Have you ever dreamed of sailing a yacht? It could be easier than you think to get into the sport. Once a pastime only for the rich, you too can now go yachting.
Flotilla companies and cheap flights have popularized sailing just as budget ski resorts brought skiing within reach of thousands.
The UK is home to one of the best training organisations for recreational sailors - the RYA (Royal Yachting Association).
RYA training is respected throughout the world. Its popularity comes from:
· The quality of its teaching materials, which are clear, concise, and well illustrated;
· The high standards required in order to qualify to teach RYA sailing courses;
· The fact that all training is done in English, the international language of communication;
· The strict inspection which sailing schools / training centers undergo to become recognized;
· The ongoing monitoring of standards that training centers and instructors undergo annually.
The RYA syllabus includes courses for everyone from total novices up to those who want to obtain the coveted RYA Yachtmaster Ocean and Yachtmaster Offshore certificates.
The RYA Yachtmaster qualification is the de-facto standard for working as a professional skipper or instructor.
Certificates are available for both Sail and Power.
If you want to learn to sail or to improve your existing skills there is no better place to start than at an RYA recognized training center.
The RYA has
2,200 recognized training centers in more than 23 countries.
Most RYA practical sailing courses are five days long and you live on board during that time. You'll be taught about and expected to join in all activities, including steering, handling ropes and sails, and making food and drinks.
The majority of people join a group course. The RYA specifies a maximum of five students per instructor so you will get plenty of individual attention. Many students attend alone; others choose to learn with a friend or partner. Alternatively you can arrange private tuition for yourself, your family, or friends.
RYA instructors are skilled at turning even a group of strangers into a crew all working together. This sense of unity of purpose is one of the pleasures of sailing.
As well as practical courses the RYA syllabus includes theory courses. These can be taken in a classroom, by distance learning, or on-line. Theory courses available are navigation at four different levels from Basic to Celestial, Marine Radio, First Aid, Sea Survival, and Diesel Engine maintenance.
Each theory course is accompanied by materials of the same high standard that have helped to make RYA practical training the best you can get.
You will find details of all RYA training centres world-wide on the RYA web site and you can search for one near to you.
Alternatively, if you live in a cool country, but would prefer to learn in the sunshine, there is no shortage of sailing schools based in warm climates to choose from. It is often easier to persuade a reluctant partner to join you on a course in Greece or Spain than off the coast of England, for instance.
But be warned. Whether you start sailing in the UK or abroad, as any RYA sailing school will tell you - sailing can be both addictive and life-changing!
Melody McKay Burton is Director of Aegeon Sailing School.
This is an RYA recognized training center based on the pretty island of Aegina. Although not as well-known as some Greek islands, Aegina (pronounced Ayina) is one of the closest islands to Athens and has an interesting history and a unique charm.
Aegean Sailing School have been offering RYA sailing courses to an international clientele since 2005 and are well known for their friendly, professional service. The school runs a full range of RYA sailing and theory courses throughout the year and also offers powerboat courses and skippered sailing holidays.
Melody and her husband, George, the School Principal, have lived and sailed in Greece since 2001 (They went for a two year sabbatical and decided to stay!) Before that they lived and sailed in Argyll in the Scottish Highlands.
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