New to Sailing? Here Are Some Great Tips for Your First Flotilla Holiday

Whether you’ve never set foot on a boat before, or you already have little experience and dream of sailing your own yacht you will find these tips useful. It’s not a cruise holiday but a way of getting yourself from one place to the next and enjoying that feeling of freedom. You might wonder why people love sailing so much and the only way to find out is to try it yourself. If you want to know about flotilla sailing and how it works read on.

What is a flotilla sailing holiday?

If you have never been sailing you have probably never heard of a flotilla. It is not some kind of bread or food dish, no. A flotilla is a group of between ten and twelve yachts which are guided by a lead yacht with an experienced skipper and crew. Flotillas of this size will tend to have up to fifty people depending on the size of boats. The course and itinerary will already be set for you and you will be given a full briefing on the workings of the boat as well as daily briefings on route and weather conditions. The first morning gives you a fully comprehensive briefing covering all the working parts of the boat and to give you the confidence to sail on your own. Flotilla holidays give you the sense of freedom but also with the peace of mind that help is at hand if or when you need it.

How do flotilla sail holidays work?

You have your first briefing, get to know the boat and then you have the day to yourselves, to enjoy some sailing, have lunch and navigate to and explore the first village harbour in the evening. The rest of your holiday will run in the same way and you can be as sociable as you wish with your fellow sailors. Your host may organize a few social events so you can meet your fellow sailors in a group setting. These may include group meals, parties or picnics, which you can pick and choose whether to attend or not.

Still feeling unsure?

If you don’t have the confidence after your first briefing you can always hire a helping hand for the first day or two. Hire a skipper or a member of crew and you will soon be on your way to sailing on your own. You will have to include your crew members meals and drinks in the cost of hiring them too. But if you are not feeling confident the help will be appreciated and you can learn the ropes from a professional until you are happy to do it on your own.

How to prepare for a sailing holiday?

You need to remember that there isn’t much room for storage on the boat so you will need to pack light and use waterproof bags too to keep everything dry. This is especially important for passports and other documents you need to keep safe and dry. You’ll also need plenty of sun cream as you will be spending a lot of time in the sunshine with no shade. Yacht clothes such as a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops and a well-fitting hat are the best and most comfortable options. You’ll also need different comfortable dry shoes for walking once you hit the shore. Although certainly you’ll enjoy your sailing experience, you may also need a good book or other entertainment to keep you occupied during down time on the sea.

What can you learn before you go?

Before your first trip, you might want to learn some basic sailing terms. Knowing the difference between port, starboard, and other important terms such as what the boom is – the horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. Or the Rudder which you will find beneath the boat and is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used when steering the boat. Of course, you don’t need to learn any of these terms but it might make you feel a bit smarter when the skipper is briefing the teams.

Where are the best destinations for Flotilla holidays?

The Mediterranean is best for its calm seas, small bays warm climate and spectacular scenery. There are so many different places to explore and each region has its own special charm. This area of the world is very popular for sailing and it is a great place for beginners to begin.

The Greek Islands of the Ionian, Saronic and Sporades are a great choice for flotilla holidays as there are plenty of beautiful varied islands to explore. Itineraries are so diverse and varied that you will never have to sail the same route twice, unless you want to. Visiting Greece during a sailing holiday will enable you to see a side to the destination you would never find in any other way.

Croatia is also a new and exciting choice for a flotilla holiday.  Choose quiet bays or lively nightlife, plenty of markets and beautiful old towns and villages to explore. The place really has something for all kinds of sailors no matter what you want to explore when on shore.

The Balearic Islands in Spain have always been popular for sailing holidays. When sailing in Mallorca and the surrounding islands you can expect to see historic gothic cathedrals, amazing cliffside views, the famous dragon caves, the spectacular Cabrera National park and of course, plenty of sun and sangria.

What if you experience sea sickness?

You might not know if you suffer from sea sickness until you try sailing. So, knowing a few tips before you go will help you to combat seasickness if it strikes you whilst you are away. The first thing to remember is to stay on deck where you will get a fresh sea breeze and a distant landscape to focus on. Make sure you eat as hunger can make your sickness feel worse. If you anticipate that your sickness will be quite bad you could bring along medications or acupressure bands to help relieve the symptoms.

What if you need specialist help?

You don’t have to be fit to sail and you don’t even need to know how to swim. Obviously, it is much safer if you can so if you can’t swim or are not a string swimmer make sure your instructor and everyone on your boat knows. You will be wearing your life vests during most of your time sailing for your own safety. If you are not so able bodied there are certain companies who offer specially adapted boats for those with disabilities, but you will potentially need more help than other parties in the flotilla during your trip.

Would you choose a flotilla sailing holiday?

As you can see, no matter how much experience you have, even if you have never been on a boat before, you can still enjoy an amazing holiday sailing the seas. Explore your destination from a different viewpoint and make the most of the freedom of the seas.  

About Matt

Matt is one-half of Great Big Globe. He loves the Green Bay Packers, chips and salsa, a strong Americano and knows an incredible amount of useless sports trivia.

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