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Why not learn to sail – Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

To get the most out of a sailing trip and feel involved in the experience you should, quite literally, learn the ropes. Novices should begin at the Royal Yachting Association or if you are in the US, the American Sailing Association, both have numerous schools countrywide. Taking both the RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper courses will take about five days to complete. Sailing in the UK offers a good grounding with its tough weather and tides. However, if you want your first experiences to be positive rather than rough try the Caribbean which has some safe and reputable sailing schools.

To actually take the helm and skipper a boat, though not a legal requirement, it’s worth gaining the RYA Yachtmaster certificate. It’s a big commitment though before you can take the exam you must have completed at least 96 uninterrupted hours at sea, traversed 200 miles and helped select the route as a skipper or mate of watch.

Fortunately, you don’t need a yacht of your own to sail the world, you can jump aboard someone else’s. You may be able to secure a free berth on a sailing boat in exchange for labour. You’ll be at an advantage if you have some sailing experience or qualification. If you can cook or clean, you could get an entry-level position as a deckhand, steward or chef. Good places to find a free ride include most of the Caribbean ports, the Azores and Southampton in the UK. The Crewseekers web site is a good place to start and also yachting magazines or local sailing clubs.

Sailing expeditions vary greatly, depending on whether you’re planning to cross the English Channel, traverse an ocean or sail around the globe. You’ll spend a good proportion of time prepping the boat and checking those vital weather charts. All expeditions require a lot of planning, once you have sailed it’s too late to think about missing items.

The final question is where do you want to sail? You should consider the time of year and likely winds, currents and storms. Many owners either leave the northern hemisphere in the early winter to go further south or lay up their boats. Likewise with the Caribbean hurricane season when many will move out of the area. While the Med is a good all year location.

It not simple to start sailing and requires some effort to achieve a good level of competence but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

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