Cost is the real barrier to sailing
Your articles ‘The Future of UK Sailing’ and ‘Instant Sailing’ (YM, October 2018) prompt me to write: the first is full of information but misses the point; and the second is just not going to happen.
When I started sailing things were much simpler and cheaper. A low-tech traditional yacht could be maintained cheaply, and mud berths and half-tide moorings were cheap. Equipment was basic: a chart, compass and an appreciation of what the tide and weather were doing, and off we went, sailing from the Solent to the Channel Islands with no problems. Indeed, Joshua Slocum went around the world in a similar fashion.
I started in dinghies and saw offshore sailing as a camping-style adventure. Nowadays it’s far more sophisticated, and thereby lies part of the problem.
If I were starting now, it all looks very daunting and prohibitively expensive. Your magazine is bristling with adverts for every gadget and gizmo and the unintended impression is that people need these things.
It is also expensive to own a boat. Marina fees are expensive, and I don’t think it’s necessarily down to profitmaking. These businesses have to comply with rules and regulations. Nothing is cheap. Then there is the maintenance, insurance, upgrading and replacing equipment. Sailing is an expensive hobby and there is a bigger divide now in this country between those who have money to spare and those who don’t.
It has always been the case that most boats are barely used. This was the driver in setting up Boat Buddys (www.boatbuddys.co.uk). This is the kind of initiative that YM should support as it provides a route for potential sailors to get started.
To get people into sailing we first need to get them into boats and that is where the non-profit Boat Buddys has been helping, unaided, for years.
Lower prices would tempt people to take up sailing