Inland sailing vs Coastal sailing

Inland sailing consists of sailing in calm and enclosed waters, which is relaxing and safe for beginning sailors. Coastal sailing takes place in large bodies of water that border coasts, where the tides and strong currents add to the fun and challenge of sailing.

What is inland sailing?

Inland sailing refers to the activity of sailing on bodies of water that are not connected to the sea. This type of sailing takes place on lakes, rivers, or reservoirs.

Unlike coastal sailing, inland sailing does not involve navigating through the waves of the sea or dealing with tides and currents.

Inland sailing is popular among sailors who want to enjoy the peace and quiet of being out on the water, while also taking in the beautiful surroundings.

What is coastal sailing?

Coastal sailing involves sailing on the open waters of oceans, seas, and large bodies of water that border coastlines.

In coastal sailing, sailors are faced with a more unpredictable environment, with strong currents, changing weather conditions, and varying wave patterns.

The open water environment provides sailors with a sense of adventure and freedom but also requires a higher level of skill and preparation than inland sailing. Coastal sailing often involves longer journeys, with sailors traveling from one coastal destination to another.

Differences in sailing environment

One of the biggest differences between inland and coastal sailing is the environment in which you’ll be sailing.

Inland sailing is typically done on smaller bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers. These bodies of water tend to have calmer waters than the open ocean, which can make for a more peaceful and relaxing sailing experience.

Coastal sailing, on the other hand, takes place on the open ocean or along the coastlines. This can be a much more challenging environment to sail in, as the waters can be rougher, and the weather conditions can change quickly.

Coastal sailors need to be more aware of weather patterns and tidal changes and need to be able to navigate their boats through potentially hazardous conditions.

Types of boats used for each type of sailing

For inland sailing, smaller sailboats with shallow drafts and centerboards are used. These boats are designed to handle the challenges of lakes and rivers with narrow channels, limited depths, and bridges to pass under.

On the other hand, coastal sailing requires larger boats with more stability and sturdiness. These boats are capable of withstanding harsher weather conditions and longer journeys.

Coastal sailboats typically have a deeper draft, a heavier displacement, and a larger sail area. Popular coastal sailboat models include Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau, and Jeanneau.

Advantages and disadvantages of inland sailing


  • Close to city or your home so it’s easier to access sailing spots.
  • Inland water is calm and safe, making it a great option for beginners or those who want a more relaxed sailing experience.
  • Inland water is fresh water, so it doesn’t have the corrosive effect that saltwater has on boats and equipment.


  • The waters can be crowded in popular areas or during peak sailing season.
  • Inland water affected by local weather, and conditions can change rapidly.
  • Wind will be affected by trees, buildings.
  • Freshwater can be quite cold in winter.
  • Muddy shoreline to launch or land your boat.

Advantages and disadvantages of coastal sailing


  • No limit on how far you can sail.
  • A lot of space to explore without bumping into other boats.
  • A more enjoyable and challenge sailing experience deal with tide, waves on open water.
  • Beautiful sandy beaches.
  • Coastal weather is generally milder than inland weather.


  • Constant traffic in busy harbor
  • Unpredictability of waves and tides
  • Salt spray can corrode and damage equipment on board, while sand can get in your boat and clothes.

How many miles inland is considered coastal?

Generally speaking, inland sailing refers to sailing on lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water that are entirely surrounded by land. Coastal sailing, on the other hand, takes place in the waters off the coast of a country or region.

In the United States, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers any body of water that is within 2 miles of the coastline to be coastal. However, other organizations and government agencies may have different definitions. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard may define coastal waters as being up to 12 miles offshore.

What are the 3 zones of the coast?

These zones are determined by their proximity to the open ocean and the strength of the currents and tides.

The first zone is the estuary, which is the area where a river meets the ocean. This area is characterized by shallow waters, strong currents, and constantly changing conditions. Sailors in this area need to be aware of the potential for strong tidal flows, shifting sandbars, and other hazards.

The second zone is the coastal zone, which extends from the estuary out to the continental shelf. This area is characterized by deeper waters and a wider range of conditions, including wind and waves. Sailors in this area need to be able to handle changing weather patterns and adjust their course accordingly.

The third zone is the offshore zone, which extends beyond the continental shelf. This area is characterized by deep waters, strong winds, and large waves. Sailors in this area need to have advanced skills and equipment, as well as a keen understanding of weather patterns and navigation.

What is the 12-mile rule?

The 12-mile rule, also known as the Territorial Sea Limit, is a maritime boundary that extends 12 nautical miles (13.8 miles) from a coastal state’s baseline. It is recognized under international law and gives coastal states exclusive rights over the waters and resources within this zone.

This rule essentially means that any vessel that wants to enter this zone must get permission from the coastal state. This includes both commercial and private boats.

Beyond the 12-mile limit are the international waters, where no single state has jurisdiction over the resources and environment.

What are examples of coastal?

Coastal sailing can take place along any stretch of coast, from small bays to large open ocean passages. Some popular coastal sailing locations include the Atlantic coast of the United States, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean.

Coastal sailing can also involve navigating through busy harbors and shipping lanes, which can provide a challenge for sailors.

Is the coast warmer than inland?

In general, the coast tends to be milder and more moderate in temperature than inland areas.

This is due to a number of factors, including the moderating effect of the ocean on air temperatures, and the fact that coastal areas often benefit from the influence of cool sea breezes. Additionally, many coastal regions enjoy more moderate temperatures year-round, due to the presence of ocean currents.

By contrast, inland areas can be subject to greater extremes of temperature, with hot summers and cold winters.

Coastal vs offshore sailing

Coastal sailing is generally defined as sailing within sight of the shoreline, whereas offshore sailing takes place further out to sea, beyond the sight of land.

Offshore sailing comes with more challenges. Longer trips require careful planning, preparation, and a higher level of skill and experience. Weather patterns can be more unpredictable and dangerous, and navigation can be more challenging without the aid of coastal landmarks.