Skills you need for sailing

picSailing might seem like the most majestic and fun experience anyone could have on the waters. Not only are you keeping fit, but you’re experiencing the outdoors, as part of a team, right by the ocean. Yet, as ideal as it may seem, being part of a crew isn’t as easy on first appearance. If you want to be part of a crew, you can’t stop at one or two courses or instructions. You need to prepare in a variety of ways.


These days, we all rely on electronic devices to tell us where to go. Distances are calculated on the fly, with precision. Yet, what we often forget is that roads still have signs. We’re still guided by instructions on where to go, how fast to drive and so on. As one sailing expert pointed out: “There are no road signs out on the water… good navigation skills will keep you off the rocks! It’s that simple and that important.”

Practice with your GPS on land, put in a strange location and don’t rely on road signs to guide you there. The seas are much harder, of course, so start slowly.


It’s important your fitness level lets you move around quickly, able to grasp and pull quite heavy structures. You need precision, momentum and a high level of stamina to be able to navigate strong waters around you.

Further, you also need to understand the wind. By touch alone, you should know the wind direction. This lets you set the sails to best make use of the wind to head in your direction of choice. Your navigation skills will be what determines that direction.

First aid

Everyone would benefit from learning first aid. You can use your skills to help anyone, anytime and possibly save a life. As Seton notes:

“Accidents will always happen. Because of this, properly-trained individuals and the right first aid equipment help ensure better safety for everyone. Without the proper first aid, a simple injury could turn into something much more severe. Many fatalities resulting from accidents and emergency situations result from lack of immediate medical treatment. First aid doesn’t just facilitate recovery. It helps save lives.”

This is just in a normal workplace, so you can imagine what it means in a rough, unpredictable environment like the ocean.

Large parts of developing these skills will come from taking a competent crew course. Yet, that should not stop you investing well beforehand in these skills, as some have universal application.