The Wind

Sailing harnesses the wind to propel your sailboat. Sailors read the wind and adjust the angle of their sails and sometimes the volume or amount of sail. You must have wind to sail. Even a very slight breeze will let you ghost along quietly. Without any wind you're drinking beer, rum or going for a swim.

Sailors read the wind in different ways. You might have a windex (wind arrow) on the top of your mast. You can also have light pieces of yarn tied to your rigging. Best of all I like to feel the wind on my face.

Try closing your eyes and facing the wind then turn your head side to side. ( Do not try this if you have the helm in crowded waters or are riding a bicycle) Feel the changes on your face. Turn until the wind feels equal on both ears or both left and right sides of your face. Watch the water or other boats nearby to anticipate wind changes that you are heading to.

The wind is always changing. It varies in direction and intensity. Sometimes slightly sometimes it can be very gusty and swirly.

The water is not always a good indicator of the strength of wind. I have gone out on days when the waves are all ripped up to find surprisingly less wind than I expected. The reverse is also true. There are times when the wind seems to run above the water being much stronger than what the water indicated.

Notice the wind daily whether you're sailing or not. Notice the speed, the gusts, the direction and the shifts. Get out and sail. Start with what wind you feel comfortable with. As you gain experience and confidence in yourself and your sailboat your "comfort" days will expand. Relax and feel the wind. As a sailor you depend on it.

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