Part 2 of this lesson describes everything to rig the boat and sails before getting started. Now it’s time to start the boat moving!
It is easiest to learn to sail a boat from a mooring (a permanent anchor line in the water). The wind will blow the boat straight back, such that the bow faces into the wind. This is the one direction in which we can’t sail, so the boat has to be turned so that the wind is coming across the boat from either side.
To turn the sailboat after it is released from the mooring line, simply push the boom out to either side. The wind will now blow against the back of the sail (rather than past it on both sides), and the boat will rotate – this is called “backing the sail.” Now the boat can begin to sail as you pull in the mainsheet to tighten the main sail.
It is a little more difficult to learn to sail off a dock or beach. If the boat is being blown sideways against the dock, it can be almost impossible to get started. In this case, walk the boat to the end of the dock and turn it there to face outward into the wind. Then you can back the sail to get started.
Remember that the boat can’t move if the sails are loose and flapping in the wind. But as soon as they are tightened up when the wind is coming over the side, the boat will begin to move forward. The next pages describe how to manage the sails and steering.