Finding the right destination to suit your level of sailing

There’s never been a better time to get into sailing and if you get the chance to go on your sailing vacations with friends or rent a yacht charter for your family then jump at the opportunity because, before you know it, you’ll be hooked.

Like anything, practice makes perfect and sailing presents many challenges for both crew and skipper. Obviously, one of the first challenges is knowing where to start and with this in mind I’ve highlighted a few locations that I feel will take you from landlubber to skipper in the space of a few hundred nautical miles.

So, set your captain’s hat at a jaunty angle, pump your bilges and find out what it takes to become a Level 3 sailor and what you’ll have to do to achieve success.

Level: Novice

To reach the heady heights of novice you’ll be a newbie to sailing or only undertaken a couple of voyages where you basically hung on for dear life or sunned yourself whilst the rest of the crew worked their barnacles off.

Ideal location: Greece

A great location for novices to learn to sail is the southern Ionian Sea around Greece where conditions are ideal for families and flotillas. Beach clubs such as Vounaki offer excellent facilities and with the summer breeze ranging from 0 – 15 knots, getting to grips with line-of-sight navigation, a basic knowledge of charts and understanding more about where to anchor are all achievable for the uninitiated on their sailing vacations.

Level: One

So, you’ve been on at least one or two flotilla training courses and you’ve skippered a yacht for over 100 nautical miles. You’re now classed as a Level 1 sailor, congratulations. No doubt you’ll be chomping at the main sails and ready to develop your strengths and learn new disciplines.

Ideal location: Croatia

As one of Europe’s ‘must sail’ regions, Croatia is regarded as the perfect place to practice coastal cruising and easy island hopping. The Dalmatian coast is as good as it gets and with crystal clear waters and a warm breeze, reaching up to 20 knots, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to really take control. Thanks to a rich and varied heritage, Croatia is an excellent option for lazy days at sea interspersed with cultural sightseeing on land.

Level: Two

As a Level 2 sailor you’ll be well-versed with naval experiences and will have at least 10 days at sea under your belt and a couple of qualifications, namely the RYA day skipper and the ICC qualification. You’re almost at the top of your game but there’s always more to learn where yacht charters are concerned.

Ideal location: Caribbean

St Vincent’s, Grenada, St Lucia, these spice islands slide off the tongue quicker than honey off melon and if you’re a Level 2 sailor then you’re bound to view the tidal variations and strong currents as a challenge far too great to ignore. These sumptuous warm waters are ideal for understanding tidal flow, learning the significance of protected anchorages and navigating open waters in some simply stunning locations.

Level: Three

There’s no need to explain to you the jargon and the nuances of sailing as you’ll have over 400 nautical miles experience as well as qualifications such as the higher level RYA day skipper, the RYA coastal skipper and the higher level ICC qualification in your arsenal. Where’s left to sail that you haven’t already experienced?

Ideal location: UK

Good old Blighty with its ever changing weather, strong currents and large tidal variations. Regions such as the Solent, in the south coast of England, provide some exceptional challenges for Level 3 sailors as well as historic ports of call where maritime history buffs will be in their absolute element. With wind speeds reaching upwards of 25 knots and plenty of poor anchor holding grounds to test your grit, making a passage plan and taking part in racing around the Isle of Wight will be what you dream of.

Biog: Chris is the father of two teenage boys and through a combination of common sense and sheer bloody mindedness he’s managed to make sailors of the pair of them.


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