Essential Gear for Learning to Sail Fast!

Do you have a friend or loved one who’s learning how to sail? Perhaps you’re learning sailing yourself?

The thrill of sailing isn't as inaccessible as it might seem at first.

The thrill of sailing isn't as inaccessible as it might seem at first.

Whatever the case, there are several essential items that every new sailor needs.

Looking to take the express lane to learning how to sail?

In the end, learning to sail is all about practice: just get out on the water and enjoy yourself, and eventually the technicalities of handling a sail under a variety of conditions will become second-nature, and you won’t have to think about the theory.

One of the enjoyable aspects of sailing is the incredible variety of skills and knowledge required: a master seaman must simultaneously be a skilled navigator, weather-forecaster, people manager, mechanic, electrician, plumber, and — last but certainly not least — sailor.

In order to accelerate and smooth out the often bumpy process of learning to sail fast and safely, there are a few goodies that I’ve found to be extremely helpful, both in my own learning process and that of friends who are also learning to sail. I wish I’d had all this learning to sail gear at the beginning; it would have made the process of learning sailing a whole lot easier!

Gift Ideas for Learning to Sail:

  • Sail Trim BookSailing Trim Book
    The most important thing for a sailor to master if they ever hope to be able to sail fast is the art of sail trim. And I say art because the science behind sail trim is so complex that even the experts can’t agree on what makes a boat go fastest. Authored by the editor of Sail magazine, Peter Nielsen really knows his stuff, and unlike similar books aimed primarily at racers, Nielsen’s book is applicable even for the cruiser or casual racer who doesn’t necessarily have a crew of 10 professionals on board. Great gift for sailing racers and cruisers alike.
  • Annapolis Book of SeamanshipThe Annapolis Book of Seamanship
    Interested in learning how to sail? Lesson #1: Buy this book! The Annapolis Book of Seamanship has been the standard learn how to sail book for over 25 years, thanks to clear concise explanations of just about everything you need to know in order to safely go to sea under wind power. Makes a great gift for a new boat owner or someone learning to sail!
  • Mariners WeatherMariner’s Weather Book
    Understanding the weather is the key to sailing safely, as well as making it to your destination in a timely manner. With weather becoming less and less predictable, you just can’t rely on a forecast obtained before you leave home. The only way to be safe is to be able to recognize when the weather is changine and be able to react accordingly. A great gift for any boaters hoping to do cruising or longer passages.
  • Heavy Weather Sailing BookAdlard Coles’ Heavy Weather Sailing
    This books is THE classic on sailing in heavy weather (storms and high winds) — going out to sea without having read a copy would just be irresponsible. Think of it this way: if you’re ever a guest on someone’s boat and get caught in a storm, you’re going to be wishing they had read this book. Give it to them now as a gift and you can rest easy!
  • Storm TacticsStorm Tactics
    Why two books on learning to survive storms? Because it’s what every sailor — new or experienced– worries about most, and one area where you really can’t learn too much. Larry and Lynne Pardey, authors of this book, have practiced what they preach on voyages through the Southern Ocean, some of the stormiest waters on the planet, and they’ve devised a system for comfortably and safely surviving even the worst of storms. Differs from the Adlard Coles book in its focus on the traditionalist method of heaving to in heavy weather.
  • Sailing Knots Wall HangingSailing Knots Wall Hanging
    If you’re looking for a way to make learning to sail a bit more fun, maybe for kids or a “reluctant First Mate”, consider this fun Sailing Knots Wall Hanging as a sailing gift idea. Helpful for learning, but also just a cool decorative item — sure beats learning knots from a book!
  • Boatowners ManualBoatowner’s Manual
    One of the most underlooked aspects of learning to be a safe and competent sailor is boat maintenance. The truth is, you’re going to be spending a lot of time making sure your boat is working smoothly, optimizing systems, and making repairs– sometimes even out at sea where you have only your own ingenuity and knowledge to rely upon. That’s where the Boatowner’s Manual comes in — as Sailing Magazine puts it, “This book should come standard issue with every new boat purchase.”
  • Explorer ReliefBand

    Explorer Motion Sickness Relief Band
    Many people have trouble with sea sickness when they’re starting out, and that can completely spoil the fun of learning to sail! Unfortunately, most sea sickness drugs are strong sedatives– meaning they put you to sleep! Finally, there’s a solution that’s FDA approved for preventing seasickness without drugs!
  • FastFind PLB
    FastFind 210 GPS Personal Location Beacon
    Safety always makes for a great gift idea, and you can feel good about having made your loved ones safer. Personal Locator Beacons, or PLBs, connect with satellites anywhere in the world to pinpoint the location of a lost sailor or man overboard.
  • sailing florida keysSailing Lessons in your Local Area
    A great place to start is by finding a certified sailing school
    that offers lessons in your local sailing area. There are two main organizations that provide standards for learning to sail in the US: the American Sailing Association (ASA), and US Sailing. The curricula are quite similar and you’ll do fine to choose sailing lessons from an ASA Sailing School or a US Sailing School. For most people the best place to start would be ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing Class with the American Sailing Association, or US Sailing Basic Keelboat class with one of the US Sailing’s certified schools.
  • Small Craft Safety Bag
    Small Craft Safety Bag

    Again, this gift idea is about making the new sailor safe! Putting together your emergency kit can take a considerable time and expense, and the new sailor might not know everything that should be included. Buy this kit and you have all of the safety essentials for a small boat in one convenient package!
  • Navigation SextantNavigation Sextant
    A Sextant is used for celestial navigation, finding your way by the sun, moon, and stars. Celestial navigation probably isn’t something you’re going to learn your first day on a boat, but it is an essential skill which every sailor must learn before attempting a longer voyage. Even in the era of GPS navigation, electronic systems can and do break, but the stars are always there to guide you!
  • West Marine Gift Card
    The West Marine Gift Card

    Can’t think of what essential gear to get for learning to sail? Get them a West Marine gift card, and you’re pretty much guaranteed they’ll find the gear they’re looking for. West Marine is the sailor’s Mecca; they carry literally everything a boater might want or need, including all the essentials for learning to sail fast!

  • Boat Shoes Gift
    Men’s Billfish Boat Shoes

    A proper pair of boat shoes isn’t just about impressing your new-found Yachtie friends with your impeccable fashion sense. Rather, a good pair of boat shoes are an essential for all new sailors as they provide great traction on slippery wet fiberglass decks, all without marking the boat like normal shoes do!

  • Men’s Full Finger Sailing Glove

    Sailing gloves are probably one of the first purchases you’ll make when you’re learning to sail– they’re an essential for protecting your hands against the ropes and winches you’ll be cranking on all day long. A good pair of sailing gloves has plenty of padding where it counts (the palm and under-fingers), while still allowing dexterity for knot-tying and operating instruments. This pair from West Marine is a great place to start, and would make an excellent gift for anyone learning to sail.

More Essential Learning to Sail Gear?

What purchases would you recommend for beginning sailors or others looking to learn how to sail? Please share in the comment box below!

Emily R.

Hi, I'm Emily! I'm new to blogging so please feel free to leave helpful comments, suggestions, etc. As you may have guessed, I love boats and all things nautical -- sailing, kayaking, boating, fishing -- if you can do it on the water, I'm into it. I also enjoy coming up with fun, creative, unique gift ideas -- so after years of spending more time than I like to admit browsing shops and surfing the internet for the perfect gift, I finally decided to share some of my favorite finds with others looking for ideas for gifts for boaters. I hope you'll find this website useful! Fair winds! ~Emily

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Your Gift Guru ;-)Hi, I'm Emily! Friends have always told me that I give great gifts, so one day I decided to see if I could put that creativity to work helping out other people. This blog combines two of my favorite things: fun on the water, and giving gifts. I hope you find the site useful!

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