Here are five new sailing terms to get you started to learn to sail. Once you know these, you will understand some of the salty talk you hear around marinas.
Toward the wind. If you turn your face so that you feel it blowing against you, you are facing “upwind”. A sailing vessel sails upwind on a point of sail called a “close hauled, or beating”.
Head Up (also Luff Up)
To head toward the direction of the wind. You don’t need to turn the boat into the wind in order to head up. But if someone says you need to “head up”, that means you need to point the bow closer to the direction the wind is coming from.
Away from the wind. If you turn your back to the wind, you are facing “downwind”. When a sailing vessel sails downwind, her sails will be let out all the way to catch as much wind as possible. Some boats carry a big, colorful, balloon-like sail called a “spinnaker” when sailing downwind.
Fall Off (or Head Down)
To head away from the direction of the wind. If someone says you need to “fall off”, that means you need to point the bow further away from the direction the wind is coming from.
Sheet In or Ease Sheets
You control the sail angle to the wind with a sailing rope called a “sheet”. The mainsail has a mainsheet attached to the boom. The Genoa (or any headsail) has a Genoa sheet (or jib sheet).
When you “sheet in”, you pull on the sheet to bring any sail closer to the boat. When you “ease sheets”, you let out the sheet so that a sail moves farther away from the centerline of the boat.
Memorize these five easy sailing terms until you know them so well that they are like a second language. You will be well on your way to learn to sail the more familiar you become with the language of sailing!