Sailing for beginners
Ducklings is the perfect way to learn the basics of sailing under the careful guidance of dinghy instructors (when available). No previous sailing experience is required. We play lots of games to help build confidence, promote good techniques and give our newest sailors the best possible start.
Please email our Ducklings Fleet Coordinator [email protected] for more information.
Please bring sailors in kit ready to go afloat.
What to wear
The sailing season at Salterns runs from March to November, so the weather and water temperature will vary significantly over the course of the year. If your child is new to sailing, it may be worth waiting until the weather (and water) warms up a bit before venturing out for your maiden voyage on Eight Acre Pond. However, it is always worth remembering that whilst shorts and t-shirt sailing at Salterns is possible on the sunny days towards the end of the summer, the rest of the time your child will need a wetsuit or drysuit!
Buoyancy Aid - Compulsory
A buoyancy aid is essential for any sailor and is an insurance requirement for anyone (children and adults) on or in the water at Salterns – make sure it fits properly and will not ride up over your child's head (ideally find one that has a crotch strap fitted). At Salterns, we highly recommend that buoyancy aids are worn at all times when at the club, as children have been known to ‘accidentally fall’ off the pontoons when launching their boats.
Note: An inflated lifejacket for children is not recommended when dinghy sailing.
Why does your Child need to Wear a Wetsuit?
When learning to sail in a dinghy, your children will be exposed to the elements. They are likely to capsize at some point (it is all part of the fun) and a wetsuit will keep them warm once they are wet. If they are just wearing ordinary clothes, as soon as they’re soaked, they will start to feel the cold. Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the neoprene, which in turn is warmed up by your body’s heat. Summer sailors will be able to get away with a shortie wetsuit, once the weather warms up between June and September, but for the rest of the year a full-length wetsuit is recommended. Staying warm is key. As soon as the sailors get cold; their mood, enjoyment and sailing ability drops rapidly.
Getting children dressed in wetsuits can be a struggle; using a plastic bag can be a great help!
- Put one foot into the plastic bag.
- Slide your foot with the plastic bag on it into one leg of the wetsuit and pull up until the wetsuit is above the ankle.
- Remove the plastic bag and put it onto your other foot.
- Repeat step 2 with the other leg. You can also use on arms!
A waterproof and windproof sailing spray top is perfect for wearing on top of your wetsuit on cold, wet and windy days.
Sailing at Salterns requires suitable footwear. If it is a warm day in the summer and you are learning to sail, old trainers or cheap neoprene shoes will do the trick, as they are made with grippy soles to stop you slipping in the boat. But for most of the year, we recommend ankle-high wetsuit boots that are made of thicker neoprene and rubber, which will keep your feet warmer and will also protect them whilst onboard/ walking along the pontoons.
Some Saltern sailors prefer to wear a drysuit, particularly at the start and end of the season. They are also good for full day sailing courses or for messing about in the water! The Junior Committee often wear them instead of waders when teaching. Drysuits are designed to keep water out, whilst layers underneath provides warmth as required. They are more expensive than wetsuits, but can be purchased second-hand.
Whether it’s cold or not, it can be useful to wear sailing gloves, especially if you are thinking of starting racing. Gloves are great for preventing friction burn on your hands as well as keeping them warm and protected. However, learning to sail wearing gloves can be trick for small children so we don't always recommend them.
Waders and Buoyancy Aids
Adults in the water need to wear waders, some adults prefer to wear a wetsuit or even a drysuit. Wearing thermals and thick socks underneath is recommended whilst the water is still cold, as standing in cold water is uncomfortable!
Adults in or on the water need to wear a buoyancy aid. If you have forgotten your buoyancy aid, we do have spares available in the buoy box located behind the Moth kennels, which you are welcome to use.
Kit Checklist - Children
- Buoyancy aid (compulsory)
- Wetsuit or a drysuit
- Dinghy boots or similar (no crocs or flip flops)
- Spray Top
- Hat (to keep the sun off if hot or to keep warm if cold)
- Sun protection cream
- Change of warm clothing
- Long hair must be tied back to avoid getting caught in the rigging
- In sunny weather it is important to apply sun-block to avoid sunburn
Kit Checklist - Adult
- Adult Buoyancy Aid (compulsory)
- Adult Waders, drysuit or wetsuit
- Warm socks and appropriate layers
Upcoming Duckling Sessions
Members can book on a Ducklings Fleet session on Webcollect once logged in.