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Dinghy sailing

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

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 only 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 50m 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 100m 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 :

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?