Here’s something that flies in the face of convention: the best way to learn to sail is as crew on a yacht. Sailing has a bad reputation as a ‘closed shop’ with people wearing blue blazers and talking impenetrable language.
Sailing is a career not a social ladder
As in every sphere of interest the dicks of the world stand out, where the majority of decent people sit unseen in the background. The majority of sailors:
- Aren’t stupidly rich
- Pay around €30,000 for a boat, not €300,000+
- Often sweat over how to pay for their all-consuming hobby and don’t reach into their trust funds (or even have one).
- Don’t spend €€€ on club membership fees (rather, €€!)
- Are fun to hang out with
- Sail for the sake of sake of sailing not social climbing
The common impression of sailors as being stupid rich people really isn’t the case! Sailing however is a career in its own right. Again, contrary to common understanding, most sailors learn to sail from doing basic stuff as crew and as they develop as sailors may move into yacht ownership. Many these days never buy a boat! Skippers as such can find highly experienced crew who have sailed all over the world who haven’t the money/compunction to spend cash on their own vessels.
Learn to sail by crewing
As a newbie to the world of sailing, having dismissed these impressions you will find a lot of yacht owners normal people with a taste for adventure. If you want to learn to sail these people will be the best ones to teach you.
Ideally you should go as crew a few times before bothering with sailing qualifications. Get out in the sunshine with a comfortable Force 4 wind heaving you along at boat speed with the rest of the crew grinning on the windward rail. Experience a glorious dawn when on watch on a longer trip. Feel the tension of a difficult Force 7, wet to your bones and being thrown about as you beat against the tide. If you experience these and want more? The sea will always be in your veins.
From the examples above and more, so you will be on a steep learning curve as you make more and more use of yourself. When you realise that salt water is indeed coursing through your veins, so you can learn to sail formally through a sailing school.
The UK has the Royal Yachting Association qualifications system which is arguably the best in Europe. €500 may get you a basic Competent Crew qualification (a largely practical qualification) but as you develop your sailing skills you will spend ever more € doing a lot more classroom work.
Here’s another secret: you may never need more than a Competent Crew if you want to just crew. Why? You will keep a logbook and the more miles you have under your belt in different conditions the more likely the skipper will want you aboard.
Get crewing with Onboard Space!
If you want to learn to sail as crew, one of the best ways to meet new skippers is through Onboard Space. You can sign up for free and it just costs a few Euros to connect with a skipper. Join us today and you never know where your sailing career could lead!