How Do I Get More Sailing Experience?

By: Learn To Sail

I always take friends out sailing, and they all have the same question. How do I sail more? My answer is always, “come out with me whenever you want.” The common thing that happens next is no one calls. If I ask them, they are eager, but for some reason, they might be shy or courteous and don’t want to invite themselves onto our boat.

My advice to you, the new sailor looking for more sailing experience: If you have a friend with a sailboat, go ahead and call them and ask to go sailing. After all, the best way to become a better sailor is to sail as often as possible. The experience will make you a more confident sailor.

If you don’t have a friend with a sailboat, here are some ideas to help you get more experience:

Sailing Courses

Enroll in sailing courses or lessons at a local sailing school or club. These courses typically start with the basics and progress to more advanced skills. Find an American Sailing School near you.

Crew on Other Boats

Many experienced sailors are often looking for crew members for their boats. Offer to volunteer as crew to gain practical experience. Crewing is a great way to learn from experienced sailors while making connections in the sailing community.

Rent or Charter Boats

Consider renting or chartering small sailboats once you have some basic skills. Start with boats suitable for beginners and gradually work up to larger vessels as you gain confidence and experience. Many sailing destinations offer rental opportunities for tourists and locals alike. (TIP: The next time you plan a beach vacation, reserve a room at a resort that has small catamarans for rent on the beach. You’ll sail all day long!)

Participate in Races and Regattas

If you’re interested in competitive sailing, look for local sailing races and regattas. Many of these events welcome novice sailors and provide an excellent opportunity to hone your skills under more challenging conditions. Head to a yacht club in your local marina and take a look at their Wednesday night racing schedule. You’ll find a boat with a need for a crew there.

Join A Sailing or Yacht Club

Join a sailing club, yacht club, or community sailing organization in your area.  Sailing clubs can be found in local marinas and they will give you access to other sailors and potentially more boats to utilize to work on your sailing skills. 

Cruise with Experienced Sailors

Connect with experienced sailors who are planning longer cruising trips. They often look for crew members to join them on their journeys. Cruising can provide valuable experience in navigation, anchoring, and dealing with various weather conditions. Try Facebook Sailing Groups for information on potential sailors in your area.

Online Resources and Books

Supplement your practical experience with theoretical knowledge. Many online resources and books are dedicated to sailing techniques, navigation, and safety. Understanding the theory behind sailing can enhance your skills and confidence on the water.

Join Online Sailing Communities

Join online sailing forums, social media groups, or local sailing clubs to connect with other sailors. You can ask questions, share experiences, and find like-minded individuals who can offer advice and opportunities for sailing.

Upgrade Your Skills

Consider taking more advanced sailing courses, such as navigation, offshore sailing, or USCG Captain, as you gain experience and confidence. See more American Sailing certifications.

Buy Your Own Boat

While it may be the most obvious of choices, buying your own boat would get you plenty of experience and provide you with the motivation to improve your sailing skills. Should you buy a boat?

Spend as much time as possible on the water. The more you practice, the more comfortable and skilled you’ll become. Try to sail in different weather conditions and at various times of the day to broaden your experience.

Remember always to prioritize safety. Learn about safety procedures, including handling emergencies, using safety equipment, and navigating in adverse conditions. A safety course can be invaluable and a good way to meet more sailors. Check with a local sailing school to find out about their course offerings.