Beginner’s Guide to Sailing | Principles of Sailing | Teach Yourself to Sail |
Rafting Up | Mooring Guidelines
Sailing is one of those hobbies that can seem out of reach for many. It can almost appear to
be a hobby saved for the prestigious and ‘Bill Gates’ of people out there. But, we’re here to
tell you it couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, you can teach yourself to sail using the
principles of sailing and a very large glossary.
So, here at The Hobby Kraze, our team have been hard at work making sure everything is
covered in this beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting. Because, a hobby better than sailing
out into the great blue world is rafting up with like-minded sailing friends and creating one
huge boat party.
Whether you’re heading into the middle of a lake with some sailing fanatics or enjoying the
calm turquoise oceans off the coast of a hot Mediterranean country, putting together the
principles of sailing as well as the mooring guidelines, you’ll be set for an incredible hobby
With that, have a look at all the fun and interesting factors of learning the principles of sailing
and rafting up with this ultimate beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting:
1. Why You Should Consider Taking Up Sailing as a Hobby
2. How the Principles of Sailing Came About as a Hobby
3. The Beginner’s Guide to Sailing A to Z of a Boat
4. Teaching Yourself to Sail by Having all the Necessary Tools and Equipment
5. Understanding the Points of Sail
6. Prepping Your Sailboat for Shoving Off
7. Understanding How to Begin Sailing for a Secure Boat Party
8. The Best Places in the World to Be Sail up with Your Friends
One thing we will mention before shoving off from the jetty is that sailing boats can come
with or without motors. But, as a responsible supporter of our environment (and your pocket)
the team here at The Hobby Kraze have been tasked with providing you all the know-how
about using the sail. A.K.A. boating without a motor and finding out where the wind will take
1. Why You Should Consider Taking Up Sailing as a Hobby
As we’ve already mentioned, taking up a sailing hobby isn’t as expensive as it originally
sounds. In fact, it will generally cost the same amount as taking up photography and
videography when you consider lights, lenses and all sorts.
And, it’s not as complex as everyone might imagine, either. While a boat isn’t as simple
as a car moving forward and back, the controls of having sails and the wind can pretty
much account for a simpler day out.
Therefore, if you like to be out on the water but don’t necessarily want to put in the
effort for stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking and love to stay above water-level,
then sailing is for you. The Hobby Kraze crew has put together a list of all the reasons
you should try the hobby of sailing and rafting, today:
• It is very calming
• It is an easy hobby to pick up once the glossary is mastered
• It can be enjoyed alone or with friends and family
• You can incorporate sailing and rafting for a boat party
• Sailing lets out the endorphins
• It keeps your mind active
• Sailing can help prevent the effects of dementia
• You can hire boats instead of buying boats
• Obtaining a boating license to hire can be short and fun
• You can meet like-minded enthusiasts just on the jetty
• You can travel anywhere the water takes you
• You can enjoy your new hobby anywhere in the world
• It helps to improve your flexibility and agility
• You’ll be lugging heavy equipment that makes you stronger
• You can venture into other avenues such as racing or competitive adventuring
2. How the Principles of Sailing Came About as a Hobby
Humans have been using boats for thousands of years and can even be dated back to
Egyptian activity on the River Nile for goods and trade movement.
Then, the earliest notion of using sails and wind for propulsion comes from the time
of the Vikings. Despite sounding mythological, they truly ventured and conquered with
their Viking longboats and dragon-adorned bow.
Yet, it wasn’t until thousands of years later in the 15th century when advancements
would enable longer trips. These enhanced journeys allowed for exploration and
colonisation of new worlds such as; Australia, New Zealand and America.
After long haul travel by sail became possible, new ways to conquer the Earth were
opened up. And, in 1519, the Spanish set sail for a course around the world. A course,
which would eventually take two captains and four years to complete.
Since then, the keel (a structural beam running under the boat from bow to stern), the
lateen (a triangular sail) and marine engines have all been strives that brought us to
modern day sailing. While materials may have changed and parts of the boat may have
become sturdier, the beauty of this hobby is that it is an ancient trade. And, you can
be next to carry on the tradition.
Then, rafting up to other boats came naturally when ships would trade mid-sea or get
together to moor safely and enjoy the company of others. And, that’s why this
beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting wanted to cover rafting as part of the sailing
hobby; to interact and enjoy your boating passions with others.
However, strides in the sailing community continue to be made. With new GPS devices
as well as more accessible races and regattas, there’s always a new component to look
forward to. So, let’s find out what principles of sailing can be unearthed in this
beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting.
3. The Beginner’s Guide to Sailing and Rafting’s A to Z of a Boat
In this beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting, we have to let you know that most of
being able to sail a boat comes from understanding the never-ending glossary of
terms. In fact, when you know the parts of a boat and what the jargon means, you’ll
know what to do with them and how they’ll work in the principles of sailing.
For example; a skipper is an individual who pilots a ship and controls the crew. You’ll
have one on hire if you ever charter a boat without intending to sail it yourself.
However, hiring a person as well as a boat can be a little more expensive. So, we
suggest skipping the skipper and trying to teach yourself to sail with this beginner’s
guide to sailing and rafting.
So, to get you started, we’ve gathered the essential A to Z of terms, tools and
equipment you’ll be facing in your new hobby adventure on the sea.
The cockpit is the area where the captain will stay. It is within the mid-deck
and will often feature the helm or tiller for steering. In very transferrable
fashion; the cockpit relates to the hub of control.
This is a long device that will protrude into your cockpit at an angle suitable to
control. This is because it connects to the rudder on the underside of the boat
and is used to steer in sailing.
The rudder is a protrusion underneath the boat, Sometimes, there can be three
rudders or just one controlling the boat depending on the size and width. The
rudder will connect to either a tiller or helm on the cockpit and can be
controlled by the captain.
This is the watertight encasing for the ship. It is the body and the name given
to any water-sporting device, such as the body of a kayak or stand-up paddle
board. The hull of a ship will have a deck on top to cover. And, the line where
water meet’s the hull is called the waterline.
A helm is a steering wheel for your boat, much like the ones you’d see in a
pirate movie but a little smaller. These are often in place of the tiller as they
control the boat through manoeuvring the rudder.
The mast is the large metal and wood stick protruding from the mid-deck of
the boat. It is in front of the cockpit and is the vertical bearer for the boom and
The boom is another very thick metal and wooden bar that is parallel with the
deck of the ship and stems in a perpendicular manner from the mast. It holds
the main sail and will also be the base for encasing the main sail when not in
use. It will also have a kicker attached at the bottom.
In any boating sport or hobby, the principles of sailing may change traditional
terminology. For example; the ropes on a sailing boat are not called ropes as
soon as they have a use. Each rope is then called a sheet and is given a purpose.
Loose rope is still, however, called rope. You may hear phrases such as; “pull
in the main sheet” or “let out the main sheet” which tells you to ‘trim’ (put
tension on) the rope attached to your main sail.
On both the port and starboard sides of the ship, there are round winches that
kind of look like a thread bobbin from a sewing machine (see The Ultimate
Beginner’s Guide to Sewing for more!). The sheet from the head sail will get
wrapped around the winches for control and stability.
Rigging is the incorporation of various sheets all around your vessel in order to
support the mast. These might be all the ropes and swings that make the sailing
and rafting hobby look harder than it actually is.
k. BackstayThe Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Sailing and Rafting
The backstay is the name given to the rigging located at the back of the boat
Much like the backstay, this is the name given to rigging and sheets located in
the middle of the boat around the area of the cockpit.
Also called the jib stay, the forestay is the rigging at the bow and foredeck of
your sailboat. It is also called the jib stay because it is the rigging that helps the
jib sail remain secure.
n. Head Sail
The head sail (A.K.A. the jib sail) is the sail that sits at the bow of the boat in
front of the main mast. It attaches to the forestay and two roller blocks either
side of the boat. This sail can be 100% in size to cover the full triangular area
between the mast and the forestay, or it can be bigger such as a 130% named
o. Roller Furling
At the bottom of the forestay, there is a spinning drum named the roller
furling. While not every forestay or boat will have one, the drum helps to spin
the sail up and wrap it for easy access.
The bow of a ship is also named the foredeck and refers to the front of the ship
where the forestay and head sail are located. There is often a point at the tip
of the ship for aerodynamic optimisation.
The stern is the opposite of the bow where the backstay and rudder are
located. It’s important the rudder steers from the stern to help minimise
The halyard is a very specific and important sheet that connects to everything.
The halyard sits at the top of the mast and is connected to both the main sail
and the head sail. It is used to raise and lower both the sails when in the open
s. Dock Lines
Dock lines are very thick and very strong sheets that are used to attach your
boat to the mooring guidelines and posts at the jetty in the marina or harbour.
When you begin rafting up after you teach yourself to sail, instead of dock
lines, you’ll use mooring lines. These lines are much longer and are used to
attach boats together and to a buoy where required.
Both the mast, the forestay and the backstay will have a small metal track that
runs vertically upward. It is indented to the mast and is where the runner of
the sail will sit to help keep it secure and in place when raised or lowered.
u. Head, Tack and Clew
There are three parts to a sail. If you imagine a right-angled triangle, the head
is the top 45-degree angle. The tack is the 90-degree right-angle that sits in the
corner. And, the clew is the bottom 45-degree angle. Both the head and the
tack will be attached to either the mast or forestay and the clew and tack will
be attached either to the boom or to clutches either side of the ship.
Either side of the boat, on starboard and port, there will either be a clutch or
a roller block. These will be situated in front of the winches. They are designed
to hold the sheets attached to the clew of the head sail in place.
As you may have guessed in the rest of this beginner’s guide to sailing and
rafting glossary, the starboard is one side of the boat. In fact, starboard refers
to the right-hand side.
When one side has a name, so must the other. The port side of the vessel is
the left-hand side.
Even though the sailboat uses sails and wind to propel forward, they still need
help in momentum and steering from time-to-time. Especially when
manoeuvring the marina’s berth. So, you’ll often find a very large oar sticking
out the back of your boat. Or, located at the side and ready to be prepared for
movement. Some boats use a motor, but an oar is easier, cheaper and better
for our oceans.
z. Kicker (metal attachment to stop the boom from rising up the mast)
At the bottom of the boom and where it attaches to the mast, there is a very
strong metal and wood kicker. It attaches both the ship’s necessities together
and prevents the boom from rising up the mast.
4. Teaching Yourself to Sail by Having all the Necessary Tools and Equipment
It’s not just the boat that needs to be equipped for your first day in the open water.
There’s many tools and equipment that you’ll need, too. With it being the hobby for
both the lone ranger and the social magnet, there’s tools and equipment that you’ll
need on board to keep everyone safe.
Here at The Hobby Kraze we like to make sure that everyone is not only enjoying their
hobby but making sure they’re aware of all the risk prevention methods for their
hobby, too. That’s why it might seem strange to have tools such as a fire extinguisher
on board a ship surrounded by water, but you’ll be surprised at how many ship fires
can take down a crew.
• Personal Floatation Device
• Power Bank Charger
• 4G MiFi Device
• Fire Extinguisher
• Dry Clothes
• Throwable PFD
• Sound Signalling Device
• First Aid Kit
• Suntan Lotion
• Radar Reflector
• Extra Mooring Lines
• Booze for Guests
A final thing to consider within this beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting is the world
we live in. With modern technology and social media, making memories has changed
into storing memories. So, a top tip from the team here at The Hobby Kraze is to
always take a small camera with you. Whether it’s a smart phone, GoPro or Osmo
Pocket, make sure you’ve got all the gear to watch back the memories of the calm
blue ocean and times spent rafting up with your friends.
5. Understanding the Points of Sail
No matter where in the world you decide to set sail, you’ll always need to know and
understand the principles of sailing by revising the points of sail. Knowing exactly how
the wind will affect your direction, speed and ability to begin rafting up with others is
vital in your expedition to hobby happiness.
In reality, there are five points of sail and a few more directional terms you’ll need to
know. And, it involves picturing a clock. Or, a pie; whichever sails your boat. For now,
we’ll being with the points of sail:
a. The No-Go Zone
Also known as ‘going in irons’, this refers to your boat being stopped due to
the way you are positioned on the clock.
Taking the analogy of the clock, your wind is coming from 12 O’clock. It takes
up about ¼ of your clock. If you’re heading windward in the no-go zone, your
sails will be luffing and the boat will not have any momentum to move forward,
if you need to travel in the direction of the wind’s origin, then you’ll have to
start tacking for beam reach either-side in order to not stall.
Just outside of the direction of the wind (around 2 O’clock if we’re going
clockwise) is called travelling at close-hauled. At this point you should start
tacking and winching everything tight in order to move forward. Top tip; if this
all seems a little complicated now, it will become farsimpler when your aboard
and practicing sailing.
c. Beam Reach
At beam-reach you can picture yourself moving towards 3 O’clock if you’re
travelling port side and toward 9 O’clock if you’re travelling starboard side.
When travelling at beam-reach, you can loosen your winches but do make sure
to tie everything down otherwise the contents of your cabin might begin
weighing one side of the ship down.
d. Broad Reach
At around 4 O’clock and 5 O’clock, you’ll be travelling at broad reach. And, this
is often argued to be the best point of sail, especially when you teach yourself
to sail. This is because it offers good thrusting power, but you won’t be
travelling as fast as when you’re running. Whatever you do, make sure you
don’t gybe; you or one of your guests will end-up swimming home.
The fifth and final point of sail, as mentioned, is running. At this point on the
clock you’re dead-on 6 O’clock and you’re officially travelling leeward. As the
wind is behind the sail, the sails will act as a parachute and you’ll be travelling
ahead with ease. However, as this is the ultimate beginner’s guide to sailing
and rafting, we would advise against the high-speed effects of travelling
So, that’s the points of sail covered. Now, we can get moving onto the other directions
and movements you should know while working as a skipper on deck while you teach
yourself to sail.
Travelling windward is, quite simply, travelling in the direction of the wind’s
origin. So, if we think about the clock and wind coming in from 12 O’clock,
you’re heading to 12 O’clock. However, this is also ‘in irons’ and you’ll likely
not be moving very fast unless you’re quick at tacking.
Leeward is the direct opposite of windward where you’ll be heading fore; away
from the wind.
c. Fore heading in the direction of the bow
When you’re described as heading ‘fore’, it means you’re heading in the
direction of the bow of your sailboat. This applies for you on your boat as well
as the movement on your boat. For example, your boat can be moored up or
you could have been rafting up with other boats to keep static, but you’re
moving around on your boat in the fore direction.
Aft is the exact opposite of fore, in that the direction changes to the stern of
the boat. For example; you’ll be travelling aft if you’re reversing into a berth.
Or, you could be anchored and you’re travelling aft while walking on your boat.
e. Tacking and Gybing
Tacking and gybing (also known as jibing for the US captains out there) is the
act of manoeuvring a sail. If you’re travelling windward, you’ll be tacking your
sails side to side in order to find pace in the right direction. When travelling
leeward, you’ll need to be gybing, but this can cause overboard casualties. Top
tip from the crew here at The Hobby Kraze; you’ll want to practice being nimble
and fast when tacking and gybing alongside mooring guidelines to get into a
f. Give Way
Port tack gives way to starboard tack, or if you’re already part-taking in other
sports such as Equestrian, you may know this as the ‘left-to-left’ rule. Keeping
to these mooring guidelines and sailing etiquette can help save you time and
money in your hobby as there’ll be far fewer crashes to contend with.
g. Berth (parking space)
While it’s not actually a manoeuvre, direction or point of sail, the berth is
important to mention here because it is where you’ll park your vehicle. And, it
will become a very important reference point between you, your crewmates,
the harbour master and the marina operators. You may hear a phrase such as
“head berth wise B12 upstream, starboard side”.
6. Prepping Your Sailboat for Shoving Off
Before you can even begin to think about rafting up with other boats, you need to
know the principles of sailing, shoving off and how the mooring guidelines will affect
the way you sail before being free on the open water.
To help with this, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have put together a play-by-play
and to-do list for you to follow when you teach yourself to sail.
i. Remove and store away the cover from the main sail on your boom.
ii. Grab the head (tip) of the main sale and place it within the mast’s track.
iii. Locate your halyard and thread it through the head of your main sail.
iv. At this point, you’re not raising the main sail yet, you’re just getting it into
position once you’ve left the marina and are clear of hazards or obstacles. So,
pull the slack out of the halyard to get it ready.
v. Get the head sail (also called the jib sail) out of the storage area in front of the
vi. Carefully unfold the head sail onto the deck at the bow of the ship.
vii. Attach the tack of the head sail at the bottom of the forestay, near the deck.
viii. Then, place the head of the sail into the track of the forestay and pull it
ix. Take the halyard clip and connect to the head of the sail, ready for it to be
pulled up when the wind is in.
x. Pull on the halyard to remove the slack from the head sail. Again, we are not
yet raising the sail, but instead getting into position.
xi. Top tip: use some loose rope to tie the headsail down onto the boat so it
doesn’t fly into the water before raising the head sail and main sail.
xii. Tie the jib sheet onto the clew of the genoa headsail. To do this, simply fold
the jib sheet in half, place the loop through the clew hole and then tread the
two ends of the jib sheet into the new loop. Pull it tight to secure the sheet to
the clew and you’ll be left with two jib sheet ends of equal lengths.
xiii. Take each jib sheet end to the outside of the shrouds so you have one end on
starboard and the other on the port side of the boat. The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Sailing and Rafting
xiv. Push the end of the jib sheet through a roller-block or clutch (whichever your
boat has) and then tie a secure figure-of-8 knot in the end so it can’t be pulled
xv. Tidy the sheet ends by wrapping them around your forearm and hand so they
aren’t all over the place.
xvi. Head to the stern of your boat and ready your oar and tiller for shove off
xvii. Remove all the dock lines or rafting up mooring lines and you’re ready to go.
xviii. The final step would be to shove off from the jetty boardwalk, berth or the
When it comes to mooring guidelines, they can very per the marina or harbour you
decide to moor at. Often, with the rules regarding floating, you need to remain at
around 5 to 10 knots and be very careful of other boats. You also need to be in
constant contact with the marina guard when approaching or leaving the marina for
safety. They’ll also be able to guide you to your berth if you’re not rafting up with
7. Understanding How to Begin Rafting Up for a Secure Boat Party
Finally, we’ve gotten to the most social and fun part of your beginner’s guide to sailing
and rafting; finding out how to begin rafting up.
Throughout this guide, we’ve been referring to ‘rafting up’ as something you’ll do in
the middle of the open water with other boats in order to socialise and have fun while
anchored. And, while this is very true and the most fun aspect to rafting up, it is not
the only use. As sailing has become a more popular hobby available to many over the
years, some marina hotspots may not have a berth for everyone.
In these scenarios, it is very important to know your mooring guidelines and rafting up
knots. You’ll need to raft to other boats in order to climb over and get to the jetty.
However, it’s best to know how to raft up properly. Nobody wants to be woken at the
crack of dawn by someone else in the raft trying to leave. And, it’s important to know
how to deal with a mast mix-up after a heavy night with the weather. So, let’s talk
about the different types of rafting up to help you get through any situation. A top tip
from The Hobby Kraze team in this beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting is to always
try and make friends with those you’ll be rafting up next to. A friendly encounter will
always help with any miss-communications down the line.
Whether it’s for the mid-lake boat party or for the over-crowded harbour, the first
thing to do is make sure you have enough warps (mooring rope) and fenders (boat
buoys, spacers and protectors). Then come close to someone that is on board (where
possible) and request to raft up. Make sure they don’t need to leave too early
otherwise you’ll be leaving that early, too.
Then, when you’re ready, begin to moor bow-to-stern (or, portside-to-portside).
When rafting up to get to a jetty, you’ll need to make sure you’re not only attaching
warps and sheets to your neighbour. For optimum security and minimal damage,
make sure you’ve got shorelinesto the heavy-duty cleats. If someone in the raft needs
to leave early, make sure to not place a shoreline across their bow or in their chosen
direction of travel. This way, they can leave and boats can adjust closer to the shore.
Finally, make sure all your sheet tail ends are wrapped up and stored on your own
boat. It can be very rude to leave your messy ends all over the jetty or other people’s
boats in the raft. Then, you’ll be set to move about, relax and socialise!
8. The Best Places in the World to Be Rafting up with Your Friends
Now you’ve got all the equipment you need as well as the terms and know-how, you’re
ready to shove off from the jetty (or the raft) and set sail. Whether it’s to meet up with
friends, sink anchor and create your own raft or it’s to explore the wonderful water
world this planet has to offer.
With that, we couldn’t leave without giving you the ultimate beginner’s guide to sailing
and rafting in the most beautiful and serene places our world has to offer. From rivers
and lakes to the wide-open ocean; there’s a place to be sailing and a place to practice
the mooring guidelines.
Check out some of the best places to spend your new sailing hobby knowledge:
• The French Riviera
• Lake Geneva
• New Zealand
• St Lucia
• The Galapagos Islands
• The North Pole
• Rio de Janeiro
And, with that, it ends our ultimate beginner’s guide to sailing and rafting. But, there’s one
last thing to note before heading off and mooring up. If you don’t have a boat, or a boat to
borrow, you may want to consider trying out a sailing course. You’ll be able to gain a license
with the principles of sailing and hire a boat anywhere around the world. And, if you have a
sailing license in the UK, a new world of inland waterways and opportunities will open up for
you to explore.
As part of The Hobby Kraze’s series of water hobbies and recreational activities, try having a
look at all the other fun and exciting sports you can do on the water. From; ‘The Ultimate
Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving and Snorkelling’ to
Up Paddle Boarding’, you’ll be able to find the hobby that suits you, your friends, your location
and your budget.
We love to hear about your new hobby adventure, so if it’s to teach yourself to sail or any
other hobby you choose, make sure to take pictures and videos and share them on social
media with the crew at The Hobby Kraze.
P.S. Boats! Boats! Boats! (If you know, you know)