How families can move up from dinghies to yacht sailing.

For many families involved with dinghy sailing it is a natural aspiration to do some yacht sailing, such as a flotilla holiday.


Skippering and managing a yacht is a step up that can present its challenges as well as its joys, so making the transition needs to be considered within the dynamics of each individual family.

Sailing can, and will, expose both the weaknesses and the strengths of any group or family unit. So, it is important to recognize how your family interacts at home, and not expect them to be any different on the water.

The right learning style.

If one person has a good level of sailing experience and the natural dynamics of the family support that person as the leader, it normally works well for that person to get additional training to feel comfortable in range of confident skipper.

Some families lead by manual consensus, talking things through first to work out what they are doing. In this instance, learning as a family group has its advantages. It allows everyone to work out what each person is good at and establish the group dynamics with an instructor’s guidance.


It helps to feel confident in their role and have trust in each other when the instructor is not there. Starting at the same level means everyone learns together, builds up experience and grows in confidence together, creating a more harmonious unit.

Some people are happier to learn separately, so that they feel less intimidated by others who may have more experience. However separate teaching can lead to scenarios under stress where one person says:

“Well I was taught to do it like this!” It is important to understand how the family works, and also be honest with yourself about your ability levels. Problems can arise when one person professes to know how to sail and everyone else follows along blindly.

The so-called expert can be exposed if things to do not go according to plan, leading to breakdown and loss of confidence in the skipper. It is a tough position to come back from as others start to chip in with their own opinions and undermine further decisions.

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