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Sailing – Article by Julia, Teen Blogger

Every year, Halifax hosts an International Boat Show, a chance to see all of the newest sail boats. This year, the show will be held at Exhibition Park on February 20-23.

I’ve beenLearning to Sail-book cover sailing since I was 9. Sure, sailing and I had a pretty rocky relationship considering we’ve been off and on again, but for several years now, we have been going strong! In total, I’ve been sailing for 4 years now and I must admit, I hated sailing for the first 2 years. My mum kept on putting me in sailing camps and for two whole years, I was completely against it. Nowadays, my mum is happy seeing me enjoying sailing and not fighting her about going to sailing camp. I wasn’t a horrible little brat though!! (At least I hope I wasn’t…)

Sailing can honestly be terrifying for young kids. It feels like a roller coaster...but this roller coaster can derail and completely fall into the water. But hey, falling in not bad at all! The water can be freezing here in Halifax, but it can be really nice in the summer-especially on hot days (well, as long as you have wind)!

Sailing is an amazing experience. I love feeling the warm sun on me and the wind on my face as we cruise right along into the mouth of the harbour and straight out of the Arm. You can also go to Spectacle Island and eat raspberries! Yum, yum.The Complete Sailor - book cover

The best experience I’ve had with sailing was when the camp I was in took me out on one of the club's boats and we sailed all the way to McNabs Island! My friends and I ate lunch on the beach, had water fights, went on a mini-hike around the island and swam around in the water. Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, “Well, have you had ANY bad experiences in sailing?” Well, yes, I did have some little stuff like having to wake up early in the morning but honestly, that’s not so bad.

To be a sailor you require good communication skills, leaderships qualities, intelligence, bravery, and the ability to work well with people (you can’t not talk to your crew or your sea mates). You need to be able to coordinate your crew, know the parts or your boat, know the types of knots to use for you boat, and know sailing techniques. You can’t be a wimp and cry when you tip or turtle your boat and you can’t be scared about sailing 'fast'. You also need to be able to be able to handle those who will eventually lose it and get scared, whine or scream their heads off--to help ease them out of it because even though I say never be scared, we are only human and we all have emotions and feelings.

Now, knots can be hard considering they are quite knotty. There are always a handful that misbehave and don't do what you want them to do. So, here is a book to help you out with your knot tying skills:

Knots-book cover

Knots By Gordon Perry 

"Easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step illustrations. A comprehensive and practical pocket-sized guide, Knots provides easy-to-follow instructions for tying 120 knots. Step-by-step color illustrations demonstrate how to tie each knot. With a diverse range of knots having hundreds of practical applications, this handy book contains all the information and guidance that anyone - including sailors, climbers and campers - needs. The book also explains how to maintain rope-tying materials." ~From the publisher.

And now for some boat slang time! Here are some typical terms you need to know for sailing:

Port: Facing forward, this is anything to the left of the boat. When you’re onboard, you can use this term pretty much any time you would normally say 'left.'

Starboard: Facing forward, this is anything to the right of the boat. Same deal as 'port'–only the opposite.

Bow/Stern: The bow is the front of the boat and the stern is the back. Anything near the front of the boat is referred to, as being 'forward', and anything toward the back is 'aft' or 'astern'.

Point of Sail: The boat’s direction relative to the wind. For example, if you’re going straight into the wind, your point of sail is called 'in irons'. (Note: This isn’t a good place to be!) If the wind is blowing straight over the side of the boat, that’s called a 'beam reach'. There are 8 commonly used points of sail, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them before going out.

Helm: Where you steer the boat. Usually this is a big wheel, but on smaller boats it can be a tiller, which is basically a long wooden stick. Either of these can be used to control the boat’s rudder.

Keel: The keel is a long, heavy fin on the bottom of the boat that sticks down into the water. It provides stability and is the reason why modern sailboats are nearly impossible to capsize.

Heeling: This is the term for when a sailboat leans over in the water, pushed by the wind. There’s nothing else like the thrill of heeling over as your sails fill and your speed picks up!

Tack: This term has two distinct meanings, both of them very important. As a verb, to tack is to change direction by turning the bow of the boat through the wind. As a noun, your tack is the course you are on relative to the wind. For example, if the wind is blowing over the port side, you are on a port tack. If it’s blowing over the starboard side, you’re on a…you guessed it…starboard tack.

Jibe: A jibe is another way of changing direction, in which you bring the stern of the boat through the wind. Whether you choose to tack or jibe entirely depends on the situation–on what’s around you and on the direction of the wind.

Windward: The side of the boat closest to the wind. When heeling over, this will always be the high side.

Leeward: The side of the boat furthest from the wind. When heeling over, this will always be the low side.

Lines: On board a boat, this is what you say instead of 'ropes'.

Mainsail: The big triangular sail just aft of the sailboat’s mast. As the name suggests, this is the boat’s largest and most important sail. Running along its bottom edge, the mainsail has a thick pole called the boom.

Jib: The next most common sail on any boat. The jib can always be found forward of the mast, and unlike the mainsail, does not have a boom.

If you would like to learn to sail, here are some places that offer sailing camps/courses in Halifax:

Saint Mary’s Boat Club/SMBC

The Waegwoltic Club/The WAG

The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron/ RNSYS

Armdale Yacht Club

Sea Cadets Summer Sailing Camp (only if you are in Sea Cadets)

And finally, just for fun: I love this cute little kiddie book. I may be a teen, but I still love it 'cause it is about boats!

Boat Works by Tom Slaughter:

“The question 'What am I?' and a linked written clue invites kids to lift the first portion of the folded page to reveal another clue and more of the featured boat, and then a final fold-out shows the entire vessel. Featured boats include: sailboat, tugboat, ocean liner, rowboat, ferry, houseboat, and barge.” ~From the publisher

Happy Sailing!


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