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Sailing Theory

Learn all about sailing theory here. There are 23 sailing theory topics across 4 different courses: Basics, Communication, Navigation, and Weather.

You can also test yourself on a random selection of questions from all courses.

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Basic Theory

Easily learn the basics of sailing so that you can enjoy this great pastime even more.

How Boats Sail Understand the science behind how boats sail and why they can sail into the wind
Parts of a Sailing Boat The names of different parts of the inside and outside of a boat
Parts of a Sail The names of different parts of a main sail
Points of Sail The direction a boat is sailing in relation to where the wind is coming from
Relative Terms When sailing we describe things in relation to the boat or wind. If somebody shouts "Collision AHead", you're going to want to know where to look
Rules of the Road Standardize rules and practices for all vessels to prevent collisions
Tack: Starboard vs Port Tack is an alignment of the boat to the wind. It's a very basic term in sailing that should be understood early on
Terminology A glossary of sailing terminology

Communication Theory

Sailing related communication to improve your confidence and safety.

Morse Code The sequence of short and long signals of lights or sounds used in communication
Phonetic Alphabet A list of code words assigned to letters in the latin alphabet allowing for clearer voice messages by radio or telephone
Semaphore Flags Used for communication that involves a signalman positioning their arms in a fixed position to encode and transmit a message
Signal Flags Flags to represent individual letters of the alphabet to aid in signalling to or from sailing vessels
Buoys 6 types of sea buoys used in maritime pilotage to aid in your sailing navigation, defined by International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)
Cardinal Marks Named after the cardinal parts of the compass, they indicate the position of a danger
Direction of Buoyage Identified on charts, the direction of buoyage helps prevent collisions at sea by clearly providing the direction vessels should be travelling in
Emergency Wreck Buoys Placed above, or as close to, new wrecks and underwater hazards
IALA Buoyage Systems The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) that standardised the world's navigational buoys into two systems
Isolated Danger Buoys Placed directly above a hazard such as a submerged rock or a wreck, but has navigable water all around it
Lateral Marks Define the edges of a navigable channel, most commonly when entering/leaving harbours
Preferred Channel Markers Used when there's 2 different navigable channels available, they are placed at the split of channels to identify which is the preferred channel
Safe Water Markers Sailing buoy, identifies that safe, navigable water is all around
Special Marks Indicate special areas or features such as military exercise zones, recreation zones, traffic separators etc

Weather Theory

Learn sailing weather theory to improve your confidence and safety while at sea

Beaufort Wind Scale The beaufort wind scale allows an observer to judge the wind speed without the use of an instrument