Out on the water, sailing can be different things to different people. It can be exciting, invigorating, relaxing or challenging. And getting started is easy! Sailing includes a wide range of boat types, and any would be appropriate for a beginner to start sailing. US Sailing even maintains a national database of places to go sailing or take courses. Let’s take a look:
Generally, small boats, are under 25 feet in length. They include a wide assortment of dinghies (open cockpit), daysailers (with foredecks and gear enclosures) and small day sailing keelboats. Because of their size and simplicity, many small sailboats can be sailed single handed or with a single crewmember. Their performance, depending on design, may range from ‘stable and relaxing’ to ‘wet and wild’. Many instructional programs teach on and/or rent small boats including a majority of community sailing programs, most yacht club junior programs, and an assortment of aquatic centers, camps, parks & recreation departments, Y’s, Scout programs, university and military recreation facilities. Some small boats are designed specifically for youth, but most provide a lifetime of enjoyment for adults too.
The term ‘Keelboat” refers to those sailboats which have a weighted keel (the vertical fin at the bottom of the boat) . So, “basic” keelboats are most commonly larger than the centerboard and dinghy class of vessel and start at about 20′ in length and go up to about 30′ in length. Keelboats are the basis for our accredited Keelboat Certification System school network which provides the highest quality adult education in the country and beyond.
Beyond the “basic” keelboat, the term keelboat continues to describe sailing vessels and yachts through much larger sizes. A common way of describing the next class of keelboats from about 30′ – 60′ is “Cruising” keelboats. All cruising keelboats have auxiliary engines, with most over 30′ in length employing an inboard diesel engine. Most over 30′ usually have a wheel steering system. Also, these cruising vessels are usually set up for the possibility of multiple day trips aboard and include many of the modern conveniences found in a home: pressurized hot and cold water, cooking facilities – oven and stove, sleeping quarters, and private bathrooms with showers.
Windsurfers are a fun and affordable way to experience the thrill of sailing. Typically, windsurfers are “boards”, much like a surfboard. They come in various sizes and widths, which help define the level of skill needed to ride each one. The beginning windsurf boards are wider and longer than the advanced boards and are great for people new to the sport. Colorful, fast, and close to the water, windsurfing is enjoyed by people of all ages.