The ideal boat to start out with is a keelboat, the recreational yacht version that is more sturdy than a dinghy (most likely to tip over). A keelboat should be about 22-27 feet long. Rest assured that it will have the ability to take quite a bit of guests, including anything else you'd like to carry on the yacht while boating.
Tips for First Timers
- Choose Your Boat Wisely: Although a dinghy is a suggestive boat to get started with, you can't have too many people on board for fear of, like I said, tipping over. If you want to start learning on your own with not more than two people on board, then a dinghy is fine. If you already own a yacht, then we needn't say more.
- Open Waters: Go sailing on days when the winds are calm and sailing crowds are minimal. Since you're just a beginner, you'll need the open space for practice.
- Safety Comes First: It is better for safety's sake to carry an inflatable raft and life jacket. It is advisable that you learn how to swim, too.
- Start Out with Single-Sailed Boats: It is easier to start learning how to sail by buying a boat with a single sail. Once you grow accustomed to handling this, you can up the number of sails.
- Weather Conditions: Find out how the weather will be the day you decide to go out sailing, so that winds and tides can be determined. This will ensure that you are well prepared in terms of clothing and gear.
- Boom Swing: The boom lies adjacent to the foot of the main sail and extends backwards from the mast. It can swing directly at someone who's in its way, causing one to get a head injury or even fall into the water. It is important to pay attention to the swing of the boom.
- Directional Means: Make sure you have a compass and GPS navigation, including a map with coordinates of the sea to navigate your way. The last thing you need is to be stranded in the middle of the sea, with no sense of direction.
- Communication Devices: Make sure you have a cellphone on you with important numbers saved in case of an emergency. A VHF radio on deck is an absolute need, in case your cellphone signal is weak or absent.
Basic Sailing Jargon
Along with the aforementioned sailing tips, there are also some basic terms that one should familiarize themselves with.
- Luffing: When sails flap or flog because of the wind, or when a boat sails toward the far side of the wind's direction.
- Leeward/Windward: Away from the wind; towards the wind.
- Ease: To release a sail.
- Starboard Tack: Wind coming from the right side of the boat.
- Port Tack: The opposite of starboard tack where the wind comes from the left side of the boat.
- Tacking: A nautical maneuver to stay clear of other boats.
- Head Down: Diverting the course of the boat away from the wind.
- Head Up: Diverting the boat towards the direction of the wind.
- Bear Away: Head away from the wind.
There are sailing schools where you can learn how to sail; it is better that you sign up for these classes. An instructor can help you master the skills of sailing, taking you from beginner to professional in a matter of months. Sailing Course Guide is an online directory that helps users find places where one can sail. It also includes sailing charges and why one should learn how to sail. It also provides a host of sailing books and a list of the best sailing schools.
"Without patience, a sailor I would never be." - Lee Allred