40 sailing tips

40 Sailing Tips

By: American Sailing, Cruising Tips, Learn To Sail

In 1983, the American Sailing Association was founded by Lenny Shabes. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of sailors have become certified in the ASA sailing curriculum. This year, we celebrate 40 years as the leading sailing education entity in the United States. So when you get out on the water, you can be sure that ASA-certified sailors are sailing safely and confidently.  

The foundation of the American Sailing curriculum is rooted in safety. Sailing education is all about understanding that your skills will keep you and your crew safe. Our textbooks, courses, and certifications have been educating sailors for decades. 

With that, we want to offer 40 sailing tips every sailor needs to remember, every time they sail!

  1. Check the weather forecast before setting sail.
  2. Familiarize yourself with your boat and its equipment.
  3. Make sure all safety equipment is in good working order and easily accessible.
  4. Clean and maintain your boat regularly to keep it in good condition.
  5. Check your boat’s lines and rigging regularly for wear and tear.
  6. Check for leaks and make sure the bilge pump is working properly.
  7. Use a bilge alarm to alert you to any water in the bilge.
  8. Keep a first-aid kit on board.
  9. Make sure your boat is properly insured before setting sail.
  10. Always wear a life jacket while on the water.
  11. Keep a spare set of clothes on board in case of unexpected weather changes.
  12. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing to avoid sunburn.
  13. Keep a cooler on board with water, ice, and fluids to fight off heat exhaustion or dehydration.
  14. Make sure all hatches and windows are closed before setting sail.
  15. Keep the boat balanced by distributing weight evenly.
  16. Keep the boat’s centerboard or keel down to maintain stability.
  17. Learn how to anchor and moor your boat.
  18. Learn how to tie a variety of knots for different purposes.
  19. Follow the rules of the water and respect other boats and their crews.
  20. Keep an eye out for other boats and obstacles in the water.
  21. Communicate clearly with your crew and other boats using proper techniques and vocabulary.
  22. Use a VHF radio to communicate with other boats and the coast guard.
  23. Pay attention to the wind direction and speed before you leave port.
  24. Check the wind direction and speed regularly to make necessary adjustments.
  25. Use a wind indicator to monitor the wind direction and speed.
  26. Learn how to read a compass and chart a course.
  27. Know the location of nearby marinas and safe harbors in case of emergency.
  28. Keep a lookout for buoys and markers to stay on course.
  29. Use a chartplotter, sailing app, or GPS to track your course and speed.
  30. Practice tacking and jibing techniques to improve your sailing skills.
  31. Keep your sails and lines organized and neatly stowed to avoid tangling.
  32. Practice heaving to in heavy weather to stabilize the boat.
  33. Trim the sails to maximize efficiency and speed.
  34. Learn how to use a spinnaker for downwind sailing.
  35. Practice sailing in different wind conditions to improve your skills.
  36. Learn how to reef your sails in heavy winds to reduce sail area.
  37. Always keep a lookout for changing weather conditions.
  38. Have a plan for emergencies and practice safety drills with your crew.
  39. Always keep a watchful eye on children and inexperienced sailors on board.
  40. Stay alert and focused while on the water to avoid accidents or mishaps.