SheSails has provided a library of sailing resources you can use to shore up your knowledge before getting started!

The Wind!

This video can help you begin to understand the difference between sailing upwind and downwind:

Upwind vs Downwind

This video provides a great explanation of lift, which is the principle that allows us to sail upwind:

The Physics of Sailing

The Points of a Sail Diagram

The thing that sets us apart from power boaters is our ability to harness the wind to move a sailboat. We do this by considering the direction of the wind and where we want the boat to go and then adjusting the direction of the boat and the angle of the sails to get us there in the most efficient manner possible. This chart illustrates the way we adjust the sails to do that.


There are lots of great sites for checking wind forecasts.  Here are just a few of the options:



WindFinder: (This one is Lake Union specific)

For serious weather fans, Cliff Mass’s blog is awesome and he frequently does race weekend predictions.


Get yourself a three-foot piece of line and start learning knots. Here are my recommendations for getting started:

The Figure Eight Knot (as a stopper knot at the end of headsail sheets)

The Clove Hitch (for tying on fenders or on its side to attach to a bollard – add a half hitch when leaving the boat)

Cleat Hitch/Locking Hitch (for cleating off a line)

(you can make yourself a practice horn cleat by bending a wire coat hanger into shape)

The Cow Hitch (for tying on fenders – add a half hitch when leaving the boat)

Round Turn and Two Half-Hitches (for tying on fenders or attaching mooring lines to posts or rings)

Reef Knot/Square Knot (for tying together two lines of similar size)

Sheet Bend (for tying together two lines of different widths)

The Bowline (for tying sheets to sails) is a great resource for learning knots. All knot tying videos are provided by them.


The Parts of a Sail

Triangular shaped sails have three sides and three corners. Each has a name and a function.

This diagram demonstrates the many parts of a sail on a sailboat