Sailors are passionate about their time on the water—buoyed by a sense of empowerment as the wind fills the sails and the boat glides peacefully through the water. Sailing is a green activity, is wind powered, and is fulfilling for anyone at any age. This is the lifestyle you’ve been dreaming about—to share with family and friends close to home or in magnificent cruising grounds around the world. Whether you’re interested in day sailing, cruising, competitive racing, or charter vacations, there is a sailboat for you and a lifetime of sailing adventures ahead.
Choosing the Right Sailboat for You
Traditional wisdom says to start with something small, maybe a dinghy or simple sloop (single-masted boat with two sails), hone your skills and move up. That’s great for your kids –a boat that can capsize will teach you to sail very quickly – but most adults are better off investing in a small keelboat…
Learning to sail may seem complicated or beyond reach for many but there’s really nothing to learning the basics and there are many local organizations (yacht clubs, community parks and private schools) that offer affordable courses to those who want to experience life under sail.
Sailing has the power to change your outlook by spinning you in a new direction with different people and ambitions. It also provides a fresh perspective on how and where you spend your leisure time. Here are some of the most compelling reasons to learn to sail and set a course for new adventures.
Freedom & Sustainability
Boating is fun but sailing is grand. Harnessing the power of the wind and feeling the spray fly is amazingly freeing. It’s a great way to forget about the office and recharge your personal batteries. When done right, sailing is also a green and sustainable activity so you can start a new hobby without increasing your carbon footprint. Whether you just want to reset on an afternoon solo sail or get the blood flowing with a raucous upwind beat, there’s really no feeling like commanding a ship under sail.
Lifestyle and Community
Once you learn to sail (and even as you continue to improve), you’ll notice the strong sense of community that sailing creates. People dedicated to the lifestyle feel a kinship and you may find new friends. Whether you become a racer with strong ties to a yacht club, or a cruiser with a love of isolated anchorages, you’re bound to find like-minded individuals who will be more than happy to gather, share stories and help each other out.
Friends and Family
With busy schedules, it’s hard to carve out time for family and friends to gather and reconnect. However, a fun shared activity has a way of bringing people together and you may even be able to pry teenagers away from their phones to join in a physical endeavor that provides hours or days of enjoyment. It’s true that couples, families and friends who play together, tend stay together.
Competition and Goals
If leisurely daysails and weekends of discovery aren’t enough, you can always step up your sailing game and set some goals. Sailing doesn’t take long to learn but it can take a lifetime to master so there’s always some skill to work on. Become a master sail trimmer, navigator or helmsman and try your hand at racing. Whether around the buoys in a dinghy on a lake or on a large offshore racing machine, there’s no end to the kind and amount of racing you can do and the goals you can set.
Travel and History
Sailing opens up new ways to travel and see the world. Once you know how to sail, you can charter boats at bases around the world and enjoy water-based vacations that will take you off the beaten path. You can choose exotic locales or ones packed with history. Imagine cruising the turquoise waters of Tahiti or following the path of Odysseus throughout the Greek isles on a boat that is yours for the week. Of course, if you become really committed, you may end up buying your own yacht and sailing around the world, which brings with it a new set of challenges as well as accomplishments.
Not all hobbies are created equal. Sailing can be particularly fulfilling and developing the skills takes you well beyond powerboating into a world that is dreamt of and envied by many. Perhaps the best part is that sailing crosses social structures and age groups so you can enjoy life under sail well into your twilight years. Why not start today?
As you decide how to best advance your own sailing skills, be sure to consider the following sailing educational resources:
- The American Sailing Association (ASA) is the oldest and largest keelboat certification authority in the United States, with 300 affiliated sailing schools worldwide.
- The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States through wide-ranging educational programs.
- Offshore Sailing School is owned and operated by Steve and Doris Colgate, who are dedicated to delivering the very best sailing education, in environments that make learning fun and rewarding. With locations in Florida and the British Virgin Islands, Offshore Sailing School offers Sailing Certification courses, as well as Fast Track Sail and Power Courses, including Learn to Sail, Learn to Cruise, Learn to Race, and Learn Passage Making.
Pro Tip: In general, sails should be relatively flat when the wind is either very light or very strong, and full when there is a moderate wind.
Boating can be a social affair, especially when you raft up with all your boating buddies. Learning how to properly raft up with other boats involves understanding how you secure the boats together, and how you’ll keep your raft of boats in place.
Both new and experienced boaters should all take time to master important safety skills, including how to identify different parts of a boat, read channel markers, tie boating knots, improve boat handling, and understand the "rules of the road."
Take me out to the ballpark–by boat! For great family fun, boating and baseball go hand in hand. These 10 stadiums are right on the water, with dockage nearby, ideal for boaters looking to head to the ballpark by boat. Did your favorite team make the list?