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How to start sailing, and what you don’t need!

September 04, 2020
How to start sailing, and what you don’t need!

You don’t need a sailing boat. You don’t need a dinghy, and you don’t need a sailing jacket. In fact you don’t need anything at all. Except the desire to give it a go, and the courage to ask for some help getting started.

How to start sailing, getting on a boat for the first time.

A friend with a boat makes it easy, of course, but if you don’t have one find a local sailing club and pay them a visit. Most clubs will have a beginners course they can direct you to, and many have open days or sailing evenings – where there’s usually someone looking for an extra pair of hands to help out. And that’s it.

You don’t actually need to buy anything to begin with. Just make sure your shoes don’t mark the deck, and you’re sorted. Eventually you’ll get on a boat, and if you make yourself useful, chances are you’ll be asked back.


How to start sailing, making yourself useful

If you really want to get into sailing, then ‘being useful’ is a very important part of this world. Even if it’s your first time ever setting foot on a boat, there are a few things you can learn up front, that will help you make a good impression.

Before you head down to the sailing club, this is what to do:

  1. Learn how to tie a clove hitch, or a bowline if you’re feeling ambitious
  2. Learn what the different parts of a boat are called, or at least be aware of what they are

If you know that before you even set foot on a sailing boat, and you bring a ‘ready to get stuck in’ attitude, you’ll impress the hell out of everyone. Instead of simply getting in the way, you’ll actually be able to contribute, and you’ll be welcomed back any time.


Starting a course, or sailing more regularly?

Like any sport when you start getting into it, there’s an overwhelming amount of ‘gear’ you can buy. Some of it useful, and some – perhaps – not so much. It all depends on what kind of sailing you’re doing, what the weather’s like, and how often you find yourself doing it. Stay tuned for our upcoming article on Learning to Sail for Adults and Kids.

Sailing gloves

First useful bit of gear would be a decent pair of fingerless sailing gloves, or waterproof sailing gloves. When working on a yacht, pulling ropes and occasionally having your hands bashed around – you’ll soon discover the value of a decent pair of sailing gloves. They’re not too expensive, will last for years if you look after them, and a great first purchase if you’re starting to get out on a boat more often.


Deck shoes

If you don’t have any shoes with non-marking soles, this will actually have to be your first purchase. But the good thing is, deck shoes aren’t just for sailing, they’re for anywhere.

A decent pair of sunglasses

Depends where you’re sailing, of course, along the west coast of Scotland there’s not much need for sunnies, but a day on Sydney harbour – essential. If you’ve got a good pair already, you might want to think about a strap to prevent them from falling off. Or if you really want to gear up, you can buy a pair of polarised sunglasses that actually float!


Waterproof sailing jacket

This is a big ticket item, so we would only recommend buying a sailing jacket if you’re really getting into it. That said, they’re incredibly well made, will last you forever, and when you put a waterproof sailing jacket on you’re totally protected from the elements. And in bad weather that’s exactly what you need. You can’t just hide inside and wait for the sun to come back.


Waterproof sailing trousers

If you buy a sailing jacket your next purchase will probably be sailing pants, or waterproof sailing trousers. Another hefty purchase but once done – you’re sorted for ages. And with a professional sailing jacket and waterproof sailing trousers on, you can literally go anywhere in the world.