Five simple ways to start yachting

If you’re one of those people that gets just a little bit more bored each year whilst sitting on the same patch of sand looking at the sailboats anchored off the beach and think “that looks like fun - if only I could sail..” Well, the good news is, you could be one of those nomad sailors sooner than you think. 

Sailing is great fun and less expensive than you might think. Especially if you charter a yacht with friends. But in order to do that you need to know how to sail. Thankfully, there are some very simple ways to start. Here are a few;

Take a formal course - The first course in the pyramid of sailing courses available through the UK’s governing body, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the two day ‘Start Yachting’ course. It covers the basics in a fun way and introduces you gently to sailing and living aboard a yacht. The next level is the five day RYA Competent Crew Course and then, after a few days in a classroom doing the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course, you can move on to the 5 day RYA Day Skipper Practical Course. After this, British Citizens automatically gain the ICC (International Certificate of Competence) which is necessary if you want to skipper a yacht in most parts of Europe.

Join a yacht club! Most yacht clubs have some sort of rookie induction arrangement, even if it is just a crew board where owners advertise for crew to help out. Many yacht owners are desperate to secure good crew so they can go sailing more regularly - or farther afield. If you think you might enjoy yacht racing, crewing on someone else’s yacht is a great way to improve your skills. However, we strongly recommend you learn the basics with an RYA Training Centre first. Learn the basics from a professional sailing instructor first - not the bad habits of your amateur skipper!

Go on a day trip - or two! If you are unsure about sailing and don’t want to commit to a formal course, why not just go sailing for a couple of days to check out the experience. Here in Gibraltar, Jolly Parrot Sailing run regular weekend trips across the Strait to Ceuta on the North African Coast. Our Sailing Weekends start on a Saturday morning (although you can join the boat on the Friday if you’d prefer) and after the appropriate safety drills and inductions have been fully covered you’ll find yourself sailing in the sheltered waters of the Bay before setting across the Strait towards the Moroccan Coast. We usually stay in Ceuta overnight (a great place to visit with lots to see) and then we sail back on Sunday. It’s all very relaxed and it’s a great way to see if you might enjoy sailing.

Join a dinghy Sailing Club. Most Brits live within 30 minutes of a lake or the coast and where there is water there is usually someone sailing across it. Dinghies are fun to sail and because they’re so small, light and maneuverable they make great teaching platforms for the aspiring yachtsman or woman. Of course, unlike yachts, dinghies can punish you with a capsize and an unscheduled dip in the water if you get it wrong, so make sure you have access to a wet suit and keep a sense of humour!

Learn about the theory. Some people like to know about stuff in detail before they go off and actually do it. Others just throw themselves right into it and see what happens. If you are one of the former and have a more inquisitive mind then taking the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course is a great way to learn about sailing from your desk. Jolly Parrot offer regular five day theory courses in Gibraltar. Alternatively, combine it with the RYA 5 day competent crew course and five day RYA Day Skipper Practical course which we run over two weeks. This has proven really popular with students that want to combine learning with some time in the sunshine - which is something Gibraltar can offer most weeks of the year!

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