Sailing: Most Popular Articles
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Here is everything you need to know to get out there and sailing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Comparison of 3 AIS Boating Apps: Ship Finder, Marine Traffic, and Boat Beacon - for viewing the location of nearby ships.
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.
Here are easy-to-follow steps and photos for learning to tie a cleat hitch. This knot 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For boating navigation on a laptop, the free chartplotter software OpenCPN may be perfect for your needs. Read the review here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn some interesting maritime history and sailing facts while taking this fun nautical trivia quiz. It includes some fascinating things about boats and boating!
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.
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.
Review of the Navionics Marine & Lakes boat charting app for Android devices - rich in features but with some limits.
Use a soft shackle to attach jib sheets to the jib sail's clew for a lighter, softer, safer knot. Page 3.
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.
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.
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.
Review of the MX Mariner boat charting app for Android devices with strong features for sailors and other boaters.
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!
Lists and reviews of the best books about sailing, including both how-to manuals and sailing narratives and novels.
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.
Choosing the right bottom paint for your boat requires understanding the different types of paint.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 5.
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.
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.
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.
Learn to read the wind on and off the sailboat for best sail trim and speed.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
An alternative, fast way to tie a traditional bowline knot in an unconventional way. Page 2.
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.
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.
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.
Give the sailors you know something special and appropriate for sailing—a gift not for the boat but for that special person aboard.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
It's easy and inexpensive to install a voltmeter on your boat. Read the review here and learn how to do it yourself.
Fiberglass propane tanks from Lite Cylinder and Clear View have many advantages for marine uses. Read the full review here.
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
How to use a fluid extractor to change the oil or other engine fluids in your boat.
Here are easy ways to lock your sailboat's tiller in place without having to buy a Tiller-Tamer.
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.
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.
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
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.
Going slow and sure is key when bringing your boat to the dock and tying up.
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.
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.
Marine Charts Lite and Marine Charts HD are boat charting apps from EarthNC. Read the review here.
Several tides apps are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. They all save sailors from the hassles of never having a paper tide table at hand. Read this review to see what functions are important, how various tide apps differ, which is the best standalone app for power and ease of use.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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 4.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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 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 3.
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.
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.
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.
Most anchors can get stuck on the bottom if the flukes hook under a rock, an old chain, or other debris. Unless you thought ahead and installed a trip line to pull the anchor out backwards, you may not be able to raise the anchor at all, which is then an expensive loss unless you can dive to free it. But a trip line is a hassle to use and often causes trouble itself. The AnchorRescue device is a simple but elegant solution to this problem. Page 2.
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.
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.
Learn how to use the centerboard or daggerboard of a small sailboat for the fastest sailing. Page 2.
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.
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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.
It's important to compensate for current set when steering a boat. Learn how to calculate current set and plot your course efficiently.
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.
My Anchor Watch app for Android is pretty good at signaling anchor dragging - read the full review here.
Even if your sailboat has an engine, it's often important to be able to dock a sailboat under sail. Learn the important steps here.
A stop knot is tied in the end of running rigging on a sailboat to prevent the knot from pulling through a block, cleat, or other gear. A stop knot should hold firm but also be easy to untie when needed. The figure-eight stop knot generally works best. Page 2.
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.
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.
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.
This might be the right waterproof case for using your smart device on your boat. Read the full review.
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.
If the mast of your sailboat passes through your cabin top, you need a good seal with a mast boot to prevent water from entering the cabin. You can buy an expensive one or make your own from inexpensive materials. Follow these simple steps. Page 5.
Charts and Tides is a marine navigation app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. With many strengths but also some weaknesses, it may be the one you want. Read the full review here.
LED lights on sailboats use much less power and over time are much less expensive, along with other advantages. Read this article about replacing your incandescent lights with new LED lights.
Polar Navy is a chart navigation software program for real-time GPS navigation on your boat. Read the review here to see if it's right for you.
Here's the technical information you need to know about VHF-DSC marine radios to buy and use the best radio for your own boat.
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.
The free version of the PredictWind app for both Apple and Android devices is a good way to know what's going on with wind and weather in your sailing area. Read the full review here.
PocketGrib is a weather app for Android and Apple devices that displays forecast wind and other weather information using downloaded NOAA GRIB files. Read the full review here.
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.