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Coastal Passage Making Course: English Channel

Coastal Passage Making Course: English Channel





Intensive sail training (and a great sailing holiday) sailing the English Channel.

Join us for two weeks of sailing, training and adventure that will take your seamanship and skippering skills to a new level.

It can be hard to build the next level of skills after doing your RYA or ASA qualifications. This course is designed for everyone who has obtained their basic qualifications (from Day Skipper up) and now wishes to make a really big jump in their skills and experience levels. As we sail between the UK, France, and the Channel Islands (depending on where Covid regulations allow) you will face constant challenges, be asked to make decisions and then act on them, all the time under the watchful eye of our top skippers who are there to guide and explain in a really friendly, supportive environment. Fantastic tuition and great sailing.
Sailing location image

These are the available dates and routes. To book your place, please select the dates from the drop-down above the ‘Add to Cart’ button.


  • Start date / place: October 04 2021. Portsmouth, UK
  • End date / place: October 15 2020. Portsmouth, UK
  • Full price: £1,699
  • Deposit: £425


    • Start date / place: October 18 2021. Portsmouth, UK
    • End date / place: October 29 2021. Portsmouth, UK
    • Full price: £1,699
    • Deposit: £425


Please see ‘TRAVEL – GETTING TO & FROM YOUR TRIP’ tab for advice on start and end points.




This is 25% of the trip price and is non-refundable. On making payment, your berth is guaranteed.

Paying the balance
The balance of the invoice can be paid at any time. It must be received by Rubicon 3 90 days before the trip start date or your place will automatically be cancelled. We will remind you of the date nearer the time.

Cancellations and moving trips
Our expedition sailing yachts only have between 7 and 10 berths on them. When you book, you are committing to take one of these places. Due to these very limited numbers, we will often have turned away someone else who would have liked the berth. Unlike many other holidays, please understand this gives us little if any flexibility to make changes or to move trips. We will always endeavour to assist you (& the earlier you tell us the better), but unless we can find someone else to take your place, we usually cannot move your booking.

This is a typical itinerary. What makes the Coastal Passage Making Course so special however is that there can be no fixed itinerary and no part of this is guaranteed. The wind and the weather ultimately shape what’s possible each day but everything is very flexible within that. This is a typical itinerary for the course.


You need to join the boat promptly at 0900hrs on the start day. We will have a cup of tea and get to know each other and the skipper and mate will talk you through what to expect, find you your berth, help you get your kit packed away and issue you with oilskins, lifejacket and immersion/abandon ship survival suit.

cockpit briefing

Next, you’ll get a really thorough briefing on all the facilities. How to use the heads, shower, galley, gas, sinks and more. A thorough review of all the safety and navigation gear below decks follows. Fire extinguishers, CoB equipment, flares, immersion suits, VHF, Sat C, Nav software, Navtex and much more. Make sure you bring a pen and paper pad as you’ll be asked to comment on and review this at some stage through the course.

sailing course safety briefing


Starting and ending in Portsmouth on the south coast of England, we will spend the course using the wind and weather to best advantage. This is one of the great sail training grounds in the world. We will be out in the English Channel, likely crossing over to France and working our way along the English and French coasts. This is a world of huge tides (9m+!), some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, feisty wind and sea states… and glorious sailing. (If France is off limits due to Covid, we have the spectacular coast of Devon & Cornwall & hopefully the Channel Islands. There is always somewhere for brilliant sailing and training)

sailing chart work

Intensive theory and skills and drills

From chart work to COLREGs, this morning is going to be an intensive session where we evaluate your current skill set and make you better. It is always a very supportive environment and at no time will you be left to flounder. This is about pushing you hard to improve, not showing anyone up. Most of all, we know the areas people usually struggle with or aren’t that confident in… and that’s where we’ll go straight to! After lunch, we’ll be out in the Solent, working through all the key manoeuvres following the theory.

Sailing across the English Channel

Your first passage to plan and execute. We’ll set off across the English Channel, getting to grips with the strong cross tides and heavy commercial traffic. It is about 60-70nm, meaning a really full day of sailing and training. The wonderful Brittany coast or Channel Islands await.

Training & exploring in the Channel Islands

We’ll spend the next few days sailing through and exploring the Channel islands and getting off the beaten track to lesser known islands such Sark & Herm. These are wonderful places to visit and the strong tides and technical harbour entrances are a fantastic classroom. Welcome to a mix of superb training and wonderful sailing holiday!

Back across the Channel to the Devon / Dorset coasts

We now turn north again for another crossing of the English Channel. This time we will likely have the wind behind us and it is hopefully Spinnaker time, where we get this magnificent sail out and learn all about how to launch, sail and recover them.

We’ll likely make landfall in Dartmouth, with its beautiful river entrance and technical approaches. After a day of R&R we’ll navigate our way around Start Point with its infamous tides and likely sail up to the beautiful fishing port of Brixham.

East toward the Isle of Wight

We then have a 60nm passage East (great for those working toward Yachtmaster) most likely to Weymouth, and from there onward to Poole and finally to the Isle of Wight itself, past the iconic Needles and back to Portsmouth. The look across to France, to the Channel Islands and back to England is one of the classic training routes, giving you everything from tides, weather, traffic, overnight sailing, port entrances, anchorages and more. You will make huge gains in your seamanship.

Cleaning, debriefs and goodbyes

The end comes all too soon but there’s no doubt that you’ll go home with some unforgettable memories and having had a huge amount of fun. After cleaning up, swapping photos and saying goodbye to the boat and the crew, you’ll be free to disembark from 1200h.


hauling up sail


The course ends at 1200 on the last day at which time you will need to disembark.

Join the boat promptly at 0900hrs on the start day.
It is important you are not late as the pre-trip briefing will start promptly at that time. You will probably need to arrive at your start point the day before your trip begins and get a hotel or B&B.

Disembark by 1200hrs on the end day.
We ask you to stay on board until then if possible to help with packing away the boat but recognise sometimes due to flights you may need to leave earlier that day. Please just let the skipper know in advance.



  • The course will start and finish in Haslar marina, Portsmouth.
  • The closest train station is Portsmouth Harbour.
  • From there, you need to take the green ferry across the harbour (5 minutes, £3.70) and walk along the shore to the marina.
  • Portsmouth harbour station is about 90 minutes on the train from Gatwick airport (IATA code: LGW). It is also possible to take a 90 minute taxi costing about £60 from Heathrow airport (IATA code: LHR)


    This course is open to those aged 18 – 70 years. As this is an Advanced Coastal Passage Making Course, all candidates must have at least RYA Day Skipper / ASA 104. It will be very useful to all candidates up to and including RYA Yachtmaster.


    We believe that as many people as possible should be able to head out to sea and have a great adventure. However, it is essential for everyone’s safety that you are in a fit enough state to be on board. Ability to complete the five exercises below is a pre-requisite for joining as a crew member. They are not designed to be physically taxing and almost everyone should be able to complete them. Rather they are in place to check that you have the stability and basic physical condition to be onboard.

    If when you join the vessel the skipper believes you are not capable of completing these exercises, you will probably not be allowed to embark. If you have any doubts at all about your ability to complete these exercises safely, you must contact your doctor before attempting them.


    We provide the foul weather clothing, life-jackets and all other technical equipment you will need. You need to bring a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots.

    See more information and the full kit list here


    We believe that as many people as possible should be able to head out to sea and have a great adventure. However, it is essential for everyone’s safety that you are in a fit enough state to be on board. Ability to complete the five exercises below is a pre-requisite for joining as a crew member. They are not designed to be physically taxing and almost everyone should be able to complete them. Rather they are in place to check that you have the stability and basic physical condition to be on-board. If when you join the vessel the skipper believes you are not capable of completing these exercises, you will probably not be allowed to embark. If you have any doubts at all about your ability to complete these exercises safely, you must contact your doctor before attempting them.

    Fitness to sail


    Four weeks before your trip start date, you will be sent final joining instructions. At this time you will be asked to complete our medical declaration. At the time of booking, it is your responsibility to be sure that you will be able to pass all the criteria at the start date of your trip. If you cannot pass the criteria you will probably be refused permission to board.

    See the Medical Declaration here


    • All crew must have adequate travel insurance in place for your sailing holiday.
    • We strongly recommend that you arrange insurance as soon as you book. This ideally will cover you for any mishaps, medical or otherwise, in the build-up to your holiday so that should you have to cancel, you can reclaim your fees.
    • Please note we will not refund your money or cancel your invoice due to medical issues that disqualify you from joining your trip.
    • For our latest guidance on travel insurance, please read here.


    For a full explanation of what to expect with the various trip ratings please click here.


    • Oilskins
    • Fladen immersion suits. These will keep you warm in even the coldest, windiest conditions.
    • Ocean-spec lifejackets. These are the best on the market.
    • All on-board food and snacks.
    • Daily sailing lessons and tuition from two highly experienced instructors.
    • RYA sailing qualifications can be earned where applicable.


    • Your travel to and from the start and end points.
    • Travel insurance (see our travel insurance page here)
    • Any alcohol – but feel free to bring your own or buy some along the route.
    • Any meals you eat ashore.


    Everything’s included except for flights, travel insurance, a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots. There are no hidden extras.

    • These expeditions have small numbers of people on board. When you book, you are committing to being a part of the crew.
    • These are genuine adventure sailing holidays and you will be helping sail the boat, planning where we go, navigating, cooking and keeping the boat clean and tidy.
    • When you book, the deposit is non refundable. It is possible to cancel subsequently, however you may still be liable for the balance of the invoice, depending on how close you are to the start date when you cancel.
    • Please ensure you have read and agreed to the T&Cs and Trip Notes before booking.

    What do you do with a rusty Day Skipper? After a year or so has passed, the skills you had begin to fade and suddenly you find you haven’t sailed for a few years and the confidence has gone. Alternatively, you may have got to Coastal or Offshore Yachtmaster. These are great qualifications to have but 90% of those who achieve them still have very limited real time experience. The Passage Making Masterclass is all about getting you a rapid increase in skills and experience, so that you can pass those higher level sailing qualifications or go off and charter yachts and take on more challenging passages with extra confidence. The syllabus includes














    Most yachts these days have radar but few amateur sailors have the skills to use this invaluable tool properly. As part of your Passage Making Masterclass, you will look at how to set up the radar  and how to use it both to aid collision avoidance and for pilotage in poor visibility.














    Pilotage is both technique and art form. Entering a foreign port late at night in bad weather when the crew is tired can be a very taxing exercise. Similarly weaving one’s way through rocks to a small anchorage. We will show you the techniques we use to produce simple, easy to follow pilotage guides that work.














    Helming is so much more than holding a steady course. With every slight change in wind speed, apparent wind direction changes and you need to be wise to these shifts and have some techniques for how to gauge and react to them. More than anything, you need to learn to minimise your inputs.














    Anchoring is a skill that many people are nervous to try which is a great shame as it completely transforms one’s cruising range and a night at anchor can be  a truly special experience. We’ll explain what size anchor you should be carrying, what type of anchor, how much chain and rope and what sea beds to anchor in. You’ll also learn how to anchor and how to ensure you stay safe through the night.














    Should you file paperwork before leaving your home country and if so, what? What is one expected to do on arrival in a foreign port and when? What paperwork needs to be carried or shown? We give you the detailed low down on what is required and when.














    There is a world of difference between a classroom exercise on  a Day Skipper course and proper, good quality passage planning. We will bring you a level of practical techniques that will help you sail safely from A to B.














    Dealing safely with commercial shipping is an essential skill. Cargo vessels are big, fast and dangerous. Yet, they are only 1-200metres long and 40 metres wide. There is no need to end up in front of them! We will help you translate collision regulations learnt by heart into practical skills.














    We’ll help you get to grips with this so that you can maximise the performance of your sails. Which sail do you trim first, is twist important, what do those cars do? Lots of questions and we’ll explain everything in clear simple lessons .












    Previously you may have been taught about how low pressure systems form and that’s great. What we’ll teach you is really up to date, practical weather skills. You’ll compare weather apps, learn about their strengths and weaknesses and get familiar with the various official weather sources too.