Sailing Manual

by Paul Kylander

PART I : Basic Land Skills

Topics covered in Part 1:

Parts of a Sailboat
Care of Equipment

There are some important things which sailors must learn and be aware of before setting out for a sail. Part I of this manual will go over safety aspects of sailing, important sailing knots, the parts of a sail boat, and finally proper care of sailing equipment.


Before anyone gets into a boat they need to be aware of the safety issues that surround boating. To begin with, all boaters should wear a Ministry of Transport approved PFD (personal floatation device). This is the piece of equipment that maintains a persons buoyancy should they fall in the water. Statistics show that most marine deaths could have been prevented by the use of a PFD. The other major safety issue which may seem obvious is clothing. If you want to sail properly, you must be prepared to dress properly. It is important to wear appropriate clothing when out for a day of sailing. Wearing a thick sweater or putting on another layer of clothing when temperatures drop will help sailors avoid catching a chill. Colder temperatures cause numbness and loss of strength, eventually leading to hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the core temperature of the human body falls below 98.6�F. Just as warm clothing is required for colder temperatures, sun screen and a sun hat are needed in warmer sunnier conditions. In today�s world of increasing awareness of the dangers of the sun, people are becoming more aware of the importance of sun screen. Another important note about clothing is what to wear on your feet. While sailing in smaller boats, it is important to wear rubber soled shoes. Shoes will help to prevent slipping.


The next aspect of land training is knots. Knots are very important to a sailor. Securing a boat to a dock, raising the mainsail and rigging the jib sheets are all aspects of sailing that require knots. There are roughly three or four knots which sailors must need to know. I will explain each of these knots and what their use is.

The Figure Eight Knot:

This knot is used as a stopper knot to prevent a rope from slipping through a block or fairlead (see glossary).


The Reef Knot:

This knot is used for tying two ropes of equal thickness together. Take two ropes, tie the right over the left (as one ties a shoe) then do the opposite (i.e. left over right).

The Bow Line:

The bowline knot produces a loop that will not slip. It is one of the most common sailing knots. This knot will also undo quite easily after placed under considerable strain.


The Clove Hitch:

The clove hitch is used to tie a boat to a dock. This knot is easily tied and untied. It can also work itself loose with continual jerking, and should be used for temporarily securing a boat.

There are many other knots specific to certain situations. The knowledge of these four knots will cover almost all sailing situations.

Parts of a Sailboat

From knots we progress to the parts of a sailboat. Figure 7 outline the parts of a boat on a Flying Junior. Please be aware that the terms used to describe these parts are the same (in general) from boat to boat. In addition to the parts of a boat, figure 7 also shows some terminology of a sail. Unfortunately there are no easy tricks or methods to learning the parts of a boat.


The next section, the care of sailing equipment, is a section that should not be overlooked. This section will look at care of sails, the boat and other general care of equipment.

Care of Equipment

This aspect of sailing is often overlooked. It is important to have some knowledge of what equipment needs to be looked after as well as how to look after it.

Sail Care

Most Sails are made of dacron, a synthetic fibre that is woven into a cloth. This cloth can loose its shape or tear if not treated properly. Do not let the sail flap in the wind, as the sail will fray at the leech. Fraying will reduce the ability of the sail to catch the wind, and thus reduce the way the boat sails. To prolong the life of a sail fold it carefully and place it in a sail bag. Maintain the creases in the sail. This is done by folding the sail in the same fashion each time the sail is stowed (see diagram 8 for a folding technique).

Keep the sails clean. This can be done by using a mild soap and warm water on any dirty parts of the sail. Make sure that you also inspect the sail for worn areas, and have these fixed as soon as possible. By following these guidelines, the life and quality of sails can be extended.

Boat Care

The Flying Junior is a fiberglass boat, like many dinghies these days. Fibreglass is a durable material but can still be damaged by dragging or pulling a boat on rocks or sand. The best way to move a fiberglass boat is to carry it onto a trailer or dolly. Never get into a flying junior while it is on land, as this will warp or damage the fiberglass. Each time the boat is taken out of the water, it is a good idea to empty the buoyancy tanks. To do this, remove the plug located at the rear of the boat. When the boat is at the dock there are two important things to be aware of: (1) ensure the painter has been properly attached, and (2) do not leave the sails up. If the boat is not tied to the dock properly, it may drift away or even onto rocks. If the sails are left up, the wind may catch them and cause the boat to capsize. Handling the boat in a sensible manner and keeping up on repairs is an important part of maintaining the boat.

General Care

Although the boat shell is quite expensive, the fittings and ropes can also be costly. To avoid unnecessary wear on these parts, do not leave them exposed to the elements (where it is convenient). If possible obtain a boat cover, and cover the boat each time it is stored. It is also a good idea to regularly inspect the parts of the boat. Sailors must be careful not to get caught out on the water with faulty equipment, as this can be dangerous.

By following the preceding points on the care of sails, the care of boats, and general care, sailors can prolong the life and quality of their equipment.


Please see Appendix I for Part I test, drills and required skills.


PreviousTable of ContentsGlossaryNext