Things New Sailors Need to Know

Things New Sailors Need to Know, Things New Sailors Need to Know

Learning how to sail is like learning how to drive and fly at the same time, in another language. There are all sorts of tricky little details that will trip you up, so here’s a running start! Practical tips and knowledge gathered over thirty decades of sailing. I’ll keep adding as I think of more.

  1. Some marinas have a tall sign at the dock that can catch your rig.
  2. Set a depth alarm when anchoring if you don’t have an anchor dragging alarm.
  3. When you engage your autopilot; wait a moment to make sure it really “caught.”
  4. Expensive sunglasses seek water and sink rapidly.
  5. Expensive prescription glasses sink even faster.
  6. If a clutch under load won’t release; crank the winch a little more to get the dog to ease.
  7. If you don’t fully open that clutch; it might not fully release.
  8. Marine toilets are shallower than toilets on land. Divide your deposits into smaller batches.
  9. Some anchor windlasses need the motor running. Some only need the ignition engaged.
  10. If you foul your prop, but have a bow thruster; you can still use it to turn the boat.
  11. At night, items might be closer to you than you think or they appear.
  12. Your neighbors do not appreciate the melodic thump of your main halyard. Detach and move outboard.
  13. Learn how to access weather on your radio before you need it.
  14. Friction is your friend – more wraps on halyard winch anytime, and on jib winch during high winds.
  15. Look for traffic in the marina – including manatees and dangling dinghies or kayaks.
  16. This may be an “old wives’ tale” – but who wants to find out the hard way? Turning the key off on the engine before stopping the engine kills the alternator.
  17. Test your radio by calling someone you know is there.
  18. Use wind and current to your advantage when docking – don’t even try to fight them.
  19. Pump the toilet as long as you think it will take to get deposits to the holding tank; much longer than when they “disappear.”
  20. And – moisten the bowl before dry deposits.
  21. Yes, you are going to have to get up during the night when you are anchored and check things.
  22. No, the anchor alarm will not tell you if your neighbor is dragging down onto you.
  23. It a storm comes up while you are anchored – consider starting your engine, and turning on your steaming lights.
  24. If something is clicking when it didn’t in the past; investigate.
  25. If something used to click and now it doesn’t; investigate.
  26. Rust never sleeps.
  27. Chafe never rests.
  28. A handheld radio in the cockpit can be carried around the boat – the built-in one with the curly cord cannot.
  29. Check your windlass circuit breaker before leaving the dock. Get that device ready!
  30. Be ready to get under sail when you are motoring. The engine might fail.
  31. Be ready to anchor when you are motoring. The engine might fail.
  32. Disconnect the shore power before attempting to leave the dock.
  33. If you get overrides on your main sheet and cannot unwrap it; drop the halyard. You’ll get just enough slack to get the bottom wrap off and free the jam.
Things New Sailors Need to Know, Things New Sailors Need to Know

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