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Off the Water

Sailability Centres rely on volunteer support.  Not being a sailor is no barrier to getting involved.  Full training is provided through the RYA Sailability Volunteer Support Scheme which facilitates training to assist you in the role you choose but also enables you to develop new skills to take on different roles if this is what you want.

On Shore
There is a lot involved on shore and most Sailability Centres operate from a committee structure where people take responsibility for different aspects of the organisation, this shares the load and allows individuals to become expert in their field.  You don’t have to be on the committee to volunteer but your support and guidance will come from the committee member who takes responsibility for the element of work you are involved in.  For example, if you are volunteering to help maintain the boats it is likely that you will be supported by the committee member who has overall responsibility for boat maintenance.


Providing a warm welcome is a key role in Centres.  You will be responsible for signing in sailors for sessions and talking to them about what they want to achieve during the session so that this information can be passed onto those people working out on the water.  Sometimes this role may include taking a small fee and handling cash.  In this role you are often the first point of contact for people who come to enquire about sailing or volunteering and you will advise them on the club and its facilities and how they can get involved.

Rigging and launching boats including safety boats
You don’t need to be able to sail to learn how to rig and launch boats.  There are a lot of boats to be rigged and de rigged before and after a session and not all the sailors will be able to do this without assistance.  Some boats are put in and out of the water using winches or tractors and you may want to learn how to do this. 

Moving and transferring sailors to their boats
Some sailors need the help of hoists to get in and out of their boats.  Being able to reassure and support sailors during the transfer is a vital role, especially when working with people who are new to the sport and may be quite nervous.

Typically sailing clubs can be off the beaten track and not close to public transport services. Some centres offer transport support to members.  In this role you could be co-ordinating minibuses and drivers or you may be driving yourself.

Hot drinks and cake are the fuel of most Sailability Centres and vital when sailors and volunteers come off the water cold and tired.  It is in the clubhouse over a cup of tea that people come together to talk about their experiences, learn from each other and make lifelong friendships.

Maintenance of boats and equipment
There are lots of boats and equipment that need to be maintained in good working order.  No Centre wants to loose time on the water because of broken boats and kit so volunteers with practical skills is essential.

Maintenance of buildings and boat parks
Similar to the role above and often joined up there is always work to be done to maintain buildings and the boat park.  This might be minor repairs and decorating, fence fixing or lawn mowing. 

Often a committee role this is someone who can keep a track of the accounts, deposit membership fees into the bank and generally ensure the financial viability of the centre.

This role keeps track of members’ details and when any subscriptions are due.

Management of volunteers
In this role you could be helping to recruit new volunteers, you might be involved in co-ordinating training to ensure volunteers have the skills they need.  Someone also needs to have responsibility for the volunteer rota’s to ensure that there are enough people to run sessions.

Public Relations and marketing
There is always work to be done to promote and market Sailability Centres.  This can be done in lots of different ways from holding events to attract new sailors or volunteers; maintaining social media channels; putting together leaflets, posters and flyers or getting articles and pictures in the local press.  Sometimes other organisations may ask representatives to come into their organisation to talk about Sailability.   

There are various laws that Sailability Centres must abide by.  These include: Criminal Records Checks; Environmental Health; Health and Safety; Safeguarding Children and vulnerable adults etc.  Centres will already have in place policies and procedures to ensure their compliance but someone needs to take the role for monitoring changes in legislation and making sure any necessary changes are made.

Health and Safety
There will be a number of checks that need to be carried out regularly to ensure that the premises and boats meet necessary health and safety standards.  Systems will be in place but often centres will have one person who is nominated to ensure that all necessary records and are kept up to date and available should they be required.  This could involve making sure that scheduled gas/electric/fire checks are carried out for example.

Most Sailability Centres rely on fundraising to enable them to provide affordable sessions.  Fundraising can be through holding events and coffee mornings or activities such as prize draws or quiz nights.  Volunteers are always needed to help run these events.  You might want to get involved in larger funding bids to Trusts or Charities to help generate income for your Centre.

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