Sailing, whether in tropical Caribbean waters or choppy seas around the Isle of Wight, it’s for the rich, right? Not anymore, with sailing clubs around the UK and affordable charters like Borrow a Boat, sailing is increasingly accessible.
The benefits of sailing are many: getting fit, finding new social circles, learning new skills, and escaping routine. Whether you sail yourself or charter a yacht with a crew, it’s also an incredible way to travel.
As the availability of yacht charter around the world increases, it’s also become surprisingly affordable to much wider markets. In the right circumstances, you can now hire a yacht for the same price as a moderately luxurious hotel.
This has opened up a new way for many of us to explore some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Imagine a blissful week island hopping in the Caribbean, cruising the Dalmatian coast, or drifting in the Mediterranean.
What sort of sailing?
The range of sailing vessels available is as expansive as the range of road vehicles we have to choose from. The first thing for a prospective sailor to do is to decide which boat best suits them.
Thrill-seekers will love windsurfing – 50 mph speeds over coastal waves, or through smooth lake waters, and an intense technical challenge. Beginners who prefer something a little studier will enjoy dinghies or small keelboats while they, literally, learn the ropes.
For a little luxury, larger yachts offer seagoing voyages, either under your own steam or with an experienced crew. Ultimate onboard luxury comes from super yachts and ultra-stable catamarans with room for dozens to stay together.
For those who need to keep their sailing to more inland locations, there are also some great options. Britain’s extensive canal network offers ample opportunities for narrowboat hire or, for a more physical experience, access to rowing clubs.
How do I start?
There are several ways to get into sailing, depending on your physical abilities, location, and the experience you’re looking for. First, you will likely find a boating, kayaking, or rowing club along the banks of many UK rivers and canals.
For those closer to the coast, most popular beach resorts offer windsurfing or even yacht hire opportunities. Lake towns always have rowing boat hire, and often several other sailing options for both beginners and pros.
If in doubt, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) or the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) are great resources for getting started.
What if I don’t want to actually do the sailing?
Of course, there’s no reason you need to learn how to sail or get physically involved at all. The beauty of boat charter, from narrowboats in Birmingham to superyachts in Monaco, is that you can hire crew too.
Whether it’s a solo skipper or splashing out on a full crew and private chef, all options are available.
Where do I go?
Once you’ve made the decision to try sailing, you’ll need to decide where to go. Yacht charter is available all over the world, but here are some of the best-recommended destinations for beginners.
- The Bahamas
340 days of annual sunlight and steady winds around 16 km/h make the Bahamas a great choice for beginners. With nearly 700 of the world’s most picturesque islands, it isn’t a bad place for exploring either.
A network of coastal caves and stunning seaside cities makes Croatia one of the greatest sailing destinations in the world. Whether you travel for just days or for several weeks, there are few better places to start your sailing journey.
- French Riviera
Azure blue waters beside beautiful cities such as Nice and Cannes make the French Riviera first choice for many sailors. 30°C days, gentle waters, and nearby dive sites make it an ideal destination for first, second, or even tenth-timers.
- The British Virgin Islands
Idyllic islands, a tropical climate, and a sea filled with historical shipwrecks are prime attractions of the British Virgin Islands. Swimming with dolphins and long white beaches to dock beside are just the icing on the Caribbean cake.
- Greek Islands
Pictures of blue and white villages rising from sparkling waters are iconic to the islands of Greece. Sailors have flocked to these waters for millennia, and the reason why will be obvious from the moment you arrive.
Practice makes perfect
Of course, if you’re going to be the person who actually does the sailing, you’ll probably need to practice first. Launching yourself straight into sea waters would be not just overwhelming, but quite dangerous.
Learning your skills in different bodies and types of water is a great way to build confidence and increase capability. Perhaps begin rowing in a perfectly still canal, before moving up to a larger, specially designed, boating lake.
The next step could be larger lakes in one of the UK’s national parks, or waters just off the beach. Once you’ve mastered this, find somewhere with tougher conditions, with hard work and perseverance, you’ll soon be ready for anywhere.
Just get out there
Whether you learn the skills or let someone else take the strain, the first thing to do is get started. Contact your local club, check out the RYA or ISA, or search for a charter company, and you’re underway.
The options are endless, and the accessibility is better than it has ever been before.
So, are you ready to try something new? Stop thinking about sailing, and just start sailing, there’s a whole world waiting for you to discover.