Top 3 ways that learning to sail will change your life

If you have never had the chance to go sailing before, you may wonder what it’s all about.  Why bother spending your time learning how to make some bed sheets held up by a stick propel a raft through the water? 

I could go on all day about why learning to sail was the best thing that ever happened to me and why everyone I know who sails would say the exact same thing.  Instead I’m going to limit myself to the top 3 reasons I honestly believe everyone should give sailing a try.

1.  Sailing is an all-in-one experience

When you step aboard a sailing boat of any size, you are opening up yourself up to so many possibilities. 

It's easy to appreciate ridiculously gorgeous sunsets like this when there's nothing but fresh air between you and the view!

It's easy to appreciate ridiculously gorgeous sunsets like this when there's nothing but fresh air between you and the view!

Your day could be profoundly relaxing.  You can sail away from the bustle and hectic pace of life on land and become absolutely connected with nature. That report you have due on Monday?  What report?!  You’re focused on adjusting the angle of the sails to suit the wind, on looking for dolphins that might want to play in your bow wave, and on admiring the way the sunlight gives the crest of every wave a golden halo.  Your everyday stresses fade away as sailing takes over and you dive into the simplicity of life afloat.

Wheeee! Racing across the Irish Sea during the Fastnet Race was super exciting, even though I tried to look calm and collected on the helm.

Wheeee! Racing across the Irish Sea during the Fastnet Race was super exciting, even though I tried to look calm and collected on the helm.

Your day could be profoundly exciting!  You can head out for a windy day on the water and test yourself against the challenges that nature will throw at you.  Sailing at speed gives the same rush as bombing down a ski hill in fresh powder, or tackling some sweet single-track on your mountain bike.  Only in sailing you’re pretty unlikely to run into a tree.  Also, with a skilled skipper, everyone on board can share the experience without necessarily having an advanced skill set yet.

Sailing can be just about the sensation of movement through water and wind, or it can be about precision and skill development as you understand the physics behind that movement.  Whatever it is that you’re seeking, sailing is one place you will find it.

2.  Friends who sail together stay together!

Plenty of sports can give you a great team atmosphere and be a source of new friendships.  But very few can create the depth of friendship that commonly happens in sailing. 

Not me, but pretty much what every game I played looked like!

Not me, but pretty much what every game I played looked like!

I played rugby back in university.  In that ‘sport of barbarians played by gentlemen’ (in my case, some very tough ladies) you are putting your body on the line for your teammates.  Roaring like an enraged elephant as you sprint down the field straight-arming players on the other team in order to protect the ball, knowing your teammates are stampeding with you and will do anything to protect you… that creates quite the bond. 

But in team sports that bond is often temporary.  When you leave the field and trade in your uniform for normal clothes, you become friendly acquaintances that once ran around in the mud together.  It can take years to build a friendship that actually carries over into ‘real life’.  The same goes for work friends or other relationships that we all build in the little compartments of our lives.  It can be really difficult to extend these friendships into a community that exists across our entire life.

Sailing has a truly incredible ability to create that community.  When sailing, you depend on your crewmates just like you would on fellow members of any other team. You look out for each other, literally, and that forms a tight bond between people.  But unlike other activities where you tend to be entirely focused on what you’re doing, while sailing you will find yourself talking. There is something about being on the water, engaged in an activity that gives you time to just talk, that fosters some of the most hilarious, bizarre, thought-provoking and wonderful conversations.

Your crewmates become friends, and you share memories and experiences that impact every aspect of your lives.  Before you know it, those sailing friends are like family.  

3.  Sail Away

Sailing offers an escape.  So does an all-inclusive holiday to Mexico.  The difference is in what you are escaping. 

Sailing requires total independence.  You must be self-sufficient and completely responsible for yourself and your boat.  You carry your own water and your own food.  Your transportation and your bed are the same thing, and you have the ability to go anywhere.    

These days you will have plenty of technology on board to help you, but it’s not the same kind of technology that is woven into our everyday lives.  More often than not you won’t have a cell signal, let alone data.  Texting, phoning, wifi, TV, Facebook and Netflix are all left behind on shore.  You cannot instantly fact-check your conversations with Google.  That may sound like your worst nightmare, but trust me, it is truly liberating to turn it all off for a while!

Sailing frees you from the everyday world.  Let yourself sail off over the horizon and see what sort of person you are and where you might go in this wide world when you aren’t tied into your everyday life.  When you escape to sea, you are giving yourself the opportunity to dream.

You can open the door to all these experiences when you learn to sail.  It’s the first step and we endeavour to make it fun, safe and easy.  Start with our Competent Crew course and the next thing you know you will be sailing a boat jam-packed with new friends sharing a holiday together in the turquoise waters of the South Pacific (or just about anywhere else!).

See you on the water!

Katy Campbell
Owner, Sea to Sky Sailing