How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail A Boat – Windrider of The Rockies

How to learn to sail can take a shorter time than people think. Anyone can learn the fundamental skills for sailing a 13.75-foot Laser sailboat in just one week of an intensive sailing course. Some can learn fast as well. 

However, even people who do not have that talent or have not been around the boat can still learn well. How long does it take to learn to sail? They can understand the essential skills to sail a vessel in just one or two weeks.

Differences between small and large sailboats

A large boat with a 14-to-35-foot length uses similar scientific laws as a small boat. Then, a dinghy sailor will study to sail a larger boat more quickly than someone who does not have sailing experience. 

Yet, there are some main differences between small and large boats. It leads to a steeper learning course for anyone who wants to sail a larger boat.

Even if you learn to sail large dinghies like Hobie Cat boats or fixed-keel monohulls featuring outboard motors like Beneteau Oceanis 34 boats.

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail A Boat

Learning to sail a boat

Complicated parts

These large boats have a wide range of moving parts. In other words, you need to pay attention to more things.

You may find this feature trivial. However, it is not. It will take more effort to learn. You will have to know the differences between:

  • Fixed keel vs. Swing keel 
  • Tiller vs. Steering wheel 
  • Jib vs. Genoa 
  • Topping lift vs. Shroud

Crew onboard 

Although you can sail any boat by yourself, it is more popular to contain crews on a large sailboat. To put it another way, you are a captain. Then, you take responsibility for both ensuring crews’ safety and giving them orders. 

Far from learning to sail the dinghy, you will not have the chance of making a silly mistake.

Sailboat movements

A big boat is heavy, goes fast, and has more momentum. It is necessary to forecast the weather along with the movements of each person on board in advance. Thanks to that, you can give instant and suitable responses for every situation.

Then, the question is how long does it take to learn to sail a larger boat? How long does it take to feel enjoyable driving your own sailboat as a captain? Even if you are single-handedly or with some friends and refreshing beverages along the route? 

The brief answer is that it can range from one week to one season of learning to sail. The detailed answer will depend on some variables: sailing experiences, sailing locations, exit & re-entry difficulties, and different learning styles.

Sailing Experience

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail A Boat

Sailing Experience

If you have known how to cruise a dinghy in the past, it will take a shorter time to learn to sail a larger boat. Even though it was many years ago when you were just a little kid. You were traveling in a small Optimist dinghy on the water. 

Though it may seem threatening at first, you will find it much easier when you identify the same scientific laws. Therefore, you will have the ability to recognize the wind directions.

You can also identify their impacts on the sailboat and what will occur to the sailboat if turning to the port side or starboard side. 

If you do not have any sailing experience, you can spend one or two weeks. It will consist of both theory and practice which help you get familiar with the physics of sailing. 

The first and foremost thing is that you will know how to turn the boat. Specifically, you can predict whether you turn in one direction that will cause the sailboat to tack or jib. 

Tacking is a result of changing the side of the sail. It uses force to adjust the sail from one side to the other. Jibing is a more powerful change of side.

It is a more high-tech maneuver and has more potential risks. Then, almost all starters align with tacking when they want to turn the side of boats. 

The most important thing is to obtain an excellent instinctive feeling for the relationship between the wind, the sail, and the sailboat.

Sailing Locations

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail A Boat

Geography to learn sailing

Some destinations are easy for sailing, some are drastically hard. The weather condition, the wind pattern, the tide, and the current all impact the time of learning. Sailing clubs often celebrate a sailing event in a bay or somewhere the water is calmer. 

Location will make it easier or harder to learn how to sail. For example, you reside in a city featured with dangerous tidal currents and traffic jams as the San Francisco Bay.

It is necessary to set your time for every arrival and departure detailedly. You will know where the boat should not go if it cannot handle the water current. 

You will also have to pay more attention to comprehending right-of-way principles. You even need to know how to keep your sailboat away from other sailboats as well as container vessels. 

In another case, you need to learn to sail on a small lake in the land or something like that. These water areas often feature a stable wind that always emerges from a single direction.

The biggest problem may be having to come back if the wind may stop. You can feel a bit more comfortable if you do not know everything before heading out. 

If the sailing location is complex, you will need to spend more weeks or even months learning to sail. 

You can use less time if you can learn from other sailors who have had experiences with the local environment before you set off.

Maybe it is friendly sailing geography and you are content with only getting out there. Then, you can possibly start your voyage with little knowledge.

Exit & Re-entry Difficulties

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail A Boat

Exit & Re-entry Difficulties

Many people say there is no greater recreation than you sit in a marina bar and watch the boat come in and go out. The reason is that you will not know whether a person is going to do something silly. 

Specifically, marina watching is interesting and there are a lot of “oops” events. But not as many sailboats bump into each other as you normally think. Simply plenty of close calls. 

However, the construction of harbors, marinas, mooring fields, beaches, or ramps where you will land or tie your sailboat is essential. The most difficult moment of one sailing day is typically to get in or get out. 

If you own a Hobie Cat and you want to land it on a beach featuring breaking waves, you will have to spend a lot of time learning how to carry it out correctly. 

If you own a keelboat that does not have an electric motor and it is essential to move it onto one slip in a marina, it will be quite hard. You will have to spend one or two weeks of hard-working practice to begin becoming relaxed with it. 

The crucial factor to remember here is exit or re-entry. If the marina is complex or you have not had so many sail experiences, you will need to put more effort and time to get confident in your sailboat controlling.

Different Learning Styles

An individual’s learning style is one of the biggest factors in learning to sail. 

If you like to read, it may take some weeks of reading books about sailboats before beginning. 

You are possibly a social learner. You are keen on observing other sailors. In this situation, you will find a method of learning as you spend time on other sailors’ boats. It can take a while (which depends on how you can apply knowledge on other sailors’ boats). 

If you want to practice for better learning, you can make the best deal of a sailboat today. You can discover its features as well as functions gradually. You can still make some errors along the route, but so do most people. 

Possibly you would like an instructor to give appropriate knowledge, or crave to learn as fast as possible. If so, you should take a course with one of the reliable sailboat organizations that will speed up your process. 

The American Sailing Association or the Royal Yachting Association both offer wonderful courses. They will result in every skipper certification accepted by any charter company across the world.

Learning to sail will not take so much time if your purpose is to just go out there and have an interesting journey. It would be great fun when you have a challenge in life.

Learning to sail then you could win the race, survive harsh weather conditions, and travel around the world. Yet it will take a bit more time. 

An experienced sailor will keep telling you that they are constantly learning. There is always more to learn about sailboats, navigation, the water, and the weather conditions. 

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You will just spend one or two weeks learning how to sail a boat. However, some variables can affect your process of learning including sailing experiences, sailing locations, exit & re-entry difficulties, and different learning styles! Windrider of The Rockies.

Reference: Learn to sail

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