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How to Sail a Boat

Last Updated: May 13, 2022 Approved

This article was co-authored by Nitzan Levy . Captain Nitzan Levy is a Sailor, Social Entrepreneur, and the Founder of Sailors NYC, a recreational sailors’ club based in Jersey City, New Jersey that specializes in cruising boats and a variety of community programs. Capt. Levy has over 20 years of sailing experience and has sailed in many places around the world including: the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, The Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. Capt. Levy is a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Master of vessels up to 50 Tons with Auxiliary Sail and Assistance Towing Endorsements. Capt. Levy is also a NauticEd Level V Captain Rank Chief Instructor, an American National Standards Assessor, an SLC instructor, an ASA (American Sailing Association) Certified Instructor Bareboat Chartering, and an Israeli licensed skipper on Boats for International Voyages. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 25 testimonials and 92% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 958,770 times.

For centuries, the sea has captured the spirits of sailors and adventurers all over the world. In his poem "Sea Fever", John Masefield claimed that all he needed was "a tall ship and a star to steer her by" to feel complete. Breaking into the sailing world can be challenging, but this article will help guide you through the ebb and flood of the nautical world. As a note, this article will help get you started, but it cannot be overstated that before you begin, have an experienced sailor show you the standing and running rigging on your boat and their functions before you venture out on the water on your own.

Gaining a Basic Knowledge of Sailing

Step 1 Know the different parts of a sailboat.

  • Block: This is the nautical term for a pulley.
  • Boom: The horizontal support for the foot of the mainsail which extends aft of the mast. This is what you want to watch out for when changing directions in a sailboat. It can give you quite a wallop on the head if it hits you.
  • Bow: This is what the front of the boat is called.
  • Centerboard: This is a (usually fiberglass) plate that pivots from the bottom of the keel in some boats and is used to balance the boat when under sail.
  • Cleat: Cleats are what lines (or ropes) get fastened to when they need to be kept tight.
  • Halyard: Lines that raise or lower the sails. (Along with the sheets, aka running rigging.)
  • Hull: The hull is the body of the boat and consists of everything below the deck.
  • Jib: This is the sail at the bow of the boat. The jib helps propel the boat forward.
  • Genoa: A foresail which is larger than a jib.
  • Keel: The keel is what prevents a boat from sliding sideways ("making leeway") in whatever way the wind is blowing and stabilizes the boat.
  • Line: Lines are ropes. They are everywhere on boats. There is only one "rope" on a sailboat, the bolt rope which runs along the foot of the mainsail.
  • Mainsail: As the name implies, this is the mainsail of the boat. It is the sail attached to the back of the mast.
  • Mast: The mast is a large, vertical pole that holds the sails up. Some boats have more than one mast.
  • Painter: This is a line positioned at the front of small boats. It is used to tie the boat to a dock or another boat.
  • Rudder: The rudder is how the boat is steered. It is movable so that when you turn the wheel or tiller, the rudder directs the boat in the direction you would like the boat to go.
  • Sheets: The lines that control the sails. (aka running rigging.)
  • Spinnaker: The usually brightly colored sail used when sailing downwind or across the wind.
  • Stays and Shrouds: Some wires make sure the mast stays upright, even in very heavy winds. (aka standing rigging.)
  • Stern: This is the term for the back of the boat.
  • Tiller: The tiller is a stick attached to the rudder and is used to control the rudder.
  • Transom: This is what we would call the butt of the boat. It is the back part of the boat that is perpendicular to its centerline.
  • Wheel: The wheel works the rudder, steering the boat.
  • Winch: Winches help tighten the sheets and halyards. When these lines are wrapped around a winch (in a clockwise direction), a sailor can turn the winch with a winch handle, providing mechanical advantage which makes it easier to bring in the lines.

Step 2 Know about the different kinds of sailboats.

  • Sloop : Sloops are the most common type of sailboat (when you think of a sailboat this is probably the one you picture in your mind.) It has a single mast and is rigged up with a jib in the front and a mainsail attached to the back of the mast. They can range in size and are ideal for sailing upwind.
  • Catboat : A Catboat has a mast set up near the front of the boat and is a single-sail boat. They are small (or large, for that matter) and easily operated by one or two people.
  • Cutter : Cutters have one mast with two sails in the front and a mainsail on the back of the mast. These boats are meant for small crews or groups of people and can be handled relatively easily.
  • Ketch : A Ketch has two masts, with the second mast called the mizzen mast. The mizzen is shorter than the mainmast and is in front of the rudder.
  • Yawl : Yawls are similar to ketches with the difference being that their mizzen masts are located behind the rudder. The reason for this placement is that the mizzen on yawls is for keeping balance, rather than for moving the boat forward.
  • Schooner : Schooners are large sailboats with two or more masts. The mast in the back of the boat is either taller or equal in height to the mast at the front of the ship. Schooners have been used to commercially fish, transport goods and as warships.

Step 3 Know common terms used on a sailboat.

  • Port: When you are facing the bow (the front of the boat) the side to your left is the port side.
  • Starboard: Starboard is the right side of the boat when facing the bow.
  • Windward: As the name might imply, windward is the direction from which the wind is blowing, upwind.
  • Leeward: This is also called ‘Lee’. This is the direction to which the wind is blowing, downwind.
  • Tacking: Tacking is when you turn the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind switches from one side of the boat to the other. This is when you most need to be mindful of the boom, as the boom will swing from one side of the boat to the other when you tack (you don’t want to be in its way when it does that.)
  • Gybing (Jibing): This is the opposite of tacking, which means that it is when you turn the stern (or back) of the boat through the wind so that wind shifts to the other side of the boat. This is a more dangerous maneuver in a strong breeze than tacking since the boat's sails are always fully powered by the wind, and may react violently to the change in the orientation of the boat to the wind. Care must be exercised to control the boom during this maneuver as serious injury is a possibility if the boom travels across the cockpit uncontrolled.
  • Luffing: This is when the sails begin to flap and lose drive caused by steering the boat into wind or easing (loosening) sheets.

Step 4 Understand navigational buoys.

Preparing The Boat

Step 1 Perform a detailed visual check.

  • Check the lines ( running rigging ) that raise and control the sails ( halyards and sheets respectively). Make sure that they are separated, not wrapped around each other or fouled on anything else, and that they all have a figure-eight knot or other stopper knot on the free ( bitter ) end so they cannot pull through the mast or sheaves.
  • Pull all lines out of their cleats and off their winches. There should be nothing binding any line; all should be free to move and be clear at this point.
  • If you have a topping lift—a small line that holds the back of the boom up and out of the way when the sail isn't in use—let it out until the boom sags downward freely, then re-tie or re-cleat it. Watch out for the boom; it's just swinging around at this point; it will cause a painful "clunk" if it happens to hit you or your crew. The boom will return to its normal, horizontal position when you hoist the mainsail completely.
  • If so equipped, be sure that the tiller is properly attached to and controls the rudder. Your sailboat is now prepared for you to hoist the sails!

Step 2 Determine the wind direction.

  • If your boat doesn't have a windex, tie a couple of nine-inch pieces of old cassette tape, VHS tape, or oiled yarn to the shrouds—the rigging cables that hold up the mast. Place them on each side, about four feet up from the sides of the boat. These will show you from which direction the wind is blowing, although some sailors find cassette tape to be just too sensitive for this purpose.

Step 3 Point the boat into the wind.

  • If your boat has a motor, use the motor to keep the boat pointed into the wind while you hoist sail.
  • Here's a handy tip: if the water is not deep at your dock, or if you have no side pier, walk the boat out away from the dock and anchor it into the sand, and the boat will automatically point itself into the direction of the wind!

Hoisting The Sails

Step 1 Attach the sails.

  • There will be a small line ( outhaul ) attaching the rear corner of the mainsail ( clew ) to the end of the boom. Pull it so the foot of the main is taut, and cleat. This helps the mainsail have a smooth shape for the air flowing over it.
  • Hoist the mainsail by pulling down on its halyard until it stops. It will be flapping around ( luffing ) like crazy, but that's OK for a short period of time. (Excessive luffing will drastically reduce the life and durability of the sail).
  • The leading edge of the sail ( luff ) must be tight enough to remove folds, but not so tight as to create vertical creases in the sail.
  • There will be a cleat in the vicinity of the halyard where it comes down from the top of the mast. Cleat the halyard. Using the jib halyard, raise the front sail ( jib , genoa or simply the headsail ), and cleat the halyard off. Both sails will be luffing freely now. Sails are always raised mainsail first, then the jib, because it's easier to point the boat into the wind using the main.

Step 2 Adjust your heading and sail trim for the wind.

  • Turn the boat to the left ( port ) or right ( starboard ) so it's about 90 degrees off the wind. This is known as a beam reach .
  • Pull on the main sheet ( trimming ) until the sail is around 45 degrees away from straight back ( aft ). This is a safe place for the main while you trim the jib.
  • You will start moving and tilting ( heeling ) away from the wind. A heel of more than 20 degrees usually indicates that you're being overpowered. Releasing the mainsheet momentarily ( breaking the main ) will lessen the amount of heel, and you will return to a more comfortable sailing angle of 10 to 15 degrees.

Step 3 Trim the jib sheets.

  • The jib will form a curve or pocket; trim the sail until the front edge just stops luffing. Keep your hand on the tiller (or helm ) and stay on course!

Step 4 Trim the mainsail.

  • If you or the wind hasn't changed direction, this is the most efficient place to set the sails. If anything changes, you have to adjust them in response.
  • You have just entered the world of the sailor, and you will have to learn to do many things at once, or suffer the consequences.

Sailing Your Boat

Step 1 Watch the front of the sail edge on the main and jib.

  • When the wind is at your back and side ( aft quarter ), it's called a broad reach . This is the most efficient point of sail as both sails are full of wind and pushing the boat at full force.
  • When the wind is at your back, you are running with the wind . This is not as efficient as reaching, because air moving over the sail generates lift and more force than just the wind pushing the boat.
  • When running with the wind, you can pull the jib over to the other side of the boat where it will fill. This is called wing-on-wing , and you have to maintain a steady hand on the tiller to keep this sail configuration. Some boats have a "whisker pole" which attaches to the front of the mast and the clew of the jib which makes the jib much easier to control and keep full of wind. Be sure to be vigilant of obstacles and other vessels, as having both sails in front of you blocks a significant portion of your view.
  • Be careful —when the boat is running, the sails will be way off to the side, and because the wind is basically behind you the boom can change sides suddenly ( jibe or gybe ), coming across the cockpit with quite a bit of force.
  • If you have a wind direction indicator at the top of your mast, do not sail downwind (run) so that the wind indicator points toward the mainsail. If it does, you are sailing with the boom on the windward side ( sailing by the lee ) and are at high risk of an accidental jibe. When this happens the boom can hit you with enough force to knock you unconscious and out of the boat ( overboard ).
  • It's a good practice to rig a preventer (a line from the boom to the toe rail or any available cleat) to limit the travel of the boom across the cockpit in case of an accidental gybe.

Step 3 Close reach.

  • On most sailboats this will be about 45 degrees from the wind direction.
  • When you've gone as far as you can on this tack, turn the boat through the wind (or changing direction by tacking ), releasing the jib sheet out of its cleat or off the winch drum as the front of the boat ( bow ) turns through the wind.
  • The main and boom will come across the boat. The mainsail will self-set on the other side, but you will have to quickly pull in the jib sheet on the now downwind side to its cleat or winch, while steering the boat so the mainsail fills and begins to draw again.
  • If you do this correctly, the boat won't slow down much and you will be sailing to windward in the other direction. If you're too slow tightening the jibsheet again and the boat bears off the wind too much, don't panic. The boat will be pushed sideways a little until it gains speed.
  • Another scenario would be to fail to put the bow of your boat through the wind quickly enough and the boat comes to a complete stop. This is known as being in irons , which is embarrassing, but every sailor has experienced it, whether or not they'll admit it is another story. Being in irons is easily remedied: when the boat is blown backwards you will be able to steer, and as the bow is pushed off the wind you will achieve an appropriate angle to the wind to sail.
  • Point the tiller in the direction you wish to go and tighten the jib sheet to windward, ( backwinding the sail ). The wind will push the bow through the wind. Once you've completed your tack, release the sheet from the winch on the windward side and pull in the sheet to leeward and you'll be on your way again.
  • Because speed is so easily lost when tacking, you'll want to perform this maneuver as smoothly and quickly as possible. Keep tacking back and forth until you get to your destination.

Step 6 Go easy when learning.

  • Reefing almost always needs to be done before you think you need to!
  • It's also a good idea to practice capsize procedures on a calm day too. Knowing how to right your boat is a necessary skill.

Step 7 Sail safely.

Storing the Sails

Step 1 Lower and store your sails.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Comprehension Quiz

  • Try learning to determine the wind direction using your ears. Let the wind blow onto your back, then slowly turn your head left to right and back until you feel it "equalize" over your ears. Once you find that point, you now know the wind direction, and using this method, you can understand the wind more without having to use your eyes. [7] X Research source Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Know how to read clouds and the weather they may bring. [8] X Research source Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 2
  • If something bad happens—too much wind, man overboard, etc.—remember that you can bring the whole thing to a halt simply by pulling all three sheets out of their cleats or off their winches. The boat will (mostly) stop. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

sail on yacht

  • Going overboard is a serious matter, especially if you are alone. Cold water, currents, and other boats all can account for serious dangers, and if the sails are up, the boat will take off much faster than you might expect. Additionally, many boats float so high on the water ( freeboard ) that it is difficult to climb in or haul people in without assistance. When sailing at night, always wear a shoulder-mounted flashlight and strobe emergency signaling device, which makes it much easier for a SAR (Search And Rescue) crew to spot you in the water. Thanks Helpful 36 Not Helpful 4
  • In sailing, your very life may depend on doing things before they need to be done, when they first cross your mind. If you wait until it needs to be done, it may be too late or very difficult. Follow your instincts. Thanks Helpful 30 Not Helpful 5
  • Remember the old maxim "It's better to be on the dock, wishing you were on the lake, than to be on the lake, wishing you were on the dock". Don't let enthusiasm overcome your good judgement on a day you should not go out. The apparent wind while tied alongside at the dock may be very different out on the water. Many novices (and experienced sailors, for that matter) get into trouble venturing out when there is too much wind to sail safely. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • It is highly recommended that you at least have working knowledge of the nomenclature of the boat and have done some reading of in-depth material before attempting this sport yourself. Some highly recommended reads are: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sailing , Sailing for Dummies , and Sailing the Annapolis Way by Captain Ernie Barta. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Know how how to use VHF radio to make a Mayday call from a Marine Vessel . In an emergency, it is usually the quickest way to summon help. Cell phones may be used, but VHF will be able to contact a nearby vessel much more quickly should you need assistance or be able to render same. [9] X Research source Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

Things You'll Need

  • A life vest (Personal Flotation Device) is mandatory on all boats for all passengers. (A pealess whistle attached to the PFD is an excellent idea!) You should wear one at all times. If you have children with you, they should wear one even when you are at the dock.
  • Every vessel, regardless of length is required to have a certain amount of safety gear aboard. This ranges from an anchor with sufficient rode, flares, and other equipment as may be mandated by the Government. These regulations are for your safety and should be adhered to.

You Might Also Like

Tie up a Boat

  • ↑ http://www.lovesailing.net/sailing-theory/sailing-basics/parts-of-a-boat/parts-of-a-boat.php
  • ↑ https://www.boats.com/resources/sailing-101-sailboat-types-rigs-and-definitions/
  • ↑ http://www.discoverboating.com/resources/article.aspx?id=243
  • ↑ https://www.uscgboating.org/images/486.PDF
  • ↑ https://www.cruisingworld.com/learn-to-sail-101#page-2
  • ↑ https://www.discoverboating.com/resources/how-does-a-boat-sail-upwind
  • ↑ https://www.dummies.com/sports/sailing/finding-the-winds-direction/
  • ↑ https://weather.com/news/news/read-clouds-meteorologist-20130826
  • ↑ https://www.boatus.org/marine-communications/basics/

About This Article

Nitzan Levy

To sail a boat, start by performing a detailed visual check of the cables and ropes that support the mast. Next, determine the wind direction by referring to the wind direction indicator at the top of the mast, then point the boat into the wind. Secure the bottom front of the mainsail and jib to the shackles on the boom and bow of the boat, then trim the jib sheets and mainsail before letting out the main sheet! For tips on monitoring wind indicators, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How Sailboats Work.

How Sails Work: Understanding the Basics

sail on yacht

Table of Contents

Sailing is all about physics and geometry but don’t worry, it’s not too hard to learn. Once the theory is down, it’s all a matter of practice. Let’s look at what sails are and how they work.

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Aerodynamics, hydrodynamics & modern sails

Sails work like airplane wings, except they’re vertical rather than horizontal. As the wind hits the front of a curved sail, it splits, passing on both the downwind (leeward) side and upwind (windward) side.

The leeward wind travels farther due to the curvature of the sail and creates a low-pressure area while the windward wind travels a shorter distance and reaches the aft end faster – together, they create aerodynamic lift that “pulls” the boat forward .

The keel or centerboard in the water below the hull prevents the boat from being pushed sideways. With the lift of the sails and the lateral push or hydrodynamics of the keel, the boat is propelled forward. Where the wind concentrates force in the sails is called the center of effort, while the keel below is called the center of lateral resistance.

Most modern sailboats have a forward (or headsail) and a mainsail. The headsail may be called a genoa, jib, or staysail (different sizes) and is attached at the top of the mast and leads down at an angle to the bow . It’s controlled by lines called sheets. The mainsail is supported by the mast and is attached at the bottom to a lateral spar called the boom.

Sailboat sail.

Parts of a sail

Sails come in various shapes, but for our purposes, we will focus on modern, triangular sails. The top of the sail is called the head , and the bottom is the foot. The forward end of the foot is the tack, and the aft end is the clew. The forward edge of the sail is the luff, and the aft end is the leach.

Telltales or short strands of yarn are often attached near the leading edge of a sail to help with sail trim. The shape of the sail is ideal when the strands on both sides are streaming back at the same level, which indicates that wind is moving evenly along both sides of the sail.

READ MORE: Parts of a Sailboat

Points of sail

A boat cannot sail directly into the wind– instead, it sails at an angle to the true breeze. Close hauled is roughly 45 degrees off the wind, close reach is 60 degrees, beam reach is at 90 degrees, and a broad reach is approximately 150 degrees off the wind.

When moving directly or dead downwind, a boat is said to be running, and when the bow is pointed into the wind, that’s called being in irons. A boat cannot sail in irons and can be hard to control when running. When sails begin to luff at the leading edge, the boat is trying to sail too close to the wind and will stall.

Sailing crew.

Tacking and jibing (gybing)

A boat changes direction by either tacking or jibing. Sailing upwind, a boat tacks when the bow passes through the eye of the wind until the boat is sailing on the opposite side or “tack” creating a zig-zag course. When sailing downwind, the boat jibes when passing the stern through the wind.

Turning upwind is called heading up and turning away, or downwind is falling off. When the wind passes over the starboard rail first, you’re on a starboard tack and vice versa.

Pro Tip: You can learn how to sail without owning a sailboat. Find a sailboat rental near you , then book! You can save that boat listing and book again to continue practicing.

Sail shape & angle

Boats sail in true wind (the wind that is actually blowing at a given speed and angle) by they’re actually responding to the apparent wind (the angle and speed of the breeze that is felt once the boat is moving). The wind always changes speed and angle, so sails must be adjusted or trimmed in response to the boat to maintain optimal speed.

When sailing upwind, the sails are sheeted in (made flatter by pulling in the sheet lines) to create better foils and greater lift or pull. When sailing downwind, sails are usually loosened or let out to create a “belly” and adjusted to be as perpendicular to the angle of the wind as possible.

Sheeting in (bringing the sails closer to the centerline) enables the boat to point higher (sail closer to the true wind) while easing out (loosening the aft end of the sail) creates more power when the wind is aft like around the beam or broad reach.

A boat is more likely to heel when sheeted in and sailing upwind. Excessive healing doesn’t mean the boat is traveling faster. In fact, it may just be getting overpowered and becoming less efficient than if the sails were trimmed properly.

Sailboat at sea.

In high winds, shorten or reef sails so the boat doesn’t become overpowered and potentially dangerous. Reefing is done at the tack and clue or the forward and aft parts of the foot of the sail. There may be 1-3 pre-rigged reefing points controlled by reefing lines, so the sails can be made as small as necessary to keep the boat from heeling too far.

Easy to learn

Trimming sails takes time to master; let sails out until they luff or flap, and then sheet in until you feel the boat pick up speed. Smaller boats react quickly to each adjustment and are better for new sailors to learn on than large boats that take a minute to speed up or slow down. Once you’ve mastered the theory, you may spend years perfecting your sailing skills.

Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone— whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat , book a boat , or make money as a captain .

List. Rent. Earn— Only at Boatsetter


Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin. 

A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide. 

Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico. 

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Sail Universe

How to Sail: The Ultimate Sailing Guide for Beginners

Learning to sail can seem like a daunting process. Besides just learning how to sail a boat, the terminology of boating is completely different, and most of what needs to be learned can only be acquired by doing, meaning practice is required. But before you head out on the water, you can increase your knowledge by reading up on sailing , which will further help to keep you safe while on your boat. Discover our ultimate sailing guide for beginners !

(Guide via Jen Reviews )

Sailing Defined

Sailing is the art of taking a boat, turning off the motor, and harnessing the power of the wind to make the boat go where you want it to go. It might seem difficult, but it is really very simple, provided you take the time to understand how the boat utilizes the power of the wind. More than likely your boat will also have a motor (for times when there is no wind), but we will mainly focus on the actual process of sailing, and how that can be achieved.

Before you leave the dock

Before you head out on your own boat (or before you go to purchase a boat), search online and find the nearest sailing school or yacht club. You can find the local sailing school where you can take one on one sailing lessons, or even take an instructor out on your boat to show you the ropes, and how to safely sail. There are also free classes you can take online, which can better prepare you for learning the basics of sailing.

sail on yacht

Make sure and check the weather before heading out. If there is a storm headed your way, or in the direction you want to go, it might be prudent to wait a few days until calmer weather is in the forecast. It also can be quite boring to head out on the water if there is no wind, as you will be forced to motor the entire time.

dummy guide to sailing

Dress for the weather, but be sure and bring lots of layers. Even if it’s hot out, while out on the water there is nothing to shield the wind, so it might seem colder than on land. Always have a jacket , hat, sunscreen, long pants and or shorts, shoes, and bring lots of water and snacks. Better to be over prepared than under prepared.

ultimate sailing guide

Make a Checklist

Make a checklist for necessary equipment you will want to bring with you on the boat (or even things that are US Coast Guard required). This could include items such as:

  • Life Jackets
  • Drinking water and snacks
  • Sunglasses, hat, jackets, extra clothing
  • Engine fuel and spare parts
  • Chart ( handheld GPS as well)
  • Bucket (can be used to bail water, clean off the boat, or as a restroom if need be)
  • USCG required equipment for the boat
  • Sound signals (whistle or fog horn)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Visual distress signals (flares or flashlight at night )
  • Navigation lights (required at night, or if visibility is reduced)
  • Anchor and chain/line
  • Extra line (mooring or various other uses)
  • Fenders (Plastic hard ‘balloons’ that keep your boat from bumping on the dock)
  • VHF radio and cellphone
  • First-Aid Kit and booklet
  • Tool Kit and Knife
  • Lifesling or throwable buoy
  • Radar reflector
  • Ditch kit (full of life saving necessities in case you have to abandon ship)
  • Life raft of some sort (depending on where you are sailing, and the size of your vessel)

These are all useful and necessary items to have stocked on your boat: some are required by the Coast Guard , and some are just common sense. It might also be helpful to bring a sailing buddy when you head out, to assist with docking, hoisting the sails, or just giving a second opinion in case something should occur.

Know your boat

Before heading out on the water, make sure and inspect as much of your boat as you can: understand where the lines (ropes) are going, how the sails are hoisted (lifted) and lowered, and where the safe places to walk or sit will be once you are out on the water. This article will discuss the basic terminology (with important words defined in bold), and try to explain as much as you need to know about the basic parts of your sailboat.

Let’s start with the simple terminology first .

When you get on your boat, and are facing towards the front of the boat, that would be forward, with everything behind you being aft. The very front of the boat is the bow, with the aft part of your boat called the stern. The left of the boat is the port side (think left and port both having four letters), with the right side being the starboard side. That seems simple, right? So let’s keep going.

The mast is the vertical pole that supports the sail. If you only have one big sail, there will only be one mast. Some boats have more than one mast, but sailboats always have at least one. The horizontal pole that comes off the bottom part of the mast is called the boom (which is also the sound it makes when it hits you in your head… be careful of this one!).

The tiller is a horizontal lever arm that turns the rudder (steers the boat), and is either by itself or is attached to the wheel, which is what you use to steer the boat. Standing in the boat you will be on the deck, but if you go inside the boat you will be below-deck. The sides of the boat are called the hull, and the draft is the distance from the surface of the water to the deepest part of the boat underwater (important to know if you don’t want to run aground).

The lines that hold up the mast on the starboard and port sides up to the top of the mast are called the shrouds, while the wire that runs from the mast to the stern is called the backstay, and the wire that runs from the mast to the bow is the forestay (also called the headstay). The beam is the width at the widest point of your boat, and the total length overall is the horizontal length from the tip of the stern to the tip of the bow (necessary to know depending on where you want to dock or store your boat).

It may seem like quite a few terms to know, but while being on a sailboat everything is called something different. But we are only concerned with the most important terms at the moment.

When you start putting up a sail, you will be pulling on a halyard . If you are putting up the mainsail (largest sail that is attached to the mast), you will be pulling on the main halyard. To let the sail move towards the starboard or port side of the boat, you will let out the main sheet (line that is attached to the bottom aft section of each sail, which moves it side to side). You may need to use a winch, which is a round drum that increases your power capabilities to pull on a line (rope).

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A Beginner's Guide to Sailing a Sailboat

Key Information for Beginners and Sailors

There are many ways to learn to sail:

  • You can just jump in a boat with a friend and try to learn from experience
  • You can sign up for a formal course at a sailing school
  • You can buy or borrow a small sailboat and do it all on your own

No matter which way works best for you, it helps to understand the boat and what's involved in sailing first before you're out on the water, where suddenly you might get into trouble.

The Basic Steps of Sailing

Sailing involves both specific knowledge and skills. The following are the basic steps of learning to sail- as much as you can learn while not actually on a boat. You don't have to follow this order; skip ahead if you already know some of the basics. If you're mostly new to sailing, you might want to proceed through these steps like chapters in a manual.

  • Understand Basic Sailing Terms. To get into sailing, you have to understand the words that are used to talk about the sailboat and the skills used to sail. Start here with a review of basic sailing terms. Don't worry about memorizing everything as many of these terms and concepts will become clearer as you read on about how to do it.
  • Learn the Parts of the Boat. Before you go on the boat, it's helpful to know the words used in different parts of the boat. Even if you have an instructor, he or she won't say "Grab that rope over there and pull it," but instead will say "Haul in the jib sheet!" Review the basic boat terms you'll need to know.
  • Start an Online Course. Now you're ready to learn more about what all those parts of the boat are used for. Here you can start an online learn-to-sail course by learning more about the parts of the boat along with a lot of photos, so you'll see what to do.
  • Rig the Boat. Read to go sailing now? Hold it a minute- you have to rig the boat first by putting on sails and making other preparations. Here again are a lot of photos of what to do on a typical small sailboat used by beginners.
  • Review Basic Sailing Techniques. OK, now you have the boat ready- so what do you do now to make it go? Manage the sails to go in the direction you want by learning basic sailing techniques.
  • Discover How to Maneuver. Sailing in a set direction is reasonably easy, but eventually, you'll have to change direction. That often involves tacking and gybing. Take a moment to learn what's involved in these critical maneuvers.
  • Recover From a Capsize. Now you've got the basics down. But did anyone ever tell you that small sailboats often tip over if the wind is gusting? Be prepared and carefully see how to recover from a capsize .
  • Dock or Anchor the Boat. Now you're out there sailing and you've got the boat under control. Learn how to go faster, dock or anchor the boat and use some of the equipment you've ignored so far. Take a look at some of these additional sailing skills.
  • Practice Tying Knots.  For thousands of years, sailors have used times where it is cold or raining by doing things like tying knots. Knots are important on a sailboat and you will need to learn at least some basic sailing knots to sail at all.
  • Sail Safely. At this point, plus practice on the water, you're good to go. However, it's good to remember that water is a dangerous place. Learn the basics about sailing safety. Staying safe makes it easier to keep having fun out there.

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A guide to yacht sails for the sailing yachtsman

Yachting Pages

A well-designed sailing superyacht is a thing of pure beauty: Owners, guests and shore-side admirers alike quickly fall in love with the billowing sails, the excitement of the race, and the eco-friendly nature of these elegant yet imposing crafts.

Search yacht sail makers on Yachting Pages.

Perini Navi

With good sail planning, great design and regular maintenance, these spectacular sails can be used to their full potential; after all, racing and sailing yachts are there to be used and enjoyed.

Yachting Pages looks into the vast array of different yacht sails  fit for a sailing superyacht, and provides an insight into the names, fabrics and uses of each.

A guide to spectacular superyacht sails

The main power source of any sailboat or yacht is the wind, which is captured by the mainsail and headsail to propel the boat forwards. It is important to note the different types of yacht sails and the uses for each one. 

Types of yacht sails

The types of yacht sails include:

  • Mainsail: The larger sail aft (behind) the mast, attached to the mast and the boom
  • Headsail: The sail between the forestay line and the mast. Either a jib, a genoa or a spinnaker, there are several sizes of headsails: A working jib is a smaller jib that fills the space between the mast and forestay, used in stronger winds. A genoa jib on the other hand overlaps the mainsail, providing maximum power in light winds
  • Spinnaker: A large balloon-type sail attached to the mast at the bow (front) of the boat, used when sailing downwind

There are a variety of sails that hold different functionalities, although they may not be used all the time, they are equally as important and are likely to be carried on most sailing yachts. Functional sails include downwind sails, light air or reacher sails and storm sails - they ensure the crew can handle the vessel in any weather condition and at any speed.

Learn about yacht rigging parts and terminology here

Parts of the sail

Before we dive into the different fabrics that can be used for yacht sails, it is important to understand the different sail parts.

Sail parts include:

  • Head: Top of the sail
  • Tack: Lower front corner of the sail
  • Foot: Bottom of the sail
  • Luff: Forward edge of the sail
  • Leech: Back edge of the sail
  • Clew: Bottom back corner of the sail

Two Yachts Sailing at Sea

Superyacht sail fabrics

Sail fabrics and materials have, and continue to, develop at a rapid pace. Currently, sailing yachts can sport anything from Dacron crosscut sails that are built for recreational cruising, to carbon and UHMPE laminates that are built for competitive racing.

Fabric options for working sails can be divided into three main categories:

  • Woven fabrics: A long-lasting and cost-effective product, however, it has low shape retention and is heavier than the other available options.
  • Laminated for panelled sails: Less durable overall, but offering a much better shape retention and lighter construction than woven sails.
  • Laminated membranes: Built in large sections, these offer the best shape retention. They are light and durable, but they come in at the most expensive.

Sail material should be chosen to suit the specific yacht type, yacht size and the level of sailing the vessel will be doing, e.g. cruising or racing.

When choosing a supplier to fit out the masts and rigging of a superyacht, as with all yard work, it’s important to find a supplier that you have a good working relationship with. Fiona Bruce from Doyle Sailmakers said, “Your sail maker should be chosen not only on product, but on service and trust.”

There is a worldwide network of sail lofts and sail makers to choose from, each with their differing strengths and weaknesses.

The future of sailing superyachts: Eco-sailing

Every year, the sails aboard sailing yachts, and the sailing yachts themselves, are becoming lighter and more durable, allowing them to propel vessels faster and more efficiently. With wind, water and solar power already acting as alternative fuels, can we say goodbye to diesel now we're in the 2020s?

Advancements and interest in green power is continuously burgeoning, with recent developments seeing wind and solar power utilised to charge the battery bank below deck.

Flexible solar panels, named PowerSails, can also be attached to sails or even incorporated into the laminate for an extremely durable alternate energy source. Weighing just 100 grams per metre squared, each square metre is capable of generating 100 watts of power, and does not require constant direct sunlight to generate electricity.

With movement towards wing sails in performance sailing, plus the development of transom-mounted hydro generators, methanol fuel cells and wind generators, eco-sailing has never been more of a reality, with such trends perhaps soon filtering through to the cruising and production classes in some way shape or form.

Find a yacht sailmaker in your location  or take a look at our guide to superyacht rigging.

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Best Yacht Crew Jackets: Product Review

A jacket completes any crew member's uniform so it's an important garment to get right. In this Tried & Tested, Sea Design pits eight popular jackets against one another to determine which one is best for superyacht crew in 2023.

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iAQUA creates high-performance, technologically advanced underwater scooters. In this Tried & Tested, a team of experienced testers have rated and reviewed the AquaDart Pro and AquaDart Nano series to reveal the stand-out iAQUA sea scooter.

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In our 2022 Tried & Tested, yacht toy specialist EAMS and a group of captains and crew review a selection of the very best luxury water toys on the market. Find out which toy was crowned the winner...

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Sailboat Parts Explained: Illustrated Guide (with Diagrams)

When you first get into sailing, there are a lot of sailboat parts to learn. Scouting for a good guide to all the parts, I couldn't find any, so I wrote one myself.

Below, I'll go over each different sailboat part. And I mean each and every one of them. I'll walk you through them one by one, and explain each part's function. I've also made sure to add good illustrations and clear diagrams.

This article is a great reference for beginners and experienced sailors alike. It's a great starting point, but also a great reference manual. Let's kick off with a quick general overview of the different sailboat parts.

General Overview

The different segments

You can divide up a sailboat in four general segments. These segments are arbitrary (I made them up) but it will help us to understand the parts more quickly. Some are super straightforward and some have a bit more ninja names.

Something like that. You can see the different segments highlighted in this diagram below:

Diagram of the four main parts categories of a sailboat

The hull is what most people would consider 'the boat'. It's the part that provides buoyancy and carries everything else: sails, masts, rigging, and so on. Without the hull, there would be no boat. The hull can be divided into different parts: deck, keel, cabin, waterline, bilge, bow, stern, rudder, and many more.

I'll show you those specific parts later on. First, let's move on to the mast.

sail on yacht

Sailboats Explained

The mast is the long, standing pole holding the sails. It is typically placed just off-center of a sailboat (a little bit to the front) and gives the sailboat its characteristic shape. The mast is crucial for any sailboat: without a mast, any sailboat would become just a regular boat.

I think this segment speaks mostly for itself. Most modern sailboats you see will have two sails up, but they can carry a variety of other specialty sails. And there are all kinds of sail plans out there, which determine the amount and shape of sails that are used.

The Rigging

This is probably the most complex category of all of them.

Rigging is the means with which the sails are attached to the mast. The rigging consists of all kinds of lines, cables, spars, and hardware. It's the segment with the most different parts.

The most important parts

If you learn anything from this article, here are the most important parts of any sailboat. You will find all of these parts in some shape or form on almost any sailboat.

Diagram of Parts of a sailboat - General overview

Okay, we now have a good starting point and a good basic understanding of the different sailboat parts. It's time for the good stuff. We're going to dive into each segment in detail.

Below, I'll go over them one by one, pointing out its different parts on a diagram, listing them with a brief explanation, and showing you examples as well.

After reading this article, you'll recognize every single sailboat part and know them by name. And if you forget one, you're free to look it up in this guide.

Diagram of the Hull Parts of a sailboat

On this page:

The hull is the heart of the boat. It's what carries everything: the mast, the sails, the rigging, the passengers. The hull is what provides the sailboat with its buoyancy, allowing it to stay afloat.

Sailboats mostly use displacement hulls, which is a shape that displaces water when moving through it. They are generally very round and use buoyancy to support its own weight. These two characteristics make sure it is a smooth ride.

There are different hull shapes that work and handle differently. If you want to learn more about them, here's the Illustrated Guide to Boat Hull Types (with 11 Examples ). But for now, all we need to know is that the hull is the rounded, floating part of any sailboat.

Instead of simply calling the different sides of a hull front, back, left and right , we use different names in sailing. Let's take a look at them.

Diagram of the Hull Parts of a sailboat

The bow is the front part of the hull. It's simply the nautical word for 'front'. It's the pointy bit that cuts through the water. The shape of the bow determines partially how the boat handles.

The stern is the back part of the hull. It's simply the nautical word for 'back'. The shape of the stern partially determines the stability and speed of the boat. With motorboats, the stern lies deep inside the water, and the hull is flatter aft. Aft also means back. This allows it to plane, increasing the hull speed. For sailboats, stability is much more important, so the hull is rounded throughout, increasing its buoyancy and hydrodynamic properties.

The transom is the backplate of the boat's hull. It's the most aft (rear) part of the boat.

Port is the left side of a sailboat.

Starboard is the right side of a sailboat

The bilges are the part where the bottom and the sides of the hull meet. On sailboats, these are typically very round, which helps with hydrodynamics. On powerboats, they tend to have an angle.

The waterline is the point where the boat's hull meets the water. Generally, boat owners paint the waterline and use antifouling paint below it, to protect it from marine growth.

The deck is the top part of the boat's hull. In a way, it's the cap of the boat, and it holds the deck hardware and rigging.

Displacement hulls are very round and smooth, which makes them very efficient and comfortable. But it also makes them very easy to capsize: think of a canoe, for example.

The keel is a large fin that offsets the tendency to capsize by providing counterbalance. Typically, the keel carries ballast in the tip, creating a counterweight to the wind's force on the sails.

The rudder is the horizontal plate at the back of the boat that is used to steer by setting a course and maintaining it. It is connected to the helm or tiller.

Tiller or Helm

  • The helm is simply the nautical term for the wheel.
  • The tiller is simply the nautical term for the steering stick.

The tiller or helm is attached to the rudder and is used to steer the boat. Most smaller sailboats (below 30') have a tiller, most larger sailboats use a helm. Large ocean-going vessels tend to have two helms.

The cockpit is the recessed part in the deck where the helmsman sits or stands. It tends to have some benches. It houses the outside navigation and systems interfaces, like the compass, chartplotter, and so on. It also houses the mainsheet traveler and winches for the jib. Most boats are set up so that the entire vessel can be operated from the cockpit (hence the name). More on those different parts later.

Most larger boats have some sort of roofed part, which is called the cabin. The cabin is used as a shelter, and on cruising sailboats you'll find the galley for cooking, a bed, bath room, and so on.

The mast is the pole on a sailboat that holds the sails. Sailboats can have one or multiple masts, depending on the mast configuration. Most sailboats have only one or two masts. Three masts or more is less common.

The boom is the horizontal pole on the mast, that holds the mainsail in place.

The sails seem simple, but actually consist of many moving parts. The parts I list below work for most modern sailboats - I mean 90% of them. However, there are all sorts of specialty sails that are not included here, to keep things concise.

Diagram of the Sail Parts of a sailboat

The mainsail is the largest sail on the largest mast. Most sailboats use a sloop rigging (just one mast with one bermuda mainsail). In that case, the main is easy to recognize. With other rig types, it gets more difficult, since there can be multiple tall masts and large sails.

If you want to take a look at the different sail plans and rig types that are out there, I suggest reading my previous guide on how to recognize any sailboat here (opens in new tab).

Sail sides:

  • Leech - Leech is the name for the back side of the sail, running from the top to the bottom.
  • Luff - Luff is the name for the front side of the sail, running from the top to the bottom.
  • Foot - Foot is the name for the lower side of the sail, where it meets the boom.

Sail corners:

  • Clew - The clew is the lower aft (back) corner of the mainsail, where the leech is connected to the foot. The clew is attached to the boom.
  • Tack - The tack is the lower front corner of the mainsail
  • Head - The head is the top corner of the mainsail

Battens are horizontal sail reinforcers that flatten and stiffen the sail.

Telltales are small strings that show you whether your sail trim is correct. You'll find telltales on both your jib and mainsail.

The jib is the standard sized headsail on a Bermuda Sloop rig (which is the sail plan most modern sailboats use).

As I mentioned: there are all kinds, types, and shapes of sails. For an overview of the most common sail types, check out my Guide on Sail Types here (with photos).

The rigging is what is used to attach your sails and mast to your boat. Rigging, in other words, mostly consists of all kinds of lines. Lines are just another word for ropes. Come to think of it, sailors really find all kinds of ways to complicate the word rope ...

Two types of rigging

There are two types of rigging: running and standing rigging. The difference between the two is very simple.

  • The running rigging is the rigging on a sailboat that's used to operate the sails. For example, the halyard, which is used to lower and heave the mainsail.
  • The standing rigging is the rigging that is used to support the mast and sail plan.

Standing Rigging

Diagram of the Standing Riggin Parts of a sailboat

Here are the different parts that belong to the standing rigging:

  • Forestay or Headstay - Line or cable that supports the mast and is attached to the bow of the boat. This is often a steel cable.
  • Backstay - Line or cable that supports the mast and is attached to the stern of the boat. This is often a steel cable.
  • Sidestay or Shroud - Line or cable that supports the mast from the sides of the boat. Most sailboats use at least two sidestays (one on each side).
  • Spreader - The sidestays are spaced to steer clear from the mast using spreaders.

Running Rigging: different words for rope

Ropes play a big part in sailing, and especially in control over the sails. In sailboat jargon, we call ropes 'lines'. But there are some lines with a specific function that have a different name. I think this makes it easier to communicate with your crew: you don't have to define which line you mean. Instead, you simply shout 'mainsheet!'. Yeah, that works.

Running rigging consists of the lines, sheets, and hardware that are used to control, raise, lower, shape and manipulate the sails on a sailboat. Rigging varies for different rig types, but since most sailboats are use a sloop rig, nearly all sailboats use the following running rigging:

Diagram of the Running Rigging Parts of a sailboat

  • Halyards -'Halyard' is simply the nautical name for lines or ropes that are used to raise and lower the mainsail. The halyard is attached to the top of the mainsail sheet, or the gaffer, which is a top spar that attaches to the mainsail. You'll find halyards on both the mainsail and jib.
  • Sheets - 'Sheet' is simply the nautical term for lines or ropes that are used to set the angle of the sail.
  • Mainsheet - The line, or sheet, that is used to set the angle of the mainsail. The mainsheet is attached to the Mainsheet traveler. More on that under hardware.
  • Jib Sheet - The jib mostly comes with two sheets: one on each side of the mast. This prevents you from having to loosen your sheet, throwing it around the other side of the mast, and tightening it. The jib sheets are often controlled using winches (more on that under hardware).
  • Cleats are small on-deck hooks that can be used to tie down sheets and lines after trimming them.
  • Reefing lines - Lines that run through the mainsail, used to put a reef in the main.
  • The Boom Topping Lift is a line that is attached to the aft (back) end of the boom and runs to the top of the mast. It supports the boom whenever you take down the mainsail.
  • The Boom Vang is a line that places downward tension on the boom.

There are some more tensioning lines, but I'll leave them for now. I could probably do an entire guide on the different sheets on a sailboat. Who knows, perhaps I'll write it.

This is a new segment, that I didn't mention before. It's a bit of an odd duck, so I threw all sorts of stuff into this category. But they are just as important as all the other parts. Your hardware consists of cleats, winches, traveler and so on. If you don't know what all of this means, no worries: neither did I. Below, you'll find a complete overview of the different parts.

Deck Hardware

Diagram of the Deck Hardware Parts of a sailboat

Just a brief mention of the different deck hardware parts:

  • Pulpits are fenced platforms on the sailboat's stern and bow, which is why they are called the bow pulpit and stern pulpit here. They typically have a solid steel framing for safety.
  • Stanchons are the standing poles supporting the lifeline , which combined for a sort of fencing around the sailboat's deck. On most sailboats, steel and steel cables are used for the stanchons and lifelines.

Mainsheet Traveler

The mainsheet traveler is a rail in the cockpit that is used to control the mainsheet. It helps to lock the mainsheet in place, fixing the mainsails angle to the wind.

sail on yacht

If you're interested in learning more about how to use the mainsheet traveler, Matej has written a great list of tips for using your mainsheet traveler the right way . It's a good starting point for beginners.

Winches are mechanical or electronic spools that are used to easily trim lines and sheets. Most sailboats use winches to control the jib sheets. Modern large sailing yachts use electronic winches for nearly all lines. This makes it incredibly easy to trim your lines.

sail on yacht

You'll find the compass typically in the cockpit. It's the most old-skool navigation tool out there, but I'm convinced it's also one of the most reliable. In any way, it definitely is the most solid backup navigator you can get for the money.

sail on yacht

Want to learn how to use a compass quickly and reliably? It's easy. Just read my step-by-step beginner guide on How To Use a Compass (opens in new tab .


Most sailboats nowadays use, besides a compass and a map, a chartplotter. Chartplotters are GPS devices that show a map and a course. It's very similar to your normal car navigation.

sail on yacht

Outboard motor

Most sailboats have some sort of motor to help out when there's just the slightest breeze. These engines aren't very big or powerful, and most sailboats up to 32' use an outboard motor. You'll find these at the back of the boat.

sail on yacht

Most sailboats carry 1 - 3 anchors: one bow anchor (the main one) and two stern anchors. The last two are optional and are mostly used by bluewater cruisers.

sail on yacht

I hope this was helpful, and that you've gained a good understanding of the different parts involved in sailing. I wanted to write a good walk-through instead of overwhelming you with lists and lists of nautical terms. I hope I've succeeded. If so, I appreciate any comments and tips below.

I've tried to be as comprehensive as possible, without getting into the real nitty gritty. That would make for a gigantic article. However, if you feel I've left something out that really should be in here, please let me know in the comments below, so I can update the article.

I own a small 20 foot yacht called a Red witch made locally back in the 70s here in Western Australia i found your article great and enjoyed reading it i know it will be a great help for me in my future leaning to sail regards John.

David Gardner

İ think this is a good explanation of the difference between a ”rope” and a ”line”:

Rope is unemployed cordage. In other words, when it is in a coil and has not been assigned a job, it is just a rope.

On the other hand, when you prepare a rope for a specific task, it becomes employed and is a line. The line is labeled by the job it performs; for example, anchor line, dock line, fender line, etc.

Hey Mr. Buckles

I am taking on new crew to race with me on my Flying Scot (19ft dingy). I find your Sailboat Parts Explained to be clear and concise. I believe it will help my new crew learn the language that we use on the boat quickly without being overwhelmed.

PS: my grandparents were from Friesland and emigrated to America.

Thank you Shawn for the well written, clear and easy to digest introductory article. Just after reading this first article I feel excited and ready to set sails and go!! LOL!! Cheers! Daniel.

steve Balog

well done, chap

Great intro. However, the overview diagram misidentifies the cockpit location. The cockpit is located aft of the helm. Your diagram points to a location to the fore of the helm.

William Thompson-Ambrose

An excellent introduction to the basic anatomy and function of the sailboat. Anyone who wants to start sailing should consider the above article before stepping aboard! Thank-you

James Huskisson

Thanks for you efforts mate. We’ve all got to start somewhere. Thanks for sharing. Hoping to my first yacht. 25ft Holland. Would love to cross the Bass Strait one day to Tasmania. 👌 Cheers mate

Alan Alexander Percy

thankyou ijust aquired my first sailboat at 66yrs of age its down at pelican point a beautifull place in virginia usa my sailboat is a redwing 30 if you are ever in the area i wouldnt mind your guidance and superior knowledge of how to sail but iam sure your fantastic article will help my sailboat is wings 30 ft

Thanks for quick refresher course. Having sailed in California for 20+ years I now live in Spain where I have to take a spanish exam for a sailboat license. Problem is, it’s only in spanish. So a lot to learn for an old guy like me.

Very comprehensive, thank you

Your article really brought all the pieces together for me today. I have been adventuring my first sailing voyage for 2 months from the Carolinas and am now in Eleuthera waiting on weather to make the Exumas!!! Great job and thanks

Helen Ballard

I’ve at last found something of an adventure to have in sailing, so I’m starting at the basics, I have done a little sailing but need more despite being over 60 life in the old dog etc, thanks for your information 😊

Barbara Scott

I don’t have a sailboat, neither do l plan to literally take to the waters. But for mental exercise, l have decided to take to sailing in my Bermuda sloop, learning what it takes to become a good sailor and run a tight ship, even if it’s just imaginary. Thank you for helping me on my journey to countless adventures and misadventures, just to keep it out of the doldrums! (I’m a 69 year old African American female who have rediscovered why l enjoyed reading The Adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson as well as his captivating description of sea, wind, sailboat,and sailor).

Great article and very good information source for a beginner like me. But I didn’t find out what I had hoped to, which is, what are all those noisy bits of kit on top of the mast? I know the one with the arrow is a weather vane, but the rest? Many thanks, Jay.

Louis Cohen

The main halyard is attached to the head of the mainsail, not the to the mainsheet. In the USA, we say gaff, not gaffer. The gaff often has its own halyard separate from the main halyard.

Other than that it’s a nice article with good diagrams.

A Girl Who Has an Open Sail Dream

Wow! That was a lot of great detail! Thank you, this is going to help me a lot on my project!

Hi, good info, do u know a book that explains all the systems on a candc 27,

Emma Delaney

As a hobbyist, I was hesitant to invest in expensive CAD software, but CADHOBBY IntelliCAD has proven to be a cost-effective alternative that delivers the same quality and performance.


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Starlink for yachts: true remote connection for your boat

Yachting World

  • November 17, 2022

Phil Johnson looks at Starlink for cruising sailors and asks if internet everywhere and remote switching is set to revolutionise the boating world

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Imagine you’re peacefully anchored in a tight cove on the lee of some remote uninhabited island with zero mobile phone reception. But you unexpectedly need to speak with family or a colleague about something important – so you chat by FaceTime. Then you spend the evening streaming a film on Netflix. You don’t even stop to check your connection.

This scenario is getting closer to reality for some cruisers with the release of Starlink RV and Maritime versions. Starlink promises truly unlimited broadband satellite internet service without breaking the bank – but is it really the perfect solution on board?

Starlink is the first in a new generation of low-earth orbiting satellite communications services that promise to deliver low-latency, broadband internet everywhere. Developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Starlink has launched over 2,500 satellites to date – spread out in a diagonal web flying across our horizon. To connect with the network, users purchase a satellite dish (the so called ‘Dishy McFlatface’) and wifi router, assisted by an app downloaded on their phone.

In other words, just plug in the satellite dish and “Boom! you’ve got lightning fast internet everywhere you want to sail!” Or at least that’s the sales pitch that my wife and co-skipper, Roxy, gave me after ordering a Starlink RV unit to install on our 1986 Cheoy Lee Pedrick 47, Sonder, which we’ve called home for nearly four years while living and working remotely.

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Taking delivery of Starlink.

Around two months ago a large cardboard box from Starlink arrived. With excitement, we tore into it and put Dishy with its heavy four-legged stand straight on top of the deck, connecting the 75ft cable to the router – which also serves as the power supply – and opened the app to configure. The whole process took all of five minutes and soon the dish’s motor stirred to life, tilting the antennae from one side of the horizon to the other.

From our relatively remote anchorage on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, we were instantly getting download speeds of over 100 Mbps – far exceeding that of the local LTE cellular network. Impressed by our experience, I asked some other sailors using Starlink RV to see if they too had positive results.

Lain and Brioni Cameron are currently cruising the Caribbean aboard their Leopard 47 catamaran Indioko while documenting their adventures on the YouTube channel RedSeas . Since installing Starlink, the bandwidth and reliability is so good they’ve started a video conferencing collaboration with other YouTubers, something that “simply couldn’t have been done under 4G solutions,” notes Lain.

Like us, they previously used a combination of range boosters, wifi reachers, and cell phone hotspots to manage their digital life, but still found themselves occasionally going to shore “in search of a cafe with reasonable wifi connection.” Since testing Starlink successfully at anchor between St Martin and Grenada, that’s a habit they’ve been able to break.

But it’s not just the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Dave and Amy Freeman video conference with kids in schools from the rugged coastline anchorages of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, in part using Starlink. They run the non-profit Wilderness Classroom, teaching the natural world while sailing aboard their 35ft steel gaff-rigged cutter Iron Bark. Before Starlink, they say: “We found some locations had a signal that was too weak for us to video conference with schools.” Now they’ve used Starlink reliably all around Newfoundland and Southern Labrador.

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The first installation using the stand

The fine print

This might all sound brilliant, but what’s the cost and fine print? Starlink RV is a non-geofenced version of the original Starlink. This means you can use it anywhere within the continent it is shipped, and use it outside the country of initial use for up to 60 days at a time. If you’re using Starlink past the 60-day time limit you’ll need to change the country associated with the account.

However, while Starlink RV includes ‘mobility’ (ie the ability to use the dish in locations other than the address it’s registered to) it does not support ‘in-motion use’ from, say, a moving vehicle or yacht. The terms make it clear that such use will void your warranty. The support page says: “While our teams are actively working to make it possible to use Starlink on moving vehicles (eg automobiles, RV or campervans, boats), Starlink is not yet configured to be safely used in this way.”

Furthermore, there are still dead zones around the world where Starlink either doesn’t yet have licensing approval or the location is too distant from supporting ground stations for the satellites to relay your connection. For the moment, this includes the open ocean, although I’ve heard anecdotally of RV users getting service on passages such as in the middle of the Mediterranean and across the Bay of Biscay. You can check the coverage maps for both RV and Maritime users at starlink.com/map, which also shows the dates for planned expansion roll-out.

There are some other considerations to make. Dishy is not a passive antennae like on an Iridium sat phone, it’s a power hungry phased-array antennae. I measured 40-50Wh in initial testing. And while it’s relatively weatherproof, the system is cumbersome to set up on deck unless you mount Dishy out of the way of rigging. As the crew of Indioko commented: “We see Starlink as a work and entertainment system rather than a replacement for safety systems like Iridium.”

The Freemans also keep their Dishy stowed below decks while under way.

Starlink has released a Maritime version geared towards commercial use. The upgrade comes with two professionally installed dishes, and promises soon-to-be-global coverage using satellite cross-link technology to expand range further into the oceans. This package, though, comes at a significant price hike: $10,000 of hardware and $5,000 per month of service. This version is suitable for superyachts, cruise ships, and tankers. By comparison, Starlink RV has one-time hardware costs of $599 and unlimited data at $135 per month.

For most cruising sailors needing reliable internet in remote anchorages around Europe and North America, the RV service will cover their needs. In two months of using our new Starlink, we’ve been up and down the coasts of Croatia and across the Adriatic to Italy without service ever dropping. The network speeds have been equal or faster than the mobile service offered in these places. For us, as remote workers that need consistent and fast internet everyday to run our e-commerce business, Starlink has been nothing short of a game changer for our cruising plans.

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NASA has expressed concern that Starlink satellites could cause a “significant increase in the frequency of conjunction events and possible impacts to NASA’s missions”

Truly remote

Since we moved aboard in 2018, ‘getting connected’ has been a constant effort. Island hopping between different Caribbean countries required maintaining half a dozen local SIM cards, each with different confusing data plans. When we sailed the remote Hebrides I’d be steering into lochs nervously looking at both our navigation chart and our cellular signal levels. The stress of not having a reliable go-anywhere alternative adds a cautionary asterisk when advising others about a ‘workaboard’ life.

That outlook is thankfully starting to change. “Feeling more freedom to anchor where we want rather than feeling the need to be next to a cell tower when we are working,” is how the Freemans put it. Farther-flung cruising destinations like the Pacific or high latitudes, where traditional workaboards couldn’t dream of sailing, are potentially in reach once Starlink builds out its satellite network. I write this article anchored in the remote Kornati islands of Croatia – a place devoid of cell reception that two months ago, before Starlink, we couldn’t have stayed in for any length of time.

Starlink hacks

It’s still early days for this technology so sailors have been getting creative to adapt the RV version of Starlink, which was designed for campervans and similar, to use on yachts. There are several Facebook groups where users share ‘hacks’ for Starlink (all of which are strictly at owners’ risk and not condoned in any way).

A popular, though warranty-voiding, solution is to disable the actuating motor by drilling into the back of the unit. This keeps the antenna stationary and pointing straight up, reducing power consumption while making it easier to mount. In some cases, this also seems to reduce intermittent dropouts in the signal.

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Dave and Amy Freeman are live-linking with schools from remote areas of Newfoundland

Dropouts can also occur from blockages in the horizon, as the crew of Iron Bark experienced when anchored near very steep cliffs. We found our Starlink fits perfectly into a fishing rod holder mounted on the stainless steel arch above our bimini top. Its position allows an open view of the horizon that’s clear of all rigging and other electronics. Iain and Brioni of Indioko plan to fabricate two-mounting positions using a 3D printer, one for either hull of their catamaran. This way they can place Dishy on the “preferred side of the boat for clear views of the sky”.

Another much-talked-about hack is modifying the power supply to run on DC power from the house batteries rather than AC power from an inverter. This modification requires cannibalising the router to build your own power over ethernet (POE) board (beyond the technical grasp of me!), but has reportedly further reduced Dishy’s power consumption for some users.

Race for the skies

There are further options just over the horizon that should offer more ‘plug & play’ solutions. OneWeb is promising to compete with Starlink, with a service due to start in 2023. Amazon has pledged to build its own low-earth orbit network, while established satcom companies Iridium and ViaSat are also upgrading their networks.

Things are changing fast with this burgeoning industry. In just the span of a few years, we’ve gone from hoisting a cellphone up the mast in a dry bag for reception to not even thinking about how we might get online when sailing for a remote anchorage.

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At least 6 people unaccounted for after cargo ship crash levels Baltimore bridge

BALTIMORE — A major Baltimore bridge collapsed like a house of cards early Tuesday morning after it was struck by a container ship, sending several vehicles plunging into the dark water below, sparking an intense search for survivors and shutting down one of the nation's busiest ports.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore declared a state of emergency and said the calamity that knocked down the Francis Scott Key Bridge was likely the result of an accident and not an act of terrorism.

"Our state is in shock," Moore said.

Follow live updates here

Moore said the cargo ship Dali notified authorities of a "power issue" and issued a mayday moments before the 984-foot vessel slammed into a bridge support at a speed of eight knots, which is about nine miles per hour.

Meanwhile, rescue crews using sonar detected at least five vehicles in the frigid 50-foot-deep water, including three passengers cars, a cement truck and another vehicle of some kind, Moore said.

An unknown number of workers were doing repairs on the bridge when the ship hit a support pillar and at least six people were still believed to be missing, Moore said.

"Our exclusive focus is on saving lives," the governor said.

An 'active search-and-rescue posture'

Earlier, two people were rescued from the water, Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace said.

One was in good condition and refused treatment, Wallace said. The other was seriously injured and was being treated in a trauma center.

“We are still very much in an active search-and-rescue posture at this point,” Wallace said.

Moore said there might be more drivers in the water were it not for the “folks” who, upon hearing the mayday, blocked off the bridge and kept other cars from crossing.

“These people are heroes,” Moore said. “They saved lives. They saved lives.”

Nearly eight years ago, the Dali was involved in another collision. In July 2016, the ship collided with a quay at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Belgium, damaging the quay.

The nautical commission investigated the accident, but the details of the probe were not immediately clear Tuesday.

The Dali is operated and managed by a company called Synergy Group. In a statement, the company said two port pilots were at the helm of the Dali at the time of Tuesday's crash and that all 22 crew members onboard were accounted for.

The bridge, which is about a mile-and-a-half long and carries Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River southeast of Baltimore, was "fully up to code," Moore said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been monitoring the situation and a team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators was already at the bridge.

President Joe Biden vowed to rebuild the bridge and send federal funds.

"This is going to take some time," Biden warned. "The people of Baltimore can count on us though to stick with them, at every step of the way, till the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt."

The Port of Baltimore is the 11th largest in the U.S. and the busiest port for car imports and exports, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023 alone, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.

Image: Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship

The Dali was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk, which said it will have no choice but to send its ships to other nearby ports with the Port of Baltimore closed.

Writer David Simon, a champion of Baltimore who set his TV crime drama "The Wire" on the streets of the city he once covered as a reporter, warned online that the people who will suffer the most are those whose livelihoods depend on the port.

"Thinking first of the people on the bridge," Simon posted on X . "But the mind wanders to a port city strangling. All the people who rely on ships in and out."

Timeline of crash

Dramatic video captured the moment at 1:28 a.m. Tuesday when the Dali struck a support and sent the bridge tumbling into the water. A livestream showed cars and trucks on the bridge just before the collision. The ship did not sink and its lights remained on.

Investigators, in a timeline, said the Dali's lights suddenly shut off four minutes earlier before coming back on and then, at 1:25 a.m. dark black smoke began billowing from the ship's chimney.

A minute later, at 1:26 a.m., the ship appeared to turn. And in the minutes before it slammed into the support, the lights flicked off and on again.

Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said the workers on the bridge were repairing concrete ducts when the ship crashed into the structure.

They were employed by Brawner Builders Inc. And at least seven workers were pouring concrete to fix potholes on the roadway on the bridge directly above where the ship hit, a foreman named James Krutzfeldt said.

Krutzfeldt, who was not working on that job, said one of the missing is another foreman who he considers his mentor and “work dad.”

"I'm still kind of in shock," he said.

Earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard saids received a report that a “motor vessel made impact with the bridge” and confirmed it was the Dali, a container ship sailing under a Singaporean flag that was heading for Sri Lanka.

Bobby Haines, who lives in Dundalk in Baltimore County, said he felt the impact of the bridge collapse from his house nearby.

"I woke up at 1:30 this morning and my house shook and I was freaking out," he said. "I thought it was an earthquake and to find out it was a bridge is really, really scary."

Families of bridge workers wait for updates

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said at a news conference: "We have to first and foremost pray for all of those who are impacted, those families, and pray for our first responders and thank them, all of them, [for] working together — city, state, local — to make sure that we are working through this tragedy."

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship

A group of people who said they were family members of workers employed by Brawner Builders Inc. gathered at a Royal Farms convenience store near the entrance of the bridge.

They said their loved ones were working on the bridge at the time. One woman told NBC News that her father-in-law, Miguel Luna, was among the workers.

They went to the store because it was the closest they could get to the bridge, but were yet to get any formal guidance as to the status of their loved ones, they said.

'A long road in front of us'

Built in 1977 and referred to locally as the Key Bridge, the structure was later named after the author of the American national anthem.

The bridge is more than 8,500 feet, or 1.2 miles, long in total. Its main section spans 1,200 feet and was one of the longest continuous truss bridges in the world upon its completion, according to the National Steel Bridge Alliance .

About 31,000 vehicles a day use the bridge, which equals 11.3 million vehicles per year, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

The river and the Port of Baltimore are both key to the shipping industry on the East Coast, generating more than $3.3 billion a year and directly employing more than 15,000 people.

Asked what people in Baltimore can expect going forward, the state's transportation secretary said it is too early to tell.

"Obviously we reached out to a number of engineering companies so obviously we have a long road in front of us," Wiedefeld said.

Julia Jester reported from Baltimore, Patrick Smith from London and Corky Siesmaszko from New York City.

Julia Jester is a producer for NBC News based in Washington, D.C.

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Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

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Corky Siemaszko is a senior reporter for NBC News Digital.

6 ultimate island-hopping itineraries for 2024

Explore the world from the deck of your own yacht with a skippered charter, bareboat or flotilla holiday. Whether you’re a first-timer, a foodie or a family, there’s a sailing itinerary to suit every type of traveller.

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Craving a holiday with the freedom to escape the crowds and explore hidden coves, secluded bays and uninhabited islands? Dreaming of anchoring somewhere to take a dip without another person in sight? Sailing enables you to access remote spots that are often inaccessible by land and to experience the diversity of a region, exploring islands, villages and resorts in a single trip. Whether you're just starting out, or keen to set out with little ones in tow, these itineraries suit every type of sailor.  

1. Best for first timers: British Virgin Islands (BVIs)

Calm seas, sheltered anchorages, reliable steady trade winds and easy line-of-sight sailing make the BVIs one of the world’s best sailing destinations for less experienced sailors. The proximity of its islands also means you only need to sail for an hour or two to gain a sense of adventure and achievement as you successfully navigate to the next port of call. Set sail in Tortola and continue on to Virgin Gorda to witness The Baths, a geological wonder made up of granite boulders that stretch down the beach into the sea. Look out for hawksbill turtles as you sail on to tiny specks of land such as the idyllic Saba Rock, and be sure to end the day with a rum cocktail or two at one of the region’s many laid-back bars, which are often perched on unblemished stretches of white sand.

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2. Best for families: Croatia

The calm, clear waters of the Adriatic combined with favourable weather conditions in summer provide easy sailing for families and, with more than 1,000 islands dotted along the Dalmatian Coast, there’s a range of activities and attractions with short hops to keep kids engaged. Set sail from the picturesque marina village of Agana and cruise gently to islands such as Brač, Šolta and Hvar, encouraging children to help out on board while keeping an eye out for passing dolphins. With their sheltered bays and clear waters, these islands are ideal stops for families. Spend an afternoon paddling in Brač’s Bobovišća Bay, before setting sail for the remote islands of the Kornati Archipelago, a wild and beautiful national park known for its empty hiking trails. Sailing stops here can be educational, too, with a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and picturesque port towns steeped in history.

3. Best for food-lovers: Italy

Why base yourself on land to sample Italy’s incredible gastronomy when you can sail from region to region tasting the very best food and wine at numerous ports of call? Sunsail’s SailEatalia’s Italian Cuisine Procida Flotilla departs from the glamourous port town of Procida and sails to the Pontine Islands along the sun-soaked Amalfi Coast, offering stops to taste local cuisine, from classic dishes to regional delicacies as well as the country’s finest wine. Sample Ischia's iconic stewed rabbit in an independent restaurant at the top of a mountain or try the Italian coastal delicacy alici da portare (pasta with anchovies, olives and capers) in the quaint fishing village of Cetara.

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4. Best for winter sun: Antigua

Gloriously warm weather between December and May and around 365 powdery white beaches lapped by clear waters make Antigua a popular winter sun destination for British travellers. Sailors can also relax knowing the region has consistent trade winds, safe anchorages and fairly short distances between ports, giving you more time to explore a variety of attractions at your own pace. Drop anchor in Deep Bay to snorkel around the famous shipwreck the Andes , discover uninhabited islands and visit famous places like Nelson’s Dockyard to sip cocktails and dance to the lively music of traditional steel bands.  

5. Best for culture vultures: Croatia  

A cultural treasure trove with 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites ranging from Roman fortresses to hilltop castles, Croatia is a mecca for sailors with a penchant for history and art. Start and finish a week’s charter in Dubrovnik to explore one of the best-preserved medieval walled cities on Earth, touring ancient citadels and Renaissance palaces, and be sure to include Lokrum, home to the ruins of a Benedictine monastery. Sail north and discover Mljet National Park and the island getaway of Korčula, thought to be the birthplace of famed explorer Marco Polo, where museums, galleries and excellent restaurants line the beautiful cobbled streets and defensive walls of the town.  

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6. Best for island-hopping: Greece

With thousands of islands scattered fairly close together, sailing from one to another is a breeze with the promise of a remote white sand or perfect pebble beach around every headland. Sailors are spoilt for choice, but the Ionian Islands, off the west coast of the mainland, are ideal for beginners looking for tranquil stretches of gin-clear water with light winds and warm temperatures in summer. Sail to Ithaca or Kefaloni in the south or to Lefkas, Paxos, Antipaxos and Corfu. While Corfu is known for its party vibe and high-end beach bars, others, like tiny Antipaxos, feature just a scattering of houses, no proper roads and a couple of charming waterside tavernas where you can watch local fishermen bring in the day's catch.  

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Yachtapalooza Sets Sail This Weekend, Aiming To Get South Siders Excited About Boating

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EAST SIDE — A day-long open house for local boaters of all experience levels this weekend in East Side aims to be an accessible, fun draw for newbies to the nautical world, organizers said.

Yachtapalooza takes place 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Crowley’s Yacht Yard , 3434 E. 95th St.

The free, indoor event celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It features free seminars and demonstrations, a pig roast, live music, a flea market Friday and Saturday and a three-day sale on nautical items from Boater’s Closet Friday-Sunday.

Organizers hope to draw 1,000 current and future mariners out to this year’s event, said Nick Fugate, sales manager at Crowley’s Yacht Yard.

Yachtapalooza will also include a boat showcase by Nautical Donations , Crowley’s charitable arm, featuring several rehabbed, budget-friendly boats for sale.

Proceeds from the boat sales will support nonprofits like the Chicago Maritime Society and the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation, Fugate said.

The Chicago Boat Show dropped its sailing portion in recent years and is planning a move to the suburbs next year , so this weekend “is probably the closest thing to a sailboat show that we’ve got in Chicago,” said Charles Szymanski, a Yachtapalooza organizer and president of the nonprofit Rainbow Races .

With a few dozen vendors and free seminars on topics like marine pumps and toilets, splicing line and rope, and applying epoxy and varnish, Yachtapalooza offers “anything you would need” to maintain a boat, Fugate said.

The seminars give attendees “the chance to use the products, put their hands on them and feel them, and learn a little more than watching a powerpoint on a screen,” he said.

The event is “the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to get into sailing, [with] questions about sailing or [wanting] to check out a sailboat for the first time,” Szymanski said.

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Rainbow Races is one of Yachtapalooza’s featured vendors, and its members will host one of the day’s seminars. The group aims to erase barriers marginalized groups may face in getting into sailing, Szymanski said.

It’s the only U.S. Sailing-sanctioned, LGBTQ+ sailing school in the country, and the only LGBTQ+ sailing organization in the Midwest, he said.

Rainbow Races’ first day of sailing school begins May 18. The group is offering a $50 early-bird discount on sailing classes through the end of April with the discount code “hydra50.” To register, click here .

The sailing world struggles with homophobia, misogyny, elitism and other forms of discrimination prevalent in other sports, Szymanski said. Rainbow Races creates a safe community around the sport which tries to counter those problems, he said.

Despite its issues, due to the collaborative nature of sailing, it’s also “probably the most friendly sports arena I’ve experienced,” Szymanski said.

“Sailing is a true team sport,” he said. “You have to trust your crewmates with your life, and you also have to support each other.

“Sailors are aware if we don’t evolve, we die … If the wind changes, you have to change with it.”

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Chicago’s sailing community is robust, particularly with groups like the Park District, local yacht clubs and Rainbow Races encouraging new people to explore the sport, Fugate said.

But with a massive lake as Chicago’s backyard and “a very strong maritime history” in the city, the community could definitely stand to grow, Szymanski said.

Yachtapalooza is a free “casual meeting of the minds” that can help spread the joy of sailing and boating and change a misperception that the community is only for the ultra-rich, Szymanski said.

Million-dollar yachts “are great to look at and to dream about, but when you get down to it, Chicago is a blue-collar city,” Szymanski said. “A lot of the folks trying to buy boats are probably younger and more [budget-conscious]. It makes this a really unique opportunity to bring people in, in a very casual, unencumbered way.”

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Yachtapalooza, 1-day Chicago boat show on Far South Side, 'perfect for aspiring sailors'

Christian Piekos Image

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It might be a chilly spring day, but hundreds are getting ready to set sail at the 25th Yachtapalooza at Crowley's Yacht Yard on Chicago's Far South side.

Grant Crowley is the owner of Crowley's Yacht Yard.

"This is a get spring going for us," he said of the yearly one-day boat show.

Crowley is knotting together different sailing organizations from all walks of life stretching Chicago's nautical community.

From hands-on seminars and demonstrations, highlighting the vital how-tos of sailing, to budget-friendly boats on sale, organizers say Yachtapalooza is perfect for aspiring future sailors.

"We have 12 seminars going on. We even have sail makers here teaching how to trim your sails," said Crowley.

Yachtapalooza also supports nonprofit organizations like No Salt Sailing that helps veterans heal from unseen wounds through sailing.

"Once you get out there and the sails are up, you turn off the motor, there's nothing like it in the world for tranquility," said No Salt Sailing founder William Shehan. "I've done meditation, I've done martial arts, I've done all those things and it is an act of meditation."

Mt. Carmel High School is also showcasing its newly-formed sailing program. They want to recruit young sailors eager to get on board.

"Just to see them accomplish things, watch them become more confident in what they do. Appreciating the value of teamwork, learning new skills, just the whole ball of wax," said Bob Szyman, Mt. Carmel Sailing.

The weather might be brisk now...but these sailors have their compasses set on a warmer horizon.

"There's nothing more sublime than being two miles out on Lake Michigan in a sailboat, beautiful day, sun's out and we've got our gorgeous skyline in the background. You can't beat it," said Szyman.

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The Best New Small-Ship Cruises to Book in 2024

A uthentic. It was Merriam Webster's top searched word for 2023 and one that has dominated the travel vernacular in recent years. And while many would not necessarily associate the word with ocean cruising , the growth in popularity of small-ship cruises-particularly sailings with 500 guests or fewer-indicates that in the cruising world, passengers are seeking a more intimate, less crowded, and yes, arguably more authentic sailing experience.

Take expedition cruising , for example. As the number of adventure-focused ships and yachts has exploded in recent years, these cruises are no longer just about extreme voyages in polar regions. They are also about offering a deeper look into the culture, food, history, and environmental fragility of remote wonders of the world.

Although there isn't a huge number of new small ships being introduced, there are a few notable vessels that have either recently launched or are launching this year with a focus on the idea that smaller is not just better, but more sustainable, too. These new small-ship cruises bring with them some exciting and more immersive new itineraries to destinations both warm and wintry that have us ready to pack our bags and sail away.

Sea Cloud Cruises' "Sea Cloud Spirit"

  • Suggested itinerary: Reset your mind and body on an eight-night sailing through Spain's Canary Islands and on to Morocco on a special cruise featuring experts in restorative health. Pricing starts at $4,895 per person.

What's more authentic-and sustainable-than setting sail on a tall ship where the sails are hoisted up each day by hand? Although not technically new (it was launched in 2021), the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit and its two sister ships, Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II , are upping their game in a push to introduce Sea Cloud Cruises' unique product to North American travelers. The German company has traditionally catered to German and British passengers. As part of its effort to expand its reach and appeal, Sea Cloud is adding wellness programs with daily onboard yoga and guest fitness gurus, in addition to special food- and wine-focused sailings with well-known chefs making appearances. Sea Cloud Spirit , the largest of the three-ship fleet with 69 cabins, was meticulously designed to pay homage to the original Sea Cloud , which was the world's largest private sailing yacht when Wall Street broker Edward Francis Hutton had it built in 1931 for his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The Sea Cloud Spirit combines the experience of decades of traditional seamanship with the modern-day luxuries of a private yacht. Cabins range from 172-square-foot single cabins to 300-square-foot balcony suites with soaking tubs. There's a large fitness center and spa, which has a steam room, sauna, and thermal area for two; indoor and outdoor lounges; and a main dining area, plus a more casual bistro. The action, however, is out on deck, where passengers can stargaze at night or simply gaze in awe at the impressive sails blowing in the wind.

Atlas Ocean Voyages' "World Navigator"

  • Suggested itinerary: Go searching for Arctic wildlife on a 12-night cruise from Reykjavík, which sails along the eastern coast of Greenland and to Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago, one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas and home to polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, and other Nordic wildlife. Pricing starts at $6,499 per person.

World Navigator , which sailed its maiden voyage in Antarctica this past November, is the third vessel to join the fleet of one of the newest players in small-ship expedition cruising, Atlas Ocean Voyages. The company's 100-cabin expedition yachts are almost identical and provide a hybrid of sorts between traditional expedition and luxury cruising. Cabins are spacious, almost all with balconies, desks, and seating areas. The bathrooms have glass-mosaic tiled showers with rain showerheads, wall jets, and even benches.

Everything on the ship-including the sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows-is designed to provide maximum views. The ships also have spacious pool decks with two hot tubs, a fitness center overlooking the sea, a spa, and water toys like kayaks and paddleboards. There's even extreme camping gear for those willing to brave an overnight under the stars in Antarctica. During North American winters, all three of Atlas's expedition yachts sail in Antarctica. With the addition of World Navigator , the company is launching more Arctic Circle cruises during the North American summers while also adding a host of new epicurean and cultural expeditions in South America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and northern Europe this year.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's "Ilma"

  • Suggested itinerary: Spend a little extra time in port on a 10-day sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon, which has three overnight stays, in Palma de Mallorca and Malaga in Spain, and in Lisbon, Portugal, one of Europe's oldest cities. Pricing starts at $10,600 per person.

Another newcomer to luxury small-ship cruising is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which debuts its second ship, the Ilma , this year. With 224 suites, the ship is larger than the original Ritz-Carlton yacht, the 149-suite Evrima , which launched in October 2022. On the Ilma , all the suites will have private terraces, including a two-story suite with soaking tub; the coveted, 1,000-square-foot owner's suite has a private outdoor whirlpool. Even the smallest suites are not all that small, at 300 square feet, and come with a personal concierge and 24-hour room service. The yacht boasts what Ritz-Carlton says is the highest ratio of space per guest at sea.

And you can expect to find the same meticulous service standards that you would find at Ritz-Carlton resorts throughout the world as the line aims to impress hotel guests seeking a luxury hotel experience at sea. Onboard are five dining venues, including S.E.A., a European tasting experience designed by chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany; Talaat Nam, featuring Southeast Asian cuisine and a sushi bar; and Mistral, a casual come-as-you-are alfresco grill with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Light bites are served at the marina at the aft of the ship, where you can also hop on a borrowed paddleboard. Oh, and did we mention there are two outdoor pools, too?

Book a terrace suite on the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's newest vessel, Ilma , launching in 2024.


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  1. Heavy Weather Sailing- Shannon 38

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  4. First the gale then a cooling pad. Suwarrow atoll. Sailing alone across the Pacific Ocean

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  1. The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

    The 5 most common two-masted rigs are: Lugger - two masts (mizzen), with lugsail (cross between gaff rig and lateen rig) on both masts. Yawl - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast much taller than mizzen. Mizzen without mainsail. Ketch - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts.

  2. Type Of Sails: A Complete Guide to Sails

    Sloop. A sloop is by far the most popular configuration. It features a single mast, double sail (the mainsail and the headsail), and mast configuration. The headsail is located from the forestay on the mast to the top of it. The type of headsail used can also vary from a genoa, a spinnaker, or a gennaker sail.

  3. How to Sail a Boat (with Pictures)

    1. Attach the sails. Secure the bottom front ( tack) of the mainsail and jib to their respective shackles on the boom and the bow of the boat. There will be a small line ( outhaul) attaching the rear corner of the mainsail ( clew) to the end of the boom. Pull it so the foot of the main is taut, and cleat.

  4. How To Sail A Boat: A Basic Guide

    Aim the boat at a 45-degree angle to the wind. Sailboats do not generally sail directly into the wind, but rather must sail in a zig-zag course (known as beating). When you first set sail, you will figure out the direction of the wind and aim the boat at about a 45-degree angle away from the direction it is blowing.

  5. Learn How to Sail: A Step-by-Step Guide to SAILING

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  6. How Sails Work: Understanding the Boating Basics

    Tacking and jibing (gybing) A boat changes direction by either tacking or jibing. Sailing upwind, a boat tacks when the bow passes through the eye of the wind until the boat is sailing on the opposite side or "tack" creating a zig-zag course. When sailing downwind, the boat jibes when passing the stern through the wind.

  7. How To Sail A Boat

    When the wind passes across the stern of the boat, we jibe, and the sails switch to the other side of the boat. As the angle of the wind changes we need to adjust or "trim" our sails. A sail perfectly trimmed for a broad reach will luff when on a close reach. When sails luff, they stop propelling the boat forward.

  8. Know how: Sailing 101

    A boat can't sail directly into the wind, but it can sail toward the wind, as close as about 45 degrees off the wind's direction. As you turn toward the wind from a beam reach to a close reach to close-hauled, you must gradually trim your sails to keep them from luffing. Once the sails are trimmed in all the way, your steering keeps them from ...

  9. How To Sail A Boat: Learning The Ropes

    GYBE: (jibe) when sailing with the wind, to move the sails from one side of the boat to the other by moving the stern through the eye of the wind. WINDWARD: the direction that the wind is blowing from, also upwind. LEEWARD: the direction that the wind is blowing toward, also downwind. LINE: a rope on a boat.

  10. How to Sail

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  11. How to Sail: The Ultimate Sailing Guide for Beginners

    Sailing is the art of taking a boat, turning off the motor, and harnessing the power of the wind to make the boat go where you want it to go. It might seem difficult, but it is really very simple, provided you take the time to understand how the boat utilizes the power of the wind. More than likely your boat will also have a motor (for times ...

  12. Rigging for beginners # 1. Sailboat rigging explained from standing


  13. Sail boats for sale

    A sailboat refers to any class and subclass of boat that is designed with one or more masts and rigging system as the main source of propulsion. Sailboats are available in a variety of models and rigs, including racing boats, sloops, schooners, catamarans, trimarans, sailing cruisers, and others. Some of the first sailboats on record date back ...

  14. 10 Steps to Sail a Sailboat for Beginners

    Dock or Anchor the Boat. Now you're out there sailing and you've got the boat under control. Learn how to go faster, dock or anchor the boat and use some of the equipment you've ignored so far. Take a look at some of these additional sailing skills. Practice Tying Knots. For thousands of years, sailors have used times where it is cold or ...

  15. Yacht Sails: A comprehensive guide for sailing yachts

    Types of yacht sails. Mainsail: The larger sail aft (behind) the mast, attached to the mast and the boom. Headsail: The sail between the forestay line and the mast. Either a jib, a genoa or a spinnaker, there are several sizes of headsails: A working jib is a smaller jib that fills the space between the mast and forestay, used in stronger winds.

  16. Best Sailboats of 2022: From Top To Sail

    Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 380. 2022 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 380. Image credit: Jeanneau. While smaller than other sailboats on the market, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 380 shouldn't be written off when you're shopping. What this boat may lack in size, it makes up for in performance and features. One of the best aspects of having a smaller sailboat is ...

  17. Sail Catamaran boats for sale

    Built by a wide variety of yacht makers, there are currently 1,818 catamaran yachts for sale on YachtWorld, with 476 new vessels for sale, and 1,342 used and custom yachts listed. These vessels are all listed by professional yacht brokerages and new boat dealers, mainly in the following countries: United States, France, Italy, Greece and Spain.

  18. SAIL Top 10 Best Boats for 2023

    By eliminating the artificial straitjacket of size categories and focusing on what are simply the Top 10, SAIL will present readers a more complete and equitable assessment. So, without further ado, here's the SAIL Top 10 Best Boats for 2023. After exploring a mix of bluewater boats, racer/cruisers, speedsters, dinghies, and multihulls, we ...

  19. Sailboat Parts Explained: Illustrated Guide (with Diagrams)

    The mast is the long, standing pole holding the sails. It is typically placed just off-center of a sailboat (a little bit to the front) and gives the sailboat its characteristic shape. The mast is crucial for any sailboat: without a mast, any sailboat would become just a regular boat. The Sails. I think this segment speaks mostly for itself.

  20. Sailing Yachts for Sale

    Fraser offers the world's largest fleet of sailing yachts for sale in excess of US$30 million. Additionally, thanks to Fraser's strong relationship with sailing yacht owners and shipyards, we have access to thousands more sailing yachts for sale that are not publicly advertised.. Browse our portfolio of luxury sailing yachts for sale today, or contact the team of yacht sales brokers at ...

  21. Starlink for yachts: true remote connection for your boat

    This version is suitable for superyachts, cruise ships, and tankers. By comparison, Starlink RV has one-time hardware costs of $599 and unlimited data at $135 per month. For most cruising sailors ...

  22. Largest Sailing Yachts In The World

    4. Black Pearl - 106M (348 Ft.) Above: Mega sailing yacht "Black Pearl" moored on July 30, 2019, in Portland harbor, England. The 106-metre, 200 million dollar, mega yacht was designed and built to cross oceans under sail power alone and is owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Burlakov.

  23. Maryland bridge collapse: Francis Scott Key bridge hit by ship

    The Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, partially collapsed early Tuesday, police said. It was hit by a ship, officials said.

  24. 6 ultimate island-hopping itineraries for 2024

    Explore the world from the deck of your own yacht with a skippered charter, bareboat or flotilla holiday. Whether you're a first-timer, a foodie or a family, there's a sailing itinerary to ...

  25. Oldest videos of Model Yacht racing

    Sail World - The world's largest sailing news network; sail and sailing, cruising, boating news. Please select your home edition ... With a crosswind of about 10MPH, we had 6 Skippers for the first Vane boat event of the year, the small 36 ers. Olly had joined us for the day, to see what all the excitement was about, but for some not quite as ...

  26. Sail boats for sale in United States

    Find Sail boats for sale in United States. Offering the best selection of boats to choose from. ... Infinity Yacht Sales | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Request Info; 1997 Beneteau Oceanis 461. US$122,500. Silver Seas Yachts - Sausalito | San Rafael, California. Request Info; In-Stock; 2013 Beneteau 48. US$349,000. US $2,731/mo.

  27. Yachtapalooza Sets Sail This Weekend, Aiming To Get South Siders

    The event is "the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to get into sailing, [with] questions about sailing or [wanting] to check out a sailboat for the first time," Szymanski said. Charles Szymanski, president of Rainbow Races, and Nick Fugate, sales manager at Crowley's, inside one of the indoor storage facilities at Crowley's Yacht ...

  28. Yachtapalooza, 1-day Chicago boat show on Far South Side, 'perfect for

    CHICAGO (WLS) -- It might be a chilly spring day, but hundreds are getting ready to set sail at the 25th Yachtapalooza at Crowley's Yacht Yard on Chicago's Far South side. Grant Crowley is the ...

  29. The Best New Small-Ship Cruises to Book in 2024

    From polar expedition ships to resort-style yachts and tall ships with sails, these are the best new small-ship cruises for 2024. ... which was the world's largest private sailing yacht when Wall ...

  30. Boat Racing and Business Have More in Common Than You Think

    Divide and conquer is the name of the game when you're sailing a large boat. But even a crew of two or three needs to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, the expertise to make ...