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Your First Sail

You're now ready for your first sail. Reading this page will help you learn the most from your first sail.

Sailing on a dinghy for the first time is like any new experience. Some aspects of it will be exhilarating or exciting, and some will be uncomfortable and confusing. Everyone learns differently so make sure to ask your instructor or officers (in person or by email) if you have questions, but we'll try to give you a good idea of what to expect.

What to Bring and Wear

Bring:
                • A water bottle (preferably one you're not attached to if you plan on taking it sailing).
                • Snacks if it's a half-day lesson, and a full lunch and snacks if it's a full-day lesson/sail
                • Changes of clothes and a towel.
                • Bring your membership card. No card, no sailing.
                • Sunscreen in the summer--the water reflects sunlight making burns easier

Appropriate clothing goes a long way towards comfortable sailing:
  • In summer, wear quick-drying clothes (synthetic or wool) that are comfortable when wet (i.e. not denim). Bring a light jacket (it's often colder than you think on the water).
  • All other times of year, wear synthetic or wool layers under a rainjacket and rainpants. A hat will significantly increase your warmth, and gloves help too.
  • In winter (November 1 - April 30), wear a wetsuit. Club wetsuits can be checked out through an instructor or the Ratings Examiner for member use during classes and Supervised Sailing. Urban Surf next to Gasworks Park rents wetsuits for $15 per day.
Show up for your lesson on time!!

Checking out a boat
We are located by the Waterfront Activities Center (WAC) behind Husky Stadium. Before you make the trip down, here are a few things to consider:
  • You can just leave stuff while sailing, or rent lockers in the WAC when they are open, but in general we do no recommend bringing valuables.
  • When the WAC is open they have restrooms as well as free hot showers upstairs.
Once at our sail locker, you'll find the door locked if it is not Supervised Sailing Hours. When you receive a rating of any kind, you'll get the code that goes to the door. In the sail locker, fill out a yellow Check Out sheet, and have your guests (if any) sign the back. Hang it up with your membership card on the appropriate clip (each clip is labeled with a different kind of boat). Now, grab a life jacket and any boat equipment you need and go sailing!

Setting up the Boat
  • Do NOT raise the mainsail while the boat is on the dock. The boat will move and cause damage to the hull.
  • If you are temporarily leaving your boat, make sure it is tied to the dock with the mainsail down. If the mainsail is up the boat will try to sail away and strain against the rope.

Done Sailing?

  • Most sails you will use will be made of dacron (all the white sails). Lay them out on the wooden docks so you can roll or fold them. If you got them from the locker rolled up (usually sails for FJs), then roll them back up when you are done. If you got them folded (Laser sails), then you'll fold them when you are done. When you are folding sails, don't fold the battens (the hard sticks sewn in) or the clear windows. Bring back any equipment you took out of the sail locker.
  • Fill in the Time-Of-Return on your checkout sheet and put it in the Used Checkout Sheets area (yes, we keep these!).
  • Make sure you shut the Sail Locker door

Damage Reporting
If a boat is found to be damaged, notify the Fleet Captain by filling out the Repair Form (usually pink) and clipping it where you clipped your check-out sheet. If possible, fix the damage yourself. Damage to boats is repaired during our Workparties. For information on workparties or becoming one of our Fleet captains, contact fleetcaptain@washingtonyachtclub.org.