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If you, like me, have spent many hours on YouTube watching people Living The Dream™ as they sail through crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, it might’ve inspired you to take up sailing for yourself. It’s not only one of the most adventurous ways to explore the ocean, it’s one of the most sustainable ways to explore, too.
Fortunately, Living The Dream™ doesn’t have to be just a dream, or open to solely to people who are wealthy or grew up with sailing parents. You can learn at any age and on any budget as long as you’re flexible.
These are seven (of many) reasons to learn how to sail this year.
Table of Contents
You’ll experience a unique connection to the water
No matter if you’re puttering around a lake in a dinghy or sailing the high seas on a luxury sailing yacht, you’re at the mercy of mother nature. While many of us spend our days in a rush, often fighting the weather, sailing forces us to slow down. You’ll feel the subtle differences in the sea’s texture, the undulating lull of the swell passing through, and the sea’s spray dapple your skin.
Once you learn how to sail, you’ll be able to dance with the weather conditions. Fine tune your sailboat to speed up when you like, slow down when you like, and find a peaceful place to spend a night–all because you have the capacity to understand what the sea and sky are saying.
Sailing is one of the best ways to make friends
Within a few days of arriving in Fakarava, an atoll in French Polynesia, I’d met nearly all of the yachties anchored in the lagoon. Armed with an outrigger canoe, a fellow crew member and I went from yacht to yacht introducing ourselves, often getting invited onboard for a snack or drink. By day three, a solid sailing community had formed, with $1 million+ yacht owners clinking glasses with sailors who’d come over on yachts purchased under $10 thousand.
The sailing community spans the globe. Walking the dock at just about any marina is one of the best ways to make friends as you travel.
If you’d like to learn how to sail and make new friends with people who share a passion for the sea, join the girls only course with Sailing Virgins in the British Virgin Islands. It’s a week-long course that takes place from March 25 to April 1 this year!
I’ll be joining their June 11 to June 19 course in British Virgin Islands, open to everyone! Sign up for any Sailing Virgins course with the code SALTSIRENS and you’ll get $100 off the course plus a $85 gift. Here’s more information on the trips taking place this year.
Sailing keeps you fit (both mentally and physically)
Sailing is accessible to just about everyone, no matter your age or physical fitness level. But if you want to take sailing to the next level and start racing or going on longer cruises, you’ll find yourself fitter than you were as solely a landlubber.
Sailing also requires a finely tuned mental state. You’ll be hyper aware of wind patterns, currents, anchorage conditions, other vessels, and your crew mates. While there are certainly relaxing elements of sailing, you have to be a jill of all trades to be a capable sailor. With enough hours on the water, you’ll be able to add navigator, seamstress, cook, cleaner, diesel engine mechanic, fiberglass repairer, line detangler, bartender, painter, electrician, welder, and captain to your resume!
You can sail on any budget
B.O.A.T. aka Bust Out Another Thousand… How do you make $1,000? Buy a $10,000 boat and sell it for $1,000… Boat (noun): a whole in the water which one throws money…
A boat is more of a liability than an asset, and it’s true that the cost of ownership can be quite steep compared to other sports and hobbies. But. It doesn’t have it be.
Yes, owning, repairing, and maintaining a sailboat can be very expensive. However, you don’t need to own a sailboat to be a sailor. Once you have the skills, you can volunteer or get paid as crew, charter a sailboat for a holiday, or be the first one tapped when a friend (who owns a boat) wants to go out.
For years, I volunteered on sailboats, venturing around French Polynesia and Fiji for free as a crew member. On vacations, I’d charter a sailboat with my friends, and we’d less per person for the sailboat than we would while staying in a hotel.
Sick of relying on others to sail, I bought a used $3,500 USD Hobie 16 — a small catamaran for day trips. I’ve seen friends get sailing dinghies for free, or pick up Hobie Cats for a just few hundred dollars and a few hours of repair. I even met someone who sailed across the world in a $5,000 USD sailboat. He stole my sandals but that’s another story…
You’ll become more confident in everyday life
“I’m too old.” “I wasn’t raised doing that.” “I’m not wealthy/fit/brave/intelligent enough.”
These are some of the most common excuses we come up with when it comes to learning a new skill or embarking on a new adventure. They usually stem from self doubt and fear, two toxins that taint our everyday lives. These doubts are the same doubts that prevent us from going for a career change, promotion, D.I.Y. home renovation, athletic pursuit, relationship, etc.
When I first started kitesurfing and sailing, I was riddled with self doubt. I didn’t feel like I was brave enough. I constantly crashed my kite, and vowed to sell it if I still hated it after 15 hours in the water. But, with persistence, I eventually got better, more confident, and began to enjoy it. A similar experience happened with the Hobie Cat. I’m still scared of going fast and getting hit by the boom, but I know that the more I go, the more confident I’ll become.
Pick up the art of sailing, and you’ll have the skill to journey over bodies of water as small as a local lake to the earth’s largest ocean.
Sailing has made me less afraid of pursuing work and creative endeavors. An editor might come back with a story rejection, but at least they won’t hit me on the head with a hard hunk of metal.
It’s one of the most sustainable ways to travel
Many of us are drawn to sailing as one of the most sustainable forms of travel. With the wind as your source of power, you can cover the globe with little, or even no, CO2 emissions.
A single sailing trip can be enlightening when it comes to just how little we need to live. A few outfits of clothing, some weatherproofing attire, just enough food to fit in the fridge and storage area, electronics that rely on solar power… Every time I return home from a trip on the water, I’m aware of my overconsumption and the little impact it has on my happiness.
Sailing makes you a better waterwoman overall
The thing about ocean sports is that one tends to be a gateway to another. That’s how it’s been for me. My love of surfing led me to kitesurfing which led me to sailing. Snorkeling was the catalyst to scuba diving and then freediving. Once you know the physics of how sails work against the wind, you’ll be able to use this for other ocean sports like kitesurfing, windsurfing, and foiling. The same weather forecasts used for sailing can be used for surfing (you’ll certainly know when it’s offshore). Once you’ve moored near a reef, you’ll likely be keen to put on a snorkel and explore.