Skills needed to sail
Sailing is a recreational and competitive activity which is both an art and science. It’s a fun and challenging way to explore the beauty of the world’s waterways and oceans. Sailing also provides an opportunity for both physical and mental exhaustion, instilling a sense of accomplishment when one navigates a successful journey. Though sailing has been around since ancient times, recreational and competitive sailing has become popular in recent decades, with participants in the millions worldwide
The skill of sailing is based on the following:
- Understanding the Physics of the Wind: The dynamic wind is a power source essential to sailing, and affects how vessels move through the water. Sailing is dependent on the knowledge and careful manipulation of the wind. Sailors must understand the principles of airflow, pressure, and windshear, so that they can position their sails and other rigging to capture the maximum amount of power. Any sailing book will have pages on pages of different points of sails and sail positioning. Remember that sailing is relatively easy to begin but will take someone a lifetime to be an expert.
- Setting the Sail: The sail is used to capture the power of the wind and propel the vessel forward. The size and shape of the sail and the position of the sail relative to the wind will determine the speed and direction of travel. Sailors must be able to adjust their sails to the changing conditions of the wind. My personal favorite book for setting sail is the Chapman Guide to Seamenship – a must read for any sailor.
- Navigation: Navigation is the science of locating and learning to maneuver around objects and natural features, such as land masses and shallow depths. Sailing pilots must have a comprehensive understanding of navigation in order to safely get from one point to another. Don’t always rely on GPS positioning be sure to actually know where you are and any danger points that you may face entering an unknown location.
- Communication: An important aspect of sailing is the ability to communicate with other boats around you, and even broadcasts from shore. The ability to use the radios and radios effectively can save one’s life in an emergency situation. Be sure to know the radio channels for certain harbors as sometimes they are different. A standard channel in the US is channel 16.
- Knowledge of Regulations: When sailing in different territories, it’s important to know the regulations and laws of each governing body. Violating these rules can lead to fines and other legal penalties. This is really only applicable if you are sailing into other countries. For instant some countries take having a pet on the boat to the extreme so make sure you know the rules for you furry friend.
- Discipline: Discipline is an essential part of successful sailing. Knowing when to take chances and when to exercise caution are key decisions which need to be made. Rules, regulations, weather conditions and other factors must be taken into consideration at all times. Take the story of Captain Ahab for instance, his whole crew died because he took one to many chances chasing that white whale.
- Physical Fitness: A key element of sailing is the physical exertion that goes into it, especially on larger vessels. Many sailors need to be in top physical condition in order to have an enjoyable experience on the water. I dont mean to say that you need to be but it does make the experience way more enjoyable as the bigger the boat gets the more weight you have to contend with.
As you must have gathered by the end of this the beauty of sailing hangs on the connection between science and art, something that lacks in the modern world for the most part.