Sailing existed in the ancient times and for many years, people could only use wind energy to navigate long distances over the sea. This proved to be very difficult as it could not be overcome with the use of paddles and muscle power. The limitations naturally led to a number of civilizations that came up with a number of ways to exploit wind energy to explore the seas. This started out with the making of primitive vessels that featured pieces of cloth and trees.
With time, the skills in navigation were sharpened and the end result was more sophisticated vessels. Phoenicians managed to master the Mediterranean early which was challenged and defeated by Rome. The Mediterranean was the main point of focus since most of the civilizations were centered on it. The water body created a strong interest in all the disciplines that are associated with navigation like ship building, meteorology, astronomy, oceanography and ship building among many others. This boosted man’s skills in travelling long distances over the seas. Most of the knowledge from Egyptians, Greek, Phoenicians and Romans were done away with in the middle ages.
They had made longboats that mainly used square rails and oars. The shape of the square sail was adapted in Europe. The Arabs however were very innovative as they came up with a triangular sail that was more effective. Their dhows could sail upwind without a problem and they proved to be more navigable and flexible than the ones made in Europe. The Chinese also came up with a different concept by crating the junk rig. This was a short mast that featured bamboo battens. This was one of the most sophisticated innovations at the time as it was very efficient and flexible allowing junk to sail with a small crew on board.
A simpler construction was made on the Polynesian island with a hollow tree trunk that could carry goods and people known as proa. It also has another piece of wood attached for stabilization. This was a great invention as it was robust and simple to make. The proas are still widely used in the pacific to date. As the nations changed over the years, the materials used to construct the boats relatively remained the same to make better vessels.
The industrial revolution brought about new materials and challenges as people tried to make superior vessels as the distance become longer with the demands for good all over the world. People also came up with new designs to make stronger vessels that could transport many people and goods over longer distances. In the 16th century, people started travelling out of pleasure rather than business. This also led to different type of ships so that people could have a variety of the vessels they could use and the development of the Yacht club that attracted many members.
Sailing is today an extremely popular activity for all types of people including men, women, children, single parents and elderly. There are simply no boundaries to as who can get into sailing. There are boat enthusiasts who as a hobby use radio controlled boats that operate via a remote control software you operate. These usually start at 20MPH and go up from there.
Types of sailing boats
There are different kinds of sailing boats that have been created over the years and some of them include:
Argosy – These are large trading vessels that were mostly built in Venice and Dalmatia. This has a substantial cargo capacity and can be sailed with a small crew.
Barque – This featured more than 3 masts and could carry up to 700 ton.
Modern slop – This is a mid size boat that has 2 sails and one mast. It has more power when sailing in the direction of the wind.
Battle ship – This is a heavily armored, gunned, and large warship that was used for war. This comes in different capacities and they could travel long distances.
Bermuda rig – This is a configuration that is used on most boasts as it makes them powerful. It features a triangular sail and its head is located on the top mast. The luff runs down the mast and tack attached to the boats’ length. The boom is used for foot control which makes it easy to navigate. .
Cat boat – This is characterized by one mast that is located at the front of the boat. It has a wide beam that is almost half the length of the entire boat, one gaff- rigged sail and a centerboard. There are some designs that consist of the Bermuda sail and a jib.
Dhow – This is a traditional Arab vessel that features several lateen sails. These come in different sizes where a small one can carry around 12 people and a large one can carry 30 people. They are similar to the Indian boat as they are both made of wood.
Dinghy – This is a small boat that was used to transport supplies and people from a large ship to the shore. It only has oars but there are some modern versions that have a single sail. It is also known as a tender or dink.
Sailing equipment and gear
To have fun while sailing, it is important to get proper gear and equipment to be on the safe side. Some of the things needed are:
Clothing – These include special shoes, jackets, pants/shorts that should be worn when sailing. These should be comfortable to make sure you have a good time without any problem. You can also get glasses that have foam padding that make sailing more comfortable. Buy high quality sunscreen to protect the skin when you are out there.
Safety equipment – It is important to make sure you are as safe as possible when sailing to avoid any injury to have fun on the trip. Start by making sure the boat has a first aid kit that is well equipped. You should also carry water proof cases for important devices like phones and laptops among many others. If you have a smart phone, this can be made easier by downloading marine GPRS applications that can help you navigate the sea with ease.
The boat should also have safety harness tethers. Avoid going sailing alone especially when doing it for the first time as it can be quite dangerous. There are numerous seasickness prevention products that are available in the market and you can buy them to be on the safe side.
You can bring in a life sling overboard rescue system that is usually used in cases of emergencies. A rig boom preventer is an also an important piece of equipment that should be featured on the boat.
Sailors should also have an abandon ship ditch bag in case there is any problem with the vessel. Take time shopping for gear and equipment needed to get the best in the market. Compare the prices offered by different stores to save money. You should also consider the brand of the products to get them from a reputable company.
Basic sailing techniques
Some of the techniques you should be conversant with before going out sailing include:
Ensuring the boat stays “trim”- This is the aft and fore balance of the boat. The main aim of this is to achieve an even keel by adjusting the moveable ballast backwards or forward. In a small boat the crew has to sit on the front of the boat to lessen the drag. The crew however has to sit at the rear of the boat when running because the position of the crew does not mater when the weight of the boat increases.
Course made good – This is done by steering the vessel using the tiller or wheel to the desired buoy or course.
Balance – This is starboard and port balance whose main aim is to adjust the weight of the boat in the leeward and windward side. This prevents excessive heeling thus the vessel is able to float faster when flat to the water.
Jibbing and tacking – These are ways that can be used to move to starboard track to port track. It is done via turning the bow through jibbing or tacking to the eye of the wind. Tacking is the most preferred method especially when sailing upwind as it is safer.
Reducing sail – This is done as a safety measure to suit the sails with the wind conditions. When the speed of the wind increases, the crew is supposed to lessen the amount of sail. This is done through reefing which means reducing the area of the sail without making it smaller. This also helps to keep the boat upright as it lowers the effort put on the sails.
Sail trimming – The main aim of this is to control the boat by setting the sail angles relative to wind speed. The control line is also known as the sheet and when it is lose; it can cause the boat to capsize because it will not be stable. Make sure you learn all the basics of sailing before you go out to have fun without a problem.
Sailing today is a very popular activity worldwide. Sailing has also become a hugely popular spectator event with famous sailing events like America’s Cup getting a lot of attention and media coverage. Bet in play during these races has become a fun and lucrative form of betting for many punters. There are many free bets from reputable bookmakers you can cash in on before you start betting. The sailing enthusiast can enjoy this sport anywhere in the world (as long as there is water). It’s never too late to pick up sailing and once you do, you’ll never look back.