Hi. Some suggestions, options...
The RYA courses are a very good way to get the theory and practical skills you need. You pay the fees
, therefore you can ask any and every question you want and you'll get a thorough grounding that's not so easily or so quickly picked up by informal sailing with friends and acquaintances. However, any sailing or boating
experience you can get that way is also very valuable, just different. RYA courses are available at evening or part-time day courses all over the country, try your local colleges, even far inland. To go along with the theory courses are a series of practical courses where you go out on boats and do all the regular stuff you'll have to do in sailing and being responsible for your own boat. The courses start at 'Competent crew', go on to 'Day Skipper' then 'Coastal skipper' up to 'Yachtmaster'. You will also need to do a course on marine radio
and gain the certificate of competence in marine radio
operation. This is a legal
requirement without which you are not supposed to have a marine radio on board. It takes about a day to do, so not too bad. They also do short courses on diesel engine maintenance
The RYA practical courses are available at many ports
up and down the land. One company running the practical courses (from 1 day to a week or so on a yacht) I can recommend from personal experience is in Falmouth - 'Cornish Cruising', they have a website. Nice cruising area, 50 miles south of Plymouth and a great sailing centre, lots of boatyards
, several marinas
in the area and generally lots to watch, observe and learn from. But, Falmouth marina would charge you roughly £3000 to £4000 per year for berthing depending on exactly where within the marina your chosen berth would be and how long your boat is. Charges are usually per metre. And that's if there's no waiting list to get in.
is another possibility. Again, price
and availability are decided by the desireability of the area and the pressure of numbers. Some places have long waiting lists and getting a mooring
is very difficult. Coming down in price
, you come to half tide berths - those that more or less dry out at low water
. This means your boat must be able to take the ground without falling over, one of the reasons for the popularity of yachts with 'bilge' keels in this country. And then there are places you can simply anchor
and stay several nights, several weeks, even months, sometimes cheaply, sometimes free. For instance, we used to anchor
in Falmouth harbour a short dinghy
row from the main part of the town for £6 a night. On the visitor's pontoon the fee would have been at least double.
With 15k to spend, you will be able to get a very good boat for yiour requirements - but you will need to look carefully and be patient. There are some amazing bargains to be had, particularly if you have the skills to bring a run down, slightly neglected boat up to a good standard of finish. Getting into major restoration
is a whole other ball game
and may mean a long and expensive period orf working on the boat, paying out boatyard fees
and not going sailing. I'd recommend a fibreglass yacht and not really less than 30 feet overall. It's not just a matter of the living space, it's also to do with the weight the boat can carry. Too small a boat is easy to weigh down well beyond anything the designer
intended her to carry to the point where the poor thing is as lively as a heavily obese labrador and just about as unpleasant to watch. A recent scan of the boats for sale
listings shows quite a few boats that would do nicely and at a range of prices from around £8,000 right up to your limit. Prudence would, of course say, spend £10k or so and stash the rest for whatever additions and refurbishments you may decide are necessary. There really are so many boats out there for sale
that it is a buyers market. If you have cash, you may shock yourself at the reduction in offer people will accept after they've had the boat up for sale
for a year or so.
And a couple of questions. How are you going to earn a living? And how much of your life and your possessions are you actually going to load onto the boat?