Episode #014: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Sailing Goals – Day Sailing
This is episode #1 in a four-part series I am doing on sailing goals. These episodes are aimed at helping you to figure out which courses to take, habits to form, and places to go with your sailing depending on where you want to end up! This first episode is geared to the new sailor who wants to become the most proficient and able day sailor there is. Explore your own backyard with knowledge and head home at the end of your day feeling invigorated by your sailing adventure!
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Who is the Day Sailor?
The day sailor is probably someone who is just starting to explore the amazing world of sailing! Alternatively, you’ve been a sailor for awhile, and are continuing to sail while dabbling in other hobbies as well. Either way, you love to get out for a day of sailing with family and friends and may participate in occasional beer can races put on by your local sailing club.
Which key courses should you take?
Here is my short list of courses to help you achieve day sailor perfection:
- Basic day sailing course: you should take an introduction or basic skipper course such as the Start Keelboat Sailing course or the Basic Cruising course
- Introduction to weather: this could be an online course or in-person course. MetEd has a lot of great free weather courses.
- VHF Marine Radio course: get your license so you can hail others as needed and use this handy marine communication tool
- First Aid: get a basic first aid course under your belt. That way if there are any minor injuries on board you are prepared to help.
- Knowledge of charts or GPS: you should be familiar with your surroundings. Get copies of the local chart, Chart No 1, and familiarize yourself with local knowledge
Top 4 Habits to Perfect
HABIT 1 Pre-departure Check: As a day sailor this should become second nature for you and something that you automatically do prior to every departure. Don’t assume that the boat is as you left it! Download my boat checklist or create your own and make it automatic.
HABIT 2 Safety Gear Check: I have decided to break out safety gear and boat check as I think they both warrant a good once over. For your safety gear you are checking the required gear, as well as recommended gear. Is your ladder still securely fixed to the transom? Does your boat hook still telescope properly? Are your flares dry and readily available?
HABIT 3 Include Your Guests: get into the habit of coaching others and including them in your boat prep. This will help them feel involved, and will help you feel a little less stressed about potentially having non-sailors onboard. Ask Uncle Rob to read the flare instructions. Teach Aunt Helen how to tie eight knots at the ends of the sheets. Teach neighbour Bob how to start and turn off the engine. These are all relatively small tasks, but if you need help from someone at some point while day sailing, you now have someone who has already been exposed to the information and your specific boat.
HABIT 4 Practice Your Crew Overboard: Regardless of whichever COB recovery method you use, you should know it inside and out as a day sailor. Especially if you often have non-sailors out with you on the boat. The last thing you want to be doing while Sally is in the water is trying to remember where to put the boat while 3 other people are asking you what to do. Make it automatic.
Other Areas You’ll Perfect…
Docking, sail changes and day trip planning! You will probably be doing a lot of these as a day sailor.
Docking is always an adventure and the more you do it the more comfortable (hopefully) you will become with it. Figure out which docklines need to be longer, shorter, or even tied somewhere else. I often set up a temporary stern spring line when I’m coming in to the dock as the wind is usually astern pushing me right into the dock. I’ve got a quick springline ready to stop any unwanted “progress” 😉
Sail changes will happen often as a day sailor! Get used to heaving-to and reefing your sail on the fly. Depending on your location you may or may not have local weather anomalies to deal with too. Here in the mountains we are constantly dealing with shifting winds and squalls. As a day sailor you really need to be quick to get those sails adjusted.
Day trip planning will be essential and can be very easy to get organized. Listen to episode #7 of Your Pocket Sailing Instructor and create your own reusable template. Don’t overthink it, but don’t skip it! Just watch the movie 127 Hours. You’ll quickly see my point 😉
Alright get out there day sailor and have a blast! Sail as often as you can and the rest will add on from there…