Travel: Don't even think about buying a yacht

UK OUTDOORS: Sailing doesn't have to be reserved for rich boys and girls. Rupert Isaacson finds out more

MOST OF us associate sailing with money - often big money, possessed by people wearing yachting caps, cravats and Argyll sweaters. And cliches and prejudices (often undeserved) aside, sailing - at least yachting - can be a huge money burn, reserved for rich boys and girls. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, not only can just about anyone afford it, but you don't even have to live near the sea. Almost any stretch of water, any time of year, will do.

Sailing can be divided into two basic categories - dinghies and yachts. Dinghies are small, fast, manageable and cheap. They are also as much fun on small stretches of water, such as reservoirs and gravel pits, as on a coastal bay. Yachts, by contrast, are unimaginably expensive to both buy and maintain. However, if you obtain a Yachtmaster's certificate from the Royal Yachting Association, you can charter (ie hire) ocean-going craft anywhere in the world, and have all kinds of non-bank-breaking adventures.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is an umbrella organisation that controls the teaching and instruction of sailing, windsurfing and power boating. Its aim is to blow the elitist image of sailing and make the sport accessible to ordinary folk like you and me. It does this by accrediting sailing schools around the country, all of which offer both yachting and dinghy sailing course certificates on an ascending scale.

For dinghies - offering real bend-back-over-the-water excitement in front of a good wind - the RYA has five certificates to coax you from nervous beginner to a skipper of racing ability. The dinghies themselves reflect this progression - from the charmingly named Optimist, for total beginners (and children) up to the streamlined Laser and Mirror range. The RYA sailing schools provide craft with all training but, should you decide to get really serious, they are relatively cheap to buy and involve minimal maintenance costs. Each RYA dinghy course takes about three or four days to complete and can be done as a residential holiday or spread over afternoons or evenings.

If sailing round the Caribbean - or the Scottish coast for that matter - is more your fantasy, then go for the RYA's Yachtmaster course. The only snag is that in order to do this you need to first obtain a Competent Crew, then Day Skipper, then Coastal Skipper qualification, in which you must log 2,500 hours in tidal waters, live aboard a cruising yacht for a minimum of 50 days, make five passages of more than 60 miles, acting as Skipper for two of them, and with two other passages being overnight! It's hard work, but with a Yachtmaster, not only do you have the freedom of the world's oceans, but you'll sit on the right hand of God as far as the sailing community are concerned. People will buy you drinks and want to crew for you.

So what will it cost? Residential five day courses for any of the dinghy certificates average out at around pounds 250 to pounds 300, while non-residential courses generally come in around pounds 50 cheaper. A five-day course should get you through two RYA levels. The prices for yachts are a bit more: for example a five-day Competent Crew course will set you back about pounds 400, residential, while the six-day Coastal Skipper course comes in at pounds 50 or so more. Yachtmaster certificates are pounds 500 and up. These tariffs might seem steep, but you will spread them out over several years, and by the time you come to actually charter yachts, you will be splitting the costs with the rest of the crew (and they won't have a Yachtmaster certificate, so you can shout at them and tell them what to do).

If you do get hooked and decide to buy a boat, go for dinghies - they are cheap. New beginner boats come in between pounds 1,000 and pounds 2,000 but your sailing school should be able to sort you out with something second-hand for less. You will then have to buy a trailer, so you can pull it from your car - about pounds 200; and a sail for pounds 200 to pounds 600 depending on the size of boat you buy. Don't think about buying a yacht - hire them instead. Prices for the smaller craft are around pounds 1,000 for ten days, but you will split this cost, so it works out affordable.

Now, where to learn? There are scores of RYA accredited inland and coastal schools around the country. If you need a school near to London, try the Shadwell Basin Project, in Wapping, which offers cheap, non-residential dinghy courses up to advanced level. If you would rather make a holiday of it, the Falmouth School of Sailing has accommodation to suit any budget, from camping to luxury hotels, and some of the most intensive instruction in the country.

sailing fact file

Further information

Action Guide to Britain (Havill Press) by Rupert Isaacson, available from most bookshops.

Falmouth School of Sailing

The Board park, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 4AU. Tel: 01326 373203.

Season: Open all year. Accommodation: Choice of all budgets. Children: Eight and up for dinghies, 16 and up for yachts. Disabled: Disabled clients can be accommodated, especially blind and physically disabled. Insurance: Required. Can be provided by centre. Safety: Staff are first-aid trained. Rescue boats on hand. Tariffs: Five day dinghy courses pounds 250 to pounds 350 including accommodation, equipment and tuition. Add pounds 100 to pounds 150 for yachting courses. Access: Off the A39 at Falmouth. Trains and buses both go to Falmouth, pick ups can be arranged from the centre.

Shadwell Basin Project

Glamis Road, London E1 9EE; Tel 0171 481 4210. Tariffs: Six day beginner and advanced non-residential dinghy courses pounds 110. Bookings: 25 per cent deposit on booking, 50 per cent of course fee due if you cancel less than four weeks in advance of course start date. Access: A short walk from Wapping on the Docklands Light Railway.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living