A guide for novice captains. How to get first-time skipper experience

Yachtsmen often say: “If you put to sea, you need a license, and if you want to return, you need knowledge”.

Obtaining a license is not a problem, what is difficult is to sail a yacht properly, even for experienced skippers. You have to consider big winds, steering failure, anchor cables fouling, etc.

A novice skipper may panic and make a mistake, therefore putting the crew’s life and sail safety at risk. Before you sail alone for the first time, you better get some experience. You may take part in a sailing school’ training trip, become a member of another skipper’s crew, or participate in a flotilla.

In this article, we will tell you how to prepare for your first sailing alone. The next article will be dedicated to the most suitable routes for unexperienced skippers.

Where you get the first sailing alone experience

Practice plays a big part in boat sailing as well as in car driving. You have many options on how to get a record in the logbook and build your nautical miles. The simplest and most available options are:

1. Sign up for a school training trip

Many sailing schools offer trips and expeditions that may become your first skipper experience. Routes vary in difficulty, giving access to the most spectacular places on the map. You may take part in a training trip along the coastline of Italy, an expedition around Iceland or a yacht delivery across the Mediterranean Sea from one regatta to another. The more difficult the conditions are, the more you can learn. You will get the knowledge of how to sail a yacht in variable winds, in different tidal conditions, face all sorts of navigational troubles. You can monitor the wind in real time on live wind map.

The advantage of training trips is that a captain you sail under is not only an experienced skipper but a certified instructor. Their mission is not just to sail but impart their knowledge and skills to the others.

Besides, if you have been trained at the same school, you would probably with the captain, it will be easier to find a common language. In addition, such schools usually offer discount programs to their graduates.

These schools often offer all kinds of training trips:

  • Turkey: SunSea Yachting
  • Montenegro: Simple Sail
  • Croatia: Ultra Sailing
  • Spain: Barcelona Sailing School
  • Greece: Corfu Sea School

Read next about getting first-time skipper experience in the Windy.app blog — leading pro weather forecast application for wind sports and outdoors. The Russian language version of this guide was also published in the online magazine of Sila Vetra (Power of Wind) — #1 yachting project in Russia and CIS, including tours, school, and more.

Text: Alyona Shkarupeta, professional sailing writer from Turkey

Editor: Ivan Kuznetsov

Cover photo: Sila Vetra yachting project