Humans' first sailing ships are thought to have been sailed only on rivers and right along coastlines until people learned how to navigate away from sight of land.
Boat & ship types
The first Egyptian sailing ships existed around 3000 BC or even earlier. They were used on the Nile River, which was ideal for primitive sailing vessels. ...
Ships: a Timeline
what were probably the first sailing boats. ... 1450 onwards: Three and four masted sailing ships were in service for several centuries. ...
Take a good look at a map of the Mediterranean Sea:
With all those peninsulas and islands, a great deal of sailing was able to to on within sight of land. That was just the beginning.