Kick off your Swallows and Amazons sailing adventure with the RYA’s top 10 sailing tips.

Swallows & Amazons
Royal Yachting Association (RYA)

Sometimes starting out in a new hobby can seem a little daunting. Is it for you? What equipment do you need? Is it expensive? If you’re interested in getting into sailing, here are a few top tips from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

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1. What is dinghy sailing?

A dinghy is a small boat with a mast and sail that can take you on both inland waters and the open sea.  These boats are fun, exciting and can be sailed by people of every age and ability. You can go with your family, friends, or by yourself - leaving the stress of daily life behind on the shore.

2. Where can you go sailing?

From cruising in the Lake District or Norfolk Broads to hiring a dinghy off the beach on your summer holiday, dinghy sailing offers so much choice.  Explore the many miles of English coast line or take your dinghy inland to discover lakes and rivers across the country.

3. Give it a try

© Gary Huskisson

Whether you have a go at your local sailing club or take a course as part of your holiday, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. Check out RYA Start Boating to find out more.

4. How do I learn?

The RYA offers a complete set of courses for beginners and beyond. If you’re starting from scratch, the RYA’s Start Sailing course will get you afloat with an instructor to learn how to steer and handle the boat. If you can already sail, prepare for your journey with the RYA’s Seamanship Skills and Day Sailing courses. Find out more about RYA Training Courses.

5. What will I need?

On a taster session or sailing course, usually all the equipment will be provided including a buoyancy aid.  Warm clothes, a pair of old shoes and a waterproof coat are recommended, as it’s nearly always cooler on the water than the shore. 

6. Will I get wet?

In some dinghies you are likely to get wet, but if this is the case your venue will provide you with a wetsuit to keep you warm. However, if the wind is light and you’re in a more stable steady boat then you’ll only get a few splashes.

7. How much does it cost?

Sailing is often perceived as expensive to get into, but the reality is it doesn’t have to be. Many clubs offer affordable membership packages - some cheaper than joining a gym! They also have boats which members can borrow for free and some run social sailing sessions where you can practice your skills. If you do want buy your own, pre-loved dinghies can be more affordable. 

8. Something for everyone

The beauty of sailing is that it really is for everyone, young or old, able-bodied or disabled.  It is one of the most accessible sports and one of the very few in which able-bodied sailors and disabled sailors can participate on equal terms.  Find out more about the opportunities for people with disabilities to get afloat at

9. Climb aboard for your Swallows and Amazons experience

With extended coastal cruising trips, overnight stays and the chance to sleep on board under the stars, your dinghy sailing adventure can provide the perfect escape from the increasingly digital pressures of modern life.  Explore secluded bays, inlets and rivers, the perfect Swallows and Amazons experience.

10. Try it this summer

If you think sailing could be for you then why not try it for FREE!  Try Sailing Days are taking place at venues throughout the summer; find one near you, or drop by one of the stops on the RYA’s Sail for Gold Roadshow to give it a try.

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