Sailing: Most Popular Articles
Many apps are available for boat charts and navigation on Android smartphones and tablet devices. Here's a comparison of key features to help you choose.
Many special terms are used for the parts of a sailboat and sailing equipment on a boat. Learning the terms will help you learn to sail and enhance communication on a boat.
Here is an introduction to the most common types of sailboat rigs today, with photos showing differences. Over history, dozens of sailboat rigs have been developed and used for different types of boats in different circumstances. The “rig” refers to the combination of mast(s) and sail(s), which may vary considerably among boats of different sizes.
Cruisers Forum is a free app for Android and Apple smartphones and devices that can provide sailors and other boaters with a wide variety of useful, practical information.
The bowline is among the most commonly used knots on a sailboat. With it, you can tie a line (rope) in a loop around anything else to anchor the line. The bowline knot is not only strong and secure but is easy to break loose later, even when pulled tight under a load.
About 90% of people will experience seasickness or motion sickness at some point in their lives. If you’re new to sailing, or have ever experienced nausea or dizziness on a boat, it’s worthwhile to know how to prevent seasickness. Once seasickness occurs, it’s too late to do much more than cope with it as best you can.
So many apps are now available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch as well as Android devices that it can be difficult to choose the ones you need. Here's a comparison to help you choose.
The MacGregor 26 has undergone many changes in different models over three decades. It can be a safe or dangerous sailboat, depending on how it is sailed. New owners should maintain certain cautions. Read this experienced owner's review.
If you're thinking of buying a sailboat or shopping for a sailboat for sale, it's important to consider many issues and questions about your needs and future activities before selecting a type and size of boat, and deciding whether to buy a new or used sailboat.
Here are step-by-step directions with photos for tying a cleat hitch, bowline, clove hitch, square knot, and other essential sailing knots. Because sailing involves many lines (ropes) that you need to tie in various ways for different uses, it is important to know a few basic knots when learning to sail.
Every boat owner should have and use a checklist before heading out sailing. A good checklist like the one presented here helps ensure you don’t overlook something that may result in a problem or accident once you’re underway.
Here is everything you need to know to get out there and sailing.
This will be my last blog post on this site and my final weekly newsletter as I sail on to a new time in my life. It's been a good cruise on this website, and
“Point of sail” refers to the angle of the sailboat to the direction from which the wind is blowing. Different terms are used for the different points of sail, such as close hauled (sailing close to the wind), beam reach (with the wind sideways over the beam), and running (downwind). The sails are trimmed differently on each point of sail.
Here is a complete review of the MacGregor 26M sailboat, a popular pocket cruiser for day sailing and short cruises. It trailers well and with a large outboard engine also moves like a fast powerboat. But this inexpensive sailboat may not be for everyone.
Looking for the right boat or sailboat for sale? Here are the best places online to get started to find the boat for sale you're searching for.
Knowing how to reef the mainsail when the wind picks up is a critical skill for all sailors. The traditional slab reefing system is easy to install and use. Here's how to make and use a simple reefing system.
When sailing in heavy weather, with high winds and big waves, you need special storm tactics for a sailboat. Learn about different strategies for staying safe.
The Lehr 2.5 and 5 horsepower propane outboard engines are a great option for small sailboats, dinghies, and fishing boats. They are efficient and clean and offer many advantages.
A cleat hitch is used to tie dock lines to a cleat, to tie an anchor rode to the boat's bow cleat, and to secure other lines on a boat to cleats.
Using calcium chloride in bulk or DampRid moisture-absorbing products helps keep your boat dry and free of mold during winter storage and when unused during the season.
Although the mainsheet tackle attaches to a fixed point on some smaller sailboats, most cruising and racing sailboats have a mainsheet traveler that allows for better positioning of the boom for the best sail trim and boat speed. Read this article to learn how to use a traveler.
Here are the basic techniques for sailing a small daysailer. This is Part 3 in the full course for learning to sail a small boat. See Parts 1 and 2 first to learn the parts of a sailboat and how to rig it in preparation for sailing.
A boom vang is used on a sailboat to pull down the boom on off-wind points of sail when the wind in the mainsail would lift the boom. Proper use of a boom vang helps keep the sail full and drawing well. Learn how to use a traditional block-and-tackle or rigid boom vang.
The first step in learning how to sail a small sailboat is to learn about the different parts of the boat and its rigging. Learn it all here.
Many special terms are used in sailing. Learning the meaning of these terms will help you learn to sail and enhance communication on a boat.
Learn some interesting maritime history and sailing facts while taking this fun nautical trivia quiz. It includes some fascinating things about boats and boating!
Of dozens of GPS boating navigation apps available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, the PocketNav app from Memory Map is among the best. For those who want basic chartplotter functions and unlimited free U.S. raster charts on their handheld device, this inexpensive app does everything needed and is for most sailors the best navigation app on a handheld device to supplement paper charts or a full-feature chartplotter. Read the full review here.
Heaving to is a valuable skill for all sailors when the wind or waves get up or you want to stop or steady the boat for any reason while underway. Although it is easy to heave to in theory, in reality it depends on many different factors involving the boat and conditions. Read this article to learn how to heave to in your own boat.
Comparison of 3 AIS Boating Apps: Ship Finder, Marine Traffic, and Boat Beacon - for viewing the location of nearby ships.
The West Wight Potter 19 sailboat is a popular choice for a pocket cruiser and has a well-deserved reputation for its easy sailing and stability. Read the full review here.
GPS Tracking Pro (Life 360) App for Android and iOS Smartphones is a handy way to keep track of family members and others. Read the full review here.
For boating navigation on a laptop, the free chartplotter software OpenCPN may be perfect for your needs. Read the review here.
Different keels have varying advantages for different kinds of sailboats. The keel of a sailboat is necessary to keep the boat from being blown sideways.
Review of the Memory-Map boat charting app for Android devices - rich in features and maybe the best chartplotter app available for sailors and other boaters.
To avoid collision, the captains of sailboats, powerboats, and all other vessels must clearly understand the Rules of the Road, the term for U.S. regulations regarding which boat has right of way over another boat in different situations. Here are the rules for sailboats when under sail or under power.
If you are looking for a cruising sailboat, depending on your preferred size range, you may be choosing between a sloop and a ketch, the two most common types of cruising sailboats. Each offers certain advantages. This article will help you choose which is best for your needs. Page 4.
Choosing the right bottom paint for your boat requires understanding the different types of paint.
When choosing navigation software or an plotting app, you're also deciding between raster and vector nautical charts. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of both to make the best decision for your own use.
A clove hitch is frequently used on boats for securing a line around a rail, post, or other cylindrical structure. It is a secure temporary knot used, for example, to hang fenders on the boat’s rails or lifelines. Because it can work loose if there is not continual tension on the line, however, it should be used only in certain situations. Page 4.
Here is an explanation of how boat chartplotters work. Navigation with a marine GPS chartplotter or a computer running navigational software makes it easy to know where you are and get where you’re going. Because of many differences among systems, consider the benefits and drawbacks before choosing the right system for your boat.
A preventer is used to keep from the boom from suddenly swinging across the boat in an accidental gybe. When the boom swings quickly from one extreme to the other, the forces generated can be huge and damage the boat or injure anyone in the way of the boom or the mainsheet tackle. Someone can easily be knocked overboard. Learn how to rig your own preventer.
The 14-foot Sunfish sailboat is a very popular daysailer that has been around for decades and remains the almost perfect sailboat for certain situations. Read the review here and learn all about its strengths and weaknesses.
The easiest and most efficient way to trim the jib is to pay attention to telltales at the sail’s leading edge. The telltales show you when to pull in the sail or let it out for the greatest power.
Winterizing a sailboat involves preparing the engine for winter, removing or protecting gear, and winterizing the head and water systems before covering the boat. You can expect serious problems when the temperature drops below freezing if you fail to correctly winterize all systems.
Lists and reviews of the best books about sailing, including both how-to manuals and sailing narratives and novels.
Review of the Navionics Marine & Lakes boat charting app for Android devices - rich in features but with some limits.
Tacking, or “coming about,” is the act of turning a sailboat across the eye of the wind. From being close hauled into the wind with the sails in tight on one side, you turn into the wind and across to the other side, usually a turn of about 90 degrees. Read how to tack a sailboat smoothly and safely.
The reef knot is used on sailboats for a temporary knot that can be quickly untied. Like a square knot, a reef knot is used to tie a line in a loop around something. Unlike a square knot, it can released with a quick jerk. Page 2.
A topping lift is a line from the masthead to the outboard end of the boom, which holds up the boom when the mainsail is lowered or reefed. Proper adjustment of the topping lift is essential for good sail trim and controlling the boom. Learn how to adjust your topping lift correctly. Page 2.
Before going sailing on a small boat, you usually need to rig the boat with the sails, sheets, rudder, and other gear. Follow these steps to learn how to rig the boat and then get moving!
For over 40 years, the 19-foot Mariner sailboat has been a popular classic daysailer. Read this full review to discover its strengths and weaknesses.
The end of a line (rope) on a sailboat should be whipped to prevent unraveling and fraying at the end. Whipping is the best and most long-lasting method for preventing problems. Page 2.
Most midsize and large sailboats used for cruising have roller furling jibs rather than hanked-on jibs. A roller furler makes it easy to bring the jib in and out and to reef the jib when the wind increases. Learn how to use a furling jib.
Quite a number of free software programs, apps, and informational websites are available for sailors and boaters, including charts and chartplotters, weather and tide apps, and other useful boating applications. Read this article to learn about freebies you may be missing!
Gybing is the act of turning a sailboat across the wind downwind. The sails move from far out on one side to far out on the other. Gybing can he a difficult, even dangerous maneuver, depending on the boat and conditions. Read how to do a controlled, safe gybe.
Review of the MX Mariner boat charting app for Android devices with strong features for sailors and other boaters.
An enhanced bowline knot may work better than a regular bowline in slippery, synthetic rope. See the step-by-description how to tie an enhanced bowline. Page 6.
Give the sailors you know something special and appropriate for sailing—a gift not for the boat but for that special person aboard.
An alternative, fast way to tie a traditional bowline knot in an unconventional way. Page 2.
When sailing in heavy weather, with high winds and big waves, you need special storm tactics for a sailboat. Learn about different strategies for staying safe. Page 2.
When you take crew or guests aboard your boat, you are responsible for their safety as well as for yours and the boat’s. Here are 5 tips for a safety briefing to give.
Making your own logbook for your boat is easy and inexpensive and allows you to record the log exactly as you wish. A custom logbook can be attractive and much more useable than a published, commercial logbook.
It's easy and inexpensive to make your own trailer extension and make it much easier to launch and retrieve your boat at even shallow boat ramps without getting the rear of your vehicle in or even near the water. Here is the step-by-step process with photos. Page 2.
The Hunter 140 (14 feet long) has been a popular small daysailer for over a decade. It's a good, inexpensive sailboat for learning to sail and for a small family. Read the full review here.
A sailboat is steered by means of the rudder, a flat vertical surface beneath the water near the stern. As the rudder is pivoted to one side by means of the tiller or steering wheel, the force of the water striking one edge of the rudder pushes the stern of the boat in the opposite direction, thereby turning the boat as it continues forward. Different types of rudders have different advantages and disadvantages. Page 2.
Learn to read the wind on and off the sailboat for best sail trim and speed.
Sailboat owners often have to repair or stitch up marine canvas, including sails, dodgers, and sail covers. This is often a slow, tedious task. Learn how to use the Speedy Stitcher to make sewing marine canvas easy.
Any activity on the water involves inherent risks. Sailing safety includes the use of safety gear and equipment, paying attention to weather, and following basic principles for both you and your guests and crew.
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Sailing sometimes causes deaths. Most sailing fatalities are due to drowning while not wearing a PFD, yet most sailors do not wear a PFD in calm situations. Understanding why sailors die, and examining the statistics, can lead to a safety attitude that can prevent serious accidents.
The Laser is a fast sailboat used in races from clubs to the Olympics as well as in recreational sailing. Learn more about its specifications in this review.
I've recently read and reviewed a couple books that may be of interest to you if you're considering living aboard a boat and/or going cruising long-term. Both
The Navionics Marine and Lakes navigation app for iPhone/iPad is an inexpensive solution for seeing your boat moving on a chart. But how much more can you expect from what looks at first like an impressive list of features? Read the full review to find out.
Cruising just about anywhere on your sailboat is great fun, of course, but for us northern types who suffer a wintry off-season, the lower Florida Keys and Key
Good sailboat anchoring technique is crucial for safety. If the anchor drags because it was not properly set or because insufficient scope was used, the sailboat may go ashore or strike another boat or other hazard. Follow these guidelines to help ensure your boat is safely anchored so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Shrink wrapping is a great way to protect your boat outdoors in the winter, but commercial shrink wrapping is very expensive. Learn to shrink wrap your own sailboat yourself and save a bundle!
Use a soft shackle to attach jib sheets to the jib sail's clew for a lighter, softer, safer knot. Page 2.
The square knot is commonly used on sailboats. It is used to tie a line in a loop around something or to tie together two lines of the same diameter. Page 2.
The outhaul on a sailboat, a mainsail control, is part of the boat's running rigging. The outhaul is used to adjust tension in the foot of the sail, which makes the sail flatter or fuller. Properly using the outhaul, along with sail trim and other sail controls, provides more power and speed.
It's still early spring and many of us in northern climates haven't even begun to think of launching our boats, but in warmer climates the Coast Guard continues
How to use a fluid extractor to change the oil or other engine fluids in your boat.
It's 20 degrees here in New England with a foot of snow on the ground, and I'm ready to head south for sailing. Our cruising boat will be under shrink wrap for
Raising the mainsail is one of the first steps in setting sail. Although usually a simple, easy process, beginners may experience snags if they’re not careful. Follow these guidelines to get the main up smoothly and the boat underway.
Inflatable PFDs now meet Coast Guard requirements and have key benefits over regular lifejackets, but you must understand how to care for and use the inflation device.
Here are the techniques for tacking and gybing (jibing) a small daysailer. This is Part 4 in a full course for learning to sail a small boat. See Parts 1 and 2 first to learn the parts of a sailboat and how to rig it in preparation for sailing. See Part 3 for basic sailing techniques.
Little Sailor is an app that simulates dinghy sailing and racing in a very realistic, fun way for both learners and experienced sailors. Read the review here.
Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is an important feature of most new marine VHF radios for sailboats. Take the time to learn about this safety function and to activate your DSC VHF correctly in case you need to make an emergency distress call.
A sailboat offshore must have an abandon ship bag, or ditch bag, in its emergency equipment. Even coastal cruising sailors should have one ready if wind or a current might carry you away from a populated area. Here’s what to keep stowed in your abandon ship bag.
Learn what sail adjustments to make on a sailboat when the wind gets stronger to reduce heeling and weather helm and maintain control of the boat.
The free Tides & Currents Android app from FlyToMap is an effective, easy way to keep in touch with important key water conditions - better than some other apps.
You need to consider many different questions when deciding what kind of sailboat is best for you. Depending on the general size range of the sailboats you may be interested in, you may need to choose between fixed-keel boats and centerboard (or swing keel or daggerboard) boats. This article will help you choose which is best for your needs.
Marine Charts Lite and Marine Charts HD are boat charting apps from EarthNC. Read the review here.
It's easy and inexpensive to install a voltmeter on your boat. Read the review here and learn how to do it yourself.
The AIS system can help you avoid collisions if you have an AIS receiver on your sailboat. Many different systems can be installed on a sailboat - read about the different ways here.
The sheet bend is a simple, trustworthy knot used to join the ends of two lines, in effect making one longer line. It works well also with lines or ropes of somewhat different diameters or different types of line. See the steps here for how to tie a sheet bend. Page 2.
Learn how to easily repair rips and holes in your boat's canvas and save money by doing it yourself. Sunbrella marine fabric can easily be mended with a special fabric adhesive rather than sewing.
You depend on your sailboat's lifelines to keep you from falling overboard. Learn how to inspect aging lifelines and to replace them yourself when needed.
It can be difficult to choose a sailing charter company from the many charter bases and boats in the Caribbean and Bahamas. Read this article for how to find the best boating charters and browse through the varying services provided by many Caribbean bareboat charter companies.
Whenever you anchor where the bottom is rocky or in harbors where old chain and other debris lie on the bottom, you run the risk of losing your anchor if it snags and won’t come up. Learn how to rig a trip line in those tricky situations to make it easy to get the anchor back up.
Storms and thunderstorms are serious dangers for sailors both near-shore and offshore. Learn how to know when a storm is coming, how to use radar apps, and how to prepare for storm tactics.
The new Rocna anchor from Australia has challenged the class CPR and plow anchors. The Rocna is better for new boats and may be worth the cost for an older boat too.
All sailboats sailed in US waters must carry certain equipment required by federal law, depending on the boat's size, presence and type of engine, and other factors. Check these lists to see what is required for your boat.
The Marine Weather app for both Apple and Android smartphones and devices provides a very good collection of weather and marine conditions data for sailors and other boaters, although you need to understand its limits.
What makes a great sailor's watch? Read this full review of the Casio Pathfinder watch, one of the best for a sailor's needs.
SailingApp is an iOS app for all Apple devices, containing a range of information of interest to sailors as well as some tools. Read the full review here.
Here are easy ways to lock your sailboat's tiller in place without having to buy a Tiller-Tamer.
If you are shopping for or buying a large daysailer or a small cruising sailboat, you may be choosing between sailboats that have an inboard engine and those having an outboard motor. Each offers certain advantages. Page 3.
The most essential sailing safety equipment is what you need to stay alive - not to fix a hole in the boat, put out a fire, or anything else. The huge majority of sailing fatalities could have been prevented with only two safety items.
It's important to compensate for current set when steering a boat. Learn how to calculate current set and plot your course efficiently.
Fiberglass propane tanks from Lite Cylinder and Clear View have many advantages for marine uses. Read the full review here.
Here's how to recover from a capsize of a small sailboat and get back in the boat. This is Part 5 in a full course for learning to sail a small boat. See Parts 1 and 2 first to learn the parts of a sailboat and how to rig it for sailing. See Part 3 for basic sailing techniques and Part 4 for how to tack and gybe.
The taut-line hitch is a useful adjustable knot for boating and other activities. It is used to tighten a line tying one thing to another, such as to hold up a tent pole or tie a kayak on top of a vehicle - or anytime on a boat that you may need to tighten or loosen a line. It is also called a tent-pole hitch, rigger's hitch, midshipman's hitch. Learn the steps here for how to tie this hitch. Page 6.
Any boat owner knows that it's expensive to buy personal boating gear and equipment for the boat, especially at marine stores and chandleries. But crafty sailors have always sought out alternatives to paying those high prices, often in creative ways. Here's a collection of tips for saving big bucks when buying boat gear.
The FreedomPop 3G 4G Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot is an perfect solution for budget-conscious boaters who need connectivity while on their boats near shore.
The Nautical Chart Symbols app shows the meaning of many symbols and abbreviations used on marine charts. Read the review to see if you need it.
Going slow and sure is key when bringing your boat to the dock and tying up.
Because the great majority of deaths during sailing or boating occur because the person has fallen or been knocked off the boat, the most important safety principle is to ensure you stay on the boat no matter what happens. It’s not enough just to be careful and hold on. When conditions warrant, sailors should use a safety harness and tether secured to a fitting on deck. Different kinds of safety tethers are available for those with varying preferences.
Traditionally most sailboats with inborn engines had fixed propellers with 2 or 3 blades. While this configuration generally works well when the boat is under power, the prop causes drag when sailing and can reduce boat speed up to 15% in some conditions. Newer models of folding or feathered props greatly reduce drag and may have other advantages as well, but each type still has certain disadvantages.
If your area is threatened by a hurricane or tropical storm winds, you need to make advance preparations to reduce the risk of damage. Don’t wait until the wind is rising before taking steps. Follow these guidelines to protect your boat and its equipment.
Of all the websites and apps providing cruising sailors and boaters with information about marinas, anchorages, and local features, ActiveCaptain is the best. Learn more here.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best anchor for your boat. Read this comparison of different types of anchors for sailboats.
For safety and good seamanship, sailors and other boaters need to understand how to navigate in their own boat using traditional paper charts or a chartplotter or charting app. This article explains the basics.
Winterizing a sailboat involves preparing the engine for winter, removing or protecting gear, and winterizing the head and water systems before covering the boat. You can expect serious problems when the temperature drops below freezing if you fail to correctly winterize all systems. Page 2.
A sloop-rigged sailboat, also called a Bermuda sloop, is defined by having a single mast near the center of the boat and a tall triangular mainsail on the mast.
Sailboats are kept in the water on moorings in many areas. Mooring a sailboat can be easy or difficult, depending on the wind, waves, and water currents. Learn how to moor a sailboat efficiently and safely.
A swing keel is a type of keel found usually on trailerable sailboats.
Good sailboat anchoring technique is crucial for safety. If the anchor drags because it was not properly set or because insufficient scope was used, the sailboat may go ashore or strike another boat or other hazard. Follow these guidelines to help ensure your boat is safely anchored so you can get a good night’s sleep. Page 2.
How best to tow a dinghy behind a sailboat is a classic dilemma about which sailors have many different opinions. The best method often depends on the type and size of the dinghy, the type and size of the sailboat, and wind and sea conditions. Usually there is no one best answer. The best advice is to consider all your options at the time and remain flexible to make changes once underway. Read about your choices and what to do in a crisis.
The Origo marine stovetop and oven is a safe, simple, efficient alternative to propane and pressurized alcohol systems found on many sailboats. Read this review to learn why an Origo stove with or without oven may be the best choice for your boat.
Dual XGPS150 Bluetooth GPS Receiver is a solution to use Apple devices like iPod Touch and iPad and smartphones or laptops to run navigation and other apps on your boat.
It's easy to build your own inexpensive stern pulpit rail seat for your boat. Full directions are included here with photos.
This might be the right waterproof case for using your smart device on your boat. Read the full review.
Your sailboat is only as secure on its mooring as the pennant keeps it. Use double mooring pennants in a bridle for maximum strength, but add a swivel in the attachment to prevent chafing and failure if the pennants wrap around each other.
Two comprehensive texts on seamanship vie for the attention of sailors. Which you choose, and which you may eventually need, depends on how much you know now about sailing and how much you may need to know in the future.
Points of Sail and SailSim are two apps for Apple devices that demonstrate and simulate how sailboats move in relation to the wind angle. They help teach sailing fundamentals with varying degrees of effectiveness.