Sailing fundamentals: sailing tips and tricks for beginners

If you want to learn the sailing fundamentals and basic tips on sailing (for beginners) and more, this article will be a good way to start.

No one knows how to sail when born. As many beginnings, learning to sail can be tough sometimes and requires some time and patience to get you ready and enthusiastic about sailing. But there is nothing to be afraid of. Once you acquire required sailing skills, it will be a wonderful experience worth every invested effort and moment. After your first sailing experiences it will be hard to stop thinking about your next sailing adventure!

The feeling of freedom, relaxation, and adrenaline becomes a life changer. For many also a new way of life. Although learning how to sail may seem complicated at first, you will get a hang of it quickly. And let`s be straight: sailing lifestyle is awesome. Of course, it will take some time to become a good skipper, but sailing basics can be learned fast. Since we have a lot of knowledge and experience about this topic we decided to write down some sailing tips and tricks for beginners who want to rent a sailboat in Croatia!

Before you dive deeper, keep in mind, that for you first experience, we always recommend a skippered yacht charter, so you can observe and learn from true professionals. For totally relaxed sailing holidays we offer also yacht charters with full crew.


Always start with fundamentals of sailing

  • The best way to start learning to sail a boat for beginners is with reading about sailing: books and blogs, or watch beginner sailing tips & techniques clips – and get informed with basics sailing terms and concepts of sailing! There are many great navigation and sailing 101 books out there. To recommend just few of them:
  1. RYA Day skipper handbook
  2. Reeds skipper’s handbook
  3. The Complete Sailing Manual, 4th Edition
  • Take professional sailing lessons in an official sailing school or participate in an online sailing course, like:
  1. RYA organization
  2. RYA Training Centre in Croatia


Our sailing hints and tips for you:

  • Beginner sailors should learn to sail in calm waters with low traffic areas in not to open water (ideally in Croatia in April or May).
  • We recommend to start practicing on sailboats for beginners - smaller sailing boat, but not too small though – ideally between 37 and 41 feet. For example: Dufour 382.
  • Before sailing it’s important to check weather conditions in the area, wind, and tides, so they don’t surprise you when you sail out.
  • Check your boat and safety equipment on board, lines, fenders, life jackets, tool kit, fuel, water, anchor and chain, conditions of the sails, charts and pilot books, navigation instruments, compass, first aid kit, VHF radio, navigation lights, flashlight, flares, bilge pump and any other equipment to make sure it’s there, it’s easily accessible and in a working condition.
  • Wear anti-slip shoes, waterproof clothing, sailing gloves, hats, and sunscreen, protect personal water-sensitive technology such as cameras and cell-phones, empty your pocket items (items like phones or wallets often end up lost overboard, trust us on that!)
  • When you are at the deck, be careful and do not stand on ropes or sheets. Always hold onto something to prevent falls or injuries
  • Do your best to learn key sailing terms, which will ease your communication with other people on board. As a beginner, start with the basic ones: bow, starboard, port, stern, windward, leeward, rudder, keel, tacking, jibing…

Overall, using your common sense, putting safety first and following best practice sailing advices, rules and regulations will make your sailing experience a pleasant one. With each new day sailing at the sea, your knowledge will continue to grow. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from others, more experienced sailing enthusiasts – their advice will also help you improve. And, above all, don’t forget to have a great time doing it. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.

For all those who are ready to start sailing, we recommend getting more informed with RYA sailing programs at our RYA sailing school at NCP & mare Sibenik.

Fundamentals of sailing: basic sailboat terms & parts

Boat basic parts

BATTEN: a stiff strip used to support the roach of a sail, enabling increased sail area.

BOW: the forward part of a yacht. Knowing what is the bow paves the way for defining two other important sailing terms – port and starboard. - Starboard – When you’re facing the bow, starboard is the right side of the boat; sailing requires this definition because "left" and "right" tend to become confusing when used in open waters - Port – The left side of the boat when you’re turned towards the bow.

BOOM: a spar attached to the foot of a fore-and-aft sail; the movement of a sailboat depends on adjusting the boom to the direction of the wind.

BIMINI TOP: A bimini top is an open canvas structure that sits over the cockpit of the boat, supported by metal frames. Biminis create shade and cover allowing you to enjoy a hot summer day without getting sunburnt, also allow you to enjoy the sailing in the rain by providing you cover from the rain.

FENDER: an air or foam filled bumper used in boating to keep boats from banging into docks or each other.

FURLER: the spool mechanism to furl or reduce the genoa.

GENOA: a large jib, strongly overlapping the mainmast.

HULL: the actual body of the boat.

LAZY BAG: allows to pack the mainsail once it slumped, thus protecting from the sun and other elements.

MAINMAST: The basis of all rigging is the mast, on modern yachts mostly made of metal ( in "old" days from wood). The mast is supported by stays and shrouds. The masts and forestays support all the sails.


- FORESTAY: long lines or cables, reaching from the bow of the vessel to the mastheads, used to support the mast.

- STAYSAIL: a triangular sail hoisted on a stay with hanks. - Shrouds - a cable serving to hold a mast up from side to side.

MAINSAIL: the principal and largest sail on the yacht; the most important sail which is placed on the mainmast

STERN: the back part of the yacht.


Pick your preferred boat and book today!

Don`t miss out on our special offers with up to 40% discount for Croatia last minute boat charter deals and early birds booking offers.

Check out also how much does it costs to rent a yacht in Croatia with us and our regular charter terms and conditions. 


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About author

Sailing fundamentals: tips on sailing for beginners
Paško Klisović
Sibenik, 25.11.2023
25+ years of nautical & yacht charter experience. Managing NCP Charter (NCP&Mare) since 2005. Current president of Croatian nautical industry association and Croatian Charter industry association within Croatian chamber of commerce. Member of tourist board of City of Šibenik as representative of nautical tourism.
Rick H. Netherlands sailed on
Rick H. | Netherlands - Charter
Rick H. | Netherlands - Charter

Last week we rented the Sportski Vuk (Grand Soleil 37R). I would like to share that we really enjoyed sailing the boat.
The boat was in a good condition and the service of the crew was great. Kike responded very promptly on our questions while sailing.

See you again!

Grand Soleil 37R, 20.-27.08.2022.
François S. France sailed on
François S. | France - Charter
François S. | France - Charter
Hi Sandra, Hi Ratko, Hi everybody from NCP Charter,

We thank you a lot for this very nice sailing trip we made with Dufour 460 - "Get Lucky" from Sibenik around the astonishing Adriatic islands.
We have been very impressed by the quality of your organisation, and will keep preciously the memory of your kindness: please continue to do so!

If any of you come to France, keep our contact: we live in "Manche", where sailing is an other story, beautifull too...

Best regards, François ("bucket man"), Marion, Bastien, Emeline
Dufour 460, 20.-27.08.2022.

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