Imagine the wind in your hair, the water beneath you and a bunch of ropes tied into complicated knots. This is what comes to mind when most people think of sailing. Then add on all the fancy terms like ‘boom’, ‘winch’, and ‘cleat,’ and it can all sound very daunting.
But take it from me, sailing is a challenge that will help you acquire invaluable skills to help you navigate through life – and often given you a great workout in the process.
Even though I’ve been sailing on my father’s boat since as early as five-years-old, my adventures on the water became much more significant at age of twelve, right around the same time my parents were going through a divorce. On the day my sister and I moved into my dad’s new home, he drove us to “The Sal,” his 25 foot O’Day Outlaw tied up in Sausalito’s Clipper Yacht Harbor.
For the first time, sailing now meant more than just putting on a windbreaker and topsiders. It became a means of escape from life’s everyday challenges. That day signified a period of change, not only for what was happening with my family, but a change in the way I approached everything. I welcomed this as an opportunity to grow and learn from any obstacles placed in front of me.
As I learned then and since, when life throws you curveballs, like any good sailor, you adjust your course to weather through the storm.
Here are five beneficial effects that sailing will have on your life:
Ever feel a need to de-stress, or just get rid of those negative thoughts and feeling clouding your judgement? Between the fresh air and the open waters, sailing is no doubt, therapy for the mind.
You’ll feel positive vibes after breathing in the fresh salty air which is composed of charged hydrogen ions that can boost oxygen levels and balance out the serotonin in the body, according to a health advice website, healthfitnessrevolution.com
Unlike a car, every member on deck must work together to operate a boat. As a result, communication is key when out on the sea. The very act of speaking and listening to the captain and the crew members requires patience and focus, skills essential for strengthening any relationship.
What’s even better is if the crew is made up of your own family members, or your group of girlfriends, or even a significant other. My dad taught me the basics of sailing at a young age and it’s been a wonderful activity we have shared and enjoyed together since my childhood.
Sailing is a very hands-on way to learn plenty of new skills. Mastering tasks like pulling on the lines and hoisting up the sails can significantly improve your hand and eye coordination and your motor skills. These are also great core exercises that will exhaust your body at the end of the day and help you sleep at night.
You might also pick up on new sailing lingo, and finally learn the difference between ‘port’ versus ‘starboard,’ or ‘coming about’ versus ‘jibing.’
Aside from gaining knowledge on the specifics, sailing is also an opportunity to think quickly on your feet. Trust, self-reliance, and fast-problem solving abilities also kick into gear when working with your crew to navigate through the rougher waters.
Tackling the task of “tacking” can be tricky, but mastering these sailing basics can surely increase your self-esteem. Tacking occurs when the helmsman, or skipper, says “Ready About?” And crew members respond, “Ready.” Then the skipper proceeds to sail the bow of the boat into the wind)
Sailing novices participated in an training program, involving such basics, that measured their improvements in social confidence and their ability to work with others during one study conducted by The University of Edinburgh. Their findings concluded that this boost in confidence had a lasting effect on the participants.
Once you’re out on the water, sailing takes on a life of its own, welcoming a new set of challenges to conquer and blessings to cherish. That’s what happened to me on that pivotal voyage aged 12 and it continues each time I set sail.
Make sailing apart of your life by renting a boat or hiring a skipper to charter one for you. Most coastal destination cities offer this as a convenience for travelers. California’s Marina del Rey Harbor is a typical example of a harbor that provides a variety of professional charters and rentals for sunset and daytime sails.
You can also take sailing classes or become a licensed captain and learn how to charter our own boat! I promise you won’t regret it.
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