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Mazatlan Marine Center: Helpful tips for first-time sailors

Sailing is something you should experience at least once in your life because of the beautiful scenery you can find at the ocean. At the same time, you are also giving yourself the chance to learn how to man the boat all by yourself. 

If you happen to be sailing for the first time, here are some tips for beginner sailors that might be of help to you:

  1. Keep yourself updated with the current weather

Before you make plans on sailing out in the ocean, the first thing you have to do is to find out the current weather conditions. Doing so will help you determine if it is a good time to sail or not. Neglecting this task can be dangerous for you and your crew since the power of the sea can be too much to handle.

That is why, at all times, you need to check the following things before you set sail:

  • Winds – This factor tells you a lot about the current weather conditions. Usually, strong winds are a dead giveaway to a storm coming into your area. If this happens to be present, cancel all plans on sailing.
  • Clouds – These fluffy particles in the sky are pleasant to look at, but their formation already tells a lot about the weather. If the sky is clear, that is a good sign for you to set sail. On the other hand, grey skies with heavy clouds tell you that a storm is about to happen anytime soon.
  • Animal behaviour – You might think that a flap or shrill of a seagull holds no meaning, but it does. Seeing a flock of birds flying in a different direction can mean that they are avoiding a storm from where they came from.
  1. Wear appropriate clothing

Going on a boat or a yacht is an experience you should take, and it would be great to dress up for the occasion. While this can be exciting, it would be best if you dress in comfortable or loose clothing so that your clothes will not get in the way of your movement.

Aside from that, you should also consider the weather. Wearing long sleeves and dark colours can make you heat up faster, and this would be bad if you were out in the sun. As such, dress according to the weather as well.

  1. Always have a first-aid kit nearby

Some things are out of your control, and one of them is unwanted injuries. While you are out in the sea, there is no immediate medical help to give you attention but yourself. That is why you should always have a first-aid kit nearby because this will give you all the medication you need.

With that said, ensure that the following items are present inside your medical pack:

  • Betadine
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Cloth bandages
  • Stick-on band-aids
  • Forceps
  • Cotton balls and pads
  • Tissue
  • Pain killers
  • Different sizes of medical gauzes
  • Triangular bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable gloves
  • Medical tape
  • Thermometer
  • Rash cream
  • Anti-allergy medications
  • Non-steroidal medications
  • Antihistamine cream or tablets
  • Distilled water for cleansing
  • Alcohol
  • Emergency sutures
  • Emergency defibrillator

Make sure to create a checklist and see if you have everything listed above. This will keep you safe and provide immediate medical attention to the wounded. By doing so, their condition will not fastly progress while you try to hit the land. 

  1. Learn basic sailing terms

The sea has its language, and it is different from what you usually hear on land. That is why you should make an effort to learn the basic sailing terms. This will help you better understand and communicate with your crew as you man your boat. Without further ado, below is a list of the basic sailing terms as well as their meanings:

  • Aft – This is the back of the ship, and it is also known as the stern.
  • Bow – This is the front of the ship
  • Port – When you face the bow, the left side of your ship is known as the port. 
  • Starboard – This is known as the right side of the ship when you are facing the bow.
  • Leeward – This is opposite of the direction where the wind is currently blowing.
  • Windward – This is the direction where the wind is blowing.
  • Boom – You will find this at the bottom of the mast, and it is a long horizontal pole that extends outwards. Steering this will help your sail catch the wind, which helps your boat to move forward or backwards.
  • Rudder – You will find this beneath the boat, and it can be made out of wood, fiberglass or metal.
  • Tacking – This is a basic sailing manoeuvre that refers to turning the bow through the wind.
  • Jibing – This requires you to turn the stern so that the wind will hit the other side of the sail.

With these terms, you can seamlessly communicate your needs to your crew. They will easily understand what you are trying to say and deliver the result you want to have. 

  1. Hire a guide for your first time out in the sea

In case it is your first time heading out in the sea, it is recommended that you hire a guide or a skipper. This will teach you all the basics of sailing and show you the ropes of a boat. Doing so will also assure you that your first trip to the ocean is safe and handled professionally. From there, you will create a sailing standard that you can follow once you set sail on your own.

If you are looking for expert skippers, find one at the Mazatlan Marine Center in Mexico! All of the sailing guides here are registered with official papers, and they have adequate experience in the activity. To learn more about this, feel free to visit the website of the marine centre.

  1. Learn the parts of your boat

Aside from knowing which direction you are heading, it would be beneficial to learn the parts of your boat as well. This will give you the chance to expertly navigate your way in and out of your helm without missing a beat. To start your learning journey, below is a list of the common parts you can find on a sailboat:

  • Burgee
  • Mast
  • Backstay
  • Jib/genoa
  • Mail sail
  • Topping lift
  • Kicking strap
  • Boom
  • Forestay
  • Stern
  • Bow
  • Rudder
  • Keel
  • Hull
  1. Study navigation

With all the basic sailing terms and boat parts in your head, it would be great to follow them up by studying navigation. To make it less daunting, take it as if you are using GPS while driving. The only difference is that you are using a nautical compass and a map to track your coordinates.

Nautical navigation may seem difficult at first, but with enough practice, you will master it in no time. 

  1. Learn the different kinds of knots

As a sailor, you also have to be knowledgeable about your knots because you will use this to keep your sail tight the most. Thoroughly learning how each tie is made will be helpful for you in the future because this can prevent any accident from happening while you are on board.

  1. Addressing motion sickness

Unfortunately, not all people are blessed with the ability to maintain composure inside a moving vehicle, especially when you are in the middle of an ocean. The constant bobbing of the ship due to the strong waves is enough to send your stomach into the devil’s pit. 

As a solution to this, the best thing you can do is to keep your focus on one thing. This will keep your attention away from the motion of the boat. Aside from that, make sure to keep some bags ready in case you need to release your pain. Additionally, chewing on some mint or sleeping through the entire trip can be your lifesaver while on board.

  1. Be prepared before going out into the sea

Before you set sail, ensure that you have everything you need inside your luggage. Create a checklist of what you need to bring, and they all should be enough for the duration of your trip.

If you want to have a premade guide, here is a list of things you should bring to your sailing today:

  • Passport and boating documents
  • Soft-sided bags
  • Smaller grab-bag
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Ziplock bags
  • Seasick medications
  • Headlamp
  • First-aid kit
  • Sailing knife
  • Marlinspike
  • Personal floatation devices
  • Hats
  • Spare clothes
  • Rainy weather gear
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Food
  • Fishing tackle
  • Hand-held GPS unit
  1. Be mindful of the boom

The boom is a necessary part of the boat because it changes the course of your direction. However, when you move it, this can hurt you and your crew, and it can even knock you out of the boat. To prevent this from happening, make sure you announce that the boom will be moved before you proceed with the action. Doing so will ensure everyone’s safety on the boat.

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