Cruise News

Steering the Course

Steering the Course

By Rebecca Hayter

From 1 to 10 October 2021, Yachting New Zealand will join Steering the Course: a worldwide festival to encourage women into sailing. Sailing has challenged me, thrilled me, and enriched my life and I encourage all women who want to get into sailing to get onboard.

Do the Day Skipper course. That’s my advice to everyone who asks me about getting into sailing. It sits alongside that other great piece of advice: join a yacht club to meet other sailors and put your name on the club noticeboard or website until someone invites you to join their crew.

When you’re new to sailing, it’s a little daunting to join a new boat, but you will feel more confident if you’ve done your Day Skipper through Coastguard Boating Education or similar.

Day Skipper isn’t specifically about sailing; it’s about boating in general – the basics of navigation, including the meanings of channel markers in the harbour to keep boats on the safe side of hazards; the Collision Regulations to avoid other boats; and onboard practices like how to anchor so that your boat stays where you want it to; and knowing your knots. The four main knots for boating are bowline, reef knot, clove hitch and figure-eight knot, and every skipper you ever sail with will thank you for learning them.

Knowledge is about confidence. If you don’t understand something, it’s hard to feel confident and if you don’t feel confident, it’s hard to have fun. Even the best sailors in the world say they learn something new every time they go sailing.

Even if you are happily partnered to someone who owns a boat and knows all this stuff, I still recommend you do Day Skipper and a learn-to-sail course. There are exceptions but often, when one partner plays tutor to the other in how to drive, sail or ski, it gets tetchy.

It’s also hard to commit to the training process on a private boat. Many years ago I did the RYA Powerboat course. The instructor asked me to berth the boat in a marina berth, which required me to face the boat into the wind, which is the easiest way to do it. Then I had to berth the boat in a cross-wind, then downwind. For about an hour, we practiced berthing in different scenarios, because that’s what we were there to do.

The more you learn about boating, the more you’ll enjoy it.


For a really crazy sailing adventure, visit my website

Animal Biscuits9.jpg

Just hanging out with the guys on Craig Partridge's Animal Biscuits in the Bay of Islands.