Beyond the Sea: Getting the Most Out of Your Sailboat

Beyond the Sea: Getting the Most Out of Your Sailboat

If I were a sailboat, I'd want to be in the water, my sails propelling me to an exotic port, not idling in a dock or under a tarp in a backyard. Sure, it's not always possible to take your boat out and give her the treatment she deserves (you have to pay for the darn thing after all) but there are simple ways to gain knowledge, reduce costs and increase your enjoyment of sailboat ownership.

Get "Salty"

1) Partner with a more experienced sailor. Even if you feel confident in the basics, sailing with someone more experienced will make each voyage an enriching and educational experience. Sailing know-how, the proper trim, the right gear and the best way to maintain it is knowledge that has been handed down from sailor to sailor for centuries. Keep the tradition alive.

2) Get certified by the American Sailing Association (ASA). The more comfortable you feel, the more likely you are to enjoy your sail, and classes will help you establish your confidence and a safe sailing routine.

3) Challenge yourself a little by sailing under weather conditions you might otherwise consider avoiding. Do you usually reef your main in port before going out? Try it at sea.

4) Review those anchoring drills. Learn how to drop anchor under a variety of wave and weather conditions.

5) Throw away the GPS (so to speak) and learn to navigate by the stars. A challenge? Definitely. And maybe, just maybe, a life-saver.

6) Get "knotted." Practice tying the most used knots. Basic, perhaps, but knowing your knots inside and out will save you time and improve safety.

7) Practice and practice again your rescue drills; they could be the most important skills you will ever master.

Appreciating Assets

1) Share costs with a partner. Many experienced sailors do not own their own boat. They can bring knowledge along with financial benefits. Less experienced partner-sailors can keep you motivated to learn along with them. Either way, you are taking the boat out more often.

2) Getting ASA Certified may reduce your insurance costs depending on your carrier.

3) If your insurance allows it, consider offering the boat up for charters. If you are confident at the helm (and certified), you can captain these charters, or you can allow your boat to be taken out by other certified sailors.

4) If your boat is docked in or near a popular city, putting your vessel up as a potential Airbnb rental can bring in welcome cash. Again, be certain to check with your insurance company and your marina to avoid penalties.

More Fun in the Sun

1)  Join your local sailing club. Clubs are usually open to sailors of all skill levels, are a great way to meet new people, and will keep you motivated to continue sailing. You may even want to join a hosted regatta or a flotilla cruise.

2) Challenge yourself by charting a new course. Many weekend sailors navigate themselves into a rut. Go where no man (or at least you) has gone before.

3) Outfit the boat for an overnight stay. At-dock camping can be fun for families. The more they enjoy the boating life, the more likely you are to sail together on weekends and vacations.

4) Do you often work from home? Head for open waters and heave-to. As long as you don't accidentally drop your laptop in the ocean, it makes for a quiet and sunny office-away-from-the-office.

5) There's nothing more romantic than a sunset cruise. Pack a picnic basket, and enjoy watching the sun dip below the horizon with your special someone.

Any or all of these tips may help you get back on the water with more comfort and greater enjoyment during your sailing season. Now, Go Sail!


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