Switzerland: Learn to Sail on Lake Lucerne


Our 10th anniversary was approaching quickly, and we wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion.

We had heard about the beauty of Lucerne, Switzerland from other travelers. So, we decided that it would be the perfect backdrop for a memorable anniversary celebration. When we saw that sailing lessons were available, the whole trip suddenly came together.

Mimi and I had talked about the possibility of living on a sailboat at some point. We saw it as a way to enhance our nomadic lifestyle.

But we also knew that it wouldn’t be as simple as hopping on a boat and sailing off into the sunset. Nature can be brutal, and you can’t expect the ocean to cooperate with an inexperienced sailor. So, we figured that the first step for us would be to take a sailing lesson. That way we could see if a sailing lifestyle would be something that could work for us.

Lake Lucerne is calm and it seemed like a logical place for an easy first lesson.

Learning to sail is not something that can be learned quickly, and we wanted to start as simple as possible. We found an instructor named Andi who gave lessons at Lucerne Bay. His schedule was flexible enough to work with us. Andi picked the best available day for the lesson based on the weather conditions that week. With two different sized boats available to learn on, we chose the smaller of the two called a Surprise Cruiser.

It was a beautiful day in the most gorgeous of settings when we met up with Andi. Eager to get started, we set sail on our first lesson.

We appreciated the fact that Andi wanted us to be very hands on. He handled the most difficult of tasks. Probably because he didn’t want a couple of newbies sinking his boat, but overall he had us do everything. Experience is the best teacher and he was great about giving us detailed instructions. Following his instructions, we went through the mechanics of sailing around the lake.

We took turns with all of the aspects involved with sailing the Surprise Cruiser.

Andi had me focus on the steering and keeping the sails catching the wind. Mimi did most of the work with the jib sail. The most challenging aspect that we learned was about tacking which is a method of sailing into the wind. The trick is to zig-zag back and forth to catch the wind. You have to position the sail at an angle since sailing directly into the wind would be impossible.

Sailing with the wind is fairly straightforward. But what happens when you want to go back to the dock and the wind isn’t blowing in that direction?

Imagine only being able to only sail in one direction. You’d hav to wait until the wind changed each time you wanted to go in a new direction. You could be there for days waiting for the weather to cooperate. That’s why learning to tack was important. Taking a lesson from an experienced sailor answered questions that we didn’t even know enough to ask before we started.

We learned a lot that day. It made us realize how much more we still had to learn if we were going to commit to it as a lifestyle.

Sailing is a much different experience depending on the conditions you’re sailing in. The water in Lake Lucerne was clear and calm. That made it easier for us to focus on learning the basics without the added challenges that sailing on the ocean could bring. Learning to navigate is a whole other skill in itself and one that we would also have to learn. The only way to get good at it is to sail as much as possible and gain that firsthand knowledge in a variety of different conditions. With our love of the ocean, that is a challenge that we welcome.

Andi was a great teacher and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting. The sun was shining, and the mountains framed the backdrop for some of the most gorgeous scenery we could imagine. On a day as perfect as that, it was easy to see how people could fall in love with the sailing lifestyle. We still haven’t ruled out the possibility of sailing away one day, but we now know that we will need many more lessons and practice.

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About Temporary Residents

In 2016, we quit our jobs at Disney, put some things in storage, and hit the road with our 2 cats. We are a traveling couple that work online, finding new homes every 3 months to live in. Temporary Residents is a blog for those in need of the inspiration to see the world or to take the plunge, sell it all, and make exploration your life.

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