How to Get Into Sailing Without the Whole “Buying a Boat” Part

On renting, borrowing and pirating your way to seafaring glory

By The Editors
June 7, 2016 9:00 am

If you live by a large body of water, you’ve probably gazed upon a sailboat with ruddy cheeks and a vicarious sense of envy.

And if you have any sense of adventure blazing hot in your loins, you definitely hop on board one now and then. But owning? Na. Boats are floating money pits, and there’s no sense in buying something you enjoy in theory but only care to actually use a few times a summer.

So borrow or rent. But know a little about the sport before you waltz willy nilly into it.

Sailing breaks down into about six different categories; identify which is for you

  1. Fleet: The most common form of competitive sailing; consists of racing around a course
  2. Match: Two identical boats race towards a finish line
  3. Team: Teams of two race against each other
  4. Offshore: A race for a destination more than 800 miles away
  5. Para world: A race in which disabled people set sail
  6. Cruising: Exactly what it suggests. Beer encouraged. Our favorite.

Call your local marina
Every marina is home to a host of different sailing outfits. Determine which one appeals to you and ask about classes and lessons.

Few states really require a chapman license
A Chapman license will ensure you’re a competent seaman, but you may want to wait to get one until after you’ve gone a fewtimes and confirmed that you, y’know, enjoy it.

Start vocalizing your interest in sailing to your friends
Someone you know either owns a sailboat or knows someone who does. Don’t ask outright for them to take you. Ease into it. Say, “Oh man, I really want to get into sailing. I just need to get out more.” You’re planting the seed. Be patient and let that seed grow. Most people who own boats want to entertain on them — that’s why the bought the sucker in the first place.

You’ve been invited, now what?
First, respect the boat. Wear boat shoes (SWIMS makes a great pair) and bring food or beer like you would if you were visiting someone’s home. Once onboard, ask how you can help. Any direction they give is basically an instruction for you.

Know how to sail but don’t know anyone with a boat?
Rent one. Boatbound is basically the AirBnB of sailboats. Otherwise, see which companies at your marina allow rentals.


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