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Basics


Sailing is no more complicated than driving a car, and a lot more fun to learn. Some people
grasp it immediately, while others take longer. Sailing requires some physical agility as well as
some mental ability to handle new concepts and language. To make it easier, don’t try to take on
everything at once. In the sailing lessons, concentrate on practicing sailing, and leave sailing
theory to later, when you can read a good book (see list near the end of this booklet) or discuss
things at the club.


Out on the water, you should first learn to steer a boat with a tiller. Once you’ve got that down,
move on to learning to trim the sails. Along the way, you learn how to turn around and go the
other way (coming about or tacking, maybe even jibing too). Then you learn to use your body
weight to balance a dinghy sailboat. Unlike a keelboat, which has a big lead weight underneath,
a dinghy sailboat stays upright mostly because the skipper and crew use their weight to balance
the force from the sails.

You will also learn how to sail slowly up to a dock, use the anchor in an emergency, reef the
sails to handle strong wind, heave to, and a bunch of other useful ‘maneuvers’. Your teachers
may have different ideas about how to teach, but hopefully they’ll ask about your progress and
challenge you without overwhelming you. If they screw up, please give them a break, they’re
only volunteers. Sometimes there will be big waves and strong wind, other times there will be
little if any wind. The boat will handle differently, and there will be different things to learn.
Have fun, and get that Jr. Skipper rating so that you, in turn, can teach new sailors.





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