When getting in and out of a small boat, always do so from the center. Once aboard, position yourself on the windward side (the side the wind hits first) where you can easily reach the tiller or tiller extension and the mainsheet. This position works as a counterbalance against the effort of the wind hitting the sail and keeps the boat balanced properly as it moves through the water.

Learning the Basics, Balance
fig. 1.

The Tiller

Using the tiller is really quite easy. Just move the tiller in the opposite direction you wish to turn. Push right to go left and vice-versa. Remember, the boat must be moving before the tiller can affect the direction of the boat since it works by providing resistance against forward motion. Try the tiller a few times just to get the feel of how it works.

Learning the Basics, The Tiller
fig. 2.


Sheets are the lines of rope which control the sail. To pull the sails in for certain tacks such as close hauled just pull the sheet in toward your body. On a broad reach, just let the sheet out away from your body. It’s easy to think of the sheets as your throttle and your brakes. Letting them out until the sail starts to flap (luff) will put on the brakes and slow you down. Pulling them in until they just stop flapping will put on the gas and speed you up.

Keep the sheet in your hand. If you need to use both hands for something else, lay the sheet across your knee so that if a gust should come up, you will be able to release the sheet and avoid a capsize.

Hiking And Hiking Straps

When the wind increases in strength, it becomes necessary to “hike out” to maintain proper balance and keep both hulls on the water. This is one of the most exciting parts of sailing catamarans. In all but the lightest of breezes, you should sit with your feet tucked under the hiking strap to prevent any chance of falling off of the boat.