Assume I am completely naïve about boating concerns, that I know the following:

  • There are things that float and carry stuff across the water called boats.

  • A boat needs something to make it move. Some have sails.


Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sail

Sails seem like they might require less effort than paddles and don't have the fuel or other complications of motors, so let's assume sailboats for this question.

What are the things I should know (or do, or get, etc.) before clumsily rushing into sailing?

  • 8
    I would argue that any question starting with "Assume I am completely naive of ..." is bound to be too broad. If you actually try to do something about the naivety, you will encounter an actual, specific question which won't be too broad anymore.
    – imsodin
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:48
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    Going out with a boat without prior knowledge can lead to a serious case of death. And that is more common that you might expect.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:47
  • 4
    While I would not personally answer this question or be interested in reading the answers I think now that it is limited to paddling/sailing/etc it is reasonable someone might do either. I don’t think this site suffers from too many questions and when in doubt I would personally prefer less restriction on people’s access to one another’s posts.
    – mmcc
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 22:07
  • 1
    The similar question Beginning paddle boating has been reopened. I think this one should be as well Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 8:52
  • 1
    Quick query for you: why did you decide to use a picture of a non-water vehicle?
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


Search for sailing certification courses near you. If you live in the US the most known certifications are those offered by US Sailing and the American Sailing Association. I recommend getting started with small boats (as opposed to keelboats), because you will learn quicker about the external forces (including your weight) acting on the boat. That's a matter of preference though. Both keelboats and small boats are a lot of fun.

Besides official courses, I will say that most sailors are eager to share their knowledge, so try to find a sailing community near you or consider starting one once you have learned the skill elsewhere.

  • 1
    Sailing is probably the most complicated of the three kinds of boating, and the one that probably needs if not a course then at least some reading. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 14:56
  • Two questions about your answer: 1) Would you say that the course is necessary? Even if not legally, at least practically. Or could someone do an afternoon of Googling the topic then buy one of those sails you can attach to a small boat (like a canoe; I've heard about people putting small sails on canoes) and hope for the best (does that sound dangerous)? and 2) If someone took one of those classes, would that teach them everything they need to know to hop onto a small sail boat and, with all the knowledge to operate it well and safely?
    – Loduwijk
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 20:00
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    1) Yes and no. You can figure it out on your own but there are a few safety concerns even though it is a safe sport in general. Some hazards include accidental jibes, capsizing in cold water, getting tangled in the lines after a capsize. These can be easy to avoid once you know about them but are important to know. 2) Typically yes. Taking the 1st class in most systems will teach you all the fundamentals which you can use on most sailboats large and small, so it's a good investment. But there are important things taught in advanced courses also, depending on the aspects you'd like to focus on.
    – Nelu
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 23:13
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    @Aaron You are either going to be in a small one person boat that is easy to tip over, or you are going to be in a lager boat that requires multiple people to operate. I was seriously considering putting a sail on my canoe (no sailing experience) and the more I googled, the better a sailing class sounded. Ultimately I took the class and I think it was the right choice. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 17:43

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