Learn to sail on a classic boat

Learn to sail on an classic wooden boat with a traditional gaff rig. Transform yourself into a useful crew member as you take the RYA Competent Crew course on board Golden Vanity.

Golden Vanity is a traditional wooden classic sailing boat. She is great for learning to sail on. She doesn't tip as much as more modern boats; there is plenty of space to learn in, to sit, stand, chat with fellow crew mates and generally watch the world go by; there are lots of ropes and sails to play with. At the end of the week you will be pretty good at tying knots and coiling ropes.

Down below she has a warm woody feel that never fails to charm.

She was built in 1908 for a renowned marine artist who used the boat to capture some of the last days of working sailing boats. You can read more about her history fascinating history here.

The course is hands on and you will get to do everything. You do not need to have any previous sailing experience. You will learn all sorts of traditional seamanship skills that are relevant to both modern yachts and tall ships of old with blocks and tackles.

Accommodation and food are on board and we will aim to visit somewhere different each day.

You can come and do the course by yourself or with friends. If your friends/partner wants to do the Day Skipper course then they can do it at the same time you do your Competent Crew.

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This course is ideal if you have done little or no sailing before. You will become a useful crew member and an asset to anyone you go sailing with. Sleeping and eating on board (apart from perhaps the odd evening meal out in a pub or restaurant if you choose!) you will learn lots about sailing, life on board and how fun it is. You will stay at a different marina or anchorage or harbour each night.

Minimum Pre Course Experience: None required.

Ability after the Course: You will be a useful crew member!

Course Content: Basic seamanship and helmsmanship.

The course is five days and can be taken over 5 consecutive days or over 2 weekends (a short and a long).

Golden Vanity is a Mumble Bee class of Brixham Sailing Trawler.

She was built in 1908 and is 39ft on deck and 53ft when you count her bowsprit.

She has a traditional gaff rig, meaning the main sail has four sides to it. She also has 3 sails in front of the mast and a topsail. So 5 sails to play with!

The boat is made out of oak frames and Oregon pine planks. To stop water coming in a loosely twisted cotten like material called oakum is jammed tightly in between the planks and then sealed over with a putty.

The mast is made of douglas fir and is hollow.

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In the front part of the boat there is a lovely whale back shaped hatch that leads down some steps into an area where there are 6 cosy bunks. Stepping back from here you come into the saloon where there is a galley, a table and another comfy bunk. Back further past a solid golden oak beam is the chart table and two bunks one each side. Then up some steps and you are in the cockpit standing next to the tiller.

There is also a spacious heads up forward next to where the solid (actually it is hollow) douglas fir mast comes down through the deck.

There is hot water and heating for the cooler months of the year.

Each bunk has a reading light. There are plenty of USB charging points dotted around and when you go into a marina there is a socket on board that provides normal 240V mains power.

You will be sharing spaces with other people. Golden Vanity has 8 bunks (plus skipper and mate's bunk) however on an RYA course there will not be more than 5 doing the course.

Except for supper on the evening you join the boat, we cater on board for all meals. We provide food that is healthy and nutritious, including salads, vegetables, white and wholemeal bread, chicken, lean minced beef, salmon, museli, cereal and yoghurt. In fact, just the kind of food that you might buy yourself. For snacks there is plenty of fruit, but also a supply of chocolate and biscuits.

If you have any special dietary requirements, be it vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, or allergies, we can normally accommodate these. Just let us know when you fill out your booking form.

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You will sail mainly in the Solent. [Here is a map of the Solent]. You may go out of the Solent as far as Poole to the West and Chichester to the East but there are plenty of places to visit within the Solent without going to the same place twice in a week.

The Solent is a great place to learn to sail and get qualified. There are numerous harbours, bays, creeks, rivers, marinas and anchorages making it ideal to practice a whole range of yachting skills. Because of the large volume of other boats and busy shipping activity, the Solent is always fun and interesting.

The Isle of Wight provides some protection from the worst of the Channel weather, meaning the sea within the Solent can stay relatively flat compared with conditions in the open sea. But at the same time the tides in the Solent provide Day Skipper students with an excellent challenge to their seamanship and navigational skills.

Golden Vanity is based in Shamrock Quay Marina, Southampton. Getting to Shamrock Quay is very easy. It's about an 8 minute taxi ride from Southampton Central Station, or 15 minutes from Southampton Airport if you are coming from abroad. If you arrive by car there is plenty of free parking and there is security 24/7.

Occasionally a course may start at somewhere other than Shamrock Quay. It may be very close to Shamrock Quay or in Hamble. We will give you plenty of notice when this is the case.

We find it is better if you arrive the evening before your course starts. This way you can settle in and start getting to know the boat, the skipper and your crew mates before the course really gets under way. If this is not possible then you need to be at the boat by 8.00am on the first day of the Sailing Course.

You can expect to get away by 5/5.30pm on the final day of your course. If you are catching a train we recommend you do not book a ticket in advance as we can’t guarantee you will get away at 5pm on the dot. It may be a bit earlier it may be a bit later.

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Click here to read about Golden Vanity's interesting past.

How was Golden Vanity constructed

Have a look here to see how Golden Vanity was built. Over 100 years ago...


In addition to RYA courses we offer fun hands on holidays cruises on Golden Vanity


The price varies depending on whether weekends are involved or not.

Included is all food on board, use of oilskins if required, all fuel/gas, and all safety equipment.

To return to the main Golden Vanity page click here.

Golden Vanity Competent Crew - Dates


Competent Crew starts evening of 5th April
Thursday - Monday
£ 840
Competent Crew starts evening of 16th April
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Competent Crew starts evening of 21st April
2 day w/e + 3 day w/e
£ 830
Competent Crew starts evening of 23rd April
Monday - Friday
£ 750

Competent Crew starts evening of 7th May
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Competent Crew starts evening of 29th May
Tuesday - Saturday
£ 750

Competent Crew starts evening of 3rd September
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Competent Crew starts evening of 17th September
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Competent Crew starts evening of 24th September
Monday - Friday
£ 750

Competent Crew starts evening of 1st October
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Competent Crew starts evening of 8th October
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Competent Crew starts evening of 15th October
Monday - Friday
£ 750
Contact us
0203 006 3717
Our Locations

Shamrock Quay

William Street



SO14 5QL


c/o Cruising Association

CA House

1 Northey Street


E14 8BT

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