May 9, 2013

Sailing's really pretty simple

 I HAVE ALWAYS maintained that almost anyone can learn to sail in an hour. Put a kid in a small sailing dinghy and see what happens. Within minutes, he or she has figured out how to work the three main controls — tiller, mainsheet, and daggerboard.

Even an adult can learn to sail in an hour or less. To tell the truth, basic survival sailing comes almost instinctively to most people. There are exceptions, of course, people who can’t get the hang of where the wind is coming from, or who panic when the boat starts to heel. But on the whole, sailing is a pretty simple pastime.

On a typical professionally taught sailing course over a weekend, you’ll learn the rules of the road, elementary navigation, crew overboard drills, coast-guard safety requirements, light and sound signals, anchoring and docking procedures, and a whole lot of other stuff apart from the simple skills of sailing.

What we call sailing actually involves many disciplines, from weather forecasting to domestic science, but the nub of it all, the actual business of making a small boat travel though water in the right direction, is not complicated. If you can drive a car, you can almost certainly sail a boat.

For my money, it’s best to learn the basics in a boat of 25 feet or less. Then you’ll be ready to sail anything.

Today’s Thought
Thus, thus I steer my bark, and sail
On even keel with gentle gale.
— Matthew Green, The Spleen.

Notice at a hotel swimming pool:
“Please be extra careful when using the swimming pool. The lifesaver has not yet received his annual raise.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Keep Reaching said...

Good post. Certainly it is best to learn the basics in a boat of 25 feet or less, but it is even better to start out in a dinghy. There you feel so much more of what is going on - and it is a lot more fun.

Jack said...

A mirror was my first craft.... the first experience of motion by wind. Never looked back, some 40+ yrs ago.