Whether you’re an expert sailor looking to touch up on your existing skills or you’re just starting out in the world of sailing, learning to sail online is a great way to jump start your learning experience. There are many online sailing courses that provide a well-rounded understanding of the fundamentals of sailing so you can reinforce your existing knowledge or start to build the foundations.
So how can you learn to sail online? There are online sailing courses all over the Internet that can be found for less than $100 and even some that are free. Learning to sail online is no substitute for practical learning on a sailboat or dinghy, but you can learn the fundamentals quickly to reinforce or prepare your sailing knowledge.
Learning to sail online is essential for some of us nowadays because many of us spend a lot of time spent online. Taking advantage of the proliferation of technology is huge for the growth of the sailing community, so having the ability to learn at your own pace can be a great advantage.
Can You Learn to Sail Online?
It seems that you can learn virtually anything online nowadays and that absolutely includes sailing. As I mentioned before, learning to sail online is definitely no substitute for learning in real life, but it can be a great compliment to anyone’s learning experience.
Learning to sail online is a fantastic way to get your sailing knowledge primed before stepping onto a sailboat. Being able to develop some of the necessary knowledge beforehand, such as terminology, standard practices, safety procedures, and more, can give you a leg up when being sailing as a crew member.
Let’s say you have a friend that owns a sailboat and they invite you to go out for a nice day of sailing. It’s highly likely that they know what they’re doing and have the proper training as a skipper to make sure you and the sailboat are safe. There’s definitely no doubt that they’ll be confident they can properly direct you to execute necessary tasks here and there. You can learn as you go and that’s the way many people do it.
But what if you took an online course before you step foot on your friend’s sailboat? Not only will you already have a good foundation of knowledge when it comes to sailing, but your friend will also recognize that you’re a true crew member. That’s pretty cool!
Learning to sail online is also an amazing way to keep your sailing skills sharp during the off-season or an elongated hiatus. As an experienced sailor, there are few things you’ll forget that are important when it comes to safely operating a sailboat. Kind of like after knowing how to ride a bicycle. However, it’s definitely helpful to keep your mind fresh and always learning.
Many online courses combine the use of videos, slides, and online quizzes to keep you learning and engaged. The best online sailing courses will provide you with personal feedback that can help you hone in precisely what you should be working on. Whether the online sailing course has videos, quizzes, or slides, you’ll learn a lot more than if you didn’t do it at all.
The types of topics you’ll cover in your online sailing course will likely be technical in nature and packed full of brand new (and often confusing) terminology. Don’t worry, you’ll pick up on these things quicker than you might think. Plus, these online sailing courses are often aimed at beginners, so you’ll ramp up at the right rate.
When taking an online sailing course, the topics you cover could very well include:
- Common terminology
- Parts of a sailboat
- How a sailboat works
- Points of sail
- Safety procedures
- Nautical lights, shapes, and sounds
- Basic rules and regulations
Of course, this shouldn’t be considered an exhaustive list by no means, but you can easily cover these topics and digest them well enough before ever stepping foot on a sailboat. Having at least a basic understanding of these topics gives you a huge leg up when either keeping your skills sharp or starting out for the first time.
Learning to Sail in Real Life
After you’ve entered and finished an online sailing course, you’ll want to experience the real thing, which means finding a sailing school where you can put what you’ve learned to action. There are a lot of options out there when it comes to sailing schools and there’s certainly no shortage of sailing instructors.
Some people like to start out on a sailboat and others like to start out on sailing dinghies. Honestly, I believe this is a personal preference that really depends on what you’re looking for when it comes to learning to sail. I first learned how to sail on dinghies then eventually moved up to sailboats.
Starting out with sailing dinghies can be a great choice if you want to save some money and you don’t plan on bringing too many people with you once you’ve fully learned. I still dinghy sail to this day because it’s inexpensive and I can quickly rent one and head out either by myself or with someone else.
Getting on a proper sailboat, however, is really important if you want to get the most out of your online sailing course as you’ll be using the full depth and breadth of your knowledge. You’ll also learn new things along the way that you won’t necessarily use when out on a sailing dinghy.
Learn to Sail Holidays
Depending on where you live, you might have some local sailing schools that you can quickly find and contact to set up your future sailing course. However, not everyone has quick and easy access to a large enough body of water and even decent weather that allows for a good sailing experience. This is where a sailing holiday comes in handy.
Learn to sail holidays are a great way to get hands-on experience when learning to sail while on vacation. Not only do you get the chance to visit a new and interesting destination, but you get to put the skills you learned on your online sailing course to the test.
There are many sailing schools out there that offer learn to sail holidays that can be as short as a weekend and as long as two full weeks. In my opinion, learn to sail holidays are a great way to learn to sail because you end up completely emersed in the experience and naturally absorb the necessary skills you’ll need to become a competent crew member and maybe even a skipper.
Getting a Sailing Certification
It might seem like a long ways off from learning to sail online, but everyone starts somewhere and many people move onto getting a sailing certification. Being certified to safely operate a sailboat is a good goal to have when starting your learn to sail adventure since, once achieved, you can skipper a sailboat yourself.
Having a sailing certification from one of the most trusted sailing organizations gives you the ability to show proof of competency whenever you decide to start chartering sailboats. Most sailboat owners won’t even entertain the idea of lending their sailboat to you if you don’t have proof of competence due to trust and insurance issues.
Providing proof of competency can be done by providing a sailboat owner with a sailing certification as well as an up-to-date logbook. You want to remember to always log your sailing hours and nautical miles whenever you go out sailing so that you can track your progress as well as have evidence of your experience.
If you’re interested in eventually getting a sailing certification, the most well-known sailing organizations that can help you out include International Yacht Training (IYT), Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the American Sailing Association (ASA), and the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing).
These sailing organizations are well-known internationally and provide certifications for sailors living in particular countries or those choosing to sail around the world. Depending on where you plan to sail, you’ll want to consider one organization over the other since you might just be sailing off the coast of your country or inside lakes. If you plan on sailing internationally, you’ll want to look into getting an ICC or IPC certification.
Is sailing easy to learn? Sailing can be easy to learn if you learn from the right sailing instructors from certified sailing schools. Learning how to sail can be easy if you spend the right amount of time learning the theoretical and practical while practicing periodically.
How much does sailing cost? Sailing can cost very little to very much depending on what kind of sailing you’re interested in. Dinghy sailing is quite inexpensive compared to sailing a sailboat. The cost of sailing highly depends on the time of the season, location, type of sailboat, and the number of hours/days chartering the vessel.