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Learn To Sail

Why learn to sail? Why not? It’s a healthy outdoor pursuit, and good fun too! In our Learn to Sail series, find out the great things about sailing, and learn how to sail! (Boat and lake not included!)

Apparent Wind

One of the most important things to learn to sail well is good wind awareness. It’s one of the basics, and something you can never stop perfecting. However, direction and speed is not all there is to learn about wind.

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Sailing Syllabus and Courses

Here at Caution Water we've got various articles on sailing - but up until now we've not presented them in any kind of structured format. The RYA has a very clearly defined structure of how to learn to sail, and how each skill fits into your progression through the learning process. We don't have articles for everything, but the missing ones will be following along shortly if required.

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Boat Trim

Boat trim is the balance of the boat, fore and aft. Get it wrong, and you won't sail as fast as you could.

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How to Make Halyard Bags

Halyard bags - not all boats have them, but that doesn't mean you can't add them!

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How to Use a Rope Stopper

This is one of the simplest ways to tie a halyard to a sail that doesn't involve any pins, shackles or other things that can be lost.

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More articles
Apparent Wind - One of the most important things to learn to sail well is good wind awareness. It’s one of the basics, and something you can never stop perfecting. However, direction and speed is not all there is to learn about wind.
Boat Anatomy - Sailing dinghies have lots of ropes, blocks, pulleys, cleats, jammers, halyards, sails, spars… where do you start? Try with our guide on Boat Anatomy.
Boat Trim - Boat trim is the balance of the boat, fore and aft. Get it wrong, and you won't sail as fast as you could.
Capsizing - Capsizing is not on everyone's list of favourite things to do when sailing - but knowing what to do and how to recover from a capsize is essential, and should be one of the first things you learn.
Centreboard Settings - How much centreboard should you use?
Five Essentials of Sailing - There is a set of five "elements" or essentials for sailing, which when carried out properly, will cover the basics of sailing and using a sail boat.
Gybing - Besides tacking, gybing is one of the sailing manoevres you'll use the most. Keeping more speed than when tacking, gybing is another method of turning.
Heeling Effect - Heeling can be a problem or technique - find out why.
How does a sail work - Sail Pressure - How does a sail work? You don't just get blown along by the wind, you get pulled along by it too!
How To Fold a Sail - There are several different ways to fold a sail - how you fold the sail will depend not only on how new the sail is, but also how much space you have to store it.
How to Make Halyard Bags - Halyard bags - not all boats have them, but that doesn't mean you can't add them!
How to Use A Figure 8 Cleat - The best way to secure a halyard without a jammer is to use a figure 8 cleat.
How to Use a Rope Stopper - This is one of the simplest ways to tie a halyard to a sail that doesn't involve any pins, shackles or other things that can be lost.
Join a Sailing Club - The best way to start! Find out how to join a club in your area.
Landing a Dinghy - Landing a dinghy isn't as simple as just aiming for the shore - depending where the wind is coming from, you need to take a different approach.
Launching a Dinghy - Launching a boat requires a different approach depending upon the wind direction at the time. Do it wrong, and you could be facing an expensive repair bill!
Learn To Sail - So, you want to learn to sail, but wondering where to start? We have lots of articles on various aspects of starting to sail, but you may be wondering which to start with.
Man Overboard - How to save your crew (or helm) when they fall in!
Points of Sail - Wondering why you can't sail directly upwind? Find out why.
Reefing - What is reefing, and why should you do it?
Rudderless Sailing - You can sail a boat without a rudder - how and why.
Rudderless Sailing Part 2 - We recently had a chance to practise our rudderless sailing, and here are a few more pointers we've picked up on.
Sail Anatomy - When you first get into a sailing dinghy, it can be hard to figure out what everything is, let alone what it does! Find out about the sails, in our guide.
Sailing Rules and Right of Way - Going sailing is just like going driving - there are certain rules you have to sail by. Read on to find out the most important ones.
Sailing Syllabus and Courses - Here at Caution Water we've got various articles on sailing - but up until now we've not presented them in any kind of structured format. The RYA has a very clearly defined structure of how to learn to sail, and how each skill fits into your progression through the learning process. We don't have articles for everything, but the missing ones will be following along shortly if required.
Stopping - Hove To - You’ve learnt how to start sailing, now find out how to stop, using the Hove To Technique.
Stopping - Lying To - You’ve learnt how to start sailing, now find out how to stop, by using the lying to technique!
Tacking - A key sailing manoeuvre, tacking is used to change direction by taking the bow of the boat through the wind, and requires good coordination between helm and crew (if any).
Telltales - Learn how to read sail tell tales, and what to do when they're not set correctly.
What Should I Wear? - What are the best clothes for wearing to go sailing?

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