When you’re looking to learn to sail, it’s essential you get high-quality tuition from the start. Rubicon 3 has the pedigree that few other sailing schools can match, with our skills and techniques honed on our expeditions to places such as Svalbard and across the Atlantic. This is real-world training delivered by exceptional instructors.
The introductory course for those new to yacht sailing. It all starts here!
The certificate you need to earn to be able to charter a yacht on holiday.
Significant step up in skills and ability at this level.
The top level sailing qualification – essential for a prfoessional career
Theory course to give you the skills to pass Day Skipper
Theory course to give you the skills to pass Yachtmaster Coastal and Offshore
Learn how to maintain and conduct essential repairs on your outboard engine.
Learn to navigate by the Sun and stars on this plain English celestial navigation course. Suitable for beginners.
Learn the essential skills for DC marine electrical
Essential marine electrical skills, focusing on 12 and 24v DC circuits.
If you’re going to learn to sail, you need to learn in a place that has all the challenges you will need to learn about. Beautiful and iconic coastline, with ferocious tides, some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and endless harbours, ports and anchorages. The Solent and the English Channel is without any doubt THE best place to learn. Don’t go anywhere else.
Cowes is the undisputed home of yachting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to navigate! It has a fast Redjet service to Southampton, car ferries from East Cowes and a chain ferry with limited clearance over the chains, all of which have priority over yachts in the narrow channel. Add in strong tides, a secondary approach route through the mud banks and a constant stream of yachts and you have all the ingredients for the perfect place to learn to sail. Maybe that’s why the famous Anchor pub on the high street does so well: every skipper deserves a G&T after bringing a yacht safely into one of the many marinas.
A contender to Cowes’ title of Home of Yachting, the River Hamble is one of the biggest yachting bases in Europe. Strong tides and literally thousands of marina berths mean this is the perfect place to come for a spot of parking practice. Hamble itself is a picture-postcard village with cobbled streets, four pubs and sailors in every corner.
A National Trust bird reserve renowned for its peace and tranquillity, this is a much-loved anchorage in the western Solent. But Newtown is also a favourite on Yachtmaster exams because of the narrow entrance. Make sure you keep the yacht on transit as you approach between the gravel banks, and don’t roam too widely inside, it gets muddy quickly!
No course where you are learning to sail is complete without a night entry up the river Beaulieu. The narrow sector light keeps you on track across the shallow bar – make sure you get those secondary port calculations right. Once inside the meandering river needs careful navigation because much of it isn’t lit at night. It’s time for a searchlight and keen spotter on the foredeck to make out the edges of the channel which are marked by wiry ‘withy’ sticks. Up at Buckler’s Hard you’ve got the original boatyard where Nelson’s ships were built and the wonderful New Forest pub the Master’s Arms so it is well worth a trip.
It’s always lovely to sail by this iconic landmark. The Needles mark the western end of the Isle of Wight and the fierce tidal stream causes dangerous overfalls in the wrong weather. It’s a great place to practise your tidal gate calculations and see the theory put into a real-life situation. If the weather allows, the spectacular anchorage beneath the coloured cliffs of Alum Bay is a gorgeous place to spend the night.
Small but perfectly formed, Yarmouth is one of our favourite places to stop in the Solent. The busy ferry terminal and strong cross tides at the entrance and unpredictable flow inside the harbour mean you’ll need to be spot on with your boat handling bringing the yacht inside. For the energetic amongst us, there is a beautiful running trail up the estuary surrounded by salt marshes and wading birds…and for the rest of us there’s also an excellent pub for a pint after a long day’s sailing.
The vast natural harbour at Portsmouth has been home to the British navy for centuries. It only has one drawback: it is a very tiny entrance for such a big harbour. Strong tides gush out on the ebb and yachts need to give way to the commercial and naval traffic. Once inside, the complex network of channels gives us plenty of options on our sailing course: we can pilot up to Port Solent or Fareham, or enjoy the hustle and bustle of Gosport’s busy marinas near the mouth. Before approaching you’ll need to decide whether you can safely cross the swash-way or the inner swash way depending on the tidal height. And read the local regulations carefully – there’s something a little unique about this approach channel…
This tiny Isle of Wight harbour has a very shallow bar that can only be crossed close to high water so make sure you get those calculations right! The approach is well buoyed but very tight so you’ll need good pilotage and boat handling skills to make it safely inside, but it is well worth it – Bembridge harbour is a world away from the big marinas of the mainland with lovely walks and good pubs nearby.
Technically this wonderful natural harbour is slightly east of the Solent, but we can’t leave it out because it has so much to offer. The shallow bar at the entrance means it can’t be accessed in all conditions and you’ll need to decide whether the wind and tide conditions allow for a safe passage. Once inside there are three different branches to explore. The longest one winds through for many miles inland to Chichester where there is a marina with a lock. However, after practising locking in and out we usually prefer to anchor in one of the more remote locations and row ashore to a country pub.
As you learn to sail to an ever high level, there is the possibility to sail across the English Channel to France or even the Channel Islands. This is a serious stretch of water with strong wind and tides, really busy commercial shipping lanes and plenty of other hazards to test the aspiring skipper.