So you’ve put in your nautical miles, and now you can safely say you know your way around on a boat. It’s a great feeling when you know you can comfortably handle your vessel – and yourself – out on the water.
However, there’s always more to learn. Bigger ships, more challenging waters, sharper crew mates – there are many ways you can beef up your sailing skills and take on some new challenges to boot. Read on for our guide to improving your sailing skills.
Sailing is a multi-faceted skill, and it’s not just a case of “sail more, get better”. Sailing a ship competently actually takes a combination of several different abilities. For example, you might be strong with the sales, but weak on navigation, or maybe you’re a whiz at the helm but struggle with rough waters.
Sit down and have a think about your strengths and weaknesses, and what the “limiting factors” are – the areas that if you were to improve in, would make you a much stronger sailor overall. Those are the areas to seek more experience in and to practice at.
If you’re normally the captain of your own ship, this might mean brining a bit of humility to the table and opting for a position with less responsibility for a few voyages.
You’ll be able to find experienced sailors at your local yacht club, many of whom will be more than happy to take you out on the water.
If you’re looking at things from a professional angle, you’re in luck – although you might not be able to stroll into a position on a national racing team, many experienced boat owners are open to taking greener sailors on board, although it may involve a little less compensation than you’d like. Think of it as an investment though: the skills you gain from being on a well-captained ship will serve you well for years to come.
Generally, the rougher the seas, the more is demanded of the crew – especially its captain. Whereas calm waters give you the luxury of practicing your slick turning and seeing how many knots you can get up to heading in a straight line, rough water poses an entirely different challenge.
Priorities change, and you find yourself struggling to tie things down, stay your course and keep your ship from keeling over entirely.
Sailing in rough waters at sea builds your skill, and it builds your confidence – when you know you can handle difficult weather conditions, you’ll be ready to tackle the next adventure.
If you’ve followed our advice and you now know exactly how you’d like to improve as a sailor, then the next step is taking a course – one that’s specific to the area(s) you want to improve in, that is.
Want to upgrade your skippering skills and become more confident at the helm? Then a Coastal Skipper course is the perfect fit.
And if you take our advice and decide to gain some sailing skills for rough weather, then a Sea Survival course will see you through.
Mile building and experience courses do exactly what they say on the tin. You’ll be taken out on the ocean by experienced sailing instructors, and the goal is to rack up a large number of miles at sea over an intensive period. These courses often include some night sailing, and students will have an opportunity to skipper the yacht at least once during the course.
With any luck, that’s given you more than enough to think about when it comes to bettering your sailing skills. Of course, feel free to browse the rest of our online courses – odds are you’ll find something that takes your fancy.