How do I get on the water when I’ve just done RYA Day Skipper (Solent, SE, and London)

Congratulations! You’ve passed your Day Skipper and are keen to get on the water, grow your confidence and practice your skills. But how can you best do this in the Solent or South East?


What next after RYA Day Skipper?

If you’ve done RYA Day Skipper (Sail or Motor) and RYA Day Skipper Theory, then you’ll want to make the most of your new qualification and get out on the water.

The Solent and South East is a fantastic area for sailing, full of beautiful scenery and hidden treasures.

However, it can be a challenging environment for less experienced skippers, particularly if you have just done holiday sailing, or haven’t had much practical experience skippering your own yacht. There are strong currents and varying tidal curves in the Solent.

So here are a few ways for you to safely get out on the water, build your confidence and grow your skills.



Join a boat share club in Hamble or Lymington

Joining a boat club based in Hamble, Lymington or elsewhere on the South coast, is a great way to get out on the water. The experience is more like owning a boat than chartering, but you don’t have the hassle and expense of boat ownership itself.

There are two types of boat club: ‘traditional’ sailing clubs with dinghies that can be used by members and social activity based around a club house, as well as ‘boat share clubs’ that offer flexible access to larger yachts as well as to training and events.


Traditional sailing clubs

Traditional sailing clubs like Warsash Sailing Club are ideal if you want to improve your skills with dinghy sailing and perhaps some racing. They also give access to a fun social environment, centered on the club house. They may offer some limited options to go sailing on larger boats, but they often don’t cater for skippers wanting to develop their skills beyond the formal RYA yachting courses.

The RYA Day Skipper Course equips you to skipper a short passage with the advice and guidance of an RYA instructor. This is quite some way from having the skills to take out your own boat, on choppy waters in the Solent, with friends and family onboard.

So a traditional sailing club might not offer enough in terms of confidence and skill building. If you don’t yet feel confident skippering your own boat in diverse conditions, don’t risk taking your friends and family out by yourself.


Boat share clubs

If you feel that you want to build confidence, as well as have more flexible access to larger boats, consider joining a more modern boat share club.

Boat share clubs give flexible access to either one boat (this model is more like fractional ownership: see Flexisail) or to a whole fleet or sail and motorboats. They also are usually registered RYA training centers and run varied programmes of ‘on the water’ events.

They are ideal for building your confidence in a safe and supportive environment.

Pure Latitude, with main bases in Hamble and Lymington, offers flexible year-round access to a fleet of boats. They also offer 1:1 training and skill days, like ‘night sailing’, ‘strong wind techniques’ and the ever popular ‘Park it like a Pro’.

The club is popular with intermediate sailors looking to build skills, try new boats and improve their confidence.



Mile building courses

Mile building courses are a structured way to get ‘chunks’ of practical experience, often as part of a holiday experience. They are usually run by chartering and training companies.

For example, Yacht Force offers 5-7 day mile builder courses with cross-channel passages. You’ll have a chance to skipper the boat, and practice skills, under guidance. First Class Sailing also offer a range of courses and experience building opportunities.

Mile building courses can be a quick way to safely gain experience on + 60 mile passages, and to enjoy an adventure holiday. On the downside, they are a scheduled one-off. They are dependent on the weather being suitable, so lack flexibility.

Mile builder courses also mean you don’t regularly get out on the water, which is the best way to consolidate knowledge and gain experience.


RYA Coastal Skipper Course

In terms of RYA qualifications, the 5-day RYA Coastal Skipper is usually the next step.  This course covers advanced skippering techniques: ideal if you already have a strong sailing and navigational skill base and now want to undertake coastal passages by day and night.

You’ll skipper demanding passages and learn more about pilotage by day and night, boat handling, passage planning, safety and emergency situations.

You can take the RYA Coastal Skipper Course through one of the Solent’s many training centers, or through a boat share club.

However, you’re unlikely to want to go straight into a RYA Coastal Skipper Course if you’ve only just passed your RYA Day Skipper – or passed it some time ago and feel a little rusty.

You’ll need to first practice your sailing and navigational skills. This might be through a boat club, through boating with a friend, or through a mile building course or two.

Having knowledge without experience is not enough to make you a safe, confident sailor.


Other RYA qualifications & paths

Although it suits some sailors to go through the RYA courses in a linear way (Competence Crew > Day Skipper > Coastal Skipper etc) there’s no need for you to do this if you don’t want to.

If you’re thinking ‘what next?’ after your RYA Day Sailor then why not try a lateral move?

Try a skills day so you can improve a specific skill (like night sailing, parking, sailing in strong winds etc).

Try sailing a different type of boat (a x sail boat or a motor boat…).

Try crewing on an adventure sail with other keen sailors (a trip to magical Sark anyone?)

The more varied your sailing experience the more likely you are to become a competent, confident sailor who can tackle any challenge.




Now you have a RYA Day Skipper qualification you can usually charter a yacht or catamaran without a skipper (bareboating). It can be a big step if you’ve only just qualified, and support options when chartering can be limited. Basically, you hire the boat and cast off. Within the Solent, there are numerous chartering options including Fariview Sailing and Hamble Point Yacht Charter.

Larger online booking platforms offer charter boats in the UK and overseas. Borrow a boat, Click & Boat and Sam Boat all offer a wide range of vessels and destinations including charter holidays in Croatia, Greece and the Caribbean.


Buy a boat/fractional ownership

Buying a boat is the nuclear option for getting out on the water after your RYA Day Skipper qualification.

It’s an expensive, complex and unsupported way to sail, but it’s often the one that has the most romantic appeal.

Owning a boat is perfectly possible in the Solent and South East, and there are many different models of ownership these days as well, from outright ownership to fractional ownership and syndicate ownership.

Just make sure that boat ownership is the right option for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying a boat.


learn more about support and skipper development pathways >