Is Sailing Hard To Learn? (Personal Experience)

As a whole, sailing is not hard to learn. The basics of sailing are quite easy to grasp. A beginner sailing course usually consists of two days in total. You test at the end of your last day for your first certification. After that, you should know enough to captain a 22-foot sailboat.

I first learned how to sail in Idaho, but I was living in Spokane,WA at the time. I had my first lesson in a classroom far from the water. The instructor went over all of the basics of wind and sail control. It was very easy to understand. The terminology can be a little intimidating, but you will start to remember it when you put it to use.

One of the best ways to learn basic sailing is using a Hobie cat. A basic catamaran that will help you learn the basics of controlling a sail and tiller.

This is what I used my first time sailing. I used it on a very small lake. It was an amazing feeling cutting through the water. I never got that fast due to the wind, but it still felt surreal. These are also very easy to flip over if you capsized. They are made for fun! That is why you will usually see these for rent at beach resorts. This a great opportunity to try out sailing if you ever wanted to try.

Sailing is not hard at all and is a great experience. I think everyone should try it at least once. I have never met anyone who didn’t like it after trying it. They may prefer a powerboat, but that is usually just because they want to get somewhere in a hurry. Sailing is all about enjoying the journey.

Check out this video for a general overview of how to sail. I also recommend subscribing to his channel, he has great content.

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail?

There are multiple courses you can take to learn the skills of sailing. Each course is 2-3 days long and covers different skill sets. After completing the first course, you will have enough knowledge to sail a 20-foot to 27-foot vessel.

Getting the basics down of sailing will take no time at all. You can keep things simple and get out there on the water as soon as possible. If you want to become a master sailor then that will take years. Becoming a great sailor takes practice and experience. There is no set time on how long it will take you but every sailor out there is learning something new every day.

The different courses you can take from an ASA school are listed below.

  • ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing – This is for beginners and will teach you all the basics of sailing and cover 20′-27′ boats.
  • ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising – The next step up from 101 is a great course to improve your sailing skill. This course will certify you on a 25′-35′ boat. This course will also go into navigation and anchoring.
  • ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising – The size of the boat for this course is 30′-45′. This course is about multi-day travel.
  • ASA 105 Coastal Navigation – This course explores navigating your vessel. This is a key course for those multi-week trips.

The courses listed above are a great way to learn sailing. They will teach you the necessary skills to captain your boat. Some schools offer all of these courses as a live-aboard class. That means you will stay on the sailboat overnight during the course. The course is usually 5 to 7 days. It will cost more to do it all at once obviously. I recommend doing ASA 101 just to see how much you like it.

This article is all about sailing certifications. Check it our here!

Once you have your sailing license or want to try sailing on your own, check out this article on sailboat charters.

What Is The Hardest Part About Sailing?

The hardest part about sailing is building confidence. When you sail you need to be confident and make the right decisions at the right time. You may have to sail in a busy area with a lot of other boats and that can be intimidating to some people. Rely on your training to guide your decisions.

I have been sailing plenty of times and started to panic. The main thing to do is breathe and think. When you are sailing a lot of things can change and you need to be ready for that. I always had at least a minute to think of what to do before I was actually in trouble. It’s just the initial shock that gets your heart rate up. You will typically have plenty of time to correct the issue at hand.

The rest of the sailing is fun and not stressful at all. Some people think working for speed can be hard but it’s not. Pulling lines is something you get used to over time. Plus, eventually, you start using winches to tighten the lines. Your arms may get tired if you are racing sailboats, but if you are a leisure sailor like me minimal strength is fine.

My Overall Thoughts Of Sailing

I love sailing! There is no better feeling than being out on the water with the wind in your face and no loud engine sounds to ruin it. I have never regretted anything about sailing in my life. If you like adventure this is one of the best ones out there especially if you get out in the open ocean and do it. The hard part mentioned above does take time to master but it’s worth it. Once you are a confident sailor, getting out on the water is so easy and takes no time at all. It is a little scary your first time out alone, but your 50th time out will be a piece of cake.

If you still aren’t sure about starting to sail, just trust me, get out there, and take a lesson. You will love it!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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