How to Get Into Sailing: A Guide for Beginner Sailors

By Mike Sellers •  Updated: 09/27/22 •  10 min read

Sailing is a sport for everyone. It can be as simple as going out on the water with friends for an afternoon, or it can be a lifelong journey of adventure and growth. Either way, it will make you feel free like nothing else in this world can.

You’ll have to overcome your fears first, though—and that’s no small task! The good news is that by taking some simple steps and learning basic sailing skills, you’ll soon find yourself out there on the water without fear and having fun doing it!

Get Over your Fears – Anyone can get into sailing!

You don’t need to be an athlete, a genius or a superstar. You don’t need to be a sailor or even a billionaire. You don’t even have to be superhuman!

While learning how to sail can seem daunting, it’s actually quite simple and accessible for everyone who wants to try it out. To give you a better idea of what sailing is all about, here are some common misconceptions about sailing and how they can be debunked:

Learn the basic nautical terms

There are a few basic terms you should know before you get started.

Make friends who sail

As you’re starting to think about sailing, it’s important to find people who are already sailing. They can point you in the right direction and teach you all the ins and outs of how to get started. If they’re not too busy, they might even take the time to take you out on a boat!

Once you’ve found some friends who know what they’re doing, start looking for people who are interested in learning about sailing but don’t have boats yet. You’ll be able to help them get started with this great hobby—and if they have boats or can borrow them from friends from time-to-time, then there’s even more opportunity for fun outings!

Practice some beginner sailing skills

Sailing is a great hobby to get into, but be aware that it can be an expensive one. Before you start spending money on a boat and gear, make sure you know the basics of sailing and are able to handle yourself on the water.

To learn how to sail, first you’ll need to understand some basic sailing skills:

Volunteer to crew

If you’re looking to get your feet wet in sailing, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, volunteering at a boat club or sailing school is the way to go. Sailing as a volunteer allows you to learn about the sport without breaking the bank. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with people who share your passion for sailing!

The best way to get started is by simply asking around—talk with other sailors and see if anyone knows of opportunities within their local area. If that doesn’t work out, check online forums like SailNet and Craigslist’s “Boating” category (be careful when using Craigslist).

You can also contact local yacht clubs in your area directly; some clubs have volunteer opportunities available year-round while others offer seasonal programs during certain times of year such as summer months only when there will be lots of activity happening on water due t

Check out these other crew sites:

Find a mentor or sailing partner

When you’re first getting started, finding a mentor or sailing partner can be invaluable. Someone who’s willing to teach you about the sport and help you learn is invaluable for your success as a sailor.

The best way to find them is by asking around your local sailing community—talk with the people involved with clubs and organizations that interest you, who may know of other members who would be willing to take on a newbie like yourself.

Read these sailing books

If you want to get into sailing, reading some good books on the subject is a great way to get started. We’ve put together a list of our favorite nautical guides below:

Get in sailing shape

Sailing is a great way to get in shape, but you need to be prepared for the physical demands of sailing. If you’re not already in good shape, it’s important to make a plan for getting into the best shape possible before you start out on your next voyage.

Upper body: Your shoulders and arms are used for pulling ropes and steering the boat; your back muscles are used for bracing yourself against wind gusts; your chest muscles help support both your upper body and heart.

Core: This includes the abdominals, obliques (side abs), lower back muscles and glutes (butt). The core provides balance between upper-body strength and lower-body strength while keeping good posture while standing or sitting on board. Good core strength also helps protect internal organs from injury during sudden movements on board a boat such as capsizing or hitting another object at high speeds.

Lower body: Your legs power most movements in sailing—from pushing off against the dock to running downwind after catching an opponent’s flag with its flag halyard!

We’re not trying to scare you off from sailing. Quite the opposite. We want you to enjoy your time on the water, and we also want you to know that being in good shape is a great way to ensure that you have fun out on the water.

Take a sailing class

Learning to sail is a great way to get into sailing, and it’s very affordable. But what kind of sailing class should you take?

There are several options: a three-hour group lesson, a day-long private lesson with an instructor, or an overnight sailing camp. A

ll of these are great choices if you’re just starting out; however, if you want to learn all the ins and outs of sailing before taking off on your own (a wise decision!), then an overnight camp is for you.

Charter a boat

Chartering a boat is a great way to get your feet wet in sailing. Chartering is when you rent a boat with all its equipment and the crew to operate it, so all you need to do is show up and have fun!

You can find boats for charter by searching online or asking around at local marinas. When choosing a charter, it’s important to remember that what makes one yacht better than another depends on how many people are going on the trip, your demands from the boat (speed? comfort?), and how much time you want to spend on deck versus below deck.

When renting a yacht for yourself or your family, think about the amenities that are important for your needs. Do you want plenty of space inside? Do you want multiple levels so everyone can spread out?

Join a local club

Joining a club is a great way to meet new people, learn more about sailing, and gain access to boats and instructors.

Clubs often have events like races or regattas where you can compete against other members.

Many clubs offer social events too, like parties and dinners that give you the opportunity to meet even more people interested in sailing!

Get the right gear.

Before you start your sailing journey, it’s important to make sure that you have the right gear. The right gear will help make your experience on the water more comfortable and enjoyable.

Here are some pieces of gear you may want to invest in:

Sailing gloves

Sailing gloves are an important piece of gear for any sailor, and they’re the only piece of clothing you need to buy. Unlike other sailing equipment, you’ll use your gloves every time you go out on the water, so it’s smart to get ones that are comfortable. You don’t want to skip on these or your hands will get chewed up fast.

Sailing shoes

Sailing shoes are a good option for beginners and experts alike. They’re usually made from neoprene rubber—the same material that scuba suits are made from—so they’ll insulate your feet from cold water when you step aboard. You want to keep from slipping around, not damage the boat itself, and stay dry and warm.

Sailing hat

Wear a hat. A sailing hat is essential to keeping the sun off your face and also protecting it from rain and wind. If you’re looking for protection from heat in hot weather, there are plenty of options that come with built-in shade or ventilation holes that can be used to keep cool.

If you’re wearing a traditional sailing cap instead of just a baseball cap or something similar, try putting sunscreen on underneath it—you’ll get more coverage without having to apply sunscreen all over your head!

Life jacket

You should pick up a vest that fits well and is comfortable. It should be snug enough that it won’t flop around when worn but loose enough that it doesn’t restrict movement or breathing.

The right size will make wearing the life jacket more comfortable, help keep it in place during rough seas and prevent panic while wearing one in an emergency situation.

Foul weather gear

Foul-weather gear is any waterproof and windproof clothing that you can wear in bad weather. You’ll want this to be comfortable, easy to put on and take off, warm and insulating, and durable enough to last through years of use.

The best foul-weather gear also has reflective stripes or strips along its seams so you can be seen by other sailors when conditions are at their worst.

The Best Resources for Getting into Sailing

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a confident sailor. Remember, the most important thing is to set realistic goals and have a good time. Don’t get frustrated if things don’t go as planned (they won’t!). You’ll learn more from your mistakes than anything else, so just keep trying!

Here are some other resources that will help you in your sailing journey:

Happy Sailing!

Mike Sellers

Hey there, my name is Mike Sellers. I’m the guy behind this website. I've been sailing for over a decade and I'm going to show you everything I know about how to sail better, cheaper, and smarter.