We all want to be on the water as much as possible, and when we’re not, many of us gather to talk about being on the water…One of the best ways I know for keeping my sailing skills sharp during the off season is to attend a seminar, workshop or presentation on a sailing- related subject. From basic sailing to coastal cruising to offshore racing and weather routing, there is a seminar for every sailor. Additionally, workshops that include simple and complex maintenance, ship care, diesel and electrical servicing are also extremely interesting and important. It is all time well spent.

I attend as many seminars and presentations as possible. During the off-season, I try to get involved with something that helps keep my skill set current (as is sometimes required), such as safety-at-sea. If my calendar allows for more, I like to add a class that teaches me a new skill or technique such as a diesel workshop or a shorthanded sailing course. As someone who races from time to time, it never hurts to take a rules course or sail trim seminar. Brushing up on the basics, like the fine points of the racing rules, or how moving a genoa lead changes a sail’s shape, is a good way to come out of the gates as fast as possible in the spring. Some of the best presentations I’ve attended were given by people who have ‘done it.’ By this, I mean it’s always great to see and hear about round-the-world cruising adventures or America’s Cup or Volvo Ocean Race competition from the sailors who plotted the courses, trimmed the sails and spun the winches.

There are several seminars already on the books (and listed here in our Checking In section and Calendar of Events) that you might be able to join. For instance, North U has a full calendar of seminars on topics from Trim to Tactics to Weather. All you’ve got to do is pick one. Many area yacht clubs, museums and associations also host lectures, presentations and seminars, such as the Near Coastal Safety@Sea Seminar at Mystic Seaport on February 8.

So, who gives these seminars, presentations and workshops, and why are they important? Well, the professionals of course. Experienced teachers like our Contributing Editor Joe Cooper have much to offer by way of priceless ‘how to get it right,’ tips garnered from many years and many miles underway, as well as endless tales of ‘how it all happened’ from life aboard. Speakers like Coop offer much more than you might read in a ‘how-to’ book. Hands-on safety at sea seminars prepare you for the ‘what-if’ by placing a fire extinguisher in your hands and allowing you to actually put out a fire as you would onboard. You gain skills and confidence through the experience of others and actually performing the tasks yourself.

And it’s easier to find and book them than you would think. Why learn the hard way when you can take what others know from personal experiences, successes and failures? What about putting together your club or association’s own series of presentations? The winter off- season is long and there are plenty of interesting – and varied topics to keep all of your members interested, informed and in-tune. Consider what’s out there, from obtaining your safe boating certificate to bareboat certification, basic sail trim and coastal piloting. For more advanced sailors, there are courses on the racing rules, race management, tuning, passagemaking, weather routing, diesel maintenance, and electronic navigation. There are also presentations for general audiences, such as ‘I sold my house and sailed around the world’ or ‘The America’s Cup and me.’

Check out the preview of three upcoming Safety-at-Sea seminars on page 57, keep an eye on the WindCheck Calendar of Events, and be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter online at windcheckmagazine.com. There are always great opportunities to reacquaint oneself with life on the water, even during the cold days of winter. Let us help guide you…and if you’re looking for a specific type of seminar, or wish to enhance your club’s speaker series, let us know how we can help. Use a little of your free time this winter to continue your boating education. Learning a new skill at a workshop or seminar is always interesting and helpful, and don’t forget about learning how to book the charter of a lifetime, do that bucket list race or sail around the world with your family! As I said, it’s time well spent.

See you on the water.

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