Nothing can quite compare with the feeling you get when you launch your boat on course, set the sails, and after switching off the engine, you feel the boat running in harmony with the sea and the surrounding nature.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of a sailing holiday is that it will be both our home and our means of transport for a few weeks.
You don't have to be an experienced sailor to enjoy sailing; you have to let yourself be carried along and have a minimum of awareness of what is happening onboard.
As soon as you start sailing, the environment with which you were first familiar takes on a whole new aspect.
First timer onboard?
Let's see what happens:
Sailing with the wind
A sailing boat moves with the action of the wind. One aspect that initially leaves everyone delighted and perplexed at the same time is the fact that as soon as the wind hits the surface of the sails, the boat gently leans to one side.
It is completely normal: sailboats are designed to sail this way, and the more you head into the wind, the more pronounced the lean of the boat will be when sailing with the wind at your back.
Even if the boat seems to be leaning a fair bit, you've got nothing to fear: under the waterline, in the lowest part of the hull called the keel, a heavy ballast counterbalance the pressure of the wind on the sails. The more the boat tilts, the greater the righting effect that the ballast exerts.
We call this tilting effect heeling. Not convinced yet? Browse our catamarans >>
We will identify as upwind all the boat portions hit first by the wind and as downwind those being hit later. This classification can also be used for the position of objects around our boat or other boats.
High low upwind downwind
When sailing upwind, the boat will have a high and a low.
The downwind side is the one at the bottom near the water; this is the most adrenalin-pumping side, the water is running fast near us, within reach!
The upwind side is the one at the top, a few metres above the water's surface, definitely the most scenic and the safest. Where you need to be.
Boats, especially the modern, domestic and comfortable ones, are wide, when the boat is tilted. This width translates into height, so we pay attention when we move below the deck, making sure not to leave too many objects free to move.
Interior of a majestic Beneteau Oceanis 51.1, spacious and extremely domestic, but when the boat is heeled all this width becomes height!
That said. How can you navigate safely?
1 Always hold on to something
When moving around in navigation, both above and below deck, it is best to always hold on to a solid handhold using two hands always to attach at least one hand. If you are doing some work or holding something, always hold on firmly with the other, as they say: one hand for yourself and one for the boat.
2 Consider how and when to move
Before moving, ask yourself (or ask the skipper) if it is appropriate and identify beforehand which route to take and where to attach:
shrouds, dredges, lifelines
Of course, you have to walk on the windward side of the boat!
3 Always pay attention to your skipper's instructions
When in doubt, let the skipper guide you as you take your first steps in this new and unique environment. It takes very little care, but it's essential - trust us, that's what he's there for!
On your feet
The boat's surface is damp, uneven and characterised by numerous protrusions of the deck equipment, which you are not used to, especially at the beginning. Suitable footwear with a good grip will protect your feet and allow you to move with the ease and safety you are used to on land.
Modern boat shoes look like coloured trainers (Decathlon)
Things to look out for, while sailing
1 Ropes on land
Often, ropes can accumulate on the bottom of the cockpit, either connected with manoeuvring the sails or mooring the boat. We try not to step on them, first of all, to avoid damaging them, but above all, because they could get stretched and entangle our feet. As a truly conscious member of the crew, the best thing to do would be to stop and tidy them up.
2 Anchor winch
When you are at the bow to operate the anchor winch, first of all, make sure you are with your feet shod, in a firm and secure position: in this case, the forestay (photo) is the perfect hold; let's hold on to it tightly!
Elan 434 Impression: the photo shows the locker and anchor winch, the forestay with the furled sail and a large through-hull
3 Peak lids
When searching for or storing items in these large containers located under the cockpit seats, always remember to secure the lid with the elastic band; even if it is only a matter of a moment, the boat is stationary, and the water is still. A gust of wind and zac! (The same applies to the anchor locker).
How to board a boat using the gangway
In the Mediterranean ports, which are full of life and the weather conditions are generally calm, it is usual to moor at the stern.
Often, if the jetty's jump is a little long, a gangway is used to board the boat.
This may seem a little intimidating initially, but it is not a big deal if you know what you are doing. The boat is moving, and the gangway is no place to linger, three moves: foot on the ground, one step, foot on the gangway, strictly in the middle, another step, board foot.
Before moving any further, we quickly assess where to put our feet and what support we can attach ourselves to once on board. It is better if the area where we are going to land is clear to make this movement with a bit of momentum.
A beautiful, solid, light and safe gangway allows us to board comfortably in any situation (Adranos)
Above all, do not end up in the water.
This usually happens after losing our balance: our priority must be not to fall overboard for any reason other than a good swim!