Friday, June 26, 2009

Sailing topics

Learn-to-sail books will vary in their listings of topics for new sailors to learn. These vary according to the age and interests of the target audience and whether the book is attempting to be comprehensive or is instead keyed to some "stage" of certification and training.

Here is my own list of sailing topics (not necessarily in any good order, just from the top of my head and you certainly don't need to know ALL of these, especially in the beginning). And, even if you don't learn all of these, sometimes it's useful to know what you don't know!

__ nautical terms, boat parts, points of sail, knots and hitches, proper cleat hitch

__ packing and provisioning, stowing gear, personal care, clothing and foul weather gear

__ basic boat rigging, raising and lowering sails, flaking or folding sails, use of furlers, safe/proper use of winches, where to find things.

__ basic boat handling and sail trim for different points of sail

__ crew overboard maneuvers (Figure 8 or quick-stop recovery, lifesling)

__ docking and undocking under power or sail, forward vs. reverse handling, using spring lines

__ picking up moorings (probably much more of this in the BVIs than docking or anchoring)

__ anchoring (single or dual), anchor recovery, coordinating with crew, choosing an anchorage, matching ground tackle and scope to conditions)

__ rules of the road, navigation aids, navigation lights, whistle and sound signals

__ basic coastal piloting, chart symbols, chart work, dead reckoning, GPS, backups to GPS, currents and tides, crossing shipping channels

__ emergency gear and systems; PFDs, through-hulls (seacocks), etc.; emergency preparedness, filing float plans, preparing a ditch bag, safety equipment requirements for NM, USA, elsewhere, radar reflectors and avoiding big ships, electronic identification

__ radio and communications, emergency signaling (hazards of pyrotechnics)

__ engine care; checking oil, raw water filters (sea cock), and more, what makes a diesel run or not run, pre-filtering fuel in remote parts of the world

__ boat systems; fueling, watering, marine head and pump-outs, electric panel, batteries, shore power and cables

__ dinghy care and use, boarding dinghies and boarding boat and landings from dinghies, proper towing/when not to tow

__ emergency procedures; engine problems, grounding or collision, foul weather, medical emergencies, leaks, electrical problems, safety during storms or thunder storms, reef critters and safety, navigating in fog, fire extinguishers and their proper use (P.A.S.S.) and limits, propane shut-offs and hazards, galley safety and emergencies, staying with the ship, procedures for distress calls, EPIRBs, consequences of distress calls, how to help search and rescue services, towing vs. salvage (towing insurance)

__ boat "legalities"; boat titling and registration, boat numbers, hull identification number, registration vs. documentation, boating safety education requirements, basic legal responsibilities, dealing with Coast Guard and law enforcement, Homeland Security and exclusion zones, marine sanctuaries, tax considerations in some locales

__ nautical advanced what-not and whatever might interest you (common mistakes, "reading" a reef, etiquette, origins of nautical terms, using a Med mooring, visiting yacht and sailing clubs, other nautical organizations [CG Auxiliary, Power Squadrons, Boat US, US Sailing, ASA, etc.], sailing schools, community sailing programs, procedures for visiting other countries [courtesy and quarantine flags, crew list, clearing in and out, US Customs, passports], yacht racing, racing rules vs. Colregs, choosing a marina, rigging inspection, tuning a rig, equipment and considerations for long-range cruising/setting up a boat for long-range cruising, housekeeping for long-term cruising, boat buying and leasing, surveyors, do-it-yourself surveying, more advanced engine care [bleeding air from diesels, diagnosing starting/electrical problems], sacrificial anodes and electrical protection systems, propeller sizing, sail mending, multi-hull performance and comparisons, canvas work, advanced piloting, celestial navigation, ham and SSB radio, sat phones, e-mail via radio [Sail Mail], downloading weather, cruiser VHF and radio nets, getting a Coast Guard license [OUPV/100 ton, etc.], education/license requirements in some foreign countries).


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