RYA Start Yachting to Learn to Sail!

The RYA Start Yachting sailing course is a short introduction for complete beginners, running over two days. By the end of the course you will have experienced steering a yacht, sail handling, ropework and be aware of safety on board. Runs over two days, staying onboard overnight. £212-£236 per person, see below for details.

We aim to run a Start Yachting course on the first weekend of every month with a three day top up to RYA Competent Crew the following weekend. You can book your three day top at our RYA Competent Crew page.

We also offer RYA Start Yachting as Teen sails exlusively for 13-17yr olds.

“I couldn’t recommend the Sail Boat Project enough. I’ve completed two courses so far, next steps are Day Skipper theory and Day Skipper practical thank you so much guys for everything you’ve done for me.” – Gemma

“A fantastic skipper. He has a very calm, supportive and nurturing style of tuition and is clearly very knowledgable. Being new to yachting, his approach made me feel very at ease.” – Tom

Courses run from Itchenor in Chichester harbour.

Prices are £236 May-September, or £212 March-April and October; all inclusive.

Assumed knowledge: None

Ability after course: A basic knowledge of yachting

You can upgrade your RYA Start Yachting to RYA Competent Crew with three further days, or two weekends.

Course content

Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails
Sail handling
Fire precautions and fighting
Use of personal safety equipment
Emergency equipment
General duties
Introduction to Rules of the road

By the end of the course you will be able to steer, handle sails and keep a lookout.

Dates and rates

Our rates are all inclusive, covering all food onboard, hire of sailing waterproofs and visitor mooring costs.

10% lower rates are available in March, April and October.

Courses run from Chichester harbour, please see below for details.

There are no upcoming events at this time.


How many other people will there be onboard?
On our RYA courses we have up to five students per instructor..
For our sailing trips we have up to six people onboard plus skipper and volunteer first mate.
We can have up to ten people onboard for group activities.

Where do we sleep? Do we go back to the marina each night?
We all sleep onboard, with a berth allocated to you. We usually stay in a different place each night, which could be at anchor or mooring in a marina with walk ashore access to showers and toilets. Please Note: The saloon is classed as a sleeping area. Exact sleeping arrangements are worked out with your skipper at the start of your course or trip depending on the mix of crew.

Can I arrive the night before to help with travel costs/travel time?

There is a range of accommodation available at Itchenor Sailing Club, ranging from £22/night bunk beds to ensuite rooms. They also have a good kitchen serving meals and breakfasts and are very helpful. Please mention Sail Boat Project when you enquire or book.

Do we eat onboard? Do you cater for special diets?
All meals and snacks are included in our rates and our vessels are well stocked for your time onboard. We provide vegetarian and vegan food by default as part of our commitment to lowering our company's carbon footprint, although please feel free to eat anything you want ashore. Thanks to our partners at Infinity Foods we have plenty of great snacks and ingredients. While we all take turns making meals, there are always some homemade pre-prepared dishes so you can make the most of your sailing and learning time. Please let us know about any other dietary needs - we are pretty familiar with various allergies and diets.

Is there a toilet onboard?
Each of our vessels are equipped with at least one sea toilet, called a 'heads', and by boat standards they are quite roomy, with washbasins. They have a slight knack to using them, which your skipper will show you, but they are pretty similar to a home flush toilet. We do ask you to use toilets ashore when in a marina.

Do you provide waterproofs?
Yes, we provide salapette trousers and jackets which are wind and waterproof, as well as sailing boots which provide a secure grip on deck. Please feel free to bring your own gear or to ask us for advice on where to purchase affordable sailing gear. Lifejackets and safety harnesses are provided.

Will it be rough, what if I feel sick?
Due to where our vessels are moored, the first days' sailing you will experience will be in sheltered waters, and we'll stay in such waters for entry and beginner levels. We want you to enjoy your sailing and our skippers remain very aware of how people are feeling and do their best to avoid unnecessarily unpleasant conditions by planning ahead.

What if the weather is really bad, what weather don't we go out in?
Sailing is obviously very weather dependent. We reserve the right to cancel trips and courses at our discretion, due to adverse weather. If we are forced to do so, we will be in touch with you in the days beforehand to advise and we will work with you to attempt to find you a suitable replacement or if not we will refund all of your money. However, Sail Boat Project cannot be held responsible for any other loss that you may have incurred due to cancellation of your course or trip. The final decision on whether a course or trip goes ahead is always based on the capabilities of those onboard and we are not interested in forcing anyone into being forced into a position they are uncomfortable with.

Will I get a certificate?
All the RYA practical and theory courses we deliver lead to a nationally recognised qualification within the RYA's sail cruising scheme, if you have met the syllabus requirements. We also issue certificate sof achievement as part of the RYA Sailability scheme and we have our own certificates of achievement for groups.

Do you make arrangements for people with special needs, learning or physical?
Yes, we have experience of taking people out sailing with a range of different needs. Our ethos is to make things possible and we will always work with you to allow inclusion and participation from everyone. While our vessels are not specifically adapted, for example for wheelchair users, we will always think about what changes we can make to get people out on the water. We use a variety of learning materials that engage and include people and our skippers and instructors are always learning and sharing with each other techniques to help people make the most of their time with us.

Can I talk to an instructor or skipper in advance?
Yes, if we can't put you through to one of our instructors or skippers when you call the office, we will pass on you details and have someone get back to you as soon as possible to have a chat with you.

Do you allow alcohol onboard?
Yes we do, in moderation! We may share a bottle of wine onboard or visit a pub during a course or trip, but please remember alcohol and getting used to the motion of the sea don't mix well.

Should I bring my log book?
Yes, if you have a sailing log book this is really good to bring along. For courses it will outline your syllabus, help your instructor see what experience you have and you can get it signed off at the end. For sailing trips you can record the nautical miles sailed and treat it as a mile builder towards any examinations you go for. They are also a useful record for your own interest. We always have log books available for sale onboard for £6.

Is it all sailing, is there time to explore places we visit?
Depending on the level of course you are on, there is usually time to explore a couple of the places we visit. The Competent Crew course includes using a dinghy, so you'll be able to explore from the water! On our sailing trips part of the idea is to have a look around sowewhere new. We usually agree as a group when to have time ashore as we always need to work around the weather and tides. If you have any particular requests make sure you let your skipper know.

Will I see any wildlife?
Plenty of birdlife and the odd seal - in Chichester harbour there is a whole seal colony at certain times of the year. Marine mammals are not as abundant as we'd like them to be, although porpoises in Poole Bay and dolphins off Chichester bar have been recent sightings. If we are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time we would never move in close or cause any undue stress. We have marine wildlife spotter guides onboard to help you prepare.

What our previous crews said

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I had a lovely crew, skipper and mate included; resulting in an excellent trip and going vegy for the week was also not too bad.

Competent Crew member 6th August 2019

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Jim was very patient and knows his stuff, great teacher

12th June 2019

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My second offshore experience since my daughter joined Sea Cadets: so much better than the first. I have dropped her off for voyages with Sail Boat Project and other organisations before but I am glad we were able to sail together this summer. Being in the cockpit with the rest of the crew asleep on a warm summer night was most memorable. I have my Start Yachting certificate and I have enquired about doing a theory course locally early next year.

Myra 22nd October 2018

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Excellent. It was much more hands on and practical then I expected. The skipper gave us many difficult tasks given that no prior knowledge was required. I learnt much more than expected but I sometimes felt overwhelmed as it was a lot of new info and many practical tasks to master in a short period of time. Very challenging. This is positive feedback though and I do not suggest any change.

Susanna 22nd October 2018

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I didn't realise I would learn so much in such a short space of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Jason is an excellent teacher and a really nice chap. I shall booking up for the rest of my comp crew as soon as possible. I can see a few days off work on the horizon!

Jamie 21st June 2016

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My grandson has Aspergers Syndrome and I am registered disabled but neither of us felt that this hindered us as Dhara taught to our strengths and allowed me to rest if I needed to. The weather on the first day was our only problem as I am not the best of sailors and it was extremely rough. Dhara took it all in his stride and was prepared for a bit of sea sickness as well as getting us into harbour so we could practise other manoeuvres without the large waves hindering us. We learnt a lot in the two days and are now busy practising the knots.

12th November 2015

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Emily and I both had a fantastic weekend. The sailing was really interesting and the instruction from Bruno was very clear and easy to pick up. But that was only part of it. The hospitality on board was excellent.  We were both made to feel at home and part of the crew. The food was also excellent.
Please pass on our thanks and I am sure we will be back next year to build our skills and get out on the water.

21st October 2015

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Being on Karic I finally learned on this course things I have always wanted to and only now begin to achieve. Exceeded expectations.

8th October 2015

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Perfect Weekend, look forward to more!

8th October 2015

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Great. It was perfectly pitched for the various amounts of experience of the crew. Very hands on and it felt like we covered loads of different aspects. We had a great couple of days together and just want to do more! So much to learn  - I reckon its an amazing opportunity for learning on many levels. Big up the Sail Boat Project!

8th October 2015

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Bruno was great and gave us lots of confidence. He also managed to instil the idea that its fine to make mistakes - which I did, and often.

8th October 2015

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Fantastic. I know it's not very helpful but I couldn't think of anything to make our Skipper better. I found using the little toy boats to understand wind and tide direction particularly helpful.

8th October 2015

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Ben made it super easy and accessible. He was not only friendly and enjoyable to be around, but he was full of great information and was also quite authoritative when it was necessary. He was equally informal and formal. Couldn't be happier and I learned so much more than I thought.

8th October 2015

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I really liked Jason. I felt very comfortable and at ease with him from the outset and he has a very good manner. He lets us get on with things and feel our own way and stepped in only when he felt necessary. He helped me a lot as I was really struggling with confidence to have a go at times. He was gently encouraging rather than pushy and the main thing is he didn't make me feel under pressure.

8th October 2015

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Ben has excellent knowledge and teaching method. Calm clear and gave excellent instruction and feedback. I would definitely like to have this instructor for future courses.

8th October 2015

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It was my first time on a sailing boat and loved it. I want to do more of this and learn and so does my wife. Jason the skipper was really nice, a super experienced and knowledgeable skipper, a really good teacher (he had a lot of patience with fumbling students who had no idea of what they were doing), and a really nice person who gave us a lift to the train at the end of the weekend.

8th October 2015

What to bring
  • Clothing layers - even if it's sunny or warm on land it can get quite chilly when sailing
  • Hat, sun cream, lip salve, sunglasses, gloves
  • If you're staying overnight or longer you'll need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, towel, toiletries
  • Any medication you would normally require
  • Pack your belongings in a soft bag that can be easily stowed
  • Do bring any of your favourite snacks or soft drinks as we may not be near any shops
    (If you have your own foul weather gear you are welcome to bring it)
  • If you haven't been sailing before and don't know if you might get seasick, some good advice is to have a sensible breakfast and don't drink lots of alcohol the night before!
  • Bring seasickness pills if you might need them.
What we provide
  • Lifejackets
  • All meals & snacks while on board (vegetarian/vegan)
  • Sleeping berth
  • Course books in advance (if applicable)
  • Access to our onboard sailing library, including RYA course books (copies available to buy)
  • Quality XM foul weather trousers, jackets and waterproof deck boots
    (If you have your own foul weather gear you are welcome to bring it)
  • Please feel free to discuss equipment concerns with us prior to your sailing trip or course, we will happily advise on purchases if you would like to buy your own gear.

If you want to make a booking

Book now

If you want to talk to one of our instructors or have a more general enquiry either call (+44) 07576 248 348 or fill in the form below.
We will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

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Our Boats

Jalapeno is a Dutch built Standfast, a solid roomy boat that handles the sea well. We can take bookings for up to 10 people on Jalapeno and there is room for everyone to eat and plan together around the central saloon table. There is an unusually large amount of flat deck, a great spot for a picnic at anchor!

Our RYA courses and sailing trips from Chichester marina are run on Jalapeno.

Facilities include heads (toilet/washroom), galley with gas oven and heating.

Cascadeur is a French built Jeanneau. She has up to ten berths in four cabins, with room for everyone to sit and eat round the circular table in the main cabin, or use the cockpit table to eat or work together outside. We can take bookings for up to 10 people on Cascadeur.

Our RYA courses and sailing trips from Southampton are run on Cascadeur.

Facilities include two heads (toilet/washroom), gas cooker with oven, heating.

Karic is a British built Westerly Renown ketch - a ketch means there are two masts, so three sets of sails for people to learn how to use. She has berths for six people to sleep in three cabins, with room for everyone to sit and eat round the table in the main cabin. Designed for family cruising, Karic is a safe, sturdy boat. There is a centre cockpit with room for a crew of six to sit in comfort.

Facilities include a roomy heads (toilet/washroom) and meths 2 hob cooker