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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Dinghy sailing

Get out on the water and navigate a small sailboat to experience sailing.

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What to expect

Dinghy sailing is all about travelling in small boats that are powered by the wind. Sailing dinghies have lots of moving parts, and they’re often sailed in pairs. The sails are a really important part of controlling the dinghy, but getting it to go in the right direction also involves using a rudder and the crew moving across the dinghy to help it balance.

Scout Adventures can run dinghy sailing and help people work towards their permits.

What you’ll learn

Dinghy sailing is a fun way to get active on the water. It also needs the crew to work together to keep everything on course. If your communication’s sorted, the rest should be plain sailing.

Fun facts

Sailing is an important part of history – the earliest evidence of sailing is over 7,000 years old. For years, it was important as one of the few ways to travel long distances.

Handy hints

  • Grab a hat. As you’re speeding through the wind, you’ll lose a lot of body heat through your head. If it’s sunny, it’s a good idea to protect your head too, and whatever the weather, you’ll be glad of something to keep your hair out of your face. Choose a hat that suits your style (and the weather) – anything from a baseball cap to a knitted bobble hat could work.
  • Make time for a brew. Fill a flask with a warm drink before you set sail, and you’ll be the most popular member of your crew. It’s useful to keep everyone nice and warm and to keep morale up as well.


You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
  • Check the weather forecast
Be safe in water:

Everyone should be able to swim 50 m wearing the clothing or equipment for the activity. Non-swimmers will need additional support.

Water can be dangerous - be aware of the risks.

The category of water depends on how safe the water is. Use our waterways directory to check.

Be sure to manage the group when near water, keeping everyone safe. 


Make sure that all equipment is fit for purpose and in good condition:

Everyone must wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid.

The instructor must make sure boats are seaworthy.

There are regulations you must follow if you are hiring a boat.


Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
  • The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group.

    • You don't need a permit for activities on Class C waters (safe, inland water less than 100 m wide).

    • Where the group is entirely members over the age of 18 the permit scheme does not apply, please follow the rule 9.8 adult groups.

You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
  • The centre/instructor should hold one of these: (If the provider is AALA exempt)
    • Royal Yachting Association - Senior Dinghy Instructor with appropriate endorsements
  • The provider must have public liability insurance.


Activity Permit Scheme

Dinghy Sailing

Class C Waters

Canal and River Licences

Recognition of RYA Training Centres


Dinghy sailing is a fun way to get active. Did people enjoy this way of moving? How did they have to move to successfully sail? People could think about how this is different to other ways of being active. Was dinghy sailing an easy way to be active? Do people enjoy different ways of being active?

Dinghy sailing also needed everyone to be a team player, especially if their dinghies held more than one person. Did everyone share the same goal? What did they try to achieve? How did people communicate with each other? Does anyone have any top tips for teamwork while dinghy sailing?

Dinghy sailing can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many outdoor centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group – make sure you give them plenty of notice.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Why not combine dinghy sailing with other requirements of the Sailing Staged Activity Badge? For example, identifying different types of sailing crafts or showing you can right a capsized dinghy?