A New Hobby: Learning to Sail

A New Hobby: Learning to Sail

(This is part 2 in our new travel series. Read part 1 here.)

Sailing is an ancient pastime that mankind has enjoyed since we first started lashing logs together to form basic rafts. And although modern boats are a little more complicated to man, the essence of the sport remains the same: an open body of water, the sea air, and a kind of freedom that doesn’t come in any other way.

This association with freedom and the wide open ocean is so baked into our culture that it’s almost instinctual. From Jack Sparrow’s, “Bring me that horizon,” to Star Trek’s “All I ask is a tall ship,” our fascination is unending. If you remember that classic early 80s mellow hit, Sailing, you’ll know what we mean. And we think Christopher Cross was on to something when he sang, “If the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility.” If you know the next line we’re definitely impressed. First of all though, you’ve got to know how to skipper a sailboat and find a place to set sail from.

That being said, getting into any new hobby can be daunting, and sailing is especially so. Unless you happen to have a boat moored up somewhere, how do you begin? Luckily, you don’t need to be a boat owner to make this new hobby your own.


Hey Horizon

Sailing has a lot of physical health benefits, but there’s more to the sport than just sore forearms and tired feet from moving from bow to stern, manning all of the equipment, and ducking under the boom. Once you take up sailing, you’re always learning. Even experienced sailors find themselves with a task to figure out or a new set of weather conditions to master. There’s personal reflection involved (if you’ve got a quiet moment at the helm) and if you get into racing, technique and strategy make all the difference. You’ll learn how to master the ship through the water and how to navigate through the elements. Sailing trains your brain; it requires focus and hard work.

Ahoy & Aweigh

The sport may involve some hard work, but by the time you’re ready to man your own boat it can be very relaxing. Imagine gliding through the water with nothing but sea and sky on the horizon. It is also a very social sport, and both young and old sailors can make lifelong friendships with fellow crew or other members of the sailing club. And once you have learned the basics, you can sail anywhere and enjoy different surroundings.


Mind Your Jib

Learning to sail takes dedication and passion. You’ll learn how to face challenges like weather, malfunctions on the boat or a crusty sailing partner. Actually those skills are also useful on land when life’s unpredictability occurs. All sailors have a healthy respect for nature, and understand the innate dangers of wind and water. Acquiring the skills to captain your own boat is definitely a unique and invaluable experience, and will result in a real feeling of personal accomplishment. Sailing is great for any age. Some people are lucky enough to start young (even at age 5). Sailing Clubs usually offer classes and camps.

Did you know that “in the doldrums” is a sailing term? The doldrums is an area in the ocean on either side of the equator where sailing can be difficult because of unstable and light wind conditions, calms and squalls. We use it to imply a feeling of listlessness, stagnation or despondency: ho hum. But once you get a feel for sailing, you’ll find a new freedom and need never feel depressed or landlocked. Set a course for adventure (if your mind is on a new romance, that’s another thing, and a different song).

If sailing sounds like the hobby for you, you can always check out US Sailing or Sail Canada to find a club near you.


  1. “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”

    The quote isn’t *from* Star Trek–Kirk was quoting a poem in that episode (Sea Fever, by John Masefield). Another thing to file under “Advice for Men”…attribute your quotes correctly. :p

    1. You’re right there, Joe – Kirk specifically mentions that he’s quoting the poem. John Masefield wasn’t on a starship while he said it 🙂

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