What could be more exciting, relaxing, and rewarding than sailing the open seas. Every year thousands take to the seas, waterways and rivers to enjoy the beauty of sailing. The earliest historical account of sailing found contained a painted disc believed to be around the 5th century B.C. Sailing’s early roots were to engage in trade, transportation, exploration and act as a vessel for colonization and war. Today, these yachts and boats serve another purpose, to provide us with pleasure.
There is only one thing better than taking a trip on a yacht and that is to master and skipper the vessel. Anyone who tries navigating a yacht will experience a wonderful sense of accomplishment and freedom. A simple starting point is to learn the different parts of a yacht and their functions, which will allow you to become a more proficient sailor.
The basic parts of a sailboat include; the hull, the sail, the rudder, the keel, the mast. Each part acts in tandem to make the yacht work as a single unit. The sails come in two parts referred to as the main sail and the small headsail. The main sail provides a large proportion of the drive, while the headsail can be placed on different points of sail and can be adjusted according to the direction of the wind.
The Main Sail
The main sail can be found directly behind the main mast and can be adjusted to capture the most wind, in contrast the staysail remains stationary. The staysail is fore-and-aft sail, set on a stay, with the fixed position of the staysail fastened on the jib. Sometimes, depending on the size of the vessel, there could be more than one main sail and staysails.
The main part of the vessel which is submerged by water is the hull. The hull comes in many shapes, which is determined by the purpose of the vessel. Boats designed for speed do better with a hull that comes to a point, while flat bottom boats are best in shallow water and slower speeds. Sailboats have three basic hull types. The one used most on boats is the monohull, which is used mainly for sailing and racing boats. Multi hulls have two or more hulls, a style used by most catamarans. Finally, the simplest hull type is flat, like a surfboard with a sail.
The keel has several functions. First, and foremost it helps to stabilize the boat and keep it from turning over in a strong wind. It is a hydrodynamic element which helps to expedite the boat through water. There is the fin keel, which is both smaller and faster than a full keel.
The rudder is a piece of metal, fiberglass, or wood connected to the stern of the vessel. Its primary purpose is to steer the vessel by changing the direction of the water as it passes through the hull or the fuselage. The result is that whichever way the rudder turns that is the direction the boat goes.
The mast is a pole that holds and supports the sails. It supports the running rigging, which is all of the wires ropes that keep the sails under control. Depending on the size of the ship, there may be more than one mast. The guy mast is a type of mast that receives support from guy lines which is a series of tension wires that stabilize the mast. Normally, the guy line is a simple rope, however if it is attached to a mast antenna, it is made of conductive materials.
Sailing a yacht can be an exciting and rewarding pleasure. It is advisable to take a day skipper course, with a RYA approved provider such as mustang sailing.