Boating and yachting isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle! Here, the Royal Yachting Association reveals how to maximise your time on board…
For any boater, there’s no greater pleasure than enjoying the fun and freedom of being out on the water. For those of us who are lucky enough to own a boat, finding the time to fit cruising into our busy lifestyles or having the confidence to explore and extend our horizons can at times, become challenging.
With this in mind, the RYA’s Active Marina Programme supports marinas in organising training opportunities, cruises and social events in order to help you to get more out of your boat.
RYA Yachting Development Officer Guy Malpas who is responsible for running the programme explains: “We created the programme back in 2011 and in the past three years it has proved to be a real success. Today we have a total of 65 marinas across the UK proudly flying their RYA Active Marina flags with events for their berth holders running throughout the season.”
Time to train
Part of the beauty of boating is that it is so massively varied and even if you’ve been out on the water every day for the last 30 years, there’ll always be some new challenges. On the other hand, if you are new to life on the water, or have just brought a new boat, it can be hugely rewarding to learn the skills to help you to get out of the marina and enjoy using your boat with confidence.
“If your marina is signed up to the programme, you and your crew will have the opportunity to take part in practical workshops at your marina, which are tailor made to build your knowledge and boost your confidence,” Guy continues.
“This could be a refresher on manoeuvring and berthing, crew training, or even a specialist workshop which will help you to tackle the tasks that challenge you the most”.
Meet the neighbours
Marinas are fantastic places to meet other families and crew and often people live some distance away from their boats and can miss out on opportunities to meet the other people who share their marina.
Alongside workshops, the Active Marina Programme also gives you the opportunity to get to know and cruise with other berth holders and boat owners and spend time with like-minded people at social events.
“Cruises in company and social events provide berth holders with the opportunity to meet families and crews and could lead to the development of an informal and ‘virtual club’ feel,” explains Guy.
“Whether you just want the confidence to visit those local harbours or rivers that currently seem a bit daunting, you’re a channel-crossing novice making trip for the first time or an experienced skipper who wants to meet other like-minded people, a cruise in company can help you benefit from the experience and knowledge of others – and you can make new friends.”
Dan Eames, 35, lives near Petersfield and enjoys going fishing in his Jeanneau Merry Fisher joined by his dad, Pete. He came across the programme at his marina after he sold his RIB and bought his current boat.
“I decided to sign up for an own boat tuition workshop, which included boat handling and manoeuvring and a briefing on locking to enable me to access Port Solent and other locked marinas. I had already completed my RYA Powerboat Level 2 but before my own boat tuition session I was pleased to talk about my needs with the instructor.”
“I also signed up for a cruise in company to Ryde Harbour on the Isle of Wight with the instructor joining me on board. It’s difficult for me to explain in just a few words how these three hours changed my enjoyment on the boat.”
“The confidence it has given me and enabled me to have in my boat, have made this the most worthwhile activity I could have taken part in.”
“The experiences are irreplaceable. I now go out with my dad more often, he joined me for the Active Marina training and his confidence has also grown, not just with the boating activities but also in his confidence in me! We now go out in weather conditions that may have previously stopped an enjoyable trip. More importantly, we know we can adequately cope when conditions change quickly and we have the confidence to perform manoeuvres with confidence.”
“We now look out for other berth holders who we’ve met during the cruise in company and we all catch up at the marina when we see each other and find out what we’ve been up to and compare notes.”
“The Marina is a friendly place anyway but to have a network of others who have shared this experience also adds to the sense of community. I know I will now enjoy my boat more and that is terrific. I’ve learnt a lot and not just big things but some of the small things, like changes to techniques, have been invaluable.”
To find out more information about the Active Marina Programme and to see if your marina has signed up visit www.rya.org.uk/go/activemarina. You can also discover the RYA Active Marina Experience with free on-water and shorebased training taking place at events including the London Boat Show and PSP Southampton Boat Show. If your marina is already an Active Marina, speak to your marina manager to find out about next season’s opportunities and events.