BASIC SAILING ADVICE FOR THE BEGINNER SAILOR - SAILING ESSENTIALS Sailing is a wonderful sport that can provide you with a lifetime of entertainment. However, to fully benefit from all that it has to offer, there are some basic safety rules that should be adhered to at all times. You may not have noticed whilst watching the Olympics in Beijing, but every sailor present was sticking rigidly to the basic rules of the water. These are the first things to study when learning to sail, as without knowing them can put yourself and others in danger. One of the most basic of all sailing rules is to inform a friend, family member or club member that you will be going out onto the water. If you are at a club then safety precautions, including the presence of a safety boat, should be in place. However, if you are sailing outside of club hours or in the open sea, someone must know where you are in case something goes wrong and they need to sound the alert. Following this simple rule saves lives. Most clubs will not let you out on the water without one, and you would be foolish to even think of it. If you are going sailing in cold conditions, or even if the weather is warm but the water is cold, wear a wet or a dry suit underneath your buoyancy aid. Beginner sailors are often shocked by how quickly the cold can set in once they are in the water, and hypothermia is a killer. By taking the right precautions, you will be more comfortable both in and out of the water. Capsizing poses one of the greatest dangers whilst sailing. If on the boat, you are limited to what can go wrong, but when in the water things get a lot more dangerous. You should have already practiced capsizing whilst learning to sail, and with good reason. By making sure that you know exactly what you are doing in such a situation, you can react calmly and quickly when it happens unexpectedly. It is also worth purchasing a sailing knife, which folds away safely whilst you are sailing and can be used to cut ropes if you become tangled up in them after capsizing. Sail World carried a tragic story a short time ago about a young teenage girl. Her sailing dinghy capsized. She had attached herself by a hiking harness to the boat. When she capsized, the boat turtled (turned over--bottom up) on top of her. She was unable to untangle herself from the harness and drowned.
It's understandable that folks tend to shun sailing knives and similar equipment on their belts. It's a bit weighty, adds bulk on a hot day, and many like to sail unencumbered. Find a small compact knife that will fit into a sheath or has a clip that will fasten to your sailing shorts. Carry it when you go sailing. Not below packed in a bag--but on your shorts or pants. If you need to use it for cutting rope or in an emergency, it will be with you, ready in the blink-of-an-eye. The best advice for safe sailing practices is to keep sailors knife at all times which always involves using good equipment. This equipment often includes sailing paraphernalia, communication devices, and clothing. Individuals may frequent locations that sell these items to get an idea of things that they might need before venturing out onto the waters. There are some things that are obvious, but other things that you may not consider unless you see them. The best way to prepare is a have a checklist. This list should include things like a boating knife, a strobe light, and a tool kit. It is good to be prepared for repairing issues that may arise during the sail.