If you want to learn sailing, with an ultimate plan of going coastal sailing, but you don’t know where to begin, this will get you there. The Coastal Sailing Discovery Learning Guide provides a learning plan to take you systematically from a beginner to a confident coastal cruiser. It encompasses all aspects of cruising on your own yacht, from getting to know your boat, sailing, managing weather and tides, passage planning and the practicalities of living on a boat such as managing power, water and supplies. Through questions and activities you learn by discovery and consolidate your skills through practice. This is the most effective way to learn and retain knowledge.
As a bonus, the guide also contains examples of checklists, that you can use as a starting point for your own lists.
The guide is available in A5 pdf format so you can use a stylus pen (or Apple pencil) to tick off activities on your electronic tablet (or iPad).
Will you know everything there is to know about coastal sailing when you’re finished? No way. As long as you’re out on the water you’ll continue to learn. But this will give you a head start, a targeted, fast way to learn. You can leave home with a modicum of confidence rather than naïve bravado.
Now stop dreaming and start doing!
How the guide was created
I knew almost nothing about sailing when I began
I was in my late fifties before I began to learn sailing, though I’d often wished for the opportunity earlier. So when my partner bought a small yacht, I madly began learning as much as possible. He’d owned boats before but hadn’t sailed for 20 years or more, while I was almost totally green when it came to boats, so I needed to learn in a hurry.
As a technical writer, I’d created training and assessment materials across a range of industries. So, with a professional background in learning, I naturally “watched myself” learn and had a pretty good idea of how to work out what I needed to know. I also knew the best way to do it: talk to people who know what they’re doing, watch them, copy them and practice. Then ask for feedback and make sure I had it right.
How we learned coastal sailing
We learned as much as possible, had a few training sessions, spent some weekends on the boat in Broken Bay and did a trip in company to Port Stephens. We set a departure date and finished up work, planning to be away for 5 months. After leaving the marina in Pittwater right on the date, we spent a few days locally to familiarise ourselves with new equipment. Amid much excitement and some trepidation we sailed out of Broken Bay and turned left on our lovely Hanse 385. Taking our time, we did hops up the coast as weather permitted.
We did it!
The first season we made it to just north of the Whitsundays, then brought the boat back to Mooloolaba where we left her for the winter. The following season we travelled north to Cairns, thence back to Pittwater. It was in our second season that I began to create the Learning Guide, using skills I had learned over many years of creating training materials. It is the guide I wished I’d had before I started.
After two seasons of sailing in NSW and Queensland, I’m only scratching the surface of what there is to know about boats, the sea and sailing. But at least I’m very aware of how much there is to learn. And I did manage to get through two seasons safely, with no major dramas.
You don’t have to learn sailing the hard way
My hope is that this guide will help others starting out on a sailing journey to realise their dreams. Give yourself a running start by following the Coastal Sailing Learning Guide. Or read about the day to day life cruising north on a small yacht. My story North on Rocinante about our first season, sailing from Broken Bay to just north of the Whitsundays, is available on my website. And, just published, my book Second Season, where you can continue learning about the journey through to Cairns.