The mystery of the sea has been calling to sailors for thousands of years. These dreams are fueled by watching sailing races, hearing stories of friends’ sailing adventures, catching a glimpse of sailboats in the background of a movie, driving over a bridge on your way to work while seeing sails gliding in the breeze, and, of course, from your first time on a sailboat!

#1 Work with a trusted guide

So, how do you learn to sail? The best place to start is by allowing a trusted guide to show you the ropes… literally! Future sailors can learn with friends or family while taking sailing lessons. Many sailing lessons come with a certification that teaches a structured set of skills. These lessons build as the new sailor learns on-water-skills combined with a written test to demonstrate their knowledge as they progress through the levels. Sailing certifications are a badge of honour! Most people learn to sail with a combination of certification classes and practising with friends. Don’t forget to keep a log of your sailing time.

#2 Learn new skills every time you sail

The best tip for new sailors is to realize that you should learn something new every time you sail! Remember learning to drive? You first learned to drive around the neighbourhood, and built on those skills, practicing along the way until you could drive in snow. Sailing is a smart sport that includes learning about wind science, math, weather, knots (the rope and speed kind), navigation, and fluid dynamics. Sailors must also learn a whole new language to communicate on the VHF radio, with flags, and between their crew sometimes at a distance. The best sailor is the prudent dreamer who knows to continuously fine-hone their skills while seeking and learning new lessons along their journey.

#3 Take sailing lessons

RYA Competent Crew course is for those new to sailing who would like to learn to sail and become active crew members rather than just passengers. You’ll learn to sail while living onboard and getting to know the boat. Virtually all the course is hands-on. You are the competent crew – without you, the sails won’t go up and the boat won’t be steered. The course is 5 days but is often run over 3 weekends or 3 days plus a weekend. If you have done the Start Yachting course, this course can be completed in 3 or 4 days.

As sailors are passionate about learning, you can always find great learning tools. These include excellent books, intriguing videos, interesting community lectures, fun group sailing trips, and a sailing friend to help teach you new things. As you study and learn, make sure to challenge yourself to learn new skills. Below is a list of skills to slowly add to your skill set:

  • Docking in new locations
  • Single handing
  • Sailing at night
  • Navigating to a new destination
  • Racing
  • Sailing offshore
  • Anchoring overnight
  • Cooking and barbecuing aboard
  • Sailing for a long weekend
  • Using the VHF radio
  • Chartering in a new county
When people first learn about SailTime, they may have been sailing for years or their family had a boat growing up. Sometimes they are brand new to sailing. We listen to your sailing dreams and share our knowledge about sailing. We help you have a boat owner-like experience without having to make the commitment of buying a boat.
Joining SailTime for a year is as easy as selecting a sailboat from our fleet, choosing a membership level, and signing up – your membership includes a 2-day induction for starters and our Sailing School will help you to quickly develop the skills you need.
There’s no need to spend years trying to pick the perfect boat before you even know what the perfect boat is for you!
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