If she can learn to sail, you can too!
If you’ve never sailed before, then sailing can seem a bit daunting and a bit confusing.
How hard is it to learn?
Is it fun?
Is it challenging?
Is it fulfilling?
Is it worth it?
Of course, each of these questions are highly personal. I can only answer for myself and the sailors that I know. Sailing isn’t for everyone, but many people from all walks of life do find it fun, challenging, fulfilling, and very, very worth it.
How Hard is it to Learn to Sail?
One of the things that I love the most about sailing is that you can learn enough in a few days or weekends to get out on the water safely, but you can sail for a lifetime and still be learning.
Everybody learns differently, but if you do a bit of background learning and then head out for a day on the water, you’ll be steering the boat and adjusting the sails in your first hour.
With a good instructor, you’ll walk away from your first day understanding how to raise the sails and make the boat move through the water in different directions in relation to the wind (points of sail). In subsequent days you’ll learn to dock, deal with other traffic on the water, adjust the amount of sail to suit the wind (reef), and recover a crew overboard.
That’s about all you need to know to take a small sailboat out for a day on the water in familiar surroundings and good weather.
Another few days of instruction will teach you to navigate and to anchor. Now you’re ready to head out for a few days or even weeks in protected coastal waters.
Fast forward 20 years, and you’ll still be learning. You’ll be learning how to read the sky and the waves, voyage over oceans, tweak the sails for optimum performance… Or maybe just how to balance your Mai Tai just right so you don’t spill it as you lie in your hammock.
The choice is yours. You can take learning to sail as far as you desire.
Is Sailing Fun?
We’ve taken so many guests out on our sailboat and the vast majority have a great time.
- Being out on vastness of the ocean
- Seeing flying fish, dolphins, and even sometimes whales up close and personal
- Exploring secluded coves and inlets and discovering beaches off the beaten path
- Anchoring for the night and sharing a tasty meal with friends in a warm cocoon surrounded by nature
- And especially the feeling of steering a vessel powered only by the wind as we silently slice through the water.
Is Sailing Challenging?
There’s a lot to learn at first, and it can feel a bit like sipping from a fire hose for the first day or so (especially if you haven’t done some homework before stepping aboard). Once you’ve learned the basics, though, you get to decide how challenging you want it to be.
You can continue to day sail locally, or you can
- Join a racing crew
- Learn to sail a big boat solo (single-handed)
- Voyage for days or weeks around your home port
- Sail in stronger winds
- Charter or crew on a sailboat in another country
- Cross oceans
- Sail around the world
The choice is yours, but you’ll never run out of ways to challenge yourself.
Is Sailing Fulfilling?
This too is a very individual question. What do you find fulfilling? Many people find fulfillment from
- being out in nature
- spending quality, screen-free time with friends and family, and especially
- seeing the direct results of their skills and labor manifested before them.
Some moments for me where I have felt especially fulfilled by sailing have been
- Ghosting along at only a knot and a half under a blue sky and a huge, colourful spinnaker sail in wind so light it barely ripples the water
- Watching a seal chase fish underwater at night, let only by the streams of glowing green bioluminescence streaming off his sleek body
- Flipping the switch and hearing the water pump I’d just repaired roar back into life
- Crossing the finish line after a hard fought and skilfully sailed race
- Entering New York Harbour Bay and seeing the Statue of Liberty bathed in early morning light after sailing non-stop from Puerto Rico
Is Sailing Worth it?
There’s no doubt that learning to sail takes time and money. There are also cold, wet days, unexpected repairs, blown docking attempts, too little wind, too much wind, and for some, sea sickness.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. If anything, these things make it more worth it. The hard won prize is all the sweeter to hold. If sailing was always easy, those moments of fulfillment wouldn’t have meant anything. Anything worthwhile takes work to achieve.
For me, sailing is absolutely worth it. I hope it will be for you, too.