A sailor's essential skills have been the same for thousands of years, and a modern sailor would feel perfectly at home (give or take a few comforts) aboard a Polynesian voyaging canoe or a Portuguese caravelle. You can enjoy sailing from childhood to old age, and you can take it up at any time.
While we’ll be teaching you all sorts of handy tricks, the following are the real treasures we want you to get from the time you spend with us.
A Sense for Water
The oceans of the world are a single body, with great watery bulges that constantly follow the moon's gravity as it circles the earth. Out in the ocean these bulges are undetectable, but when they try to chase the moon overland, they produce tides of varying heights and currents that change direction four times a day – producing the amazing “moving playing field” effect that helps make yacht racing exciting. Understanding tides is essential for setting a course, safe anchoring, steering clear of rough water and avoiding bumping the land.
A Sense for Wind
The wind will blow across your boat in any strength and any direction it likes. Its up to you to decide how much you want to use, and what you want to do with it. If there is only a little, you'll want to use every bit you can catch, but if there's a lot you'll sail faster - and much more comfortably - if you reduce your sail area and let most of it pass you by. Even if you are unconcerned about speed, steering a good course with well set sails is good fun and makes good sense.
A Sense for the Boat
Boats love order - a place for everything, and everything in its place means that a stray screw on the deck will alert you to something loose on the mast, and you’ll know just where to find a screwdriver. You’ll need to hold on when the sea gets rough, and you need to know, deep down inside, that no matter how much she leans, she'll always come up the right way again.
A Sense for your Crewmates
You, the boat, and your crewmates depend on each other. Never assume that the helmsman has spotted the floating log ahead, that the guy being sick is hanging on properly or that the question thats bugging you is too dumb to ask.
A Sense for the Planet
The ocean is a different world to the one most people live in. National borders end at the shore, and every sailor is legally bound to go to any cost – to risk everything - to go to the aid of another. The camaraderie of anchorages sees strangers welcomed as old friends, and those who make their homes afloat have the world as their neighbour.
No other means of travelling the earth impacts as lightly as a sailboat.
Our aim is to have you love it as much as we do.
John Moore - Director, RYA Instructor