For me, there is nothing better than being out on the water, the wind in your hair and the waves lapping against the hull… I say lapping, this is a pleasant Solent dream. I was fortunate enough to have grown up sailing and I don’t think that love of being on the water will leave me any time soon. Being a Sea Cadet gave me so many opportunities to get on the water, before going to university in Plymouth, where I joined the Sailing & Powerboating club. Working full time, I now try to sail whenever I can as my brother is a professional yacht skipper.
With yacht races such as the Vendee Globe and The Americas Cup becoming more popular, I hear plenty of people my age saying that they would love to sail, but don’t have the opportunity to, or that they cannot afford it. This is where you’re wrong. There are ways and means to do anything!
Living in Southampton I am fortunate to have such great access to the Solent, one of the most famous sailing locations in the UK and in fact, the world.
There are so many ways to get on the water this year, and you don’t have to own your own boat or be a world class sailor to do it!
Through the RYA
Based in Hamble, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) are the governing body for dinghy, powerboat and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs, sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft.
They run almost every course you could ever need to qualify you for getting out on the water, and they are all listed on their website. They have training centres around the world. A good number of these are in Southampton and around the Solent, with good reason, and all you need to do is head to their website. Whether you want to learn to sail a dinghy, powerboat or yacht there will be a course for you within reach around the UK or, in fact, the world! They vary in price based on the level you want to achieve, and the dates you choose…
It’s always a good idea to check that any sailing company you use is approved on the RYA website!
For young people (aged 10 to 18) the Sea Cadets is a wonderful way to get out on the water, and for a fraction of the cost. Not just water based, the SCC covers a lot of watersports including sailing, powerboating, windsurfing and kayaking.O For young people (aged 10-18) the Sea Cadets is an amazing way to get out on the water. Sailing, power boating, paddlesports… You name it, the Sea cadets cover it. On top of those, the Sea Cadets have their own offshore fleet made up of power vessels and even a tall ship.
“But I can’t sail!” I hear you proclaim.
Here’s the great news, you don’t need to be able to…
There are plenty of yacht crewing websites full of owners looking to take their yachts out for the day or weekend and websites like Crewseekers or Crewbay are great for this. Many people are happy to take you out for free and give you an insight in to sailing, or for a small donation towards berthing fees. They may even give you a few lessons if you get a helpful skipper!
Completed your RYA courses? Passed with flying colours? Why now look in to chartering a yacht yourself?
It’s a wonderful way to see the coastline from a unique perspective. Check that whoever you charter from have maintenance records for the yacht you will be taking out, and the date it was last surveyed as well.