If you’ve spent any time in Charleston, as a local or a visitor, chances are you’re aware of how beautiful our harbor is. You may have strolled along the battery on one of Charleston’s many glorious, sunny days, admiring the view of the water and wishing you were on one of those sailboats off in the distance, or perhaps you’ve had the privilege of spending some time on the water, yourself, and often find yourself thinking about learning to sail so you can have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of the wonderful sailing this harbor has to offer. As enjoyable as it is to take in the majestic beauty of Charleston from a sailboat, the harbor has much more to offer us than just its aesthetic charm. It can be a challenging environment to sail in,and this affords you the opportunity to gain a tremendous amount of experience and acquire the skills to sail in a wide range of conditions and locations around the world.
What are some of these challenges, you may ask? The current poses one of them, as it is exceptionally strong in our harbor. Paying attention to the tides and the strength of the current is essential to boating, as it affects how far you can take your boat in the amount of time you have to get there, and it adds a whole new dimension to boat handling in situations such as docking. Our highly qualified instructors at OSA will teach you how to address all of these things, which is invaluable to your development as a sailor.
Charleston is also one of the Eastern seaboard’s busiest ports, and the continuous commercial shipping traffic through this harbor lends extraordinary significance to a recreational sailor’s knowledge of the “Rules of the Road,” navigational aids, and appropriate means of VHF communication. One must always remember, safety first! When we are boating, it is important to understand that we are sharing the harbor with numerous other vessels, both recreational and commercial, and OSA will make sure you are prepared to display safe and proper boating etiquette when encountering these other boaters on the water.
One of the most dreaded incidents that can happen to a sailor in the Charleston harbor is running aground in an unforeseen shallow area. Although this can be easily avoided when taking appropriate precautions, it is not an uncommon occurrence when boaters become careless, distracted, fail to use a nautical chart onboard, or even when they anchor somewhere for lunch without considering how the falling tide may leave them high and dry on a sandbar within hours. Not only is this a huge inconvenience for everyone onboard, especially if you have to wait for the tide to turn in order to get underway again, running aground can also cause serious damage to your sailboat, and the repairs may be time-consuming and costly. The good news is, though, running aground is a completely unnecessary and avoidable part of boating! All it takes is a little bit of instruction on how to read your chart and, at times, how to recognize shallow water with your own eyes in order to save yourself this hassle.
Speaking of hassles, a big one you may encounter when planning a day of sailing is unpredictable weather. A forecast of “mostly sunny with 15 knots of breeze” may turn into an afternoon of showers, followed by barely any breeze. Although there is nothing we can do to control the weather, there are a number of measures we can take to prepare for unanticipated conditions before leaving the dock. It is also important to know what steps should be taken once faced with such conditions in order to ensure the safety of yourself and your crew.