‘Dementia sail’ in Chichester harbour

We had a lovely sailing trip this Sunday in Chichester harbour for the Russell family. Three brothers arranged a trip for their father, Hap, who has Alzheimers. As a family they have sailed extensively over the years, including Atlantic crossings, and they contacted us after hearing about our Dementia Sails to arrange a trip for their father.

“Dhara, you and Angela were just wonderful!  The day couldn’t have gone better.  As you know, I was rather apprehensive, but my worries were very rapidly dispensed with.  Both of you were so good with Hap.  He just loved it.  He was in his element and we’ve been talking about arranging another voyage.”

Sail Boat Project launches Community Sailing Fund July sailing schedule

Sail Boat Project workers’ co-operative operates a Community Sailing Fund so we can subsidise the cost of sailing activities for members of community groups in Sussex and Hampshire.

We are excited to be able to offer a range of taster sails and two and three day sails available for £20 per person per day.


We encourage local groups to have a look at the schedule to see trips out of Chichester harbour, Brighton marina and Newhaven marina – there’s something for everyone!

We believe sailing can have a big impact on people’s mental health. Our own records chart an increase in confidence and well being among people who have taken part in previous years,” says co-op member and skipper Dhara Thompson. “Research shows that just being in a coastal and marine environment can be particularly effective in this regard, known as ‘blue mind’ or ‘blue health’.”

Regular contact in these environments reduces health inequalities by reducing stress, increasing physical activities and creating stronger communities.

In 2018 we worked with 61 participants from 9 groups from across Sussex. Please have a look at our Impact Report to find out more about the work. Previous participants had this to say:

Seeing where I live from a different perspective, the sea, helped give me a different perspective on my life”

It was fantastic! An amazing experience. Good fun eating, sleeping, cooking on the boat. Real good fun!”

These activities are heavily subsidised through our Community Sailing Fund, supported by Sussex Community Foundation and the Royal Yachting Association Foundation as well as from the sale of merchandise. Individual can also make donations and we welcome the support of local businesses.

Day Skipper Knowledge self test

Do you have the assumed navigational knowledge to make a success of your RYA Day Skipper practical course? Take our fun Day Skipper Knowledge self test and find out! If you enroll on a RYA Day Skipper practical course it is assumed that you have navigational knowledge to Day Skipper shorebased ability.
This little test helps you gauge your current level and help you decide if you need to do the theory course. You can mark yourself in this test – the answers are at the end for you to check how well you did. It’s also well worth revising your theory knowledge prior to the course, especially if it is a little while since you took your theory course and you might be a bit rusty.

If you book your RYA Day Skipper theory online course with Sail Boat Project we’ll give you a £50 discount when you book 5 days of a practical course.

August 7 day channel sailing trip

Great seven day sailing trip last week that took in the varied delights of Swanage, Alderney Week and Weymouth Harbour, as well as a visit to Café du port Omonville la rogue and TWO encounters with Poole Bike Night – not necessarily in that order! A cultural melting pot, as well as a culinary feast in the galley with so many chefs on board. We shot across to Braye Harbour, Alderney in 10 hours from Swannage Bay. The return slingshot path from Omonville to Weymouth saw us barely making north for several hours into the spring tides, despite a heading of 320 degrees. 12 hours after leaving French waters we were safely ensconced in The Stable Weymouth with pizza and cider, recovering from 35 knot gusts (occasional force 6 was the forecast!!). The final day’s sailing was a grand tour of the Jurassic coast, past two pan-pans and sailing all the way through the harbour. Only about six engine hours in total over seven days.

Contact us to discuss your own bespoke trip in 2019.

Company Directors wanted

We are looking for new Company Directors to get involved with Sail Boat Project.

We are a friendly community sailing school, working to widen access to the sea through sail training. As well as RYA sailing courses we offer community work, like our supportive Dementia Sails. We are also involved in importing olive oil and other products from Portugal to Newhaven by sail cargo vessel!

Interested? Can you offer 2 hours a month to attend a directors’ meeting; one day a year to attend our annual review and planning day; plus some time to support an aspect of our work?

Register your interest by contacting us by Monday 19th March. Induction given.

Time and enthusiasm is the most important thing to offer! But some skills and experience that would be great are: supervision of staff / sailing background experience running a small business / accounting & finance experience

Organic olive oil arrives by Sail Cargo in Newhaven

Last week saw Newhaven Harbour welcome Nordlys, a Sail Cargo ship that had travelled all the way from Portugal. Despite the weather, there was a great turnout excitedly awaiting the arrival of the ship and the organic olive oil on board. Have a look through the photos to see the entrance to the harbour, the unloading, and some of our happy customers!

For more information or if you are interested in getting some olive oil for yourself follow the link below to the Sail Cargo page.




Course length – 50 nautical miles. Number of boats – 1400, give or take a few. What?! Start time – 0620. What again?! And we weren’t the first …

The Round the Island Race (round the Isle of Wight, just in case you’re not familiar with it) has been running since 1931. This year, conditions were perfect and a new course record of 2 hours 22 minutes 23 seconds was set by the trimaran Concise 10. We weren’t anywhere near that but, just under 10 hours after we started, we crossed the finishing line – what would be our position?

The weekend had started as normal on the Friday morning at Itchenor. Also following a familiar pattern was the appearance of another new crew member! Our new skipper for the Fastnet, Jake, joined us for the first time. Jake’s been sailing since before he could walk and was in the UK youth Laser squad before moving on to crazy single-handed ocean racing in his self-built mini-Transat 6.50.  He’s sailed around the Fastnet rock several times but never as part of the Fastnet race and brings a wealth of racing experience. Mike was at a wedding so we were 7 for the race – Jake, Ben, Dhara, Trevor, James, Farouk and me.

We didn’t hang about for long at Itchenor, motor-sailing gently down the Chichester Channel and up the Solent to Cowes, on the way discussing the intricacies of spinnaker hoists, gybes and drops. The wind was north-westerly force 3-4 and the sea state calm, good conditions for spinnaker practice, and so we turned downwind just west of Cowes and set to work, rotating roles so we’ll all understand and be competent in each aspect when we’re on the Fastnet.

We were booked into Cowes Yacht Haven and were lucky to be the last to arrive on our pontoon; we rafted up as the outermost boat, which meant we wouldn’t have to wait for anyone in the morning or have footsteps over us all night.  As you might expect, Cowes was heaving!  1400 boats with an average of 10 crew plus visitors – that’s a lot of extra boats and people.  Nonetheless, we found a delightful, quirky Indian restaurant on the High Street and had a sensibly early night.

Saturday – race day – dawned rather grey and a little chilly, but clear skies were forecast for later.  We also had three new crew members – Roy, Paula and Gail joined us for the day and brought a surprising degree of chirpiness for 5am!

So many boats! Starts were every 10 minutes from 5.30am till 7.10am and there were yachts of all shapes, sizes and competence jostling for position, with shouts of “Starboard!” echoing all around…  Our big new genoa, on its second outing after the Morgan Cup, didn’t give us great visibility so Farouk took the lookout position on the pulpit, doubling as figurehead and bow fender!

The Round the Island Race goes anti-clockwise so we headed west from Cowes. Jake found us some clear air and kept us away from danger before handing over to James to fetch comfortably down to the Needles. Things got a bit crowded as boats gybed and hoisted spinnakers round the rocks and we headed down to St Catherine’s Point, the southernmost tip of the island. It was a beautiful, spectacular sight, hundreds of yachts with multi-coloured spinnakers flying in bright morning sunlight.

After a bit of port-starboard silliness by others at the start of the leg, James and Trevor decided that they wanted to be fresh for the second half so headed off down below while the boat was on a nice even keel, helped by our three day crewmembers who were doing a first class job of camping on the rail! Conditions were perfect for Farouk, who’d been relieved of bow duties, to practise his trimming, easing the sheet until the spinnaker luff started to curl, and then grinding it back in on the winch; ease, grind, ease, grind…

Two hours later we gybed round St Catherine’s point and found ourselves on a fine reach heading up towards Sandown Bay, just managing to keep the spinnaker flying, dropping it as we hardened up towards Bembridge.  And then it was tack-tack-tack up to the Forts, keeping away from the shallows off Ryde, criss-crossing with countless other yachts trying to work out how best to buck the tide that was now flowing against us as we made our way back to Cowes.  The wind was easing too, of course – “I don’t believe it – foul tide and no wind at the end of the race – how often does that happen?!” quipped Dhara.

We decided to head over to the mainland, out of the main tidal stream and into clearer air, taking a close look at the little Stokes Bay Sailing Club youth dinghies as they zipped around the buoys.  Things got a little crowded again as we neared the finish and had to put in a few tacks.  We crossed the line at 4.11pm, 9 hours and 51 minutes after the start.

It was good to arrive back in Cowes at a reasonable time so we could freshen up and enjoy the evening’s festivities, prior to a gentle sail with a little more spinnaker practice back to Itchenor on Sunday morning.

I nearly forgot – what was our finishing position?  We were quite pleased to find that we’d finished in 418th place.  Top third – we’re getting better.  Star Wars Episode 7 is The Force Awakens – I think some competitive spirit is awakening in this crew 🙂

Next up – the Channel Race on 22nd July, last one before the Fastnet on 6th August!