For any boater, there is no greater pleasure than enjoying the fun and freedom of being out on the water.
For those of us who are lucky enough to own a boat, finding the time to fit cruising into our busy lifestyles or having the confidence to explore and extend our horizons can at times become challenging.
Since its launch in 2011, the RYA’s Active Marina programme has been making a difference in encouraging berth holders, through partnering marinas, training centres, berth holder groups and yacht clubs, to get more out of life with their boat. There are now 73 marinas signed up to the programme.
A little training
The beauty of sailing is even the most experienced sailor still discovers something new every day, from improving their boat’s performance to enhancing safety. On the other hand if you are new to life on the water, or have just brought a new boat, it can be hugely rewarding to learn the skills to help you to get out of the marina and enjoy using your boat with confidence.
“A little bit of tailored training can really help to build knowledge and help to ease any worries that may be holding you back. It could be a refresher on manoeuvring or berthing, crew training, anchoring or a specialist workshop,” explained Guy Malpas who runs the RYA Active Marina.
“If your marina is signed up to the programme, you and your crew could have the opportunity take part in practical training sessions with your local training centre. Just ask your marina and they should be able to point you to a suitable local venue.” Guy continued.
This could typically include topics such as basic diesel engine checks, how to better understand your radar, weather forecasting, VHF/DSC refresher, basic boat electrics, local navigation and pilotage and basic rig checks and others.
Cruising in company
Cruising in company is a fantastic way to tackle those visits to local harbours or rivers that may currently seem a little daunting, or even a first time channel crossing.
Guy explained: “Even experienced skippers can benefit from the experience and knowledge of others. It is also a great way to meet and spend time with families and crews, and in some marinas these kind of events have led to the development of an informal and ‘virtual club’ feel, which is a bonus.”
You have got the boat, you are a regular down at the marina and you have enjoyed stretching your sea legs around the British coast. But for some, even relatively experienced sailors, taking the next step over the Channel, and beyond, for example, can prove a little daunting. A fear of the unknown could be stifling the possibilities for exploration and adventure being a boat owner can bring.
Once again, this year RYA Active Marina has teamed up with the World Cruising Club for the second edition of ARC Channel Islands, a week long cruise exploring Cherbourg, Guernsey and Alderney leaving from Gosport.
The aim of the rally was to encourage boat owners to sail beyond their normal cruising areas and to gain confidence taking their boats to unfamiliar destinations or longer passages.
With a senior instructor and team from World Cruising Club sailing on board the lead boat, those sailing were offered guidance and help with planning the passages. They also enjoyed social events and sightseeing in each of the ports they visited.
“I have done a few rallies and the big difference with the ARC Channel Islands cruise was that everyone had the same common goal: to get experience as a skipper managing the boat on an extended cruise in challenging waters,” said Pete from Legato, summing up his time with the rally.
“These were some of the nicest people I have ever met on a rally. We all got on so well. We have made new friends and all come away better sailors. What more can you ask for?”
In addition to the typical refresher sessions and social events, Active Marinas often run Ladies Days too. These comprise of morning or afternoon workshops which aim to increase skills and confidence in boat handing, manoeuvring and berthing techniques for women.
It is also an ideal opportunity to socialise with other female boaters with many sessions finishing with a catch up over lunch.
Speaking after a Ladies Day at Queen Anne Battery, participant Claire Woodend said: “It is very good because often when you are with your partner you tend to have fixed ideas and roles, but if you can go out with other people you can learn other things.”
Fellow attendee Christine Klimczak agreed: “It is nice to meet people I have met before but also get to know other people a little bit more, especially people you hopefully will bump into from time to time through the summer.”
“Boat ownership is all about freedom and having fun, and the Active Marina programme really does promote more active, vibrant harbours and increased regular boating,” Guy Malpas concluded.
“We have been delighted with the appetite shown by berth holders for Active Marina activities and are excited to be working on more partnerships to extend these opportunities to even more people across the UK.”If you would like to find more information about the programme visit www.rya.org.uk/go/activemarina
If your marina is already an Active Marina, speak to your marina manager to find out about next season’s opportunities and events.