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A Step-by-Step Guide to SAILING

how to guides


How Wind Moves a Boat

A sail full of wind forms an airfoil and propels the boat with lift, the way a plane’s wing does (except across water, rather than into the air). The work of sailing is to position, or trim, the sails to maximize lift in the direction you want to go.

Once you’ve raised the sails using the lines—never say “ropes”—called halyards (A), they’re trimmed using the sheets (D), which pivot the boom (E) between the port and starboard—that is, left and right—sides of the boat. On a two-sail boat like this one (called a sloop), the emphasis is on the mainsail (B), the sail nearer the stern (H), which is the rearmost or aft part of the boat. The smaller jib (C), nearer the bow (F), at the fore, also pivots—but as a new sailor you’ll be focused on the mainsail.

The basic idea: You use the tiller (G) to move the rudder (I) and angle the boat so that it is perpendicular to the wind. Use the sheets to angle the mainsail so it fills with wind. In the bowing airfoil shape, air moving over the longer, curved side moves faster than air flowing by the other side, generating lift.

sailing tip

Here are some beginner sailing tips for making sure you have a safe, fun, and successful voyage.

  1. Pick a day with favorable conditions and dress appropriately. …

  2. Have the right boat. …

  3. Be aware of the boom. …

  4. Go with someone who knows what they’re doing. …

  5. Know some basic sailing terms before you go.

joint a sailing club

SITUATION (how to get there)

PNYC is located at 126 Sailfish Street, Vaalmarina on the Vaal Dam. Access is from the Vereeniging/Villiers road (R54). The turn-off to Vaalmarina is 15Km from the Heidelberg/Denysville intersection. Entering Vaalmarina, take the second road to the left (with PNYC sign).


All classes for Keelboats. Junior section – Optimists and Dabchick.


Clubhouse with bar, TV lounge, kitchen for members / visitors use, Slipway and Gantry, 6 courtesy moorings for visitors. Camping and caravans are permitted by prior arrangement.
Small pool and playground equipment for children. 

620 Sailfish St, Vaal Marina
PO Box 310 Vaal Marina 1945

Commodore: Geoff Jordaan
Tel. 082 746 2136


SITUATION (how to get there)

VCA is on the north side of Aloe Fjord on the Vaaldam (NE Vaal Dam). Access is from the Vereniging – Villiers road (R54). From the crossroads (Denysville / Heidelberg) continue +/- 5-6 kms towards Villiers. Turn right at VCA signboard. (on the other side of the road is a sign to the left to De Kuilen). Proceed along this gravel road to the club.


All Keelboat classes


Club house with bar, galley services according to programme and regattas. TV room, Slipways, jetty’s, (fixed / on rails and floating). Swimming pool, jungle gym for children, caravan and camping. Ablution facilities for 30/40 boats (100 people).


P O Box 263 507, Three Rivers 1935


Club Secretary – Joke Lenz 082 950 5780

Commodore – Frank Lenz


Sailing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Sailing For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By J. J. Isler, Peter Isler

Sailing can provide adventure, relaxation, recreation, and just good old fun. To enjoy yourself on a sailboat, you need to know the basic sailing maneuvers, sail positions, and rules of the waterway for when you encounter other vessels. And, it pays to know what to bring aboard and what to leave on shore.

How to Jibe and Tack when Sailing

You need to know the two basic sailing maneuvers — jibing and tacking — whether you’re sailing the open seas or an enclosed lake. (Jibing and tacking take you away from or into the wind.) The following instructions and illustrations give you step-by-step procedures to accomplish both.


Sail Positions and Their Names

When you’re sailing, you use specific terms to describe the position of the sail — along with calling the left side of the boat port and the right side starboard. Check the following figure for the terms that indicate different sail positions.


Basic Traffic Rules of the Waterway for Sailboats

Traffic rules prevent accidents on land — and on water. Just because you’re sailing on open water doesn’t mean you can disobey simple traffic rules. The rules of the water actually call for more consideration than rules of the asphalt, so bear the following conventions in mind as you sail:

Tiller or wheel?

Most sailboats longer than 30 feet (9 meters) are steered with a wheel, just like a car. Through a mechanical linkage, the wheel controls the position of your rudder. When moving forward, turn the wheel left and the boat goes to the left — and vice versa. You may think that this is stating the obvious, but you see why when you compare turning the wheel to the other way of steering a sailboat — with a tiller.

You steer most smaller sailboats by using a tiller. Using a tiller for the first time takes a bit of getting used to, because the boat turns the opposite direction you move the tiller. If you move the tiller to the left, the boat turns right; move the tiller right, and the boat goes left.

Steering a sailboat is also like a car in that turning becomes more efficient the faster the boat is going (and in the fact that you can’t steer when stopped). So when you’re going fast, you can turn the tiller or wheel less to achieve the same turning arc. To turn when you’re going slow, turn harder and keep the rudder over for a longer time.

For pure sailing pleasure, some sailers prefer a tiller on any boat up to, say, 40 feet (12 meters). Although a wheel takes up less cockpit space, it compromises the feel of the boat. Because of all the associated parts and connections, wheel steering has much more internal friction. A tiller directly connects you to the rudder, allowing you to feel the water as it flows below the boat, and for me, that sensitivity is preferable.

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