8 Common Misconceptions about Sailing

By: Inside Sailing, Learn To Sail

While at a dinner party recently, I was surrounded by a group of people who wanted to know more about sailing. Apparently, my wife does a good job of sharing our sailing adventures on social media so most of her friends wanted in on the adventurous world of our sailing family.

What struck me as odd was how many misconceptions there were among this group.  When I arrived at the party, I was this high-seas adventurer with deep pockets and a risk-taking streak that had me battling sea dragons and bouts with scurvy.  Imagine their disappointment when they met the real me.

I did my best to dispel the myths about sailing and my extreme lifestyle. Sailing is a popular and enjoyable activity, but it can also be surrounded by various misconceptions. Here are some common misconceptions about sailing.

Sailing Is Exclusive, Elitist, and Expensive

Sailing has a reputation for being a hobby for the wealthy, but many sailors come from diverse economic backgrounds. While owning a large yacht or sailboat can be costly, sailing doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. There are smaller, more affordable sailboats available, and joining a sailing club or renting a sailboat for a day can be a budget-friendly way to enjoy the sport. Speaking of clubs, there’s a common misconception that “yacht clubs” are elitist and unwelcoming, but many sailing communities are welcoming and inclusive of people from all walks of life. You don’t need to be an experienced sailor or have a prestigious background to enjoy sailing. I would venture to say that most sailors are looking for more people to sail with them.

Sailing Is Complicated

This may be the most common misconception that I come across. Sailing does not have to be difficult. Go out with an experienced sailor, and you will learn how to sail quickly. Take ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing and you will learn how to sail confidently and safely in a few days of instruction.  While sailing can seem complex to beginners, it’s a skill that can be learned with proper training and practice. Basic sailing techniques can be relatively simple to grasp, and you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the sport.

Sailing Is Dangerous

Sailing can be safe if you follow proper safety procedures, wear appropriate gear, and stay informed about weather conditions. Like any outdoor activity, there are risks involved, but they can be mitigated with the right precautions and training. The American Sailing curriculum is rooted in safety, It is of the utmost important that sailors are educated on how to sail safely and responsibly.

Sailing Requires Extreme Physical Fitness

Sailing can be physically demanding, especially in competitive racing, but it doesn’t require extreme physical fitness for recreational sailing. People of various fitness levels can enjoy sailing, and there are roles on a sailboat for individuals with different physical abilities.

You Need to Live Near the Ocean to Sail

While coastal areas offer excellent sailing opportunities, many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs provide suitable conditions for sailing. You don’t necessarily need to live near the ocean to enjoy sailing. You can find American Sailing schools throughout the USA that are not bordered by an ocean.

Sailing Is Boring

Some people may mistakenly think that sailing involves sitting around and doing nothing. In reality, sailing can be an active and engaging experience, involving tasks like trimming sails, navigating, and responding to changing wind and weather conditions. However, I always make a point to let people that only have powerboating experience know that they may have an issue with the sailing lifestyle that is dominated by patience.

Sailing Is Only for Warm Weather

While many people associate sailing with sunny, warm climates, sailing can be enjoyed in a variety of weather conditions. Some sailors even enjoy the challenge of sailing in colder or more challenging climates. Many sailors on our docks are “Fair Weather” sailors but on the West Coast of the USA, that means we typically only sail when the weather is above 65 degrees. Spend time around a dock, and you’ll meet plenty of sailors who love the idea of a cold water spray on a cool winter morning.

Sailing Is a Solo Activity

Sailing can be a solo endeavor, but it’s also a social activity. Many people enjoy sailing with friends or as part of a crew, fostering camaraderie and teamwork on the water. When you sail with others, a synergy is formed, and you soon become fast friends who are always willing to spend an afternoon trimming sails and telling tales.

Long story short, I found a few new friends who wanted to learn to sail, and most of the people at the party realized I was not an extreme athlete. I sent them links to ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing, and I promised them I would teach them how to wrestle sea monsters. 


Learn To Sail

With these myths dispelled, if you find yourself excited to get started living the sailing life here are a few next steps! 

Find a School

Online Intro to Sailing

ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing

AD: SUNSAIL