May 12, 2023

Why do I hate sailing

I set sail with my dad for the first time last week and I really hated it. Why do I hate sailing? Let me list the reasons, there are loads of them.

Editors Note: Let me (John Sixthsmith) say that most of this article was written by my daughter Katie, who after being nagged by me for years to come sailing with me, finally gave in. This is her account of the trip and her reasons for hating it.

Reasons Why Sailing Might Not Be Enjoyable

Sailing might not be enjoyable for a number of reasons, I guess even experienced sailors may not enjoy it all the time and a novice, like me, may take an instant dislike to it.

Here are some of the reasons why I didn't like it and a one or two marked * that didn't really affect me but may put others off.

  • The unpredictability of the weather conditions.
  • The constant fear of capsizing.
  • The discomfort of spending too much time on the boat.
  • The lack of control over the journey's direction.
  • The limited space for storage and movement on the boat.
  • The sea sickness.
  • Being unable to sleep at night.

I was a bit sea sick initially but got over it fairly quickly but, sailing must be very challenging for people who are prone to seasickness or have trouble maintaining their balance on a moving platform. This would really put a damper on anyone's fun when sailing.

To address some of these issues, there are a variety of suggestions that my dad made that may help make sailing more enjoyable. For instance, he did suggest that I take a couple of sailing lessons before our trip but I really didn't want to. I just thought I'd just take the plunge and rely on dad to do the sailing stuff.

I figured I'd be on deck sunbathing most of the time, not hoisting sails and scrubbing the deck.

On reflection though it may have help build a little confidence and minimize my safety concerns.

Additionally, packing the right gear would certainly have helped and made the sailing a little more pleasant. It is no fun being wet through!

Editors note: Pity she wouldn't listen to me prior to the holiday and or read this article, what to take on a sailing holiday. I did offer to go to her house and see what she was thinking of packing, but she knows best!

Even though I'd planned the trip beforehand and checked weather forecasts etc it didn't seem to help her avoid being caught out by the weather.

Sailing will very often throw up unpredictable weather patterns and potentially ruin an otherwise smooth voyage.

Fear of the Open Water

The feeling of being lost at sea, even though dad assured me he knew exactly where we were did worry me. Fear of the open sea can be intense for those with a phobia. It may come from a bad water experience or an irrational fear of drowning. This can make sailing uncomfortable.

Vast water for miles can make someone feel trapped and thalassophobic (scared of vastness or emptiness of the sea or ocean and the creatures in depths of the sea) I Googled that when I got home I had never heard of it before.

Nothing quite like the fear of the open water to make you appreciate solid ground and a lack of sea monsters!

To try and ease my fear, dad after some initial teasing and me threatening to kill him, he did offer some advice an sympathy. He taught me a little bit about navigation and that helped me focus on something else and when I had a purpose to looking at the horizon it seemed better.

He took me through all the safety equipment and made sure I had a really good life jacket.

Editors note: I once sailed with someone who was so scared. He had his eyes closed the whole time. His panic affected everyone on board. Who needs an amusement park when you can have the thrill of nausea and vomiting on a sailboat?

Motion Sickness

Motion discomfort can make sailing an unpleasant experience. Waves can cause disturbances in the inner ear, leading to dizziness and nausea. Even medications or patches may not fully help.

Food has a huge effect on motion sickness. Heavy meals prior to sailing will worsen symptoms. Caffeine and alcohol can provoke sickness due to dehydration. It's best to eat light meals and avoid potential problem foods before sailing.

Genetics and susceptibility factors like illness or stress can make some individuals more likely to feel motion sickness. Knowing one's limits is key to enjoying sailing without health worries.

80% of sailors experience some degree of motion discomfort at some point in their sailing adventures. This includes seasoned sailors too! Sailing has less control than a rollercoaster ride.

Lack of Control

"Lack of Control" could be a different phrase for "Inability to Influence Vessel's Movement". Out there in the middle of a vast ocean, I felt very small.

This made sailing a less pleasant experience for some. Without a steering wheel or control over the boat, one may feel scared, powerless or uneasy. Plus, the unpredictability of wind and waves caused further distress.

If you don't fully understand the boat and how it works these feelings may be more intense. Adapting to different weather and reacting to emergencies require skill and courage. Obviously knowing how experienced a sailor my dad was helped.

The Physical Exhaustion that comes with Sailing

In addition, some sailors don't take pleasure in the physical demands of sailing. Hoisting sails, trimming them or adjusting tack lines can be tiring and difficult.

Sailing I'm told is great for your arms, legs and core... but I felt like mush afterwards!

Sailing requires some physical strength and stamina owing to the nature of the sport. As I was a "guest" on the voyage I was saved many of the rigours involved in constantly adjusting sails, and manoeuvring the boat.

But even with the small bit I did I could tell it was extremely hard work. I found that I wasn't as fit as I thought I was!

In addition to physical exertion, sailing also involves mental demands such as concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Sailors must constantly anticipate and react to changing conditions, making split-second decisions to maintain safety and control of the boat.

It's only fair in the interests of balance to point out that sailing can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their fitness level. Novices can start with easier winds and shorter sails, gradually building endurance and skills over time. Proper training, preparation, and safety precautions can significantly reduce the physical demands and enhance the overall sailing experience.

Editors Note: Strengthen your upper body and core muscles through weight training and cardiovascular exercise to improve your sailing performance and endurance.

Difficulty Manoeuvring the Boat

Navigating a sailboat is a lot harder than it looks, especially in bad weather. You need precise body and hand movements to control the sail, rudder, and keel.

You must know how to trim the sail and understand wind direction. To sail upwind, you must keep the boat pointed right with steady pressure on the wheel. Changing direction requires teamwork to make the turn smoothly. Obviously I knew none of this when I started and was totally reliant on the other crew members.

Weight distribution is key when sailing. Keeping the centre of gravity low and balanced is essential. Too much weight on one side can cause capsize. Knowing when to shift your weight is key. Editors note: Read "what does knockdown mean".

Mental and physical preparedness is key for sailing performance, and I have a greater respect to sailors than I ever did.

Dealing with Adverse Weather Conditions

We were unlucky with the weather on the trip and the harsh weather made demands both physical and mental on all of us.

Before embarking on a sailing trip, sailors must check the weather forecast. Reading weather maps and familiarizing with different patterns is helpful.

Suitable gear such as waterproof jackets, gloves, boots, and goggles should be carried to protect from elements. Additionally, sailors should secure all loose items onboard - no flying off during rough seas! Read "What to take on a sailing holiday".

Editors Note: In case of unexpected storm or bad weather, sailors must react quickly. Reduce sail area by reefing or furling sails to prevent damage and maintain vessel stability. Also, alter course or change direction to steer clear of strong currents or waves.

Maintenance and Potential Costs

One of the things I don't like about sailing is it can be a very expensive sport. Maintaining a vessel and considering potential costs are crucial aspects of the sailing experience. Here are some relevant details:

Mooring FeesCan range from $1,000 to $3,000 per year depending on the location
InsuranceVaries depending on vessel value, typically $500 to $3,000 per year
MaintenanceCan vary greatly depending on age of vessel and extent of repairs needed, typically upwards of $1,000 per year
EquipmentCosts for various boating equipment and gear can add up, e.g. marine electronics, sails, and rigging

When considering maintenance and costs, it's also important to note that sailboats are not just watercraft but are also homes, and require similar upkeep as a house. Keeping a sailboat in top condition can ensure it retains its value and minimize potential issues while out at sea.

My dad says that keeping up with maintenance can seem daunting at first but with proper planning and routine care, it can become a manageable and even enjoyable aspect of the sailing lifestyle. Just not for me.

If owning a boat is a symbol of financial success, then renting a boat must be a symbol of financial irresponsibility.

Cost of Buying or Renting a Boat

Evaluating the cost of buying or renting a boat requires you to consider various factors. Initial costs, maintenance fees, repairs, storage, insurance, and more. Check out the table below for an outline of expected expenses. Please note that these are only estimates and may vary depending on the individual boat's make, model, usage, etc.

Initial Costs$10,000-$500,000+$200-$2,000 per day
Maintenance Fees10%-15% annual cost of the boat's initial priceIncluded in rental fee
Repair CostsVaries based on age & condition of boat: average $1K-$5K per repairIncluded in rental fee

I dread to think how much of my inheritance my dad has wasted on sailing over the years! It's not just buying one don't forget about additional charges like fuel, safety equipment, electronics, and personalization options.

Look into comprehensive insurance coverage to protect your vessel from theft, damage, liability, and other potential issues. Regular upkeep and servicing of your boat is essential and that doesn't come cheap.

Docking and storage fees are like a bad relationship - you keep paying for the same spot even though it's not getting any better!

Additional Costs of Docking and Storage

As a non-sailor I can think of many things to spend my money on, such as shoes and handbags keeping a boat can be a very expensive hobby which is another reason why I don't like it!

Boat owners must remember that the cost of owning a boat isn't just the purchase price. Maintenance and docking/storage costs are also part of the equation.

The table below gives an overview of the Additional Costs of Docking and Storage:

Cost ItemDescriptionFrequencyAverage Cost
Slip FeesCharges for being docked at a marina or harbourMonthly/Seasonal/Annual$300-$2000 per month
WinterizationPreparing the boat for winter storage to avoid cold weather damageAnnually$500-$1000
Cleaning ServicesProfessional cleaning services for upkeep and maintenanceAs needed$50-$150 per hour
InsuranceCoverage for any damages or liability associated with the boatAnnually$300-$1000+ monthly premiums

Plus, there may be further costs like repairs, upgrades, replacements, taxes, and transportation. It's important to set aside a budget for these unforeseen expenses.

Editors Note: Get quotes from marinas and insurance companies before committing to buying/storing a boat. Owning a boat is like having an unpaid second job - and you're likely to get wet!

Maintaining the Boat

My dad wrote this section of the article: Stay Afloat: Boat Maintenance & Possible Expenses

Keep your boat in top shape! Regular upkeep is a must. Ignoring it can cost you big time. Here's the deal:

  1. Cleanliness: Wash & dry boat regularly. Stops rust & corrosion.
  2. Engine: Check oil, coolant & fuel filters. Keep it running smoothly.
  3. Electricals: Check batteries, charging system, lights & navigation equipment.
  4. Safety: Life jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, first-aid kits - always check 'em before setting sail.
  5. Winter storage: Store the boat well in wintertime or risk freeze damage.

Be warned: Skipping maintenance leads to expensive repairs. Investing time up front saves money later.

Social Stigma and Sailing Culture

Sailing Culture: Another of my Reasons Behind my dislike of Sailing

While sailing is a fun and exciting activity for many, it's never really been for me. The reasons behind the social stigma and unpopularity of sailing culture are complex.

With my husband being of mixed race the lack of diversity in sailing clubs and events is another factor contributing to why I've never really taken to the sailing culture. No one is more welcoming than my dad, but the sport is often associated with elitism and exclusivity, which can be off-putting to those who do not feel a sense of belonging in such environments.

Additionally, sailing is not as accessible as many other sports due to the costs involved. With sailing often viewed as an activity for the well-off, with its expensive sailing equipment, marina fees, and maintenance bills.

Sailing: the only activity where you can pay thousands of dollars to feel like a peasant on a tiny boat.

In my view organisations have started to make sailing more inclusive. They should start promoting it as an accessible sport for everyone, regardless of their background or resources.

To create an inclusive sailing culture, we must recognize the history of social stigma and exclusion. We need to make sure policies are in place to provide equal opportunities. This goes beyond just saying 'sailing is for everyone.'

My Conclusion

I had a tough time onboard, with the weather, a bit of sickness, my fear of capsizing and having trouble sleeping meant I was very tired during the day. (My dad has written an article about Sailing at Night, which you should read)

In all honesty I was glad to get home, the voyage lasted 5 days and it felt like a month. I was more upset for my dad as he just loves sailing and I wish I did too, because even with the trials and tribulations it was nice to spend time with him.

why do i hate sailing

There were times when we just sat and chatted for hours and we haven't done that for a while as I live in the USA now and he lives in the UK so our time together is limited.

So why do I hate sailing

It's just not for me, sorry dad. Let's just have a beach holiday next time!


  • John Sixthsmith

    I'm a freelance writer and avid sailor who loves to share my passion for the sea with others. I've written articles for various sailing magazines and websites, covering topics such as sailing destinations, boat maintenance, navigational tips, and marine wildlife. I went on a short sailing trip whilst on holiday as a child and was instantly hooked. I've been sailing ever since. Although I've done a fair amount of lake sailing in my time, my real passion is the ocean. I hope you enjoy reading this blog about sailing as much as I've enjoyed writing about it.

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