Sail Training

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Sail training is not essential, but is definitely helpful, when sailing the seas in tall ships, which are propelled by the wind in their sails. Although these boats have crews of expert sailors, passengers are expected to help with the sails. Actually, learning about sails, rigging, and tacking--and then applying that knowledge in a real situation on the ocean--is fascinating, as it is an art whose roots lie in ancient methods of nautical navigation.

Sailing pits individuals against the challenge and unchecked power of the sea, which is one reason why sailors are passionate about it. Formal sail training is available from many organizations around the world for those who are serious about learning to sail. More than likely, your lessons will take place on a full-rigged ship because it has the most complicated kind of rigging.

Sail Training on Schooners

The tall ship voyages that carry passengers through the southern seas around South America and Antarctica, however, will probably be schooner-type boats. These are generally smaller than full-rigged ships, and thus are faster and more maneuverable. Schooners are really a family of boats, which are fore-and-aft (front and rear) rigged (with sails) and have at least two masts.

Although your captain probably won't let you assist in something so complex as tacking, you may want to observe the experts, ask questions, and give it a try on smaller boats back home. Certainly, knowing the basics of sail training will give you a greater appreciation for the deft handling of your boat as the crew maneuvers erratic winds to reach their destination. Gaining some mastery of the terminology and the tactics will enhance the seagoing experience for the novice sailors on board.


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