While cruising clubs are prevalent around the coast, as you move inland a big boat sailors interests are confined to jumping in the car at weekends
and heading seawards, right? Believe it or not, no!
Cruising clubs are actually everywhere, and play a huge role in getting
more people yachting, wherever they live in the Midlands.
Some are, or have excellent relationships with, RYA Training Centres to
offer access to a range of practical and theory training courses so you can keep learning even when you’re not on the water.
Typically, cruising clubs will arrange a programme of trips for members as well as facilitating crew finding for boat owning members. Activities can vary from weekend charters, cross Channel trips to the French coast, meandering around the Greek Islands, cruising to the Baltic and even going long-haul to the Caribbean. Some clubs also take part in racing events such as the annual Round the Island Race.
Strong speaker and social programmes are a key part of the cruising club social life too, with most of the clubs have a similar offering of speaker evenings and social events during the autumn and winter.
Prominent maritime figures as Chay Blyth and Tom Cunliffe are amongst those to have graced Midlands cruising clubs in recent years. Clubs also invite experts from the marine industry to talk about practical subjects, such as electronic navigation and meteorology and welcome individuals to share their experiences.
There are seven RYA Affiliated cruising clubs in the landlocked Midlands and some of the region's dinghy clubs have cruising sections. All clubs welcome anyone with an interest in 'big boat' sailing whatever their experience level. All provide training, some are RYA Training Centres in their own right whilst others work with local providers to facilitate the courses. From North to South...
Stafford Coastal Cruising Club (www.staffordcoastalcruising.org)
Based in Stafford, this club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays, September through to April at Stafford Boat Club Clubhouse. Members have an interest in both sailing and motor boat cruising. Cruises in the UK are organised during the spring and summer.
Trent Offshore Group (TOGS) (www.trent-offshore-group.co.uk)
This Nottingham-based club organise a series of social and training activities throughout the year. On the water, both 'Trainex' and 'Sailex' activities are organised in the UK and overseas, the first to develop skills and the second to enjoy a relaxing time afloat.
New Parks Sailing Association (www.sailnpca.org)
Centred on Leicester, NPCA meets on the third Tuesday each month, September through to April at The Royal Oak in Kirby Muxloe. Cruising is organised during the spring and summer for sailing and motor boats in the Solent and on the Norfolk Broads.
Heart of England Offshore Cruising Association (HOEOCA) (www.hoeoca.org.uk)
In Warwickshire, HOEOCA meets on the first Tuesday (social) and third Thursday (speaker) at the Sports Association Clubhouse in Balsall Common. HOEOCA organises three rallies each year, including one overseas, and also take part in offshore racing activities
Bromsgrove Boaters (www.bromsgroveboaters.co.uk)
Bromsgove Rugby Club is the venue for Boaters speaker meetings which normally take place on the third Wednesday each month. Sailing weekends are organised in the spring and autumn and there is usually a longer summer cruise.
Penguin Cruising Club (www.penguin.org.uk)
The Penguins are a virtual club whose sole annual meeting is their AGM held in Colwall in Herefordshire. Much of their sailing takes place on the west coast of Scotland but they also organise trips to other locations, mainly overseas.
Hereford Sailing Club (www.herefordsailingclub.org.uk)
On the far west of the region, HSC is a small club with it’s own boat. Activities are based around Auburn Lass, a Sigma 39. She is over wintered in Milford Haven and then an annual itinerary is planned with charters and crewing opportunities being made available to members.