Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sailing Basics for Skippers and complete rookies

I have received many comments about how to sail, where can I find more good information how to control sailboat and enjoy by. Honestly sailing is a hobby that you enjoy it when you learn more and have much more experience how to control boat. Good page that I have found on the web site about sailing basics is definitely

The web page gives you good advises and teach you complete basics about sailing and mention also some useful stuff for more experienced skippers. It is well explained in which direction can sailboat sail and how the boat is constructed. I am still amazed that you can sail with boat to almost any direction concerning the wind. You can sail almost against the wind or with the wind. All you need to do is trim the sail into the right position. There are many pictures on the mentioned page.

Basic of sailing are definitely knowledge about various sails. Small sailboats have only one sail from mast to the back of the boat. Usually most of the boat have two sails Front Sail (from mast to front of the ship) which is called Genoa or Jib and the Main Sail that is from Mast to the end of the boat called Main sail. There are various types of Main sail: Roll sail, Standard sail with lazy bag and not that often also roll sail on boom. For less experienced sailors it is advisable to use Roll sail, however if you want to get more from the sailboat then you should charter a boat with Lazy bag sail.

Preparing the boat and leaving the dock are definitely sailing basics. Those details are covered in details on the mentioned web site. What is the most important thing to do before you leave the dock. They have even basic check list to do before you leave the docks. Important thing from checklist: check weather, discuss with the crew, food and drink supply for the trip, navigation plan and of course secondary drive if there is no wind check power engine and the amount of fuel in the engine.

In my opinion site is really well designed and you will receive a lot of useful information. There are also good information about sailing schools especially one with RYA cerfiticate.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Basic Sailing: How do you know that the sails are perfect

How do you know that the sails are on right place and give you the maximum speed from the wind? Easiest answer is: You know that from experience. But how do you learn if you do not have any experience?

Genoa/Jib adjusting 
On both sails (main and genoa) there are some markers that show you if the sails are in the right position. Front sail: Genoa or Jib has usually three little ropes - streamers on each side of the sails. These ropes are around ten cm long (4 inches) and freely floating in the wind. On every side of the sails are different colors: one side green and other red. If this ropes are aligned then the Genoa (front sail) it is in right position. However if one side of the streamers are curled you need to adjust sail. If the ropes on the insides are bouncing you need to tighten the Genoa. And if the streamers on the outsides are curling you need to loosen the Genoa.

Main sail adjusting 
Main sail does not have this streamer on every side of the sail. Main sail has streamers attached to the end of the sail. This streamer tells you when the sail is too tight (when they are curling). If the Main Sail is too tight you lean more but do not get as much of the speed as you could get. You need to experiment a bit and see when the streamers stop curling. Take care also to the look of the sail, which should be in front a bit ballooned and not completely straight.

When you adjust the sails perfectly this is not the end of adjusting the sails. Wind is constantly changing and also your direction of sailing is not all the time the same. With that in mind you need to check constantly and coordinate how much the sails are tighten. However if you are not competing at some regatta and you prefer leisure sailing you can adjust sails less often. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Basics of sailing: Sail depending on the wind

To continue with the basics of sailing and how to sail in this post I will explain how you can sail with the sailboat depending from the direction where the wind is blowing.

Sailing Downwind 
You sail downwind if the wind is blowing in the same directions like the boat is moving. You can even sail downwind without the sails. This is pretty useful when you need to get the boat slowly into the docks (however it is not advisable).
To sail with the wind you need to get the sails at the right angle to the wind. If the wind is blowing directly downwind to the sailboat the main sail needs to be almost rectangular to the sailboat. Also Genoa or Jib needs to be really open and not tight. If the wind is blowing from the back you can try to get main sail to the other side of the boat then gib or Genoa.
Wind is caught behind the sails and pushes the sail forward. If the wind is stronger the boat will move faster.

Sailing into the wind  
You cannot sail directly into the wind but you can sail 20 degrees left or right against the wind. If you are sailing against the wind you need to tighten the sails as much as it is possible, you put the sails closer to the centerline.  If the wind is blowing slightly from the left you need to put both of the sails (front and the back) slightly to the right and  if the wind is blowing from other way you need to put sails singly to the left.
It is important if the boat is leaning too much and then comes a gust of wind the sailboat will leans a bit more and ruder can look out from the sea and loose it affect. Sailboat will gets horizontally to the wind and the boat will catch more wind and the boat will leans even more. In this case you need to loose sails.

Sailing across the wind 
When the wind is blowing from sides we are talking about sailing across the wind. The sails catch wind and transform it into the power to push the sailboat forward. With the help of rudder and centerboard it keeps the sailboat to move with the wind.
One more thing to care off is when you are changing directions. If the wind is blowing from one side and then you turn the boat the boom wills go to another side. This is where boom got its name. Boom can danger hit you and get you unconcealed. Even worse it can throw you into the water and if you are without life jacket you can drown.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Basics of sailing: True and Apparent Wind

In previous post about how to sail I have written how you can stop a sailboat and what do you need to check before you leave the dock. Here I will continue with this manual how to sail.

Apparent Wind and True Wind speed
When the wind is blowing you need to know how strong is the wind to reduce or open the sail safely. It is easy to measure the wind with all the devices on the sailboat because it just measure the direction from where the wind is blowing and how fast the wind the blowing.

When the sailboat is moving the wind get a bit more complex. The wind that we were mentioning before is called True wind. But this is not the wind that we feel on the sailboat (when the sailboat is moving).The wind that is felt on the sailboat is called Apparent wind. Sailboat devices will measure automaticaly what is true wind depending on the apparent wind and the speed of the boat and from where it is blowing.

The easiest way to explain is when the wind is blowing with 20 knots into your front of the sailboat. If the sailboat is moving with 10 knots you will feel only 10 knots blowing from the direction that the boat is sailing. In this case True wind is 20 knots and apparent wind is 30 knots. Direction from where the wind is blowing is the same.

The other example is when the wind is blowing from the back, so the wind is blowing in the same direction that the boat is moving. If the wind is blowing with 20 knots and the boat is moving 10 knots in the same direction True wind is 20 knots and Apparent wind is 10 knots.

If the wind is blowing against the direction where the boat is moving or with the direction the boat is moving the direction of the wind is the same with the true and apparent wind. However if the sailboat is sailing to other directions then against/with the wind the apparent and true wind direction is different.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to sail: basics about sailboat before you leave port

I have found that there are not as many information about basic sailing on the internet about sailing and some of them are even confusing or misleading so I have decided to post some basic "how to sail a sailboat" manual. All skippers and amatuer sailors are welcome to post comments.

First of all I would like to mention that it is smart to have some experienced skipper on the sailboat when you are going sailing for the first time. However there are some things that you can learn before you step on the sailboat.

How to easily stop a boat
You gain your confidence when you know how to control the boat and best thing is to know how to stop it. If you know how to stop it there are not any barriers to stop you with trying something new. None of the boat has a switch that can stop the boat immediatly. You can stop the sailboat if you turn the boat against the wind. This will stop the boat. Even better is to lower your sails and turn the engine on because it is easier to manouver.

On the water there is additional problem. Be careful on currents. If there is strong current best thing is to turn the boat away from the current and put the boat slightly in a reseverse so the boat will not move.

5 Things you need to do before you leave the port:

  • check wether forecast
  • prepare navigation plan
  • brief crew
  • check engine and if there is enough fuel
  • prepare sailboat (sails, ropes...)

Those are basics thing that you need to take care of. And if you are going out from the port for period longer then 2 hours it is advisable to take care of food and beverage for the period that you will be on the open sea. Weather forecast it is one of the most important things. Although it look sunny it can get messy really fast on the open sea and the storm can make a nice sailing day awful.

You need to know where you are going and especially what is your destination. Maybe this destination is not reachable in time and you will need to sail during the night - do not forget to prepare the navigational plan.
No mather if you are taking with the sailboat friends or some people that you have never seen before you need to brief them and tell that sailing is serious and that they need to cooperate with you by controling the sailboat, because especially in leaving the docks and going back you will need their help.

What is boat without the source of power? Is nothing more then a raft. This is why you need to take care that your engine is working and that you can control steering.

Check also other part of the boat that everything is working. If the sails are ready to sail, which ropes are tighten to the docks and if the boat has moorings or anchor? If you are going on longer trip check also refrigerator, radio and power generator. Do not forget about the water tanks.

This is only the beginning and will write about more basics in furter post.