having to own a boat:
1. Just mention you took a sailing course at your office or a party and someone, we
bet, will say “Wow! Would you like to come sail on my boat?” Sailboat owners are
always looking for crew. This is FREE!
2. There are sailing clubs in many metropolitan areas. Offshore Sailing School has
popular clubs in New York Harbor and in Florida, which provide sailing on club
boats without the hassles of upkeep, ownership, or having to plunk down a rental
fee each time. Offshore’s club in NY Harbor is just $1,795 for seven months,
which works out to $156 a month. You can’t rent or charter a sailboat the caliber
of a Colgate 26 anywhere for a full day for that amount. This works out to just
$37/day with 7 days a week hassle-free sailing with club members.
3. There are community sailing programs provided by non-profit sailing centers all
over the country, though generally they have smaller boats than the Colgate 26’s
we use for our Club and sailing courses. These programs are generally very
inexpensive, and if you like small boats, they can be a lot of fun.
4. You can also join a “fractional sailing” program that gives you cruising boat use
much like a time share.
5. The pièce de résistance of
learning to sail and then taking a
cruising course is being able to
charter liveaboard boats all over
the world! Offshore Sailing School
is the official sailing school of
“The Moorings” - the pre-eminent
charter company world-wide with
fabulous charter locations in just
about every dream location there
is. If you did nothing but go
bareboat cruising for a week or
two on your vacation every year,
you probably would not have to
repeat the same area more than
a couple of times for the rest of
your life (but we bet you will want to repeat most of them).
6. Go on Flotilla Cruises. If you don’t have family or friends you can take with you
on a bareboat charter vacation, just join one of Offshore Sailing School’s annual
flotilla cruises, like the December cruise in Belize. Sailing magazines and charter
companies also provide flotilla cruises where all you do is show up and sail with
others who love the sailing lifestyle.
Offshore Sailing School will help you continue sailing. Just ask about our
Offshore Cruising Club opportunities!
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
7. How to Choose A Sailing School
There are literally thousands of sailing schools across the United States. Many are not-
for-profit community sailing programs that teach on small boats at modest fees. This is a
good way to get your feet wet. However, to get on the fast track, you should consider
attending a school certified by US SAILING, the governing body of the sport.
If you are looking for comprehensive sailing lessons, make sure the school you choose:

• Has published textbooks that cover more than you can learn in the course.
• Employs the preferred method of training: Visual (an excellent textbook to
complements what you learn in class and on the water); auditory (starts each
day with a classroom session to reinforce the textbook and on-water training);
kinesthetic (learning by doing under the tutelage of an expert instructor).
• Adheres to a curriculum that teaches you to understand “why” you are doing a
technique rather than just “how” to do it.
• Tests your knowledge with written tests and oral discussions, and requires you to
sail successfully with your classmates without the instructor aboard before
handing you a diploma and certification.
• Employs highly qualified instructors that have gone through a stringent review
process, judging not only their knowledge but their teaching skills. Sailing
instructors should have patience and humility. Those that refer to themselves as
Captains could be dictatorial in their way of teaching, less patient, and covering
their lack of experience with bravado.
• Teaches no more than four at a time, per instructor per boat. The only exception
to this rule would be for a program such as Offshore Sailing School’s Kids and
Teens Learn Free Program – a private family experience that allows you to pay
just two adult tuitions and bring up to four kids and/or teens to learn with you. In
this case, the cost comes way down on a per person
basis and the extraordinary bonding that results is a
life-changing experience.
• Teaches on sailboats in excellent condition, at least
20! in length, with enough bells and whistles to allow
you to progress to larger boats quickly and easily.
• Stands behind its products with knowledgeable
leaders like Offshore!s award-winning sailing
educators, Steve and Doris Colgate.
Offshore Sailing School uses the Colgate 26 for Learn to
Sail, Performance Sailing, and Racing courses. Designed by Steve Colgate after years
of trying various production boats: the C26 is safe, ergonomically comfortable, high
performance, sophisticated and easy to sail. You can easily go from a Colgate 26 to a
typical 35’ cruising boat and rent sailboats up to 30’ without question.
Lastly, make sure the school is adequately insured. We’ll leave that thought to those of
you who are in business and know the costs associated with proper insurance.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Offshore Sailing School founder
and Chairman, Steve Colgate
8. What Sailing Course Should I Take?
If you have never sailed before or sailed awhile ago and are feeling rusty, the Learn to
Sail course will give you the skills, knowledge, and confidence to join a club, go sailing
with friends, and take the helm of a rented sailboat or your very own.
If you already have the basics and want to start cruising and living aboard, our next step
up is the Bareboat Cruising Preparation course which comes in a Live-Aboard Course
version (you live aboard and learn while moving from port to port) and a stay-ashore
version where you learn every day in class and on the water but sleep ashore at home
or a lovely resort each night.
Better yet, you can combine the two in a seven-day program – our Fast Track to
Cruising® course – which takes you from zero to hero...from novice to ready-to-cruise in
just seven days.
First, you’ll spend two days on the
Colgate 26 where you’ll learn how
to read the wind, and guide a boat
by wind alone. Then, you’ll spend
five days on a 43’ to 50’ cruising
yacht with bigger sails, more power,
engines and electronics. You will be
taught to sail on a small boat like
the Colgate 26 first, because it’s
important that you:
• Get close to the water
• Feel the immediate response
of the boat as you steer
• See and feel a burst of speed when you trim the sails correctly
• Learn to slow the boat down and stop it completely with sails alone
• Read the wind and learn to react quickly to sudden gusts and maneuver easily
A big cruising boat responds slowly to your touch. By the time you correct (or over-
correct) you have to start the maneuver again. The best racing sailors practice on small
boats to get back in tune with the wind and water before they head out on a big ocean
If you just want to find out what sailing is all about, a two-day experience or a two-hour
sailing lesson will give you an idea of whether you want to continue.
The right sailing course for you depends on your prior sailing experience
and goals. Review a synopsis of our different courses, then contact us.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
9. Your First Day of Sailing School
Your first day on the water will be full of information and new sensations. If you feel a
little anxious, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s best to relax and go with an open mind.
Approach the experience with realistic goals and realize that you’re going to make
mistakes...it’s just part of the learning process. Most importantly, remember to have fun!
If you’ve chosen the right sailing school, you’ll begin with a classroom session that
reinforces your lessons on the water.
You should get a list of what to bring and wear. We recommend that you bring
comfortable, quick drying clothes, rain gear, sailing gloves, a hat that will stay on,
nonskid boat shoes, sunglasses, sunblock, lip balm and a small, waterproof duffel bag
to hold all of your gear. If you are learning in a cool area, bring a waterproof jacket (and
maybe pants too), and layer your apparel for comfort.
On a typical first day at school, you should be given a comfortable life jacket and taught
about safety gear. You will also be taught the proper way to get on and off a sailboat. In
addition, you’ll learn how to:
Rig the boat
Leave and return from dock
or mooring
Perform basic sailing
Learn the most needed knots
for sailing
Identify where the wind is
coming from
Learn all crew positions on
the boat
Most of all, you’ll get the feel of
sailing. In a good program, you and
your crew mates will do everything
yourselves. A good instructor will
take you through the maneuvers and ask you to explain why you’re doing them,
encourage you when you make mistakes, and praise you when you get it right.
At the end of your first day, you may feel a little overwhelmed, but that’s alright. It will all
come together as the course progresses. Then, on your first solo day out (Offshore
Sailing School includes a test sail without the instructor aboard at the end of most of its
courses) you will relish the reality of how much you’ve learned!
The first day of sailing school is an exciting experience.
To prepare for what lies ahead, read more about what you will learn in our various
sailing courses.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
10. How Can I Get Sailing Certified?
If you are seeking third-party certification, the US SAILING certification program is more
stringent and complete than any other third-party certification program in the U.S.
US SAILING is the governing body for sailing in the U.S., formed in the
1800's and appointed by Congress in 1978. It represents the United
States in all international competitions and meetings involving other
countries, and is a non-profit association that upholds the highest
standards for learning to sail and getting involved in competition.
When choosing a sailing school and
course level for certification, make
sure you get at least three full days
of instruction with classroom and on-
water training. Why? Because the
only way to learn well is to learn the
“whys” of sailing not just the “hows”.
You should learn from a school that
employs definitive teaching
methodology: auditory, visual and
At Offshore Sailing School textbooks
are sent in advance to study,
classroom sessions precede each
sailing session to reinforce what you
will learn on the water. Then, you
learn by doing each maneuver and
task that guides a sailboat. All of this
is done with an expert instructor who
coaches you throughout the learning
Sailing certifications from sailing
schools in the United States carry no
legal import. However, because you
have to pass a test for the level of
instruction you took, a passing grade
is validation of all that you have learned.
Offshore Sailing School has been celebrating teaching sailing since 1964.
You will have the peace of mind that your sailing certification was obtained
by a school with the most progressive sailing certification education
system in the United States.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
11. How Does Sailing Feel?
In one word... incredible. Sometimes,
sailing can feel exhilarating and
adventurous. At other times, you are
coasting along with nothing in sight
but the wide span of ocean and the
sunshine glistening on the water.
During these moments, you may feel
an over-whelming sense of peace,
tranquility, and freedom.
Most people can imagine what an
amazing emotional and mental
experience it is to sail into the sunset.
But, how does it feel physically?
It’s always a pretty sensational feeling to be sitting comfortably on the high side of a
sailboat as it leans with the force of the wind in its sails. You may feel a little unsteady at
first, but you’ll soon get into the rhythm. As you pull the sails in or let them out, you can
hear the boat accelerate as water rushes by. You’ll feel the boat center (reach a balance
point) as changes are made.
When it’s your turn to steer, the boat will
react to your every move. At first, this may
be too much and too far, or too little and
not enough. But, after some time, you’ll
get the boat into a groove and feel it
respond to your touch...like a racehorse
on a winning lap!
Picture yourself looking out to the horizon,
feeling the direction of the wind on your
face. As you begin to feel this, your grip
will relax and your body will sway with the
boat’s motion. Now, you’re sailing!
Here is a quote taken from Doris Colgate’s book, SAILING: A Woman’s Guide,
published by Ragged Mountain Press/McGraw Hill, as she describes her experience:
“I am lying awake in the cockpit, gazing up at a jet-black sky filled with stars. Suddenly, a light
darts across. Then another. Shooting stars! The universe is so big, and we are so small as we
bob along the dark sea. I feel secure, yet elated - eager to see what dawn will bring. I!m
comfortable and confident, sailing not as a passenger, but as one of a team that makes
decisions and shares responsibilities. I!m on the lead sailboat in a flotilla with graduates of
Offshore Sailing School. This is my life now.”
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
12. Getting Comfortable With Sailing
Part of the process of getting comfortable with sailing involves gaining knowledge about
sailing. Once you understand how boats and sails work, you gain a higher level of
comfort with the whole process. Some of this may seem complicated at first, but it’s
actually all very logical and will quickly become a second language.
First, determine what kind of boat you will be sailing on. Sailboats come in all shapes
and sizes, from lightweight dinghies to large cruising yachts. Here are just a few:
Sailing Dinghy - ranges from under 10 feet to close to 20 feet, and typically has
enough cockpit space for 1 to 4 people. We don’t recommend small, low-performance
dinghies for training adults because (1) they can capsize, (2) don’t provide enough room
or sophistication to move on to handling larger boats easily, (3) generally the instructor
has to coach from a chase boat and is not aboard with you.
Board Boats - These boats are popular with some racing sailors and kids. They earn
their name because you sit on the boat rather than in it. Board boats require some
agility, and you are apt to get wetter.
Keelboat – These boats are stable, responsive,
allow mistakes, and yet have enough options to
promote a rapid learning curve. A three or four
person keelboat is recommended for starting out.
A keelboat (so named because it has a heavy fixed
fin beneath the boat) is the most stable type of
sailboat to learn on. The Colgate 26 has a large
cockpit and rails around its space, both important
because they allow you room to work and move
around safely. You won’t feel confined, and your
instructor can stay out of the way but has controls
to take over should the need arise.
Attending a quality sailing school is the best way to
really get comfortable with sailing. Look for a
school with a variety of courses that focuses on
teaching you the ins and outs of sailing on boats
ranging from mid-sized daysailers to large cruising
If you are new to sailing or need a refresher, we
recommend the Learn to Sail course. This sailing course takes you from beginner
through intermediate level on a fleet of award-winning Colgate 26 sailing school boats.
Get comfortable with sailing with the Learn to Sail course.
Three full-day and five half-day schedules are available at all Offshore Sailing
School locations.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Colgate 26
13. The Fears of Sailing
It’s normal to have questions about your well-being on a boat on the water. After all,
you’re about to try a new activity with many kinds of new sensations. Let’s address a
few of these up front so that you can have some reassurance that learning to sail will be
an enjoyable experience. Here are a few common objections we’ve heard in the past:
I’m afraid of capsizing.
First, you won’t have to worry about
this at all if you learn and sail on
boats that won’t capsize (like the
Colgate 26 at right). Most schools
that teach adults use comfortable,
stable sailboats, so you don’t have
to worry. If in doubt, ask about the
boat’s characteristics before getting
I can’t swim.
Believe it or not, many people who
sail can’t swim. Unless you sail on
small dinghies that easily tip over, it’s not very likely you’ll end up in the water. To be on
the safe side, if you cannot swim we recommend you wear a comfortable life jacket
while on deck on a sailboat. In fact everyone should particularly in high winds.
I get seasick. If you learn on the type of boats we recommend, you’re out in an open
cockpit boat, with the air in your face, too busy to worry or think about feeling ill.
Someday you may find yourself on a cruising boat on longer passages in rough water.
We found singing can help take your mind away from feeling sick. Perhaps it’s because
you’re taking in more air, or concentrating on remembering words. Whatever it is, we
find it helps! In these conditions, we recommend rotating (sharing) time on the helm
every 20 minutes or so because when you steer, you concentrate on the horizon and
your sails and this keeps you from getting queasy. If these techniques don’t help, here
are other ways of overcoming seasickness.
Sailing seems a bit unsafe.
If you don’t know how to avoid collisions, handle a boat’s line and equipment, or you
don’t know where to sit or stand, you could get into some trouble. That is why we
recommend going to a certified, highly reputable sailing school. Once you learn these
things, however, there is very little that can go wrong on a simple sailboat designed for
daysailing. Just enjoy!
If you have other fears or questions before you set sail, don’t fret. All of
your concerns will be addressed in your sailing course. Check out more
sailing tips, or request a quote for your sailing lessons today!
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
14. Crew Overboard!
How to Execute a Rescue Mission
In a good sailing course you’ll practice crew-overboard recovery procedures repeatedly.
There are several methods acknowledged by both our national sailing authority (US
SAILING) and the authorities of other countries. Here are two of these methods:
Quick Stop Method - Sheila McCurdy Brown (current
commodore of the Cruising Club of America) gives
these 10 points for overboard recovery:
1. When a crew member goes into the water,
throw flotation and shout, “Crew overboard!”
2. Designate a spotter who points and never
takes their eyes off the victim.
3. Bring the boat up into the wind and trim the
mainsail in tight.
4. Tack, keeping jib aback, and immediately run
downwind with the sails still trimmed in tight.
5. Drop or furl the jib, if possible.
6. When the victim is abaft abeam, jibe. (See Tip 2 for terminology)
7. Sail up to the victim, slowing the boat as if to pick up a mooring.
8. Stop alongside the victim.
9. Toss a floating heaving line to the victim.
10. Haul the victim to the boat and pull aboard.
LifeSling Method - A widely accepted overboard retrieval method uses a LifeSling,
which is carried in a case that mounts on the stern pulpit of a larger sailboat. For this
method, follow these steps to retrieve someone who has fallen into the water:
1. The moment someone falls overboard, assuming that person is conscious and
able to grab hold, throw the LifeSling over the side.
2. Sail the boat in ever-tightening circles, be careful not to run over the line.
3. Instruct the victim to grab the line and work their way up to the LifeSling.
4. Just as they reach the sling, stop the boat by turning it directly into the wind,
lower the jib if possible.
5. Get the jib down on deck quickly and push it out of the way. Clip the free halyard
to a lifeline until you need it.
6. Using a jibsheet winch, pull the victim in the LifeSling to the stern quarter of the
boat by cranking in on the attached line.
7. When alongside but still in the water, cleat the line coming off the winch, attach
one end of a block-and-tackle arrangement to the freed jib halyard and the other
end to the sling, and haul the victim and sling on deck.
Learning to retrieve someone who’s fallen in the water is best done with an
instructor. Sign up for Sailing Lessons or courses that best suit your lifestyle
and budget. Request a quote today!
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
15. Sailing Isn’t Complicated
Sailing actually isn’t hard to learn...but, it is easy to make it sound hard! Most "old salts"
love the opportunity to say a few words to the beginner. However, the problem is, most
old salts don't stop with a few words. By the time they’re through, you (as the eager new
sailor) may be a bit bewildered by sailing terms and
diagrams with arrows and dotted lines. You may
start to fear that the whole thing sounds too
complicated and difficult. This is far from the truth.
Sailing doesn’t have to be complicated at all. It is
true that you have to learn the lingo, but it is logical
and full of words we use in everyday life. You can
learn to sail in three 8-hour days, or spend those 24
hours over a week or two. Sailing is something you
never stop learning, but in a short time, you’ll have the building blocks for a lifetime of
sailing fun. Here are a few basics to get you started:
• Know which way the wind is blowing. Look at clouds, see which way your flag
is blowing, or lick your finger and hold it up in the air to feel even the faintest
breeze. Soon, knowing which way the wind is blowing will become second
• You must be able to steer accurately. Don’t let this scare you. With the help of
an instructor, learning the correct way to handle your sailboat is very simple.
• Know when a sail is properly trimmed. While the boat is going in a straight
line, ease the sheet (line) attached to your jib (the small sail in the front) in and
out until there is a light flutter. The rule of thumb is: Pull the sheet in just enough
for the fluttering to stop.
It’s easy and fun to learn the rudiments of sailing, especially in a sailboat that allows
you to feel the reaction of the boat to the wind and the water. From then on, it's just a
matter of practice and having fun! Every minute
under sail can be enjoyable.
We do want to point out that you can't learn sailing by
reading this eBook or any other resource. You need
to get out on the water! This book provides some
basic knowledge, but nowhere near what you will
learn in comprehensive sailing lessons from a
professional instructor at a recognized sailing school.
Before long, you’ll be sailing into the sunset!
Visit What you learn in our courses to see everything covered in the Learn
to Sail course. Also, hear from real graduates who share their sailing
experiences! For more information, contact us online.
Learn to Sail - 15 Things You Need to Know
Learn more by visiting www.OffshoreSailingSchool.com, or by calling (888) 454-7015.
Copyright © 2011. Offshore Sailing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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