So, you’ve been to all of the lessons. You’ve spent hours out on the water practising. You finally feel ready to go it alone and take your first independent sailing trip. The question is, what do you need to know before you head out? What are the important tips and tricks that first time sailors should be running through as they make their preparations?
The good news is that, if you’re already armed with enough knowledge to head out onto the water safely, you’re unlikely to run into too much trouble. You will make mistakes and there might be moments that feel more than a little hairy, but nobody ever said that learning how to sail was, well, always smooth sailing. The key is to remain calm, focused, and have confidence in your own abilities.
We consulted a few catamaran and trimaran specialists and put together this nifty guide to help you prepare for your first sailing adventure. These tips will help you master the basics and start your trip with a confident smile.
- Stick to Calm and Quiet Waters
If you haven’t sailed independently before, you must steer clear of crowded and turbulent waters. In other words, don’t try to run before you can walk. Start slow and build up your skills in quieter areas where you are less likely to encounter lots of big, bulky vessels. Remember that you can afford to make mistakes if there is nobody else around to crash into.
- Use a Small, Simple Boat
The same rules apply to your choice of sailing vessel. Nobody learns how to become a master of the water by jumping straight into a sprawling multihull; they begin with a simple boat and work their way up to something bigger with more sails. Smaller dinghies are very responsive and easy to manoeuvre, so are a good option for first timers. Also, you can safely flip and capsize a small dinghy, which is an important part of learning how to sail.
- Follow the Safety Procedures
It is imperative that you tell somebody about your trip before you head out. This is something that sailors of all abilities should do, because even a true master can run into unexpected problems. If nobody knows that you are on the water, nobody can know whether or not you make it back – don’t forget this. Also, your sailing vessel must have at least one floatation device onboard at all times.
- Check the Weather Forecast
Don’t forget to have a look at the wind, tide, and weather conditions just before you start your trip. While things can change very quickly out on the water, having a good idea of what to expect will allow you to respond faster and more safely. It will also tell you if you need to bring wet weather clothing and other gear. With proper preparation comes increased security.
- Always Mind the Boom
The amount of injuries that occur due to impacts with the boom is much bigger than you might think. It is easy to forget about this big swinging mass and end up with a nasty bump to the end, if you’re not experienced. It is something that you want to avoid at all costs, so be conscious and aware of the position of the boom at all times. And, make sure that your guests know to be aware of it too.
- Practice Makes Perfect
Your first trip won’t be the most graceful one you ever take. It might even be a little bit scary at times. Yet, if you’re calm, focused, and aware of your environment, it could just be the most thrilling adventure of your life. For most, that inaugural trip is the start of a long romance with sailing and the open water. Take things slow, be honest about your own abilities, and learn to love the journey; everybody has to start somewhere and your time is right now.