Autumn is the ideal time to try sailing a dinghy in sheltered waters off the coast of southern Britain. The sea is at its warmest and yet the water is not packed with the numbers of craft normally associated with the summer months.
You may have spent summer learning to sail on inland waters and now feel that the time is right to take to the sea. Of course, it is important to make sure that you have received adequate professional instruction and that you take heed of some basic advice.
Be aware of the tides
Check out the tide times and sizes and plan your first sea sailing trip accordingly. It may be best to go out for the first time when during a neap tide. This is because there will be less of a tidal range on these days and the current will be flowing slower. Think about where you plan to launch and land and make sure that your plans fit in with the conditions. For example, will your launch spot be appropriate at low tide or will you be able to land if the tide is high?
You should probably restrict your first trip to within a harbour or an estuary. You should not have to worry as much about navigation in a dinghy as you would have to in a keel boat, but it is still important that you understand the area in which you will be sailing.
Wherever you are heading, ensure that you have checked the weather reports and also have adequate equipment on-board. Ideally, you will have an outboard and, at the very least, you should have oars in case the wind drops. Flares are another necessity if you plan to travel out to sea and ensure you carry your mobile phone in a waterproof pack.