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Getting started
How do I get started?
Kit and caboodle
Recommended reading
Spoil yourself
Holidays and Vacations
Getting more out of....Sailing
I've got the basics, what next?

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What ever adventure you seek, sailing can offer it:

Watch the warm sun go down from the comfort of your cruiser
Anchor down, not a soul in sight,anchor riding light on the forestay. If you like your comforts go Cruising.
Charge across the bay hanging on a wire suspended from your dinghy.
Skid across the water like a spinning stone. If you love the raw elements and the sensation of speed then go dinghy sailing
Disappear across the oceans on a yacht.
Leave the land behind, your new world has become water, sky and wind. For adventures across great oceans take up yachting.
Swing from the yard arm of a great tall ship.
Sail like the pioneers of old. The grace and the beauty of a tall ship in full sail is a marvelous sight.

Tell us what got you interested in Sailing.

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Getting started

The wonderful thing about sailing is that the coast - or even inland lakes and rivers are so close to us. No matter where we live we have within easy reach a world of adventure and exploration.

People of all ages take up sailing, enjoy sailing or return to sailing. There is no age limit. Children as young as 5 or 6 can help crew a yacht or even solo sail in an optimist dinghy. Equally, you'll find many people well past retirement still enjoying life on the water. Look at our brief recommendations of safer craft for young and older sailors.

Most sailing requires only moderate physical strength. In many cases female sailors are as good as male sailors It is common to find a number of dinghy craft design for a female helm and a male crew!. A willingness to give it a go is more important.

Many people with minor disabilities such as short sightedness sail without restriction. People who are less able, wheelchair bound or blind can still participate on a wide range of craft but need to be more careful in their selection. Check out our less able recommendations.

Lastly, whilst some people want to spend lots of money on this sport, it isn't necessary to bankrupt yourself to enjoy this sport. Always remember, the wind and the water come free!

Beyond that, most of the reasons for not being able to sail are just myths. For instance don't worry about not knowing all the knots and nautical terms most sailors don't know these either and within a few days you'll master all the basic sailing terms.

So what do I need to be able to do? Well, you need:

  1. A bit of courage
  2. The ability to swim 50m
  3. That's it
To start sailing all you really need to get going is a good and appropriate pair of shoes or boots. These will cost from 20. After that you might want to consider a jacket or wetsuit - but most boat owners will be able to equip you for the first few times out on the water.

You can buy these basic items in our Kit & Caboodle section. There are also many things you may want to get as you start to go sailing regularly, and we can help you find the best of these as well.

You can of course invest in a good 'how to sail' course book first.

Now you have the basic things you need there are only four things to do: learn to sail, decide when to start, who to go with, and where to go.

Learning to sailYou can either offer your self as a novice crew (cheapest option) or you can get some training first. You've really got four options here


  • Teach yourself at home with books or a PC then offer yourself as a crew
  • Go straight down to your local sailing club and offer yourself as a novice crew for evenings and weekend sailing. Look here for an excellent locator map of sailing clubs by UK region.
  • UK based sailing course (usually a long weekend). Check out The Sailing Academy for a range of excellent short courses (yacht, dinghy, motorised and windsurfing)
  • Holiday sailing (usually 1 or 2 weeks)

Deciding when you want to startSailing on the coast of the UK starts around April and finishes around September. The Mediterranean sailing starts a little earlier and finishes later. For winter sailing best head off to the canaries or Caribbean - both are warm and sunny through the winter. Check here for a list of international schools in Turkey, Canaries Islands etc

Dinghy sailing on UK inland lakes continues all year round - you just wear a hat and a thicker wetsuit. Sailing on a lake with the surrounding area covered in snow is a wonderful experience and not to be missed. Alternatively you might with to wait until April or May for the weather to improve. But remember, on a rainy day, there is nothing better than zipping around a lake on a dinghy. It's refreshing and sure beats staying at home watching television. Check out the BBC Weather Site includes local and shipping forecast.

Deciding who to go withYou can pair up with like minded souls on our sailing companions notice board. Here you'll find people looking to take a course and looking for a companion as well as boat owners looking for a crew.

Deciding where you want to goAny where on the coast of Britain you will find boats and sailing centres. The centre for the sport in UK has to be around the Southampton coast or the Solent. This provides a variety of large harbours for dinghy sailing and protected by exciting sailing around the Isle of Wight. It also has the advantage of being very beautiful. This is an excellent place to start as it tends to be warmer and have better sunshine.

You can also sail on estuaries - again offering a little more protection than sea sailing. In Scotland you can sail on the lochs. Also you can start dinghy sailing on many of the inland lakes across the UK. Or for a top local club take a look at Oxford Sailing Club.has a centrally located lake with superb dinghy sailing courses and a great place to begin or refresh your sailing technique.

(Sports Disclaimer)

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Getting more out of....Sailing

Once you've got the basics of sailing, there's a wide range of other things with a sailing theme you could take up. How about one of these:
  • Land yachting
  • Big boat racing
  • Racing dinghies
  • Windsurfing
  • Power boats
  • Round the World sailing
  • Tall Ship Sailing

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Kit and caboodle

Need a good book, video or more advice? JoJaffa has picked out the best for you. For each book/ video just click on the amazon link find out the price and get more information.

If you can suggest any good books about Sailing, let us know.

Recommended Reading

Book : Old Man and the Sea
by Earnest Hemmingway
Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, this is the story of an old man, a giant fish and the lure of the sea. This short novel won for Ernest Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Book : Dinghy Sailing
by Rob Andrews
A highly regarded introduction to sailing Dinghies. Remember, that much of this is also extremely valuable in mastering a larger craft too. Often regarded as the standard text of dinghy sailing.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Book : Sailing for Dummies
by JJ Isler. Peter Isler
Another execellent book for people starting out. Covers many topics including how to select a boat, family sailing, capsizing, charts and big boat sailing. Lots of fun and a great read too.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Book : This is Sailing
by Jim Saltonstall
This guide takes the reader step-by-step through the basics of learning to sail. It gives practical instruction on all aspects of sailing from launching, rigging and simple sailing manoeuvres to hoisting a spinnaker, trapezing and recovering from a capsize.

Amazon UKin association with...

Book : Close to the Wind
by Pete Goss
Pete Goss shares his adventures and philosophy - and the lessons learned - during the Vendee Globe race and the ten years of preparation for it. He tells of the dramas of the race, including his rescue of Frenchman Raphael Dinelli.

The amazing story of Peter Goss. A story of a dream and overcoming the barriers to realise it. Goss began his sailing life as a merchant seaman and then as a skipper on one of the 10 yachts in Chay Blyth's British Steel Challenge. He describes his rebuffe Close to the Wind is Goss's story. He starts with the years of preparation as a merchant seaman and skipper on one of the 10 yachts in Chay Blyth's British Steel Challenge. He describes how he attempted to get sponsorship but was constantly rebuffed and had to willing to spend many nights sleeping in freezing railway stations to get to the money he needed to fulfil his dream.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Book : The RYA Book of Navigation
by Tim Bartett
Ideal for anyone intending to sail off shore. This book is the ideal companion for the latest RYA courses, from Day Skipper to Yacht Master Offshore. Includes the Yatchmaster certificate syllabus.

Amazon UKin association with...

Book : Riddle of the Sands
by Erskine Childers
Although almost 100 years old this fictional cruising thriller still captivates and fires the imagination. It is the story of a boy who accepts an invitation to go sailing in the baltics and discovers more than just how to sail.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Learn to sail from your PC with a leading instructor. Check on the sailcoach banner to find out how:

SailCoach  - catalyst for your success

It's certainly a lot cheaper than doing it for real and you can book yourself in right now.

If you want to go straight for the real thing then a sailing course in the UK would cost anything from 60 for 2 days for a local dinghy course to 200 for 2 days with accommodation for a big boat competent crew course.

If you start as a crew you might want to spend 20 to 100 on boots and very likely, a warm waterproof jacket or wetsuit. Then a few phone calls or e-mails to pair up with a boat owner - and that's it. Although you might want to buy the skipper a few drinks once back on dry land.

For great jackets go for the Helly Hansen - or just check out Fogdogs enormous range:

Fogdog carry loads of reviews and offer great prices and worldwide delivery. Alow extra time for your goods to arrive if you're based outside the USA.

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Spoil yourself

Choose some where warm to learn to sail!

  • Spend a week or two at a top water sports and sailing centre some where warm and sunny. That would set you back anything from 500 for a week to 1500 for two weeks.
  • You can base yourself on a flotilla yacht or you can stay put on dry land with dinghy excursions. You'll always find an option to suit yourself.

Here are a selection of JoJaffa's favourites:

For a real treat consider:

Equipment: If you're going to learn to sail in the colder climates you might decide to invest in the very best gear to keep you warm. Or you may decide to buy a boat! Okay, if you still want to buy a boat it will set you back something like the following:

  • Old dinghy 200/300
  • Second hand modern dinghy 1000 to 3000
  • Second hand small yacht 5,000 to 25,000
  • Second Hand Large yacht much more!

If you are looking to buy or sell start here:

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Open Outcry

Got a question? Get an answer!

Post a message to the sailing discussion board.

You might just

  • have a general question about Sailing?
  • want to make a comment
  • want to share tips and advice with fellow JoJaffa-ers?

... Then why not use our Sailing chat board

Maybe someone has already asked that burning question you're longing to find the answer to ...

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If you are interested in Sailing, you'll probably also enjoy some or all of the following

One of JoJaffa's other sailing guides -

or why not try something a little different...

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