Getting Afloat: a Lifestyle Choice

Date published: 30 June 2018

As Chief Instructor at sportscotland National Sailing Centre, on the island of Cumbrae, boating in its many forms has been both a job for me and a life long activity.  So why have I spent a career dedicated to enticing people out onto the water?  I’ll try to answer this below.

Put simply, it’s a love affair, a true passion that I’ve never shaken off!  I have always enjoyed the challenge of the outdoors and, with the sea demanding a healthy respect, being out on the water kindles a primal feeling of you against nature!  In a sailing boat, we are both physically and mentally pitted against the elements as we try to first work with them, then around them and ultimately often having to go up against them.  The unpredictable nature of this sport is just one of the things that keep it so ‘alive’ and interesting.

At sea, as we move about, we leave no trail or footprint as we navigate around spectacular rugged coastlines, sea lochs and mountain backdrops.  So, as sailors, we get to view the land form a new perspective, visiting remote locations and stunning places, often inaccessible to most.   

All Abilities

Thankfully, sailing is a non-ageist activity, and with so many dimensions to the sport, from windsurfing to yacht cruising, there really is a type of boat suitable for all ages, abilities and disabilities.  Enthusiasts range from those that are attracted to the performance side, with tippy dinghies for the agile and competitively minded, to the more sedentary and socially-inclined fair weather cruising sailors.  You can go out alone to clear your head or be part of a crew, enjoying the unifying bond of the sea.  Sailing really is a sport for ALL.

No Boat – No Problem

Of course, you don’t need to own a boat to make the most of on-the-water pursuits.  With over 140 sailing clubs spread across Scotland, and many more Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognised training centres, then getting started,  or indeed continuing ‘your journey’, couldn’t  be easier. 

The training centres welcome new people to the sport, with a range of RYA courses and taster sessions in: dinghy sailing, windsurfing, powerboating or yacht/motor cruising.  The trained instructors are all experienced and quickly put at ease the natural apprehensions of those taking to the water for the first time.  After a short period you’ll quickly find yourself picking up new skills and confidences, as you move through the water.

Take the Plunge

So if you’ve ever wished you had tried some sort of boating, in one of its many forms, then I would heartily encourage you to give a go - after all is it not better to regret doing something than to regret not doing it at all!   With that said, after 30 years of introducing beginners to boating, I’ll confidently say that you will not regret it.  To quote ‘Wind in the Willows’:

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

So, to ‘Go for It’, visit the ‘where’s my nearest’ section of www.rya.org.uk - here you’ll find a list of RYA training centres or affiliated clubs in your area.

Happy boating!

David Frame, Chief Instructor

sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae