Thousands of tourists each year are drawn to the Adriatic Sea, chartering boats and hiring skippers so that they can spend a week (or maybe more!) out on the water enjoying the crystal clear water, picturesque bays and charming towns and ports of the Croatian islands with friends and family.
So, what if you, are not a seasoned sailor, and you want to get to a skill level where you don’t have to hire a skipper?
Can you make a start towards learning to sail yourself?
And can you do it in Croatia?
The answer is YES!
Why learn to sail in Croatia around the Adriatic islands?
Learning how to sail gives you the ability to get out on the water and enjoy a special freedom that is both relaxing and stimulating. The Adriatic is the ideal place to learn to sail due to three key factors:
1. The sheltered position of the Adriatic Sea and the close proximity of the Croatian islands
2. The weather systems
3. The wide range of vessels available to charter
The sheltered position of the Adriatic Sea between Italy and Croatia means that you do not get deep ocean ground swells like the ones that are produced in the open ocean. The close proximity of the Croatian islands to each other also means that there is more flat water and more sheltered passages. This provides a safe and varied learning ground, while also being uncrowded and interesting to sail.
The topography of the mainland and the islands creates varied weather conditions that can be conducive and challenging to any level of sailors, from beginners right up to expert.
Being a popular charter destination, there are many different sizes and styles of vessels, from small cruisers and racers, to family-sized catamaran and spacious monohulls, to the even bigger and more challenging sailing craft.
What options do I have for learning to sail in Croatia?
There are so many options for learning to sail in croatia and here are the three most sought after options:
You can opt to jump on a course with other students and learn to sail with a trained instructor. Courses such as RYA Competent Crew or Day Skipper are hands-on, fully immersive programs and you will be issued with a certificate upon successful completion.
You can also choose to supplement these courses with extra time spent on the water with a bareboat charter and skipper option. This is a great option that gives you the ability to take along your family or friends! If you hire a skipper who is also an instructor, you can still learn plenty of sailing skills whilst everyone else on-board enjoys their sailing holiday. Ensure that the skipper you hire is equipped to teach and you can turn your sailing holiday into extra hours learning to sail too!
Ultimately a private seven day learn to sail, sailing holiday option. As a package you reserve your all-inclusive private yacht, with crew and bring along your family or group of friends. Private tuition means you don’t have to share a boat or time with your skipper or with people you don’t know.
Examples Of Courses
– Competent Crew Course (5 days)
For those who would like to learn to sail and become active crew members rather than just passengers. Experience living, sailing, cooking and sleeping on board for five days and really get to know the boat. Virtually all the course is hands on. You are the crew – without you the sails won’t go up and the boat won’t be steered. A fantastic practical sail training course with a Competent Crew Sailing Qualification at the end.
– RYA Day Skipper Practical Course (5 days)
Learn to skipper a short passage with an instructor on hand to give advice and encouragement and ensure your safety. Experience being in charge, taking credit when it all goes well and being responsible when it doesn’t. This is a great introduction to sailing and is the pre-entry level and the minimum requirement for chartering yachts in many locations around the world, couple it with your VHF license and you’re off running. Pre-course experience is required for this qualification.
– RYA Yachtmaster Preparation + Exam
The Yachtmaster preparation course is not designed to teach you sailing skills for the first time. The aim of the course is to polish and improve sailing performance and skills to meet the qualification. Before Booking Yachtmaster Prep Weeks it is essential that you satisfy all pre-requisites of mileage and make sure your experience and completed courses have been fulfilled prior to booking.
When Is The Best Time To Learn
That’s not an easy questions to answer. Every one’s circumstances are different and each season here in Croatia offers different kinds of weather along with different challenges that teach you and help reinforce different skills. And here we summarise the seasons from our perspective living in Croatia.
Winter is the least sailed season in Croatia. And for those wishing to spend time on-board learning to navigate and learning weather systems, winter is ideal. Even the coldest winter days are great on the sea. It is not really warm enough for swimming. Great winds, and very often bright sunny days make winter sailing one of our favourite activities.
With many villages closed during the off season, meals are cooked on-board. With so many well-hidden and protected marinas, bays, ports, and islands very close to each other, you can enjoy in unspoilt nature and experience the true colours of Dalmatia. Donning wet weather gear and thermal layers is highly recommended! Having the right gear and safety equipment is a must during the winter season.
– Autumn and Spring
Autumn and Spring are also great seasons to learn to sail in. You do need to ensure that you have an instructor/skipper who is very familiar with the very strong bura winds that blow from the north-east. These winds can be very dangerous to the inexperienced and learning how to manage volatile weather systems like the bura can teach sailing students valuable lessons.
The weather is warmer than winter and without the sweltering heat of summer, making a much more comfortable trip for all on-board. Ports may or may not be open and there are far less boats out on the water, providing plenty of space and opportunity to practice manoeuvres such as docking stern-to, coming alongside, picking up mooring balls, anchoring and many other skills required.
Summer is, of course, peak tourist and charter season. Ports are full, island villages are bustling with tourists and the weather tends to be much calmer, meaning that there is less wind and lots of fuel is often used to make-way between islands. We generally do not recommend learning to sail in the heat of summer and of course part of 45 Degrees Sailing Premium tours you have the option of sailing as little or as much as you choose during your 7 day sailing holiday around the islands.
Do I have to be studying for a qualification to learn to sail?
No you don’t. Specializing in informal private sailing tuition for couples, families and groups of friends, 45 Degrees Sailing offers fantastic ‘Learn to Sail’ winter experiences, making the most of Croatia’s quiet winter. If you’re looking to go sailing just for fun without the pressure of achieving a qualification, or maybe you already have a qualification and just want to gain some miles and experience while having fun with family or friends. Then this is a great winter holiday choice for you.
All ages and abilities can join in and get involved sailing the yacht whilst enjoying time together relaxing in the sunshine, exploring the islands and sailing in the usually clear, calm waters.
Private Tuition: Grab your family or group of friends and reserve your all-inclusive private yacht. Private tuition means you don’t have to share a boat or time with your skipper, with people you don’t know.
Cabin Tour Options: This option is for parties of one or two and only available from November-April on selected dates. This offers all the benefits of an all-inclusive private yacht charter, for the price of a one double en-suite cabin.
What ever options you choiose, the best way to learn to sail is to JUST DO IT.
Book it now and make it happen!
How long does it take to learn to sail?
Learning to sail is different for everyone and it depends entirely upon you.
How long it will take you to learn to sail is ultimately a question of how much you need to know before you consider yourself a sailor. How much you need to know will depend entirely on what you want to be able to do it a sailboat.
Some people have an affinity for the wind and the sea, and catch on surprisingly quickly. While for others, it takes longer and seems much more of a hard road. In your learning process the most important things that can determine how long it will take:
- Experience, Exposure, and/or Research
- Your Preferred Learning Style
- Geographic Considerations
- Exit/Re-entry Requirements
- Your Sailing Goals
Of course, every geographic location has unique features that you’ll need to be aware of in order to safely navigate those waters. This is also true for Croatia, sometimes it’s as simple as remembering that there is a log or rock to worry about if you approach the dock from a certain direction.
At other times it involves currents, changes in wind direction and speed, traffic on the water,. If your environment is simple, you will be able to get out in a boat and learn by trial and error fairly quickly. If your location presents some serious challenges, you’ll need to make sure you’re ready for them.
If you’re fortunate enough to be learning in an environment that is low-pressure, you can get right down to business. If your craft is docked at a busy marina, you’ll also spend time getting comfortable with getting in and out before you can say that you’ve learned to sail.
- Tips To Learn The Ropes Faster
Practice plays a big part in sailing, similar to learning to drive a car. You have many options on theory-based material available to you, how to record in your logbook and build your nautical miles. Ultimately, it is the combination of hands-on experience and studying the theory that will help you to really consolidate your learning and give you the confidence to go it alone when “qualified”.
The best tips we can give you to help you through the process are:
- Have theory-based material on hand to read, refer to and back-up what you are learning practically
- Figure out your learning style and what environment you learn best in so that you are in the best environment possible for your learning.
- Ensure you have an instructor that you trust and feel comfortable with, as opposed to someone you know that can sail. Sailing and teaching others to sail are two very different skills.
- Get online and join groups. From time to time experienced captains search for mates for sailboat transfers or regattas, where an extra pair of hands comes in useful.
- As with any learning, the best way to learn is through hands on Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
- Mile Building
If you have a good theoretical base and you still feel insecure to get out on the water, then mile building in Croatia is for you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to practice theoretical knowledge in one of the most beautiful places in Europe, along with a great opportunity to undergo invaluable sailing practice under the guidance of professional skippers, as well as gaining an unforgettable experience.
Maybe you’re only planning on learning enough to handle a day sail by yourself in familiar waters. Don’t be surprised if, before long, you’re looking at larger craft and longer journeys. Once you know the basics, the world will be your oyster.
- Our Recommendation
There are a range of English-speaking options for learning to sail here in Croatia. Our recommendation for you to check out is Yacht Sail Training.
Yacht Sail Training is located in Marina Kaštela, between Split city and Split airport, and is a really convenient spot to simply fly in and jump on-board. Their aim is to help anyone transform their life by accessing the world’s best learning experience on and off the water in the most idyllic Adriatic Sea in Croatia.
Check out their offerings here: https://yachtsailtraining.com/
If you have questions on anything sailing in Croatia, feel free to ask below in the comments or check out Total Croatia, Sailing in Croatia: Your One-Stop-Shop for everything sailing.
If you’re looking for informal, private sailing tuition for couples, families and groups of friends, read more about 45 Degrees Sailing fantastic ‘Learn to Sail’ winter experiences here.
All photos supplied by Nick Hathaway, 45 Degrees Sailing.