Sailing was once thought of only as a pursuit of the wealthy or privileged. Bobbing up and down on the waves, learning to navigate, tack and control the boat and feeling the sun on your face. It seemed that all these things were only possible if you owned your own yacht or kept a second home in the Florida keys. But recent years have seen community sailing groups and affordable yacht clubs open up this world of relaxation for anyone to enjoy.
So what is it about sailing that makes people recommend it so highly for easing the strains of daily life?.
The Perfect Stress-Relief
Whether you need a good two-week break or just want a weekend’s sail with the family, getting out onto the open waters can make you feel light-years away from your troubles. When asked, a significant majority of people claim to feel at their most relaxed beside the sea, whether it’s because of the gentle sound of the tide moving in and out, the distant call of gulls or just the salty breeze blowing inland.
Add to this the chance to spend a few days or weeks in some of the world’s most scenic coastal spots – Naples, New Zealand’s Auckland harbour or even the idyllic shores of Suffolk – and you have the perfect recipe for a peaceful getaway.
The Physical Challenge
It’s true that exercise is one of the most important things you can do to keep both body and mind healthy. with a skipper or crew to manage the boat, many more will allow you to have a go at the ropes yourself. The physical effort and agility required soon gets unused muscles working, refreshes a tired mind and gives you a completely different workout to being stuck indoors at the gym or swimming at the local pool.
Social Interaction and Team Building
The biggest testament to sailing’s capacity to relax is that there are organisations which actively promote it as a form of therapy. One such organisation in California is Heart of Sailing, which was set up to provide trips for those with special needs along with their family and friends.
A sailing team takes people of all ages and with all kinds of developmental disabilities and encourages them to join in with the communal chores on board, interact with each other and improve things such as motor function and hand-eye co-ordination. In addition, they have found that levels of confidence soar when the participants learn to manoeuvre the boat or take charge of the helm.
Sailing has also become a popular opportunity for leadership and team-building exercises and other corporate training events. Though the challenges of working together on deck can be tough, the development in both individuals and the overall team can be inspiring and immensely enjoyable. Sailing is one of the most relaxing hobbies you can take up and with trips for both beginners and seasoned sailors alike, the stress-relief can start whenever you’re ready.
Tom Harker is a water-sports enthusiast and writer for various online journals and blogs. He first started crewing boats around Europe as a summer job from university with yachting clubs (Malaga and the Caribbean) and has formed a life-long passion for sailing ever since.