Basics of Sailing

A basic knowledge of sailing principles, sailing terminology and safe boat handling procedures. The goal is to qualify you to be able to sail aboard without an instructor. Sailing is a life skill, and an enjoyable one at that.


To understand the interaction between a sail boat and the wind is to know the difference between true wind and apparent wind.

• True wind is the wind speed and direction of a stationary position like a flag flying in the breeze.

• Apparent wind is the true wind altered by the motion of the boat. An example is a motorcycle when you get on the motorcycle the true wind is zero but once you start going it is not and that is apparent wind.


• One of the most important things to know before sailing on the water is your Points of Sail.

• It is important to know that no sail boat can sail directly into the wind. The wind will push you backwards and you will end up in the no go zone. The no go zone is a Point of Sail. It is also called In Irons.

• A Sail Boat has a port tack and a starboard tack. When the wind is coming across the starboard side of the sail boat (the boom is on the port side), the boat is said to be on a starboard tack. When the wind is coming across the port side of the boat (the boom is on the starboard side), the sail boat is said to be on a port tack. The starboard side of a boat is the right side and the port side is the left side. Port is easy to remember because it has four letters and so does left.

• The highest Point of Sail, where the sail boat is in the highest point of wind before the no go zone is called close haul, it’s were you have your sails full but trimmed as close as possible.

• This is also the fastest Point of Sail, and the most fun. The next Point of Sail is close reach.

• Then when the wind is coming over the beam or the middle of the boat, this point of sailing is called a beam reach.

• When the wind is coming in directly over the stern (from directly behind the boat) this is called a run. The slowest Point of Sail and least efficient is a run and it is also the most dangerous Point of Sail because you can do an accidental jibe, and the boom could hit someone aboard the boat.

Need to Know.

• Sail boats nomenclature

• Tack and jibe movements

• Ropes and line knots

• Passage right of ways.

These are all things that someone needs to know in order to put together a sail boat, sail the sail boat, and come back to shore safely.