Running away to sea – via Ally Pally

It’s usual to start sailing in a small boat and work up to big ones. Dinghy sailing is fast and fun, although it does tend to ┬áinvolve a close acquaintance with neoprene and cold water, along with instructors in fast inflatables roaring at you to pull the tiller towards you. Or you can start, as I did, in big boats, in the days before gps, chartering a 28′ yacht with a group of friends and cruising carefully round west country harbours. I have enduring memories of being cold, seasick and inspired, eating oranges to fend off scurvy and saying ‘aye aye skipper’ a lot whilst studying navigation from a battered seamanship manual. It was the start of a lifelong obsession with all things nautical.

It’s never been easier to learn to sail; there’s no age limit and once you’ve got a bit of basic training you can sail for free, as there are always folks needing crew. If you can make a cup of tea in a force 5 without spilling it you’ll be welcome anywhere, although I don’t think that particular skill is on the RYA syllabus!

If you fancy learning to sail but not sure how to go about it, head to the RYA Dinghy Show on 2-3rd March at Alexander Palace in London. It’s a lively, family friendly show, with many sailing clubs exhibiting and plenty of advice and activities for those waiting to take the plunge, as it were.

Girl meets buoy?

I’ll be there – doing something entertaining and windy in the Coaching Area each day…. not that I’m a sailing coach, far from it, but as every other lecturer is a sensible expert I think I’m on the bill for some light relief!


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