If getting out on the water at one of the RYA’s Push the Boat Out or Try Sailing taster sessions floated your boat or you got the bug at the Southampton Boat Show, why not build on the basics by joining a club or taking a course?
First time boating is a magical experience. The peace out on the water, the freedom and the exhilaration of working with the elements, it is something you will not forget in a hurry.
Now that you have found something you could invest time, energy and passion into, what is next and where do you start?
Join a club
Joining a club is a great way to start as you will get plenty of support and encouragement from the members and discover a whole new community.
Joining as a family can be really affordable with many clubs having boats you can borrow or hire for very little cost and sailing sessions welcoming all ages and abilities. To find your nearest club visit the ‘where’s my nearest’ section of the RYA website.
Take a course
Using the club’s boats or boards to practice is a brilliant way to build on your skills. But if you want more structure to your learning, you could try a course at a recognised RYA Training centre.
An RYA qualified instructor can teach you at any level and it is a brilliant way to get your confidence up, making your transition into the boating world even more enjoyable.
With more than 1,000 training centres around the UK running over 300 different courses, you are sure to find something to suit. Start sailing on a dinghy course, learn to skipper a yacht or master the basics of power – it will not be long before you are afloat.
The RYA offers courses in a wide range of boating disciplines – so whether you hanker after harnessing the wind or prefer to learn about engine control, there is a course for you.
Here is a lowdown of a few of the RYA’s most popular ‘starter’ courses and what to expect:
RYA Start Yachting
Who’s it for: Beginners of any age.
You will learn: Some yacht steering, sail handling, ropework and basic safety on board.
Duration: Two days.
What’s next: Your Start Yachting certificate means you can complete the Competence Crew course in a reduced time of three days or two weekends.
RYA Motor Cruising
Start Who’s it for: For friends or family members looking to crew a motorboat.
You will learn: Personal safety, seamanship, dealing with emergency situations, coming alongside, picking up a mooring, boat handling.
By the end: You will be a useful crew member, able to assist the helm.
Duration: One day as a stand-alone course, two days if accompanying another course.
What’s next? This course leads to Day Skipper where you can take charge on short passages under instruction.
RYA Start Power Boating
Who’s it for: Those wanting an introduction to boating techniques, from launching and recovering a boat from a road trailer to everyday boat handling and the use of safety equipment.
What will you learn: How to prepare your boat and crew, how to handle the boat, plus picking up and securing to a mooring buoy, leaving and coming alongside, being towed.
By the end: You will be able to drive under supervision.
Duration: One day
What’s next: Powerboat Level 2 provides everything you need to drive a powerboat and is the basis of the International Certificate of Competence. It lasts two days.
RYA Dinghy Level 1
Who’s it for: Anyone wanting an introduction to sailing, but there is a separate program for youngsters.
You will learn: How to sail in all directions, including an awareness of launching and recovering.
By the end: Able to sail in light winds under supervision.
Duration: Two days.
What’s next? Move up the levels for increases in skill.
RYA Start Windsurfing
Who’s it for: Beginners.
You will learn: The basics of windsurfing and how to use the right equipment. There is a separate youth scheme.
By the end: Able to sail to a chosen point on the water and return to where you started from in light winds.
Minimum duration: Eight to ten hours
What’s next: Fine tune your skills with the Intermediate (non planing) course.
Do I need a boat to get started?
No. Boats are provided by the training centre and if you choose an RYA Training centre you can be sure you are getting the highest standard of equipment.
What about kit?
Any reputable RYA training centre or school can provide everything you need: the boat, the salopettes and waterproof jackets, buoyancy aids, books, charts and equipment. If your course includes it, you may even get a nice lunch.
How do I know which level is right for me?
It is key to find the right course for you. Visiting the RYA’s course finder portal can help to narrow your search. Visit www.rya.org.uk/go/whichcourse to find the perfect course on your favoured boat or board in a location close to where you live.