Sailing Knots 101

The knots which sailors tie to manage their rigging can be beautiful and elaborate. But form follows function, and being able to tie the right kind of knot which doesn’t slip can make the difference between sailing safely and dealing with hassles or even an emergency out on the water.

As a beginner, maritime knots can be intimidating. But they are not as difficult to learn as you might think. Let’s start out by discussing the three main categories of knots. Then, we will go over some common types of sailing knots you should know, and some recommendations for how you can learn to tie them.

What Are the Three Main Categories of Knots?

Knots: This term generally applies to any sort of knot or loop that doesn’t fall into the two categories below.

Bends: If you need to attach one rope to another, you can tie a “bend” knot.

Hitches: Need to secure a rope to some other object? Use a hitch knot.

Common Sailing Knots

Bowline

This is probably the first sailing knot you will learn how to tie. It has the appearance of a noose. But as the load increases and pulls on it, it tightens instead of slips. You can use it to connect the head of the sail to the halyard. It also is a smart option for tying around the body of a person you are attempting to haul out of the water.

Clove hitch

You can use this type of knot to attach a fender whip to a toerail, lifeline or stanchion base. It is a convenient option because you can tie it easily in a hurry.

Figure eight

You can guess what this knot looks like just from its name. It is useful as a stopper knot for preventing slippage, and indeed is arguably the most powerful knot in this category. What is doubly awesome about it is that tying and untying it is a breeze.

Reef knot

This is another type of stopper knot, also sometimes called a square knot. You can use it to link together too lines, though you can also use it to knot together two ends of a single line. It is one of the most basic and versatile types of knots in existence, and you already probably know how to do it, since it is how you are supposed to tie your shoelaces. Note that a common error is not to reverse which end is over versus under between the first tie and the second. You need to reverse in order to prevent slippage.

Sheet knot

This type of knot is called a weaver’s knot sometimes. If you have a line which is not long enough, you can use a sheet knot to connect two lines together. You can do this as many times as is necessary with additional lines to get the full length you require.

Obviously, this is just a start to the types of knots that you need to learn to go sailing safely and conveniently. There are many other essential types of knots which you should learn.

How Can You Learn to Tie Nautical Knots?

When you look at a picture of a completed knot, it can be pretty difficult to figure out how it was done just by a visual examination. Thankfully, there are many online resources which make it fairly easy to learn how to tie knots.

One website which I can recommend is Animated Knots. This site shows you frame-for-frame how to tie different types of knots. You can speed up or slow down or pause as needed to study and catch up. You’ll find few better tools for learning at your own pace.

YouTube is also a great resource for learning how to tie knots. Watching videos not only gives you additional demonstrations, it also can provide you with helpful commentary.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of learning sailing knots is memorizing the steps. When you are in a hurry on the water, obviously you do not have time to consult a video (and may not have any ability to do so anyway).

For common types of knots, there are memorization tricks. Take the bowline, for example. Now, imagine that the working end is a rabbit. The rabbit hops out of a “hole” in the standing end, then runs around a “tree” in the standing end, and then returns to the hole. Once you grasp the metaphor and how it translates into the tie, it should be harder to forget the steps.

Enjoy Tying Safe and Snug Knots

Once you have learned how to tie sailing knots and apply them properly to different applications, you will be much safer on the water. You may also discover along the way that tying knots can be a lot of fun.

What you learn may also come in handy with other activities—everything from fishing to crafting to search and rescue. Indeed, tying beautiful and functional knots may turn into a second hobby.

Emergency Preparedness for Sailors: Learn the Basics to Stay Safe

With proper planning, hopefully you can avoid encountering an emergency situation when you’re sailing. But even with the best planning, the unlikely can still occur.

A storm can form seemingly out of calm, still air, or somebody could become sick or injured on the water. If so, how can you handle these emergencies as they unfold? Following are some emergency preparedness tips for sailors.

1. Use jacklines.

If there is any concern about falling overboard, you should secure yourself to your vessel. To do this, run a jackline down the length of your boat, and tether yourself to it using a safety harness. This will give you freedom of movement across the entire deck, but also prevent you from falling into the sea and becoming separated from your vessel.

It should go without saying, but you also should be wearing a personal flotation device. No amount of precautions can guarantee that you won’t fall out of the boat, even if you are tethered.

2. Handle man-overboard situations efficiently.

What if a crew member does wind up in the water? Hopefully, by the time you find yourself in such a situation, you will have practice with the relevant maneuvers and steps to get your crewmember back on board.

The first thing you should do is throw a life ring or anything else that floats as close as possible to your overboard crewmember.

Next, get eyes on the overboard person, and make sure that somebody is watching them continuously to make sure that they don’t get lost. Also, mark the location on your GPS which you can keep in the best drawer safe in the cabin.

Then, loosen your sheets, turn on your engine, and execute an appropriate maneuver for the scenario, for example, the Beam Reach-Gybe Method.

3. Be ready to deal with hypothermia.

When you recover somebody from the water, there is a chance that they will have developed hypothermia. Uncontrolled shivering is one sign of this, and another is slurred speech. Also look for slow breathing and a weak pulse. Sleepiness followed by unconsciousness are possible as the condition progresses.

If a crewmember or passenger does develop hypothermia, you should get them warm and dry as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, you should not expose them to heat in excess of 40 to 45ºC. Alcohol is a bad idea, but non-alcoholic warm beverages may be useful.

One common mistake made by those who do not know how to treat hypothermia is to rub cold hands and feet in an attempt to warm them up. While this may seem intuitive, it actually can cause the problem to migrate into the person’s core.

4. Rapidly patch leaks.

If a vessel is poorly maintained—or if you run aground—it is possible that your hull will spring a leak. Should that happen, it is imperative to patch it as quickly as possible.

What can you use to accomplish that? In a pinch, the answer should be, “just about anything.” But preferably, you should use materials which you stowed onboard for the express purpose of plugging leaks. Plywood patches and softwood plugs are examples. But if you lack these materials, you can use anything from a cushion to a bunch of potatoes to slow a leak.

If you sprung a leak, there will be water inside your boat. You should bail it out as quickly as you can after dealing with the hole (or at the same time, if you have enough people onboard to do that).

5. Put out fires fast.

Naturally, fire can destroy your vessel as quickly as a breach in your hull. If fire breaks out, use extinguishers, and put on a personal flotation device. Everyone else onboard should do the same.

6. What to do in the event of harsh weather.

If you notice signs of a storm impending, make for land as rapidly as possible if you think you can make it. If you have any concerns about weathering it safely, contact someone who can help you. Ideally, you should get to a dock or mooring, but if it is not possible, you will need to lower your sails and anchor instead in the most sheltered position you can find.

What if you don’t think you can safely find shelter? In that case, it may actually be a safer option to head for open water and ride it out. This won’t be pleasant, but with proper training and procedures, hopefully you can get through it.

Don’t Try to Take On More Than What You Can Handle

The safety tips above should give you a starting point for dealing with emergencies when you’re sailing. But this guide just scratches the surface of this topic, as there are many more situations you need to be prepared for and detailed recommendations for each.

So, make sure that you have trained and rehearsed emergency procedures for a wide range of possible scenarios, that your vessel is well-maintained, and that you have all the supplies you need before you head out. If in doubt, avoid sailing on days or in locations which might still be beyond your skill level.

6 Best Places to Sail in the World

One of the most exciting things about sailing as a hobby is that it can take you to destinations around the globe. Each can offer you unique experiences on the water and at port. Looking for ideas for where to sail next? Here are some of the top places to sail around the world.

1. Croatia

Consider planning a trip to Croatia to sail on the Adriatic Sea. Think about heading there in October, which is at the tail end of the season. By that point in time, the crowds have largely dispersed, but the weather is still conducive to sailing. Temperatures are mild, and while you might get a little rain, it probably won’t be a lot.

While sailing in Croatia, you can island-hop from one Mediterranean gem to another, exploring beautiful beaches and foliage and visiting charming villages. At this time of year, you may even have some spots largely to yourself.

What are some stops to add to your bucket list? If you are a foodie, drop by Vis Town on Vis. For seclusion, think about visiting Krknjaši Blue Lagoon near Split, or the Pakleni Islands. If you like churches and monasteries, visit Hvar Town.

2. Thailand

Thailand boasts many remarkable destinations for sailing such as Kol Phayam, the Surin Islands, and the world-famous Phang Nga Bay. If you enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling, you can sail out to some impressive reefs. If dancing and drinking is more your thing, you’ll find plenty of clubs, bars and beach parties when you dock.

Also, Thailand is a good choice if you want to save money. If you are visiting from the West, your currency probably will go further in Thailand than a lot of other destinations where you might sail.

3. Greece

While Croatia has become a popular Mediterranean sailing destination over recent years, Greece remains the top Mediterranean destination for island-hopping.

What are some of the best places to drop anchor on a sailing expedition to Greece? For nightlife, consider Sifnos. For pristine beaches, stop by Serifos. You also may want to sail to Tzia and venture into Khora if you fancy beautiful architecture, and want to experience what it is like to explore a town where you can find commercial faucets similar to https://www.faucetguys.com/best-commercial-style-kitchen-faucets/ installed at home and motor vehicles are prohibited. Finally, the iconic white buildings and blue roofs of Santorini are not to be missed.

4. The Whitsunday Islands in Australia

Love to scuba dive and snorkel? Then you will want to plan a sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands in Australia. Between the 74 islands which make up this chain and the Great Barrier Reef, you will find plenty to see and do above and below the water.

5. Bay of Islands in New Zealand

In the same part of the world, you can also consider a sailing trip to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Here you will find 150 islands to explore. Be on the lookout for dolphins splashing through the waves, and venture to unspoiled beaches where you can relax in seclusion.

6. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

If you are interested in history and ecology, the Galapagos Islands are a must-see destination. The bright blue waters form a warm contrast against the rather stark gray islands.

But it is the wildlife which most people come to see first and foremost. Whatever time of year you visit, you should be able to see quite a few amazing animals up close and personal. Indeed, the Galapagos are remote enough that many of the animals there still are not shy of humans.

Many different species of birds come and go from the islands throughout the year. Sea creatures such as sea lions, sharks, dolphins and seals frolic in the waters. But the most iconic residents of the Galapagos islands are doubtless its tortoises, which are known for their tremendous size. A single tortoise can weigh as much as 919 pounds! It also can live for significantly more than a century.

Now you have a few ideas for prime destinations for sailing around the world. Any one of these can make for the perfect vacation. But there are dozens more to discover, so keep researching. A lifetime of adventures awaits you.

6 Best Places to Sail in the US

Whether you are planning a sailing trip or you are thinking about relocating, you may be wondering where some of the best sailing opportunities are in the US. Let’s check out some prime destinations, some of them well-known, others hidden gems.

1. Newport, Rhode Island

We’ll start with one of the best-known destinations for sailing in the US. In fact, Newport’s nicknames include “The City by the Sea” and “The Sailing Capital of the World.” Located on the Narragansett Bay, it is about 33 miles away from Providence.

In Newport, you will find multiple sailing clubs, among them the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club. The America’s Cup Races ran here for decades, and the Newport Bermuda Race still does. Moreover, it is presently the home of the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

2. Annapolis, MD

That brings us to another iconic sailing destination in the US, Annapolis. This city is located where the Severn River empties out into the Chesapeake Bay. Close to Baltimore and Washington DC alike, it gives you access to a bustling metropolitan region as well as the coastal waters.

Annapolis was the previous home of the National Sailing Hall of Fame. The reason it is such a destination for sailors is because the Chesapeake Bay offers a wide range of conditions which suit different skill levels and preferences. So whether you are a beginning, intermediate or advanced sailor, Annapolis is worth a visit.

Also, if you are interested in taking in a boat show, Annapolis is the place to be, as it hosts the US Sailboat Show, the US Powerboat Show and the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show.

3. Maui, HI

Another popular destination to add to your bucket list is Maui. This is the place to go if you want to challenge yourself to learn how to handle more than two dozen distinct different types of wind. It also can offer you a balmy sailing getaway when it gets too cold to get out on the water in New England.

4. Grand Haven, MI

If you want a freshwater sailing experience, consider Grand Haven, MI, which gives you access to beautiful Lake Michigan. May-October is considered the ideal time of year to head out on the lake.

What may also be of interest to you in Grand Haven is discovering Coast Guard History dating back to 1924. You can take part in the yearly Coast Guard Festival, and you also can visit a replica of the Coast Guard cutter Escanaba.

5. Wayzata, MN

Getting off the beaten track a bit, another location to consider for sailing in the US is the city of Wayzata, which you’ll find about 9 miles from Minneapolis. As you might expect, a lot of people live here and commute to work in Minneapolis or elsewhere in the surrounding metropolitan region.

Wayzata is right on the edge of Lake Minnetonka. As many of the locals are pulling in big salaries from the city, they are able to afford to sail. But during the summer, many sailors travel to Wayzata from around the country. Racing is a big deal here, so if you want to test your skill against others, this is a great place to see what you’re made of.

Just be aware that during the winter, the water freezes over, making sailing impossible. So, it is a seasonal delight. But over the winter season, you can dive into a new, related challenge—ice boating!

6. Somers, MT

Another northern state which offers some surprising sailing opportunities is Montana. To be specific, you will want to visit the small unincorporated community of Somers, which has a population of just over 1,100 people. That is actually considerable growth since 2000, when the population was under 600.

Somers is located right by Flathead Lake, offering you an amazing sailing destination which is remote, scenic, expansive and breathtaking. There is no other larger natural freshwater lake anywhere in the contiguous US west of the Missouri River’s source.

Along with the grandeur of the scenery, another feature of Flathead Lake which makes it appealing for sailors is the predictability of its winds. This can make it a good environment in which to learn if you are a novice or intermediate sailor.

Now you know some of the top destinations for sailing throughout the US, including both saltwater and freshwater experiences. Whether you hit a popular destination like Annapolis or somewhere more remote like Somers, you can have an amazing time harnessing the winds and exploring US waters.

10 Simple Ways to Get Into Sailing

If you want to get into sailing, you may wonder where and how to start, and whether it is even possible for you if you are on a budget.

While the world of sailing may appear daunting to you as a newcomer, it is actually easier and more affordable than you might think to start sailing.

Below, you can read 10 different options for learning how to sail, many of which are low in cost or even free.

1. Start by learning what you can online.

Before you ever go out on the water, you should pick up as much knowledge as you can about sailing.

This has never been easier to do from the comfort of your home than it is now. There are numerous resources available to you online, including articles and videos which teach you about sailing.

2. Consider learning on a dinghy first.

In general, rather than learning how to sail on a large sailboat, you should think about learning what you can on a dinghy.

Not only is this a more affordable option in many cases, but it is arguably a superior way to learn.

It is pretty easy to tip over a dinghy. Despite this fact, it is easier to recover from capsizing a dinghy than capsizing a full-size sailboat.

Not only that, but because dinghies are easy to capsize, you will probably build faster and better reflexes practicing on one.

3. Offer to help crew boats for races.

Another cheap, easy trick for getting into sailing is to head to the docks on a race night at a local yacht club and stand in the crew pool.

The crew pool exists in case extra crewmembers are needed onboard the boats. By showing up in standing in the crew pool, you are stating that you are available to help out.

You might think that you would need to be an experienced sailor to do this, but that is far from the truth.

In fact, newbies frequently join crew pools, and skippers expect to find them there.

In fact, many skippers are in the habit of deliberately picking novices to ride with them. If you are enthusiastic, eager to learn, and ready to help out in whatever ways possible, there’s a good chance that somebody will bring you onboard.

4. Attend a meet-up.

Check online to see if there are any sailing meet-up groups in your region. If there are, you may be able to attend by paying a donation. This is a good way to meet others who are more experienced sailing and have more resources. Someone may be able to point you in the right direction or even take you out of the water.

5. Go to a boat show.

Sometimes the American Sailing Association (ASA) offers on-water clinics at boat shows. There is a great opportunity to learn from a certified instructor.

6. Join a co-op.

One of the most affordable ways to gain ongoing access to one or more vessels is to purchase membership in a sailing co-op.

In some cases, your cost could be as low as around $30 a month. Through the co-op, you may also find people willing to help you learn.

7. Volunteer at a yacht club.

Along with joining crew pools for races, you may find some other volunteering opportunities at a yacht club. Volunteering can help you get experience, and you may also get a discount on membership if you decide to join.

8. Rent a boat peer-to-peer.

There are now opportunities to rent a boat from another individual if you wish. You may find that this is cheaper than renting a boat from a marina in some cases. It also may open up a lot more options in terms of the type of boat you sail.

9. Take classes.

The cost for attending sailing classes can range significantly. But classes are well worth checking into, and may be more affordable than you are picturing. After a few weeks or months of training, you may be ready to start setting out on your own.

10. Join a migration expedition.

Sometimes, groups of boat owners that all need to make an expedition across open water will do so together as a flotilla for reasons of safety and support. There are times when these flotillas need extra crewmembers, and may be willing to take a beginner onboard.

There Are Many Ways to Get Into Sailing

You can see that there are quite a few different options for learning how to sail and getting access to a boat.

You do not need to be wealthy to get into sailing. Even if you have few or no funds available, options like volunteering or joining crew pools can help you learn the ropes and start building the expertise to sail with confidence.