What You Need to Know Before Going Sailing for the First Time

Sailboats at Sunset

Today we are doing something different. We have a guest post from freelance writer Sean J Olliver. Enjoy!

Sailing: a wonderful and active hobby, one that I discovered thanks to a group of friends that took me on my first sailing trip along the Pacific Coast of California. An absolute beginner, I had to learn how properly walk on a boat, while winds, currents, weather and navigation were like a foreign language to me. There are some basic facts I wish I knew before going sailing for the first time, and now I’m sharing them with you.

  1. Know your route. Don’t go without a map, GPS and compass.


Picking your destination is crucial: close to home, far away, abroad?

When I went sailing for the first time, my friends took me on a route from Santa Cruz up north following the Californian coast, so I wasn’t too far away from home, but… I wish I knew how to read nautical maps back then, because to this day, I can’t tell what our exact route was for that trip!

So, don’t go without bringing navigational necessities: nautical maps, a GPS device and compass. Even a smart phone or a tablet with a GPS app will do. Simply put: know where you’re going!

  1. You need supplies. Bring food and medicine. 

    There are no shops or pharmacies on the open waters. You need supplies. Bring enough food and make sure it’s not perishable. Don’t forget water!Pack a first aid kit, and bring any type of medication you or your crew could use. This includes motion sickness remedies, sunscreen, insect repellents and painkillers, as well as band-aids, bandages and disinfectants.

    My choice? I usually bring lots of cans of tuna, pasta, rice and cornflakes. Maybe you won’t be dining like royalty, but you won’t go hungry. And of course, you can always go fishing, which is something I highly recommend.

  2. Pick your charter. Learn the three basic types of sailboats to charter: bareboat, skippered and crewed charter.

    Rookies shouldn’t get a bareboat charter, you need at least one professional on board. Skippered charters are better, as you get an experienced captain to travel with you. With a crewed charter, you get an all inclusive deal – the crew takes care of everything, all you have to do is have fun. And stay safe.
    On a Sailboat
    4. Shoes are important. Clothes, too.

    Ever heard of the fashion term ‘nautical style’? Well, it’s actually based on boating apparel, which is more practical than stylish. And yes, wearing sailor shirts on dry land can look great.

    You need rubber-soled boating shoes or sandals that cover toes. No flip flops, no sneakers, definitely no evening shoes. Boats are slippery. Dress practically.

  1. Talk the talk and know your manners. 

    Learn the basic terms so that you won’t be totally lost or sound like a newbie. You should get to know sailing etiquette because manners are important, even on on a boat. You may be willing and eager to help the crew, but you could get in the way. Ask and learn, so that you can sail more independently in the future.

Trust me, sailing grows on you quickly. I was already into scuba diving, surfing and fishing, so sailing to me felt atural. Now? I just can’t wait to go on another sailing trip. I’ve sailed along the West Coast of the United States, a little bit of Florida and the Caribbean, Hawaii, and now I have my eyes set on Greece and Sicily.

Additional tips:
Pack your personal items and valuables in a waterproof duffel bag or backpack. If you’re going abroad, bring all necessary documents.

Know your maritime flags!

Learn about winds, currents and celestial navigation.

If you’re well-prepared, you’ll most likely get hooked on sailing right away. It’s probably my most favorite activity. It helps me stay in shape, relax, it takes me to new places and introduces me to new friends. For me, there’s nothing better than sailing.

About Sean J. Toliver:

Sean is a freelance writer and traveler with an affinity for sailing and scuba diving, always on the lookout for new destinations to visit. He prefers a nautical lifestyle, but when he’s on dry land, you’ll find him typing or planning his next big fishing trip, probably with a freshly brewed cup of coffee by his side.
Contact page: https://about.me/seanjtolliver

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