The skills and experience you need to take up dinghy cruising will depend on your previous experience of boats, your skills in related outdoor activities and the places you plan to sail.
Regardless of your sailing experience, if any, a good place to start is by sailing with others. Members with or without boats are welcome at DCA rallies. Those with boats will find help with launching and recovery and all will have many opportunities to ask questions and watch what others do. Members without boats may receive an invitation to sail with someone but it is always up to the skipper whether he wants extra crew or not and this may well depend on weather and sailing conditions.
It is a good idea to link up with other members in your local area if you can. Even if there are no members near you, if you ask around at your local sailing club you may find, hidden among the racers, people who enjoy our kind of sailing and who may well be happy to share their experience with you.
The DCA does not offer training; indeed, a great many excellent sailors have never had formal training. Courses can however provide a good introduction to sailing. In the UK, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) oversees formal sail training. The courses most relevant to dinghy cruisers are:
While courses can provide a good introduction, nothing will truly develop your skills and competence except time spent on the water. As you gain in confidence you will want to tackle more challenging conditions, once again, sailing with others at DCA rallies can provide great opportunities. Don't hesitate to ask the rally organiser if the venue is suitable for less experienced sailors.
We'll leave you with Anthony's advice: "Start as soon as possible. You'll always regret not having started earlier."
To find out more about starting dinghy cruising read:
You could also borrow these booklets from the Library which include articles from past DCA bulletins and journals: