With all of the complex nautical terminology and moving pieces, sailing can seem like a tall order for many beginners. Regardless of location or vessel, all proficient sailors must learn three essential skills.
First, a good sailor must be able to determine which way the wind is blowing. Although experienced sailors can often accomplish this task on feel alone, sailboats include helpful equipment, such as wind vanes and ribbons in the rigging. When it comes to actually operating the sailboat, sailors must know how to steer a straight line.
Finally, all sailors must know how to trim, or adjust, their sails. After steering the boat in a straight line, they ease the line that controls the sail (often referred to as a “sheet”) until the leading edge begins to flutter softly. When the boat changes direction, sailors must typically re-trim the sail.