Typical Yacht Club Notice Board for Bucket List

Sailing Bucket List

How to make sailing part of your bucket List

Austin Texas is an inland city with a nearby lake. It’s hardly an international sailing hub. When you think of Austin, you think of music, technology, the University of Texas, and good weather. So for someone who lives here or in a place similar, you’d think that having sailing on their bucket list is a bit unrealistic. In fact – I have spent the better part of my adult life here and obviously, I’m an active sailor and internationally renowned as the Director of Education for NauticEd. How So?

I gained much of my original experience by joining the Austin Yacht club and sailing in the local regattas. And I have to admit that much of my finer technical sailing knowledge came from those many regatta races. More recently whilst living in New Zealand I gained some powerful knowledge by racing with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club on a Beneteau First 45. To run the boat effectively we needed 12 crew members. The crew we consistently had on the boat were experienced professional yacht racers who would fly all over the world to race in the big regattas. Can you imagine the experience you would gain sitting next to those guys and racing week after week? And also think of the fun and connections I made during those races.

Now, before you leap up and say but I don’t want to race – consider this.

When a sailboat racing next to you is inching ahead moment by moment you learn quickly the importance of accurate sail trim. And talk about drilling in the rules of the nautical road – wow when you’re on collision course with dozens of yachts you’ve got to know the rules. So, racing is not necessarily about racing – racing is the very best practical education you can get.

Racing on a Beneteau First 45 in Auckland Harbor

Racing on a Beneteau First 45 in Auckland Harbor with a dipping pole spinnaker

When I raced in Auckland and in Austin, it was on a boat brand called an OPB (Other Person’s Boat). i.e. at the time, I did not own a boat – yet I got plenty of experience. In fact, I got more experience than most people in the world who own a boat because I was out sailing every regatta with a commitment to my shipmates to show up and help lest they not place in the top 3 positions. AND racing is about the only place you will ever learn how to effectively sail with a spinnaker or a gennaker.


If you’re looking at new years resolutions – consider joining your local yacht club. YOU DON’T NEED A BOAT TO JOIN A YACHT CLUB.

By joining a Yacht Club this year you will be able to:

  1. Fill your logbook with good experience
  2. Learn practical sailing at very high levels
  3. Meet lots of like-minded people and form good sailing buddies
  4. Gain sailing and leadership confidence

What’s the first step? Well, just pick up the phone and call the yacht club silly – tell them you don’t have a boat but are interested in racing events.

Here’s a big fact. Virtually all boat owners are desperate for crew for either racing or cruising events. This is proven by the dozens of post-its on the yacht club notice board from skippers looking for crew. Get out there and post your own notice like the one on the left below.


Typical Yacht Club Notice Board

Typical Yacht Club Notice Board

OK here’s another tip for becoming more active in Sailing.

Chances are you know someone who has a boat – I can guarantee you this. They are disappointed they don’t go sailing more often enough and they don’t have as many friends to go sailing with as they need. It seems like to them that whenever they want to go sailing they can’t find a friend to go with them. Seems crazy but it’s true. When I ran a large shared boat company, the biggest reason for attrition was the fact that our members could not find people to go sailing with so they quit.

Email your friends with boats right now and say – Hey John, I’m wanting to make sailing more of a thing for me in 2014. If you’re ever stuck for a sailing buddy let me know – I’ll be there with the sandwiches and refreshments. Then add – I just took a sailing course from NauticEd and it’s gotten me super excited about heading to the Caribbean one day for a sailing vacation but I need more practical sailing experience. Perhaps if you’re up for it you could teach me some of the practical ropes as well.

That’s all you have to say!

But Don’t Show Up as a Rookie

So now the trick is to not show up as a complete rookie. By combining the powerful theory knowledge with on-the-water practical knowledge is going to make you a more enjoyable student/sailing buddy for your friends. So we recommend that you at least start out with the Skipper Rank Bundle of Courses. This will lead you quickly to the Skipper Rank. You obtain Rank by adding practical experience to your NauticEd logbook and in the special case of Skipper Level 1. you can gain this by visiting one of our affiliated training sailing schools and getting practical verification sign-off by an instructor. Additionally, if you don’t see a close-by sailing school to you just contact us and we’ll call your school for you to get them on board.


If you’re sick of letting life slip by:

  1. Take the NauticEd Skipper Rank Bundle of Sailing Courses
  2. Call a sailing school to get your basic practical training done
  3. Email/call friends with sailboats
  4. Call the local yacht club

And on top of all that – keep in mind that NauticEd can help you design a perfect sailing vacation (for no fee). We research the best prices and locations for you and give advice about each location – we’ve been to most. And even if you’re not qualified yet to charter a boat on your own, sometimes the best way to go is to use a local Captain – who knows all the hideaway places. We can arrange that too.

As you can see, you can become more actively involved in sailing this year and a sailing vacation can be a reality even if you don’t own a boat. All it takes is a couple of phone calls and doing the NauticEd Sailing Courses.

Here’s a video about our NauticEd Skipper Sailing Course

Cheers and Welcome to Sailing



Grant Headifen
Director of Education
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My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
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Last updated on March 29th, 2023