Sailing holidays have grown in popularity in recent years and it’s not difficult to understand why. Gentle Mediterranean seas, sunny skies, the wind in your hair, and the freedom to explore deserted beaches and secret coves – it’s little wonder that more and more holiday makers are turning to sailing holidays for their annual getaway.
We take a look at some of the different sailing holidays available and the courses that are out there to help you feel at home on the water.
Which Sailing Holiday?
There are several types of sailing holiday and the one that’s right for you will depend on your sailing experience and what you want from your trip.
For people with little or no sailing experience a cabin charter or adventure sailing holiday is a really good option. You will be expected to help with the running and sailing of the yacht, but there will be a skipper and full crew on board to make sure everything runs smoothly. This type of holiday can be a great informal learning experience.
Another popular option is a flotilla holiday. This involves sailing in a flotilla of other yachts to a pre-arranged destination each day, accompanied by a skipper. This type of holiday is very social and can be a particularly good option for families with children.
At the other end of the spectrum to the cabin charter is a ‘bareboat’ or private charter. Similar in principle to hiring a car, this option offers more freedom and a greater choice of destination, but it is only suitable for more experienced sailors. If this option appeals but you lack the necessary qualifications, you could consider chartering a boat that comes with its own skipper or crew.
Whatever holiday you go for, it makes sense to get some training in before you set off on your adventure.
Learning the Ropes
While sailing qualifications or prior experience are not essential for many sailing holidays, undertaking a training course before you go can greatly enhance your experience.
If you are totally new to the sport of sailing, then a Competent Crew course is the perfect place to start.
Running for a duration of five days, a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Competent Crew course will help to furnish you with the basics, and is ideal for people who want to help crew the yacht during their sailing holiday, rather than just sitting back as a passenger.
This course covers all the basics of yacht sailing, and by the end of the course, you should be confident in handling the sails and steering, rowing a dinghy, keeping lookout and assisting in all day-to-day activities aboard a boat. You will also rack up around 100 nautical miles – essential if you want to go on to further training. Another added bonus of this course is that it can itself be taken as a ‘learn to sail’ holiday, helping you to kill two birds with one stone.
For Experienced Sailors
If you are hoping to go on a ‘bareboat’ sailing trip, where you charter and skipper your own boat, then you will also need to complete a Day Skipper course. To participate in this course you will need to have five days or 100 miles prior sailing experience as well as a reasonable level of competency in basic sailing skills. While going for the ‘bareboat’ option may seem like a lot of effort, the extra freedom it offers more than makes up for it.
A sailing holiday is undoubtedly a fantastic experience and if you are just planning on sitting back and enjoying the trip as a passenger then you may not need any additional training. However, if you want to get more out of your holiday and actively participate in the sailing of the boat, completing a course before you go will help give you the knowledge, confidence and practical skills to be a valued crew member.
Simon King runs Broad Reach Sailing, which offers RYA sailing courses on the Solent on the South Coast.