Nothing quite beats the sense of freedom that accompanies a life at sea. Whether you’re keen to take up sailing or you’re already an established yachtsman, the cool, blue ocean will always place life’s stresses and strains into perspective.
Naturally, however, sailing is not a simple pastime that can be picked up easily. You’ll need a vast array of information and resources to negotiate the water safely and efficiently. This guide collates all you could possible hope to know and make use before embarking upon a nautical adventure.
First thing’s first. If you have an interest in sailing, you need to familiarize yourself with some of the biggest names in the industry. These are among the world’s leading sailing associations.
- The US Sailing Association is America’s governing body on all things relating to the sport. You’ll find a list of regional offshoots on the official website.
- The American Sailing Association has a slightly different name, but offers just as invaluable a service in terms of information and accreditation.
- For a more global flavor, be sure to investigate the World Sailing Association.
- The Seven Seas Cruising Association is an international community of enthusiasts from every corner of the world.
- The United States Naval Sailing Association and Foundation is dedicated to military veterans that have retained their sea legs after serving our country.
Familiarizing yourself with these associations, their work and their teams will stand you in great stead for a life at sea. Be sure to engage as much as you can.
The History of Sailing
Traversing the ocean has been a critical element of American history since 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. If you’d like to learn more about maritime history in the United States, there is a plethora of information available.
- 1492: An Ongoing Voyage is a tireless history of the aforementioned discovery of America.
- The Institute of Maritime History is a non-profit based in Maryland that preserves countless findings from the past.
- The Transportation Institute offers a detailed history lesson on maritime trading in the US.
- The Nautical Archeological Society work tirelessly to unearth new treasures from America’s seafaring past.
- For a little fun, why not learn about our nation’s history with piracy? Legends of America profiles these seafaring scoundrels.
Of course, you may also wish to visit museums – either online or off – and see some of this history for yourself. Examples of these opportunities include:
- The Mystic Seaport Museum
- Maritime Museum of San Diego
- The Independence Seaport Museum
- The Herreshoff Marine Museum
- The Maine Maritime Museum
- The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
- The Hudson River Maritime Museum
- The Mariners Museum and Park
- The Wisconsin Maritime Museum
Sailing has a rich and varied history in the USA. Brush up on the past, and you’ll be ready to create your story at sea.
If you have a passion for sailing, a formal education could be ideal. This will place you pole position to work within the industry in the future, and potentially open up new horizons. Investigate these colleges for diplomas in the technical side of sailing.
- Florida Atlantic Association
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- The University of Michigan
- State University of New York
- The Webb Institute
- The Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology
- Yacht Design School, meanwhile, offers a remote learning course completed from home.
There is nothing to say that you must be educated to degree level to enjoy sailing. In fact, the vast majority of hobbyists have never attended such a course. If you have a passion for the ocean, however, it could be a dream educational path.
Learning to Sail
Academia is admirable, but there is no substitute for tasting the salt of the sea and feeling the rush of wind in your hair. There are numerous training programs for learning to sail throughout the country.
- The American Sailing Association provides a convenient list of sailing schools across the nation.
- NauticEd profiles some of the most respected and regarded sailing instructors in the country. Is one based in your location?
- The Offshore Sailing School is a great establishment – and they even offer basic tips before you start any lessons.
Once you’re appropriately trained, there is no holding you back – you’re ready to begin a new life of freedom on the ocean!
Safety at Sea
There are numerous non-negotiables when it comes to health and safety on a boat. It is critical that you are aware of these, and familiar with any updates and amendments to legislature.
- The Boat US Foundation summarizes the key safety components of a life at sea.
- The National Safety Council is the nation’s leading charity on all matters pertaining to health and safety. They have a dedicated page to maritime protection.
- The Sea Tow Foundation are dedicated to educating and informing sailors about safety while at sea.
- Safety at Sea is a UK-based monthly magazine that offers universal advice on protecting yourself and others while sailing.
Safety isn’t a nice to have when at sea – it could literally be a lifesaver. Ensure that you know how to keep yourself, and other ocean occupants, free from harm.
Learning the basics of safety is important, but there is still more to consider. If you plan to sail, you must be vigilant about monitoring weather and sea conditions. Numerous online resources permit you to do this with constantly updated records.
- The National Weather Service is a must-bookmark for up-to-the-minute updates on conditions throughout the USA.
- Weather Underground monitors the ever-changing landscape of the weather and the ocean, ensuring that you’ll receive no nasty surprises.
- Oceanweather Inc. is a specialist body, dedicated to monitoring water conditions throughout the world.
- Passageweather is another service dedicated to profiling sailing conditions through the USA and beyond.
- Sailflow is a further invaluable resource, with graphic images that depict live conditions throughout the world.
Never assume that conditions are optimum for sailing. Monitor as many different sources as you can. By keeping conditions in mind, you’ll enjoy your time on a water considerably more.
Sailing Forums and Support Groups
Sailing can be a solitary experience to be alone with your thoughts, or it can be the ultimate party. If you’re looking for crewmates, are seeking to trade equipment or simply want to chew the fat with like-minded ocean enthusiasts, check out these groups.
- Sail World is part of the Yachts and Yachting network, and offers arguably the biggest and busiest online sailing forum.
- The Ocean Cruising Club Forum is slightly less busy, but can still provide an invaluable resource of information and connections.
- The World Cruising Club, as the name suggests, is a truly international goldmine of users and data.
It’s always advisable to stay up to date with the latest developments in the world of sailing. Things change quickly. By forging relationships, you’ll never be short of information of advice.
Think you have what it takes to compete against professional sailors in races and events? Check out this list of water-based annual activities. You’re sure to find something in your area that captures your imagination.
- The US Sailing Association hosts a wide array of events throughout the year, for all age groups and experience levels.
- Yachts and Yachting offers a directory of events dotted throughout the nation. If time is of the essence, Windy limits their listing to the ten most significant.
- If you’re prepared to look overseas, the World Sailing Association lists out events from all over the world.
Naturally, competitive sailing is only for experience seafarers. If you feel that you’re made of the right stuff, however, why not give it a go?
Working at Sea
If you find a job that you love, you’ll never need to work a day in your life. If you have a passion for sailing, you may want to consider a water-centric career path. There are a handful of options open to you.
- YA Crew is a portal dedicated to connecting sailing enthusiasts with appropriate employment throughout the world.
- Crewseekers casts the next even further, providing astonishing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to work at water.
- Think back to your summer camp days. If they were the best months of your life, check out USA Summer Camp for sailing-based career opportunities. Camp Leaders provides a similar service.
- Luxury Yacht Group is always looking to place candidates on sailboats – and best of all, no experience is necessary.
Competition will fierce for these roles. If you have the appropriate qualifications, skills and passion, though, you’ll regret passing up the opportunity to turn your pastime into our paycheck.
Summary of Useful Links
A vast array of links have been mentioned in this guide. Here, you’ll find a summary of the most important resources we have pointed you toward.
- The American Sailing Association – asa.com
- Boat US Foundation – boatus.org
- Camp Leaders – campleaders.com
- Crewseekers – crewseekers.net
- Institute of Maritime History – maritimehistory.org
- Luxury Yacht Group – luxyachts.com
- National Weather Service – weather.gov
- Nautical Archeological Society – nauticalarchaeologysociety.org
- NauticEd – nauticed.org
- Oceanweather, Inc. – oceanweather.com
- Offshore Sailing School – offshoresailing.com
- Passageweather – passageweather.com
- Safety at Sea – safetyatsea.net
- Sail World – sail-world.com
- Sailflow – sailflow.com
- Sea Tow Foundation – boatingsafety.com
- Seven Seas Cruising Association – ssca.org
- United States Sailing Association and Foundation – navysailing.org
- The US Sailing Association – ussailing.org
- USA Summer Camp – usasummercamp.com
- Weather Underground – wunderground.com
- Windy – windy.app
- World Sailing Association – sailing.org
- YA Crew – yacrew.com
- Yachts and Yachting – yachtsandyachting.com