New Horizon Sailing

Learn to Sail - take an RYA Training Course in Beautiful Scotland

Experienced yachtsmen and beginners can benefit from sailing tuition and take an RYA course in a relaxed but professional environment.

New Horizon Sailing is an Accredited RYA Training Centre offering these practical courses - Start Yachting, Competent Crew, Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper. We operate in the best Sailing Areas on a top quality yacht with experienced and mature Instructors. Combine learning new skills, gaining an RYA Training Certificate and completing RYA Qualifying Passages with a great holiday.

Whether or not the week is classified as training, everybody can participate in the running of the boat from the essential basics of sound boat management and deck work through to full passage planning and watch leadership. In particular, we want you to feel comfortable and relaxed regardless of your previous sailing experience.
You will learn in a wide range of situations including close quarter berthing, anchoring, picking up buoys and sail trimming as well as navigation in tidal waters, passage planning and night sailing.

Although we encourage guests to stretch themselves, complete beginners should chat with us before joining a "milebuilder" programme or one of the longer cruises.

There is an emphasis on relaxation and fun because most of us learn more quickly when having a good time.

“Fantastic Experience. This was indeed a wonderful experience. Richard, our skipper, took time to explain the basics and bring us to a standard of the Start Yachting Practical. I am now excited about sailing and will be back to take the Competent Crew course.”
Duncan (Beginner)

What does RYA recognition mean?

RYA LogoIt means that you can expect to be taught by an experienced skipper or instructor aboard a seaworthy, safe, well maintained and suitable craft, on courses within the RYA’s proven training schemes. Qualifications earned on RYA courses are recognised and valued in most parts of the world. Each RYA practical centre is inspected regularly to ensure that training craft and instructors meet the standards of the RYA, and where relevant, also the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The RYA may also carry out spot inspections during courses to ensure the level of tuition and the condition of the equipment remains consistently high over time.

What RYA courses do we teach?

The Start Yachting Practical Course
This two-day course provides a short introduction to sail cruising for complete novices. By the end of the course you will have experienced steering a yacht, sail handling, ropework and be aware of safety on board. You can gain a Start Yachting qualification on any of our trips even if it's not classified as a RYA Training week.

The Competent Crew Course
This course is for beginners (there is no pre-course requirement) and those who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers. By the end of the course you should be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day-to-day routines on board. The minimum course duration is five days, but at New Horizon Sailing it will more commonly be over six days. If you have previously completed the Start Yachting course, the Competent Crew course can be completed in three or four days.

The Day Skipper Practical Sail Cruising Course
This course gives you the chance to take charge on short passages under instruction. You will concentrate on pilotage, boat handling, seamanship and navigation. Before taking the course, you should know theory to the level of the RYA Day Skipper shorebased course, have spent at least 5 days at sea and sailed a minimum of 100nm (nautical miles), including 4 night hours. After the course you will be able to skipper a sailing boat under 15m in daytime in familiar waters.

The Coastal Skipper Practical Sail Cruising Course
This is an advanced  course for those with considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation, wanting to undertake coastal passages by day and night. Before attending, you should have spent at least 15 days at sea, of which 2 days as skipper, sailed a minimum of 300nm, including 8 night hours, and know theory to the level of the RYA Coastal Skipper Shorebased course. Each trainee will skipper more challenging passages and learn more about passage planning, pilotage by day and night, boat handling, safety and emergency situations.

Preparation for the Yachtmaster® Coastal & Yachtmaster® Offshore exams
The Yachtmaster® license leads to a commercial qualification and is obtainable only by exam. We can help you prepare for the practical exam with a week of practice aboard our yacht or by placing an experienced instructor aboard your own boat.

Our Milebuilder or Explorer weeks are ideal opportunities to gain experience, including RYA Qualifying passages on some trips.

Own Boat Tuition
We are able to place an experienced Instructor aboard your boat for bespoke tuition, which can include close quarter manouevring, yachtmaster preparation, any of the RYA Practical Courses, sail trimming or sometimes just practicing as a husband and wife team.

“A lovely atmosphere on board and training well matched to our different sailing experience. Many thanks for a really excellent week.”
Chris (Day Skipper)

Roping Off

Why choose New Horizon Sailing for your RYA course?

We know that there are many other RYA Training Centres and that you must have good reason to choose us.

  • Courses are conducted on a yacht which offers a level of comfort, quality, character and equipment. which is substantially higher than can be found in many other Training Centres.
  • Courses are run on the beautiful West Coast of Scotland i.e. in an area considered amongst the most rewarding and scenic sailing areas in the world.
  • Courses are delivered by experienced and mature Instructors who know the yacht and the area and want you to not only succeed but also to have a great time aboard.
  • Courses are normally over six, rather than the standard five, days. This gives you time not only to repeat and practice, but also to enjoy the area and the yacht.
  • Certain dates in the Programme are dedicated to RYA Practical training which allows for individuals and small groups with similar interests to come along and enjoy good company, good food and great sailing. As we catch up with the backlog of demand from our regular guests, post Covid, weeks dedicated to RYA Training are limited, but we expect this to ease from 2024.
  • But you don't have to leave friends and family at home when you take your course. Many participants are part of a group or family chartering the whole boat. With a quality yacht in this sailing area and with experienced Instructors and hosts aboard, it means that everybody can enjoy a wonderful holiday even if only one or two of the group are receiving formal RYA tuition.

Please go to the Programme page to find RYA Practical Training Course and dates and locations:

What are the New Horizon Sailing Milebuilder Programmes?

Milebuilder programmes are designed for people who want to learn new skills, enjoy covering long distances and/or want to build their logbook miles and “qualifying passages” working towards their RYA Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster® qualification.
The RYA requires that candidates for Yachtmaster® Coastal and Yachtmaster® Offshore have accumulated an appropriate level of sea time on. For Coastal this is thirty days, of which two as skipper, 800 miles and twelve night hours.
For Offshore it is 50 days, of which five as skipper, 2500 miles, five passages over 60 miles including two overnight and two as skipper.
Our Sailing Areas are ideal for both long passage making and for practising boat handling.
Depending on your current experience, you will be given the opportunity to prepare passage plans as well as skipper the yacht, including on overnight passages.
On a milebuilder programme it will be the tides and the weather which dictate the daily routine and this may limit time ashore.
Stormdancer provides an ideal platform for long passage making.

Please go to the Programme page for Milebuilder and Explorer dates.


Plan the Day
Plan the Day

Lunch Stop
Lunch Stop

Award Ceremony
Family Award Ceremony

“Far exceeded my expectations”
Julian, Skipton

“We had a really brilliant time and would like to thank you for being such a patient and helpful teacher.”
Alex, Leeds

“This is an excellent Training Centre”
Jenny, Norfolk

"Thank you for another lovely holiday and spending time teaching me to sail. I appreciate all your support. I particularly enjoyed being able to explore Orkney."
Anne, Oxford

“Didn’t feel like a Training Course. Really enjoyable and learnt more than I expected to. Steve taught us to teach ourselves.”
Catherine, Belfast

“Excellent boat and skipper. The amount of sailing was just right, with time to relax as well.”
Tim, Salisbury

“I have to say I thought it was pretty spot on, also considering the fact that all of us hadn't sailed together before and didn't know each other”
Andrew, Malmo

"Thank you again for a great experience in Scotland. It turned out to be the best Scotland experience for a first timer.  I enjoyed the sailing but it was made even better to learn about Scottish history and culture!  I am definitely hoping to come back for more sailing in the north."
Yosuke - Tokyo