Sailing - Dinghy vs. Yacht

Dinghy Sailing vs. Yachting: Which One Should You Try?

The obvious difference between a dinghy and a yacht is the size. While it's true that you can get small yachts of 12 feet or less, they're still considerably larger than some of the bigger dinghies. Deciding which one to try first can be difficult, especially if you're keen to get out on the sea or buy yourself a beautiful new yacht. Here are some of the main things that you should consider when coming to a decision about which to introduce yourself to first.

  1. Getting wet

Whichever one you try, you're likely to get a little bit wet in some form or fashion. Whether the dinghy is letting water in or you're getting a lot of spray from outside the boat, you must remember that it is a water sport after all.

A lot of people think that sailing a yacht consists of getting behind the helm and taking to the sea. However, this is certainly not true, and you still have to wear protective gear on a yacht, especially when you're starting out.

You are, however, less likely to get wet on a yacht than a dinghy, but remember that each experience is different.

Sailing a Dinghy in the sea

  1. Clothing

If you're in a dinghy, you'll need to wear a lifejacket. If you're in a yacht, you will also need to wear a lifejacket.

While it's a popular misconception that you can't really 'fall out' of a yacht, this isn't true. You're further away from the water in a yacht than a dinghy, and dinghies are certainly lighter than yachts, but this doesn't mean that you won't encounter accidents in both types of boat.

The clothing is very much the same whether you're sailing in a dinghy or a yacht. You should wear warm clothing, covered by waterproofs to keep yourself dry. When choosing footwear, be sure to select a comfortable pair of shoes which are non-marking and non-slip.

Group of Yachts sailing on the sea.

  1. Learning the important things about sailing

This is the deciding factor for many people when choosing whether to sail a dinghy or a yacht first. Many people report that they are able to learn a lot more by sailing a dinghy first. Although there are differences between sailing dinghies and yachts, many of the skills are transferable.

You will be able to learn the basics of the wind and the movement on the water in a dinghy, especially since you can feel more obvious motion. You're less likely to feel intimidated by a large vessel too, so you'll probably feel more relaxed and comfortable.

  1. Making mistakes

Most sailors made lots of mistakes when they first started sailing, and if you're going down the self-teaching route, it's important to consider any potential errors.

Taking an RYA course or learning alongside a qualified instructor or experienced sailor can be a lot easier, but if you don't have this luxury, you might simply have to use a good book and the help of the online sailing communities, such as forums and Facebook groups.

For those learning alone, choosing a dinghy is the best option. Typically, the worst thing that can happen in a dinghy is capsizing and getting yourself soaked. Mistakes made on a yacht while alone at sea could be fatal.