RYA Basic Skills (Dinghy)

2 days

The course

An RYA course to develop your skills and prepares you for sailing without an instructor on board. The course follows a syllabus set by the RYA which covers safety, launching, returning and sailing upwind and downwind . A capsize drill is included.

Teaching method

Initially in a small dinghy, with one instructor per boat, we will give you a chance to helm and crew the boat, developing a full range of sailing skills. The instructor will demonstrate manoeuvres and teaching you to manage the boat and crew yourself. We use the RYA method for two-handed dinghies for all students but can switch to single-handers when skills permit.

Course and session timing

Basic Skills is the second course in the RYA progression for adults or older juniors (usually 14+) who will have sailed before. Students must be confident in and around water and we can accommodate most people, regardless of your normal activity levels. Check with us if in any doubt. We recommend that aspiring keelboat and catamaran sailors complete this dinghy course before taking a 1-day conversion course, as they will understand better how wind drives a boat when learning in a dinghy.

Pre-course experience

A wonderful course suiting all which assumes a skill level equivalent to a Start Sailing course ( Level 1 ). The course can be combined with a Start Sailing course over a 3-day period or equivalent hours for those who want to progress from zero to hero (nearly). Students without a Level 1 certificate but who can demonstrate that they can already helm a dinghy can take this course as their first formal course.

How to book

Courses can be booked by contacting the ESS office by email, phone or enquiry form on the website (a button on this page will pop-up a booking form, another button is a general info form)


  • Rigging according to weather conditions and can reefing ashore
  • 5 Essentials: Sail Setting, Balance, Trim, Course Made Good and correct use of the Centreboard
  • Sailing around a short course using all points of sailing and crewing skills
  • Leaving and returning to a beach, jetty or mooring
  • Coming alongside a moored boat
  • Understanding of the ‘rules of the road’
  • Aware of lee shore dangers and sailing in close company with others
  • Man overboard recovery
  • Capsize Recovery
  • Race courses and starting procedures
  • Sailing Theory and Background
  • The dangers of hypothermia and the importance of first aid training, particularly cardio pulmonary resuscitation
  • The Beaufort Wind Scale
  • Importance of personal safety, clothing and buoyancy, boat buoyancy and basic equipment
  • Emergency Equipment and Precautions

Course progression

Course start

Our courses run daily upon request.

What's provided

We will provide the boat, instructor and course materials such as an RYA logbook. RYA textbooks covering the activities (and more) can be purchased from the shop. You should bring your own sailing shoes or old trainers for use in the boat.

Other courses

See a course in progress

Please ensure that you read and understand our COVID-19 procedures and the terms and conditions of your course contract with us. Copies of these will be emailed with your course confirmation and are available, laminated, at the beach. You will be asked to sign to confirm that you have read and understood them.