Thank you for booking your sailing holiday event with us at Girls for Sail!
You’re going to enjoy some fantastic sailing and socialising with us, and to make sure it is as enjoyable and stress free as possible here are some important things you need to know about your forthcoming event. The UK is a wonderful venue for a sailing course/event/holiday with ever-changing weather conditions. It is an exciting yet quaint environment to enjoy this amazing pastime. There are always things to think about so you'll quickly find yourself feeling thoroughly laid back having waved goodbye to any stresses or strains because there is no time to think about work!
PLEASE PRINT THIS list of information and bring with you as you will be asking these questions at some point after you have booked - so please take with you! Get ready for some FUN!
1. ABOUT YOUR BOOKING – included/excluded
2. LIVING ABOARD/SAFETY/ INSURANCE
3. FOOD/WATER/ ITINERARY
4. WHAT TO PACK
5. GETTING THERE/TRAVEL FACTS
From our specific event literature you will see that all of our events include accommodation on board a yacht, exclusive use of a sailing yacht, all safety equipment, yacht liability insurance, RYA qualified level skipper, sailing guidance/tuition and all race entry fees (if racing). There may be more additions to this list, which you will find specifically detailed on your event literature which is on our website.
Holiday insurance*, some mooring fees as specified, your own attire, breakfast and lunches (unless stated in your event info on our website), evening meals and alcoholic drinks, transport to the meet location and flights.
We mostly coach on yachts of between 37 and 41ft. Our yachts have been specifically chosen as they are easy to handle, great for learning and also great for racing! There is no denying us girls sometimes don’t have the physical strength of the boys but with our technical ability and a well-chosen yacht we can do just as well. You will usually find yourself aboard an Élan 37, Jeanneau 37 or a Beneteau 40.7. Unless you select to upgrade to onshore accommodation (if it’s an option for your chosen event), all of your time will be spent living as crew-mates on your yacht. Most of the yachts have 9/10 berths with 3 cabins and a saloon so the boats will normally have 2 persons in each cabin i.e. 6 – this is always the case for an RYA course, 6 persons onboard. On some events we use the saloon which can sleep an additional 2-4 people.
At first, it may be challenging to get used to sharing a smaller space than normal and at some points you may feel it strange to be living in close quarters with many people; so if you need some space or ‘me time’ at any point when aboard you will find that forward of the mast proves very therapeutic (do advise the skipper though!). We moor up most evenings so that’s always good fun.
The yacht has a heads (bathroom) with a shower, although we rarely use the on board shower in the UK. There are cosy cooking facilities and storage for one bag for each person. Storage is at a minimum on board and you may find that you are largely living out of your bag so remember, this is a casual event/holiday and you really won’t need stiletto heels and four handbags! Please PACK LIGHTLY! The rest of your crew will admire you for your frugal packing skills.
The professional crew on the yacht is there to ensure you have an amazing time sailing and will guide you in how (and where) to sail the yacht. We will try our very best to make sure you are all happy and comfortable. Please note that they are not ‘stewardesses’ or ‘entertainers’ and you and your crew mates will be responsible for day to day provisioning, meal preparation and general housekeeping on board. As with any yacht you are all part of the team and you’ll all get along nicely if you organise your responsibilities equally throughout your trip! A tidy boat is a happy boat…
Sometimes you can upgrade to on-shore accommodation but please advise us of your intentions. Girls for Sail will do everything to ensure that you are back in the right location after the days sailing but cannot be held responsible for your bookings ashore. Weather and tide may make it impossible to get to your hotel ashore! More information about regatta accommodation is included later on.
Our average GFS yacht is between 37 and 40 feet. After extensive research of all the boats on the market, we chose to sail yachts like the Élan 37 and Beneteau 40.7 as they are examples of boats most capable of being sailed easily and successfully by women. They are light in weight, easy to handle and flexible cruisers whilst being easy to teach upon and to race. This means we can enjoy leisurely cruising, race competitively - but also be comfortable, with our compact galley, heads and sociable table and saloon area. For such a limited amount of space the boats are suprisingly comfortable!
This is the layout you can expect on board our Elan 37 'Diamonds are Forever'. The exact layout will vary between the different boats we use but will be reasonably similar, with all the boats having a heads, saloon (living area), galley kitchen and 3 separate cabins for sleeping.
Your safety is of paramount importance to us. Your yacht comes fully equipped with all safety equipment, including a life jacket and harness for each crew member. Your skipper will discuss all aspects of safety during the safety briefing. The skipper is always RYA qualified and commercially endorsed. GFS reserves the right to change the yacht you race on if we believe you may risk your own safety (this mainly applies to spinnaker racing).
The designated skipper will give all crew a comprehensive safety brief on first arriving on the yacht. We ask that everyone listens very carefully to all the information given and that if you are unsure please do not hesitate to ask questions. Girls for Sail is dedicated to the safety of all our members.
All yachts will be coded for charter and therefore will be well maintained, carry sufficient lifejackets for the number of crew on board, life raft and other safety equipment. We ask you to take special care of the lifejacket assigned to you and replace it in its bag at the end of every evening.
Please advise your skipper of any medical conditions or dietary requirements that may need attention whilst you are at sea. This information will be kept private and confidential. If you are taking any medication please advise also and ensure you have enough to cover the duration of the trip. We may take medical advice if we believe the stated medical condition may prevent participation in any of our events.
You must advise us if you cannot swim >50 metres.
Because the unexpected sometimes happens, we recommend that you take out an insurance plan that provides for trip delay/cancellation, emergency transportation, travel accident, medical expense and baggage loss and delay coverage. Third party liability insurance is included in the price of your trip. However, this won’t cover you for minor injuries or damaged personal possessions so we STRONGLY advise that you take out a travel/holiday policy to cover you in case you cancel, as well as for accidents, lost items etc.
Please note, Girls for Sail cannot be held responsible for any personal items that might get wet, lost, stolen or damaged. This includes, but is not limited to, cameras, MP3 players, mobile phones etc – so please avoid bringing them, or bring waterproof cases or ensure you are insured.
Damage - In the case of any damage to any of the items on the boat, the cost may be charged to you. Please see our full terms and conditions.
www.bishopskinner.com is the RYA approved provider and the RYA is a good place to start for sailing insurance quotes. You may find that your annual policy covers some sailing activities, however you should ensure that any offshore sailing and racing is also covered (if applicable) as this is often excluded from a standard policy.
IF YOU CHANGE/CANCEL YOUR HOLIDAY WE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE – PLEASE TAKE OUT INSURANCE!!
Any proposed/suggested itinerary is for guidance only and is subject to change depending on weather and crew experience. The Skipper’s decision is final. GFS cannot ensure exact dates or times will be met during crossings and will not be held accountable for any alterations to a guideline itinerary.
You will be joining us for one of these events - an RYA course, a regatta, a holiday or an offshore adventure. The following are our policies in the UK:
We provide half board on our courses. This means breakfasts and lunches for your 5 day practical RYA course are included. This consists of either a cooked breakfast (egg, bacon, rolls, tea, coffee) or a continental breakfast which includes minimum two options of cereals, a range of breads, jams, tea/coffee and juices. Our skippers eat with you so have no fear that it will be of the highest standards we can find in the local area with the tools that are available on the yacht (some yachts may not have a very cold fridge). This will be followed by a healthy, filling lunch. We will provide a wholesome sandwich lunch with fruit and chocolate to keep you going or sometimes a cold buffet of meats cheeses and salads where possible. Soft drinks will also be available, although the range will be limited to the most popular. Dinners are made by the crew each night, apart from the last night when you go to the pub! Hurrah!
You will be cooking on board the yacht and take it in turns to show that you can safely cook a meal using the galley layout and equipment. Keeping gas and water usage to a minimum.
Dinners will be a variety of popular meals eg Spaghetti Bolognaise, sausage, mash & gravy, chicken stir fry, chili & rice. We provide the ingredients for three meals and it is up to the crew how they use the ingredients - you can ready steady cook if you wish! All of the meals can be turned into vegetarian options if needed.
Specific dietary requirements and requests should be made on your booking form although there is no guarantee we will be able to accommodate really specific requests - we will do our best.
A post-sailing kitty for the evening meal and drinks needs to be provided by you and your crew mates as this is not included in the holiday price.
NB on RYA theory courses food is not provided. We provide tea and coffee on the day but provisions are not included in these courses so you should budget for evening meals and lunches.
GFS provides a simple starter pack for every event so that you can turn up to the boat and relax for the first few days before having to think about shopping! We provide cereals/continental breakfasts and lunches e.g. sandwiches/wraps for the first one to two days. After this starter pack runs out the crew will be expected to be responsible for provisioning. We highly recommend nominating a kitty person who can collate funds whilst you shop and share the joys of buying exotic foods!
If you are undertaking an offshore race such as the Fastnet, RORC weekend races or the ARC, Girls for Sail provides all food on the actual offshore race itself. There will be a starter pack for the RORC 600 and ARC ladies will need to read their ARC pack specifically as we do not sleep onboard during an ARC prep week.
NB. Please note that we like to eat to a high standard and will buy the best produce possible to have a good standard of food. Some foods are difficult to attain in certain areas /at certain times of year so if you are intolerant to certain foods or need things like gluten-free, we highly recommend bringing some in your luggage! If you are a fan of specific brands we will not be offended if you decide to buy some of your favourite things in addition to our selection of standard ‘most popular’ items in our starter packs/RYA half board packs.
EVENING MEALS – specifically regatta events.
Any meals ashore and any additional drinks are paid for by you. Please be aware that not everyone might want to or be able to afford to eat in high-end restaurants, so perhaps find a happy medium with your crew. Our skippers are happy to help but again, they are your skippers/instructors not tour reps or stewardesses!
The Bill - we tend to find that over the course of a week, if you split the bill evenly it works out pretty fairly across this time. However, if this does not work for you please make your crew mates aware of this upfront so there is no drama over the bill! It’s supposed to be fun and easy so hopefully this works out well for your group.
Please note that although your skipper would be delighted to eat out with you (and always does on the first or last night dependent on the event) the salary level for a skipper can be a lot lower than the average customer on our sailing trips, therefore she cannot do this every night. It is customary, (but by no means obligatory) to treat your skipper to a meal out of the team's kitty which you may choose to start, this isn’t very much – or to negotiate with the restaurant owners for a free meal for her! Every little helps, girls!
It is important that you understand the boat is only equipped with ONE 12v plug, meaning the electricity available onboard is at an absolute minimum. Therefore we advise you to charge electronic items ashore, where possible. For ladies that want to dry their hair, you will have to do this ashore as hair driers and straightners etc. may not be compatible with the small voltage available on board!
Water is a valuable resource and is limited on board. Please do not run the tap like you do at home or you will run out of water every day!!
Your allowance on any airplane is 20 kilos per person, so we use this as a standard for most trips. I know, it doesn’t sound a lot but it is enough, honestly! It is advisable to pack very lightly as there is always a limited amount of storage space on the yachts. PLEASE DO NOT BRING A HARD-BACKED CASE. You should bring a soft/folding hold-all, not a hard suitcase so that storage of your bag will be easy, and we limit the number of bags to ONE per person.
As little as possible is the message! Dress is very informal in the sailing environment - whatever the location.
You’ll need something to wear ashore in the evening (just pub wear – nothing fancy usually required!). During the day there will be a mix of bursts of activity (when you will warm up) and periods of sitting (where you will cool down). Aim to wear layers that you can add/remove as necessary and the 3-layer rule is a good guide:
To help keep your luggage to a minimum we have listed some basic requirements:
1. Sleeping bag with inner sheet (if preferred)
2. Small pillow (if you require one, as they’re not provided)
3. Towel and toiletries (a quick drying towel is a must when it's chilly or your towel will not dry – sorry!)
4. Small personal torch.
5. Sun block – cream, not oil please as it’s slippery (even if it’s not sunny it will protect against windburn). Make sure you have plenty of high factor sunscreen, at least factor 30. DO take sunburn seriously!
6. Sunglasses and a cap – with a strap to keep it tied on!!
7. Camera to record your experience!
8. Waterproof jacket & trousers (unless you have opted to hire these from us at the booking stage)
9. Medicines - There will be a well-stocked first aid kit on board the yacht, however please bring your own seasickness tablets and pain killers and antiseptic cream.
NB If you have never sailed before, it’s a good idea to take a sea sickness tablet before you set off and then again in the morning and repeat the following night and morning (refer to the dosage instructions of the product you have purchased. We advise this initially unless you know you don’t get sea sick. We are not licensed to administer drugs so unfortunately you need to bring your own. It is not unusual to feel seasick, it happens to the most experienced of sailors: Ellen MacArthur and Robin Knox-Johnson still suffer and look at the voyages they’ve been on! It’s just your body’s way of adjusting its balance and it will pass, trust us!
We find that thermals are essential any time of year in the UK. They are excellent worn under wet weather gear. If you ski or run/hike/walk then outdoor clothing works just as well and doesn’t cost the earth, so bring those items if you have them.
*If you don’t have deck shoes then trainers will be fine but not with black soles as they will mark the deck. You must have something non slip for your safety.
If you are sailing in a regatta, we’ll provide you with a much coveted Girls For Sail team t-shirt. These are exclusive: only people that sail/race with us can have one and you will be expected to wear it as crew kit during the race. We will also have crew t-shirts available to buy to wear out in the evenings. Please bring a black pair of shorts/trousers and a swimsuit/bikini (we are feeling hopeful) should the weather be amazing! This is our attempt at looking like a crew should the sun come out!
We normally start events as follows:*
10am Monday @ Shepards Wharf Marina – meet at our office in the marina
1930 hrs Friday @ Shepards Wharf Marina – meet at our office in the marina
10am Daily @ Shepards Wharf Marina – meet at our Office in the marina
We try and finish events by 4pm on the last sailing day so this means we will probably be back to the marina at 1400/1430 in order to pack, tidy, clean, debrief and award certificates if relevant.
*Please do check the individual start and end times for your specific event in case they differ!
The easiest way to get to Cowes is to take the high speed passenger ferry (Red Jet) from Southampton to the West Cowes Red Jet Terminal. From here it is an easy 6-8 minute walk along the high street to the marina.
Travel directions to the Southampton terminal and parking details can be found by clicking here
The nearest railway station is SOUTHAMPTON CENTRAL (www.thetrainline.com often has some great deals on tickets). From the station there is a free bus that runs to the RED JET passenger-only ferry dock and this takes approximately 10 minutes. You will need a train ticket to ride on the bus for free. Or pay £1 which is refunded when you buy a ferry ticket. The RED JET catamaran to Cowes takes approximately 22 minutes and will take you directly into the centre of West Cowes marked below.
When you exit the ferry terminal, walk out in to the High Street and turn left. Follow the road past The Anchor pub on your right, and up the hill with Sainsbury’s on your left until you get to the end of the pedestrian area.
Continue straight forward on Birmingham Road until you’re facing the Duke of York pub and then turn left again onto Medina Road - just down the hill on your left you will see the navy blue flags at the entrance to the Shepherds Wharf Marina. Our office is in this complex next to the dive shop which is next to Amabi Tapas Bar, where we will be waiting to greet you! This is also where your boat will be waiting for you.
We don’t recommending bringing a car to the Isle of Wight as it is quite costly but ask us for advice if this is your only/preferred option.
Our phone number in case you get lost or are delayed:
+44 (0) 1983 28 28 67 (office hours, Mon-Fri)
+44 (0) 7703 54 77 00 (after 5.30pm or weekends)
*Some of our events may begin in other South Coast locations on occasion, please check your joining instructions for the details of where to meet the boat!
Over the years we have assessed that if you are coming from another country or just want to get to us early or you are yacht racing, shore-side shelter is very preferable. If we are racing we work hard to find accommodation of a good standard at a reasonable rate near to all the ever changing itineraries of the regattas – it could differ each year. We go to great lengths to coordinate this for your comfort. We do not do this for any other reason and more often than not, we do not own or run the rented accommodation so we act as third parties to assist you in making your sailing event more pleasurable.
We seek accommodation ranging from £29 to £49 pppn which is always shared – the price varies dependent on how many of the crew opt for shore side beds. The more people that select accommodation, the cheaper it is! Please advise our office of your preference when you have booked your event so that we can search earlier and get the better venues. Thank you in advance for this. If you provide a budget guide for us to work to that is also very helpful.
Please advise us if you are booking into accommodation on shore, whether with us or with a hotel. GFS will do everything to ensure that you are back in the right location after the days sailing but cannot be held responsible for your bookings ashore. We advise customers to inform your chosen accommodation of this possibility. Also please be aware that we cannot be held responsible should there be an event where weather and tide may make it impossible to get to your hotel ashore.
Thank you for choosing to sail with us at Girls for Sail and we hope you have a wonderful time on the water!