When pondering on boats and sailing, what’s often the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the grand adventure of charting a course, or planning trip itineraries for all the destinations you’d love to visit?
How do you feel about the wide-open ocean and commandeering your first voyage? Are you keen to jump into the adventure or does the novice in you look at it as something you’ve always wanted to try, despite the intimidatingly steep learning curve that comes with being a seasoned sailor?
Thankfully, there are plenty of ports across the globe that have calmer surfs at select times of the year. Simply put, these destinations can provide the perfect environment for novice skippers to test out their sailing skills.
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How to secure your own sailboat
Before we dive into where you should go to test out your sailing skills, however, we’d like to preface with a note on finding a yacht or other vessel to commandeer on your first seafaring voyage. If you’ve completed a sailing course and have already been looking into purchasing your own vessel, you’ll already know that there are options available to you.
For instance, you could buy your own vessel from a reputable yacht and catamaran manufacturer like Iliad Catamarans. This will allow you to learn the ropes on the same vessel across all the sailing destinations we’ll be outlining below.
Or you could look into charter services. These services can not only provide you with the opportunity to gain experience on different types of vessels, but it may also help you secure a support crew if you’d prefer to have one on board.
If you’d prefer to purchase your own vessel in order to map out a grander sailing adventure, then it’s imperative that you weigh up the options available to you here as well. That way, you can ensure that you’re securing a vessel that’s perfectly suited to your skill level as well as the destinations you’re planning to visit during your expedition.
Now, back to it! Here are six of the best destinations for strengthening your sea legs as a sailor in training.
There is no better jewel to pass up for a sailor than the Aegean Sea. With its warmer waters and a romantic backdrop of Greece and its many unique isles, sailing through the Aegean can be a superb maiden voyage experience for many young skippers and their shiny new sailboats.
Novice sailors should travel during Greece’s summer months as the season’s calm and clear waters make it much easier to steer with confidence and go through passages with minimal strain.
The beautiful Ionian Sea is also a great starting point for any newbie sailor looking to handle beginner techniques, as it is technically a bay with rather consistent tides, making it the perfect training ground for any who feel they’re not quite ready to head out on the open ocean just yet.
Greece also has numerous coves, inlets, and beaches where you can safely moor your vessel with absolute security and go exploring all that the Greece isles have to offer without a care in the world.
Croatia and the surrounding Adriatic Sea is another great location for those who’ve just received their motor boat license. If this particular destination sounds appealing to you, we recommend setting your sights on Dubrovnik.
Situated nearing the southernmost tip of Croatia and generally shielded from choppier waters by the rest of the country’s western coast, Dubrovnik is the perfect harbor city to test your sails before going out into more open waters. If you are after calmer waves, then we highly recommend traveling between April to October for pleasant weather and surf conditions.
With over 1000 islands for you to lay down in an anchorage, Croatia is the perfect paradise if you want a quiet, stable start. If you feel that you need some extra guidance, however, then a local guide or even local charter crew can help direct you around the archipelago. This way, you can grow more familiar with the area and take note of any marinas that are known by the locals to be particularly good mooring points.
3. The Bahamas
If you’ve ever considered sailing off to a tropical getaway destination known across the world for its peace and serenity, then the Bahamas in the Caribbean are likely to be the perfect place for you to escape and get some joyful sun and sailing. The Bahamas offer a gateway to the Caribbean that is best ventured during the period of May to June, for optimum sailing conditions, consistent trade winds, and calm waters that can help you to hone your sailing techniques.
But how do you get there? Sailing from the US mainland is perhaps the easiest way to reach the Bahamas for novice sailors, with a start in Miami, Florida allowing you to make this sunny journey alongside many other hobby sailors.
4. The British Virgin Islands
Another great spot in the Caribbean to test your skills as a skipper is the British Virgin Islands. What makes the BVI so accommodating to beginner sailors is its consistently calm surf and general ease to traverse. The main appeal with newbies is that the distances between islands are short if you need to come ashore or require assistance.
As the British Virgin Islands is widely recognised for being a beginner-friendly sailing location, it’s also common for tourism agencies to offer their own sailing packages to those who want to get out on the open water and have a crack at commandeering your own vessel. This essentially means that you can choose whether to have a crewed charter with you in the BVI or to finally test your skills at bareboat chartering.
In the former, you have a captain as your guide, while the latter is all set by you. And whilst this may sound daunting if you’re looking to go sailing anywhere else in the world, the BVI is absolutely one of the best places to be a lone skipper for the very first time.
5. Italy and Sicily
If you’ve ever considered sailing through the Mediterranean, then the Italian boot and its soccer ball of a neighboring island (also known as Sicily!) are the perfect places to make port. Italy and the Aeolian Islands are renowned for their breathtaking beauty, boasting picture-perfect coastlines, beaches with sparkling black sands created through volcanic activity, and a myriad of hidden gems dotting all the islands that call the Mediterranean home.
The island of Sicily has many marinas to make mooring and crystal waters for subaquatic exploration, meaning that both sailors and SCUBA divers alike will be sure to have a whale of a time. On top of being a sailor’s haven, Sicily is also the ideal stop for any food loving seafarer, with many local eateries that will happily provide tourists with the most unforgettable seafood dining experience that you’ll be likely to have in your life.
6. Bay of Islands
Last but not least, if you’ve ever wanted to sail tropical beauty during winter, The Bay of Islands around New Zealand’s North Island is a glorious place to charter around in the Southern Hemisphere. With not only gorgeous blue to turquoise waters that are reasonably calm, but also being frequented by one of the highest rates of boat ownership per capita, you’re in reasonably safe hands with a mountain of local knowledge.
This region comes alive in the warm weather season, which falls from about November to February both in New Zealand and Australia. Daylight hours also tend to be a lot longer in the height of summer, with the sun often setting as late as 7 or 8pm! This is superb for beginner sailors, as you can take full advantage of the region’s longer periods of calm surf and extended daylight hours in order to get well acquainted with your vessel.
And there you have it! Six of the world’s most popular destinations for beginner sailors to hone their skills before testing their mettle out on the open ocean. If you’re looking to make a seafaring journey and are looking for the calmest waters to test your boat, all of these island nations and coastal getaway destinations are sure to have you covered. May you have a happy sailing journey and the bonniest of voyages!