Started Sailing

How Safe Can Sailing Be?

by Alan

I am about to start some courses on yachting (in my late thirties) and have never been much of a sailor previously. I have just done my RYA lvl 1 and loved it, and am keen to get out and practice as much as I can. My next step is competent crew then hopefully day skipper.

However my goal is really just to sail around in some calm seas with the family, rather than compete or be too adventurous.

So my question it always possible to avoid big swells, stormy weather, and gales, if choosing safer havens, or is that an inevitable part of sailing that I may as well get used to now?

Many Thanks


Hi Alan

Interesting question. I have not put a page up yet on yachting courses, so for those of you who don't know Competent Crew and Day Skipper are RYA Yachting courses.

In answer to your question if you can find a place to sail where there is no horrible weather, is yes. There a loads of places where it is usually (99.9% of the time) calm or breezy. A nice starting point is by the coast or round an island depending on where you live.

Find out from your local coastguard or weather service or even fellow yachters where a nice calm place to sail is in your area.

It is not an inevitable part of sailing that you have to be in a storm, thats just the most interesting to watch. Most of time (again depending on where you are), it will won't reach more than 20-25 knots near the coast.

Sailing is far more safe than say driving a car or even being a pedestrian on a road. I can't recall the last sailing accident, caused by too much wind or head on collision. There may have been, but it is very unlikely.

So have fun, stay safe and make sure you understand what you are doing before you just take a yacht out. Day skipper only allows you to take a boat out in the day time. You must return to a marina after the day, because you are not qualified to do night passages.

Thanks for asking your question! Best regards,


Comments for How Safe Can Sailing Be?

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Apr 30, 2009
Sailing is as safe as YOU make it, but...
by: Han

First: many yachts are sold with the guarantee that they are seaworthy; in my opinion the skipper should be the seaworthy one. Several times I sailed very small, definitely unseaworthy boats across the North Sea and the Channel, but I did that when I was at the top of my skills and very experienced.

Second: never count on your luck. I once sailed my Pampus across a big (40 miles diameter) lake in pure beautiful weather and had a windless patch of more than 10 minutes, so I stretched myself on the poop. After some more time I was surprised by a sudden gust; I slid overboard and soon my boat was several hundreds of feet away. Luckily the wind died again so I could swim to it. Since I always trailed a knotted rope behind the boat when I sailed alone.

Third: never underestimate the worth of your fear. If you think you're a courageous, fearless fellow, please don't venture at sea. Make use of your fear: prepare, check, doublecheck and triplecheck.

Fourth: before your departure, check all weatherstations and sites available. Don't let yourself be put to sleep by the most beautiful weather; just then the most devastating thunderstorms occur, sometimes with windspeeds exceeding 10 Bft.

And fifth, most important: build up your skills and experience within reach of a safe haven. But once surprised at sea, STAY AWAY FROM THE COAST!
Most accidents happen while trying to reach a harbour or even inside a harbour.

In the Netherlands we're happy to have a lot of inland waters to train our abilities; that's why we Dutch don't need any permit to sail anywhere we want. Only boatlengths exceeding 45 feet or boatspeeds exceeding 15 miles an hour need a permit.

But I don't want to warn you off. Sailing is an extraordinary experience, but you, as the skipper, are responsible for the safety of your family so your responsibility is great indeed. I hope you'll go on anyway!

Apr 30, 2009
Thank you!
by: Alex

Thanks Han for your input! Alan, I hope you have found out some interesting new things today that you may not have considered otherwise.

Once again good luck on your yachting and sailing and I hope to talk to you again soon!

May 10, 2009
About civilization
by: Han

Dear Alan,
Both Alex and I have done our utmost to answer your question. If you're happy with it, please let us know. If not, let us know too; we have to learn, too. If you do not react, I consider that at least as impolite. Coming from a teen-ager, I would, grudgingly, accept it; from someone in his late thirties (younger than my son) I will not.
If this is the trend on this site I will end my expert efforts and let you be (sorry, Alex).
Keep up to values, please.

Dec 19, 2009
Others are thankful
by: Jim

I see this has been dormant for a while.

Han - Just because Alan does not respond does not mean that no one else is very grateful. I am thinking of getting involved in sailing in my early thirties (having messed about only a little when younger).

Responses such as yours really help when considering my approach - do I stick to dinghies or take the plunge with a small(ish) yacht? So I thank you and I think you should remember that the internet is more than just those you think you are immediately responding to.


Dec 20, 2009
Thanks Jim,
by: Han

For your gentle slap on my fingers and your quality-assessment. I indeed have a tendency to act like a spitfire, and I,m (not every time, mind!) sorry for that.

Not all of my reasons for writing on this site have to do with narcism; sometimes I do feel a bit lonesome for the lack of reactions like yours.

How far are you on your considerations?

Thanks again, and if you need us, you know where to find us.


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