What's it all about
This page attempts to explain a little about yachting to people who know little but have a feeling they might like to know more. Follow the guide and we'll show you how you can get involved. But be warned, if you get the bug, it can become addictive!
Firstly lets explain that most people who sail yachts do not own their own boat. Unless you want to use it a lot, the cost makes this prohibitive. First there's the price of the boat which for a new 35 footer (sleeps approx 6) would be around £80,000, or £9,000 each year in loan repayments. Then you have to keep it somewhere and a marina berth for the same yacht would be about £6,000 a year. On top of that you need to add insurance and maintenance that could easily add another £3,000 a year. So you need at least £1,500 a month for your hobby, which is a lot to justify. Of course there are cheaper ways of doing things - you could buy an older boat, you could by a smaller boat, or you could keep it on a cheaper mooring in the middle of a river that dries out at low tide. But unless it is a pleasant and convenient experience using your boat, you'll end up never using it at all!
But wait, there is no need to compromise. Yacht Charter means that you really can have it all. A newer boat, a bigger boat, the convenience of a marina berth and no worries about repairs and maintenance.
But just how can you go sailing on one of our boats? Well firstly you may not realise that you only need to have a fairly basic level of sailing skills in order to hire a yacht for your exclusive use with your friends and family. You can have a boat for a day, for a weekend, a week or longer and you can start your charter on any day of the week that you like. While you have the yacht, you can treat it as your own and no one will know that it is not. (This isn't true of all companies because in many cases the yachts are floating adverts with the company name plastered all over them. You may not mind that, but if you do, ask the question).
The freedom that sailing offers can be quite surprising. No boat driving license is required, you can go pretty much wherever you like and once you're out of the harbour, there is no speed limit. Not that you are going to go too fast. Sailing is about relaxing and taking life at a slower pace. But even at 6 miles an hour, you'll find that within a few hours sailing of our base there are all manner of places to visit. From a quite nature reserve to a lively city based marina, you check the wind and the tide and you go where it takes you. Once you moor up for the evening, you can relax on deck with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watch everyone else arrive. You may be impressed if they moor up efficiently, or you may be amused if they don't. Either way I can't think of a better way to relax.
If this appeals, you can check availability now and a 25% deposit secures your booking. Taking our 35 footer as an example, the costs for a family of 6 works out at just £233 per person for a full week in high season. Five days in May (Mon to Fri) would be only £104 per person. And don't forget that these are sailing yachts, so the diesel fuel you use will cost next to nothing. Plus the fully equipped galley means that you can cook and eat on board for no more than it would cost at home.
But what sailing experience do you need, and what if you haven't got any? Well if you are a complete novice, you'll need some basic knowledge and two five-day practical sailing courses to get to the standard where you can take a boat on your own. The first course is 'Competent Crew' which teaches you the absolute basics about how to sail a yacht. Courses follow a syllabus approved by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) who also inspect and approve all good sea schools in the UK. As with all the courses, its fun, sociable and educational at the same time. You stay on board the boat, taking turns to help with the domestics and sleeping in a cabin (bedroom) or in the saloon (lounge). We usually stop in a marina at night where there is a chance to stretch your legs and use the facilities, although the boats have showers on board too. Within a couple of days you'll feel like you've known the instructor and crewmates for years and if you think of it as a bit of a holiday rather than a course, you'll be nearer the reality. Once you have achieved this basic level, you'll want to do a bit of reading or attend a theory course to learn about the weather, buoys & lights, nautical charts, how to navigates and the rules of the road. Its fun to learn and entirely relevant. With this theory under your belt, the next course is Day Skipper which follows a similar pattern to Competent Crew but which seeks to challenge your abilities just a little more. The boats are not difficult to sail, and the course will give you the confidence and experience you need to take charge when you go out with your friends in what will then be familiar waters.
Of course that's not the end of the story. There are more advanced theory and practical courses that you can take to build your sailing skills further. And as you progress you'll find whole different areas of sailing that you can get involved in - racing, cruising or teaching.
If you are still not quite sure whether sailing is for you and don't want to commit to the five-day Competent Crew course just yet, there is now another option. The RYA have developed a two-day 'Start Yachting' course which is designed very much as a taster. Having said that, it is a proper course and you will learn enough to feel confident about what is going on. Then if you decide you want more, you need only do another 3 days to complete the full Competent Crew course. Have a look on our dedicated Start Yachting sea school page for here for dates and prices.
Solent Sail provides all these courses and more, often on a similar boat to the one you will later charter on your own, so you'll be familiar with its systems and the way it handles. You can choose to do the courses over five consecutive days from a Sunday evening to the following Friday, or we have many courses that run over two weekends (3 days & 2 days), so you need only take one day off work. To check Competent Crew course dates and prices, check here.
There is one more alternative to chartering a whole boat on your own if you prefer to not have the responsibility and worries of being in charge. Solent Sail have a program of book-a-berth trips that run throughout the year to a variety of exciting destinations on the South Coast and across the Channel. These trips usually take place on slightly bigger boats that are faster and more stable to sail. Book-a-berth is cheap, fun and very sociable as you sail with a professional skipper and a group of people like you who just want to get out on the water. In many cases, people who meet on these trips have stayed friends afterwards and it can lead to more. You can check dates, prices and logs of previous charter-a-berth trips here.
So you can see how sailing can be fun, sociable, relaxing and offer a freedom that you might not expect, but what about enjoying it for FREE. There are many companies in the UK who recognise the benefits to their staff that sailing can bring as there is nothing quite like sailing a yacht for building team spirit. We offer specially tailored packages for corporate charters that really will bring benefits. And of course if you suggest it to your boss, you'll get the credit as well as the sailing.
So there's lots of suggestions to get involved, what are you waiting for?
For more information please call on 08443 573673 or contact us by email anytime, we love talking about sailing!