Essential Sailing Gear on the Cheap

Gone are the days of social class rule: there are no leisure activities that should be considered off limits – that includes sailing.

It might have been the case, some forty years ago, that starting out in the world of sailing and dinghy racing might have been a bit more difficult. Clubs were far more selective and particular about the kinds of people that they accepted. They didn’t have to give a reason for not accepting individuals, but it could be as simple as the selecting committee not liking ‘the cut of their jib’ or – more likely – not wanting to teach newcomers. Of course, one of the biggest obstacles for newcomers to the sport was the cost of purchasing the necessary equipment and gear.

Today, sailing is no longer ruled by the same kind of elitism that it once was. As long as you don’t mind roughing it with some second-hand gear at first, you can get ‘the sailing experience’ for relatively little money and you’ll find that you’ll have to jump through far fewer hoops wen joining a club or society.

Before you dive head first into the exciting world of sailing, there are a few pieces of essential gear that it might be worth purchasing…


It doesn’t matter what conditions you’re sailing in, a good pair of long fingered sailing clubs is essential if you wish to step beyond the role of spectator and into the realms of participant. Sailing is an all-weather sport where you are almost guaranteed to get wet. Sailing gloves (normal five fingered gloves which leave the top cap of the thumb and index finger exposed) are needed to ensure that you can keep a good grip on the ropes, as well as the boat itself!

Three Breathable Layers

As with any outdoors sports, especially the ones braved in the English weather, breathable layers are required in all seasons. Although it might seem a little excessive investing in so many garments, do this early on and you’ll be rewarded with comfort for the duration of your sailing experience. You’ll need a thermal base layer first, on top of that you’ll have a breathable fleece to keep out the cold and finally, you’ll need a light waterproof coat that keeps off the wind and the rain. Try approaching wholesale sports outlets first and see if they have any end of line stock before buying the newest models.

Boat Shoes

It might sound like a cliche but boat shoes are really a must if you’re thinking of heading out onto the water frequently. Although you might benefit from a traditional pair of shoes at social occasions and whilst your’re off-shore; when you’re getting some serious sailing done on the ocean, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the tread that you need. Consider purchasing a hybrid shoe type that balances the practical needs of sailing with the style of a traditional boat shoe.

Life Jacket

Safety really does come first, when it comes to sailing and it doesn’t matter how confident a swimmer you are – the sea should never be underestimated – a life jacket should always be worn. It should go without saying that skimping on this piece of equipment really wouldn’t be wise. Don’t buy second hand and make sure to test out your gear (in a safe environment) before you take it out onto open water. Don’t think that a simple buoyancy aid will be enough to keep you afloat, only a functioning life jacket will keep you afloat and your airways clear.

Thinking About Taking Up Sailing?

There’s never been a better time to get on the water!

There was a time when the idea of ‘going sailing’ was deemed to be an activity strictly reserved for the upper classes. The sheer investment that required to buy a boat, keep it maintained and moored often priced out those on lower incomes. It wasn’t just the financial brick wall that the lower classes faced though. Even if a low-income family somehow made the step up to earning more money, enough to buy a boat and mooring, they would still need to learn how to sail.

Before Ian Proctor’s innovative small dinghy designs, there was no simple or affordable way to teach adults or children the principles of sailing. The ‘art’ of sailing was kept at arms distance away from those who simply could not afford it, or weren’t in the right social circles.

However, today things have changed. The Information Age has brought with it accessibility to all manners of instruction on every hobby imaginable. Where before a man might have to hunt out a copy of one of Ian’s books, like his seminal Sailing: wind and current, now there are completely free videos online for anyone to watch and learn from.

So before you brush aside your dreams of spending lazy days on a boat, or racing a little gull dinghy of your own, consider how easy it can be to get afloat:

Sailing can be cheap

Don’t believe cliches, sailing can be an affordable hobby for people of every walk of life and income. You might have to wait a little longer to fulfill your lifelong dream of buying a yacht, but Gull Dinghies are always an affordable avenue into the sport. Thanks to Ian Proctor’s award-winning Wanderer and Wayfarer designs, sailing became significantly more accessible during the 50s and 60s, with thousands of these sturdy vessels being produced.

You can get a great deal on one of these second-hand boats in addition to other extraneous gear. Like many niche hobbies, online marketplaces such as Ebay or Gumtree offer some of the cheaper prices. However it’s always worth taking a look at specialised sailing sites, as well as enquiring at your local sailing club.

Sailing is now for everyone

Before you balk at the notion of simply strolling right into your local club, remember that a lot has changed in the last couple of decades. Set aside your preconceptions of men in boating shoes with condescending attitudes and prepare to meet the new generation of sailing enthusiasts. In the 21st century there are countless past times to pursue, but we only have a small amount of time to spend. When you ask someone to show you the ropes and bring you into the fold, you’ll be surprised at how welcoming they’ll be.There is a massive social aspect to the modern sailing club.

There are over 700 dinghy racing clubs dotted around the UK, that’s not including the various other forms of the sport that you can take part in such as power-boating, yachting and dinghy cruising. Each one of these clubs will charge a monthly or annual fee, there’s one for every budget. Of course, the old traditional clubs such as the Royal Yacht Squadron, still remain off limits to the man-on-the street, but places like these belong more to the older heyday of sailing than the current generation.

So give it a go!

If you’ve been sitting on the fence up until now, unsure whether to dip your toe into the sport or not, you’ll have the chance to give it a go absolutely free of charge in May.

The Royal Yachting Association is running it’s annual Push the Boat Out program again this year, with nearly 400 venues across the UK participating. This is the perfect opportunity for any beginners who are curious about sailing to get involved at absolutely no cost to themselves.

Sailing clubs will be opening their doors from the 13th-21st May, you can check out the participating venues at

Rhyl to Llandudno: Sailing North Wales

Now that Spring is well and truly here, those lucky enough to own boats will be looking to get back out on the water.

Although many sailors like to break themselves in on the less choppy waters of lakes and rivers, the 250 miles of spectacular coastline that stretches across North Wales offer an ideal location for beginners, intermediates or experienced sailors looking to ease themselves back into the season.

The coastal towns of Rhyl, Llandudno and Colywn Bay made their names off of the fine weather that they receive from the start of Spring all the way through to Summer. Temperatures during the month of April and May make for ideal sailing conditions and a perfect time to visit North Wales. You’ll need to be packing your winter gear still, as temperatures can dip below 10 Celsius on cold days, but the rain holds off for the most part during this time of the year.

Of course, it’s those winds that we really care about. Thanks to the geographical position of North Wales you can expect mostly favourable breezes, offering good conditions for Gull Dinghies and Toppers alike. If you’re eager to make some decent headway down the coast, then take our suggested trip for a leisurely drift down the North Wales coast.

When planning a sailing weekend to a popular tourist destination, such as Rhyl, it’s always best to book as much of your trip in advance as possible.

All your accommodation, any extra gear that you might need and mooring spots for your boat should all be organised ahead of schedule. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll need to give your vessel a good look over before you take it out on the water. Unless you’ve been sailing throughout the Winter (congratulations – if so!), your boat will have been sat under cover in a storage place for the last 6 months and will probably need a good servicing, make sure everything’s in order before you set on your way to Rhyl to start your journey.

The long stretches of beach offer plenty of opportunities for setting off from Rhyl, get an early start at low tide to make the most of the day and head South towards the neighbouring tourist town of Colwyn Bay. Providing you know what you’re doing (if not – there are loads of clubs nearby offer tutoring) you should make the 25 mile stretch in around 3 and a half hours, in a 15-ft dinghy. If you’d like to make a stop over night in the idyllic town of Colwyn Bay, then give the Bay of Colwyn Sailing Club a call. They have half-tide moorings available, in addition to moorings across the rest of the coast that can be discussed with other members.

The trek around from the Bay of Colwyn to Llandudno might look short, as the crow flies, but this can prove to be a relatively challenging sail if the weather goes against you.

You’re unlikely to meet much opposition from the breeze at this time of the year, so you can take your time and enjoy some lunch in Colwyn Bay before heading on to your final destination of Llandudno.

Navigate your way round Rhos on Sea and hook your way into Llandudno’s stunning bay by evening, to get a stunning view of one of the prettiest Victorian seaside towns left in the Great Britain. Once you’re in the relative shelter of the bay you can kick back and drift your way into Wales’ quintessential postcard town. There are a handful of lovely top-class restaurants for those with a discerning taste, or if you’re up for something a little more down to earth, The Cottage Loaf offers some great pub grub and local ales. Once your hunger is sated you can take a ride up the Great Orme Tramway and get a huge view of the distance that you’ve travelled.

If you’re up for the drive then you can set off in the evening, but it might be wiser to treat yourself and book a night in one of the stately hotels overlooking the sea. You’ve got easy access to your boat come the morning…

…not to mention one of the best fry-ups in Britain when you wake up.

Weymouth to Wight: South Coast Run

Summer is finally here!

If you’ve yet to dust off your Gull Dingy, then perhaps this rough guide to a Southern voyage will change your mind.

There’s something truly magical about entering into the bay of the Isle of Wight by sailboat. Simply put, it is the mecca of our Sport. Home to Cowes Week, the longest running sailing regatta in the world, it was home to the first ever America’s cup race, a real boon for the sport in our country. Thanks to the regular events that take place in the Solent over the course of the year there are dozens of places to dock up your boat making the area one of the most convenient locations to sail into.

Before you set off on your journey though, why not spend the evening in Weymouth? This writer’s recommendation is to arrive a day in advance, so that you can make the most of the excellent distractions that this comfortable tourist town has to offer.

Weymouth is a stunning tourist town with more than enough shops and cafes to please the most idle of tourists. For food, there’s the usual raft of restaurants, but the highlight has to be the wonderful Crab House Cafe. With a rotating menu of fresh fish dishes, you might not be able to guarantee what’s on the menu but you can be safe in the knowledge that what you do order will be of the highest calibre. After eating your fill of Crab, roll on over to Wyke Smugglers, a super traditional pub that offers some of the best ales and pub grub that the area has to offer.

Make sure you get an early night in one of the many guesthouses that line the coast, so that you’re well rested and ready to head out on the water at the break of dawn the next day.

You’ll want to set out from Weymouth early in the morning whilst the tide is high, so that you can make the most of the favourable tidal drifts. There are a number of jetties that you can launch from, but if the worse comes to the worst, you can simply walk yourselves into the water.

The first stretch of your journey will have you hugging the Purbeck Heritage Coast. This is a particularly underrated piece of coast line, studded with dramatic cliffs and miniature coves. If you feel like the wind is still on your side, then by all means take a break in one of these bays and enjoy a little lunch. If not, then continue to sail on and you should reach the major bay of Poole within three hours from leaving your start point.

At one point you would have been forgiven for relegating Poole in your mind to one of the many unremarkable coastal towns on Britain’s shores.

However, a recent influx of money into the local economy has allowed this harbour town to invest wisely, making it an ideal stopping off point for a tired sailor in need of a drink or a good meal. Time your visit well and you can catch one of the many cultural events that grace the town each year. This month you can take in the European Maritime Day, have a nibble at A Taste of the South and even consider a new purchase at the Poole Harbour Boat Show.

Although you may be tempted to stop off at the lovely town of Bournemouth on the last leg of your journey, resist the temptation and head straight on across the sound to the Isle of Wight. You might come across a few more vessels if you’re sailing on the weekend, so just be careful not to get too battered by any rogue wake. It’s advisable to book your docking well in advance, there might well be a higher concentration of harbours on this island than anywhere else in the UK, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’ll be a spot for you!

Once you’re docked, jump onto dry land and reward yourself with a slap up meal and celebrate the start of summer in style – you’ve earned it.

Discrimination, Pool Covers and Musto’s Return

In Sailing News this week…

The question of discrimination has arisen over in Australia’s Sailing community, as a Daughter-Father team have been disqualified from the Men’s Skiff class at the Sailing World Cup. There wasn’t a typo back there and we’re not making this up. We have this interesting piece of odd news in, thanks to

Mr. Paul Coady has been banned from the sport for a year after committing ‘gross misconduct, gross breach of the rules, exhibiting bad manners, poor sportsmanship and bringing the sport into disrepute’. Quite the litany of felonies, in a sport which values good sportsmanship so highly. So, just how did Mr. Coady incite the wrath of the ISAF to such an extent and is there a question of discrimination that needs to be answered here?

When Mr. Coady signed himself and his daughter up for the ‘men’s 49ers class’, he did so with the knowledge that the points gained from this competition would count towards Olympic selection. Although Olympic selection was probably not his ambition, it does impose the Olympic rules upon the competition as a whole. Olympic sailing, unlike many other ISAF sanctioned events, does not include mixed teams, therefore all teams in this competition would need to be of a single gender.

Both Mr. and Ms. Coady took offence to being told that they ‘were in violation of the Olympic gender requirements’ and were even more mollified by their subsequent disqualification from the competition. The matter has been taken to court, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be…

In other news…

The largest swimming pool in the world opened to the public a couple of years ago and now people are sailing on it. The swimming pool, if it can even be called that, can hold a whopping 66 million gallons of water. However, it’s more akin to a man-made lake than anything else.

Investment for the 1000-ft plus pool exceeded $2 million and now the giant tank is home to all manner of water sports, including sailing. If you’re thinking of checking out this mammoth construction then you’ll have to hop on a flight over to Chile; the pool spans the length of the San Alfonso del Mar resort, just south of Valparaiso.

Construction workers were no doubt rubbing their hands together at the potential cost of covering the 20-acre with Paramount Pools Swimming Pool Covers, however their services weren’t needed here. The water remains open to the elements 24-hours a day, thanks to a cunning filtration system that takes a calculated amount of water from the sea, keeping the pool constantly clean and supplied with fresh seawater all year round.

And finally…

How old is too old to compete in this Olympic Games?

Is there a point when we have to throw the matter of age discrimination out of the window and consider the reality that there are some activities that the younger person will simply be better at? Well, Keith Musto, Silver Medal winner from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, apparently doesn’t think so. The business man of 81 years old is making his return to Olympic racing and taking the battle to his fellow British Athletes.

Now, it’s probably not wise to consider how entrenched a man like Musto is in Great Britain’s sporting establishments. His own brand, an international outdoor clothing company, is well established and has served as the sponsor for Team GB teams over the years, he even received the OBE in 2014 for his contributions to the British economy. Is it possible then, that this is simply a PR gig for him?

The promo video over at begs to differ…

Although it definitely feels like the boys from Team GB are trying to contain smiles, the fact that they took the time to film this short promo surely means something. At the very least, it looks like we’ll be seeing Keith Musto back on the water competing with the best of them very soon…

Installing A New Anchor Rope Storage

A quick look at how Jon Bloor fitted his new Anchor Rope Storage…

This is the original set-up, a sturdy plastic box lashed in below the foredeck.

It works OK, but it takes up loads of room and gets in the way when stepping and lowering the mast. It also prevents access under the foredeck and to the drain plug for the foreward buoyancy tanks. The top of the box latches shut in case of a capsize!

The bitter end comes back out of the box and is tied around the foredeck moulding. You can also see my dedicated capsize recovery throwbags attached to the starboard shroud.

The mesh bucket / bag has a drawstring neck to keep the rope safely inside and has steel hoops which keep it open to make it easy to stow the rope and chain. The boat clip on the bag is the perfect size to clip through a link of chain (my worry otherwise being that the weight of the chain will pull all the rope out in the event of a capsize).

The bag itself is from West Marine – not that expensive, but I had to order it from the USA which was annoying as I couldn’t find a UK stockist.

It seems well made and is constructed of mesh so that the water will drain away and the rope will dry (another problem with my old box). It would obviously stow a lot more rope than I use (30m of 10mm and 5m of chain).

Deploying the anchor simply involves undoing the chain hook and opening the drawstring on the bag. The neck is nice and wide which makes re-stowing it very simple.

The drawstring originally just tied closed, but I have added a cord-lock which cost about 20p to make it easier one handed.

The anchor is shock corded through the hole in the CB case.

My next job is to make and glass in a chock on the right hand side and a retaining arrangement on the CB case end, but the current arrangement works and has been capsize tested.

The anchor is actually a Guardian alloy one so it is lighter than it looks and doesn’t damage the gel coat.