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New to sailing?

Have you always fancied the idea of skippering your own yacht and being able to visit deserted bays & islands?

Not quite sure how to go about realising that dream?

Want some guidance on what to do first?

Greek Sails sailing and flotilla holidays in Greece - blue dot

Considering your first sailing holiday?

Sailing holiday enquiry Ask us about our flotilla and sailing holidays around the Greek islands - arrow button

Are you wondering about a sailing holiday but are unsure on how to start and what all the different terms mean? This guide should help to get you started.

If you have not taken a sailing holiday before you probably have four options:

  1. A cabin charter or ‘Adventure sailing holiday’
  2. A learn to sail sailing holiday
  3. A flotilla sailing holiday
  4. A bareboat yacht charter

So quite what are these different types of sailing holiday, what do you get to do and what do you need to know? Let’s go from those options requiring least experience to those requiring most.

Cabin charter or Adventure sailing holiday

Cabin charter and adventure sailing are two terms for what is essentially the same type of sailing holiday. The idea is you pay for either a single berth (bed) or a complete cabin, usually of two berths, and sail on a yacht with a skipper in charge. You will be expected to assist in the sailing and running of the boat, including cooking and clearing up, but you are essentially free to enjoy yourself and indeed most meals will be taken ashore. Importantly you don’t need any previous sailing experience meaning a cabin charter can be a good way to informally learn to sail.

Learn to sail holiday

In many respects a learn to sail holiday is similar to a cabin charter in that you will have a berth on a yacht, however, you will have an instructor as skipper and you will undertake a formal sailing course during the sailing holiday and hopefully complete your week coming out the proud owner of a new sailing qualification.

This leads to the next question; which courses to take and what are any requirements? Well, for many, the desire is to skipper their own yacht means their ultimate objective is to obtain a Day Skipper ‘ticket’ or better and so then question then becomes; which courses to take to obtain a Day Skipper qualification?

The Day Skipper course includes two parts; a theory course and test and a practical course including continual assessment. Ideally you should aim to complete both the theory and practical although some locations will happily advise you only to take the practical course. However, you could find it tough-going to complete the practical if you have not previously covered the theory, and hoping to ‘pick up the theory as you go along’ is not a good plan. The Day Skipper course also requires you to have 5 days / 100 miles, including 4 night hours, prior sailing experience and that this experience should have been in the form of active participation in the sailing of a similar sized yacht. The Day Skipper course also expects you to be reasonably competent are sailing knots and other basic sailing skills.

For these reasons a good starting point is a Competent Crew course. This is a 5 day course, spread over 6 days at Greek Sails, that teaches you the basics of sailing; helming, basic sail trim, knots, safety and other topics and will prepare you for your Day Skipper practical. It will also help you gain the necessary prerequisite days and miles you will require to sign-up for a Day Skipper course.

So a good plan would be:

  • Competent Crew
  • Day Skipper theory
  • Day Skipper practical

Flotilla sailing holiday

A flotilla is probably the style of sailing holiday most people commonly think of when they picture a ‘sailing holiday’. The flotilla operates as a group of maybe 7 or 8 yachts (although some other the large sailing holiday operators sometimes expand their flotillas to up to 14 yachts!), which sail to prearranged destinations each day. The flotilla includes a lead boat and crew to provide you with assistance.

Each yacht is sailed by its own skipper and crew and so you will sail alone during the day, but with the assistance of the lead crew each morning and evening.

To charter a yacht as part of a flotilla you will require an RYA Day Skipper or ICC – International Certificate of Competence – qualification. Alternatively you can complete one of our non-RYA pre-flotilla courses.

Bareboat yacht charter

A bareboat yacht charter is simply a ‘bare boat’, e.g. you charter a yacht are are free to sail wherever and whenever you wish, although there may be some restrictions to your sailing area depending upon your experience. In many respects ‘bareboat charter’ is like ‘rent a car’…you collect the car and you then go wherever you wish only needing to return the yacht at the end of the charter period. Generally bareboat charters requires you to be better experienced and more confident in sailing on your own that other forms of sailing holiday.

An option with bareboat charters is what is termed a ‘skippered’ or ‘crewed’ charter. With a skippered charter you charter your own private yacht and you sail alone, however, you also take a skipper with you. This means you need no sailing qualifications and can in many respects be thought of as a private cabin charter…it’s just you have chartered all the cabins for your own group…although remember, the skipper will need somewhere to sleep as well!

You may also arrange a bareboat charter and take an instructor with you. You will then have your own private ‘learn to sail’ holiday. This can be excellent for families where maybe not all the party wants to complete a sail training course…well this way they don’t need to.

If you have never sailed before but would like to, or maybe have only done some dingy sailing in your past, you may be uncertain about how you might go about joining us on a sailing holiday. We hope the following ideas and pointers may help you...

Frequently asked questions

“I have never sailed before and would like to try”:

  1. Experience yachting by joining one of our tuition yachts. You can go along as a passenger, or upgrade and take a competent Crew course which will act as a foundation to all your future sailing.
    See ‘Learn to sail
  2. Take one of our skippered yacht charters for yourself and your friends or family and so have a skipper with you to be responsible for the yacht and ‘show you the ropes’.
    See ‘Skippered & assisted bareboat
  3. Take a cabin charter, sharing a skippered yacht where we assemble the members of the group. You book a cabin to yourself or share with a friend and can then do as much or as little sailing as you wish, learning from the skipper.
    See ‘Cabin charter sailing holidays
  4. If you want to introduce your family to sailing but not commit your entire holiday on a yacht, then why not look at a ‘Sail & Stay’ holiday splitting your time between shore and sea.
    See ‘Sail & Stay holidays

“I have some sailing qualifications, but do not feel confident enough to sail alone”:

  1. Join one of our flotilla holidays. Here you will have the assistance of the lead crew to advise you each day, help you each evening and even answer questions over the VHF if necessary!
    See ‘Flotilla sailing holidays
  2. Take one of our three or six day pre-flotilla courses on one of our yachts, followed by a flotilla sailing holiday. This allows you to get up-to-speed before your flotilla sailing holiday starts.
    See ‘Learn to sail

“I have no sailing qualifications and don’t understand how to start”:

  1. Start with a week-long ‘Competent Crew’ RYA sailing course. This will give you a good basis on which to build your sail training and will provide you your first RYA ‘ticket’.
    See ‘Learn to sail

Send an enquiry about yacht charter, bareboat, flotilla or other sailing sailing holiday options in Greece with Greek Sails

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All the family can learn to sail - including the kids! Learning to tie a clove hitch during a flotilla sailing holiday with Greek Sails
All the family can learn to sail! Learning to tie a clove hitch during a flotilla sailing holiday with Greek Sails
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