Sailing at Lydney Yacht Club

Information for new (and existing) members 

Lydney is an exciting place to sail but it has significant and unusual challenges – the tides are very strong, there are some underwater hazards and Lydney dries out between tides.  For this reason practically all sailing is done in the direction of the tide, and a strict programme of sailing to fit in with tide times is at the heart of our sailing programme.

The sailing programme is displayed on the website, here is the link:

and each member should be sent a copy.  If you haven’t received yours please ask the membership secretary. 

Sailing events are usually the following:

Racing at Lydney.  These start one and a half hours before high water and finish shortly after high water.  There is a safety boat.  There are a number of racing events and cups can be won, which are given out at the annual presentation evening at Christmas. The tides mean that racing is more an attempt to get out round the course and back safely rather than beat other participants on time or by handicap and the club is far better known for its cruising prowess than its competitive racing edge.

Cruising at Lydney.  These are day sails around high water like the racing, but there is no safety boat. 

Novelty races at Lydney. There are a number of sailing games which are often very popular, like the Bullo Banger, Newnham Tea Clipper and others.  They are lots of fun and involve greater distances up river than the normal races.

Down channel cruises.  These usually last a weekend or more, involving sailing down to Bristol, Cardiff, Portishead, Chepstow or occasionally Weston Super Mare.  Cruisers, moored in the dock, and some wayfarers do the cruises.  Dinghy sailors usually camp, sleep rough on board or sponge a berth in a cruiser.  If you have a boat you wish to take down channel, then you can advertise for a crew if you need one.  If you have not got a lot of local experience you may prefer to ask for a more experienced crew.

Up river cruises.  Occasionally we schedule up river cruises, more suitable for dinghies, involving camping in a pill (or inlet) up the river Severn somewhere.  New members are encouraged to make themselves available as crew, or to take their own or a club dinghy.

Spontaneous events.  Sometimes people just feel like going sailing and will ask around to see if anyone else is interested or available.  If you hear of one of these events, ask if you can go along.

The summer down channel cruise. This is the annual week long cruising event which is the star of the sailing programme.  It involves sailing from Lydney usually to North Devon stopping at places like Cardiff, Barry, Watchet, Minehead, Porlock and Ilfracombe.  There are usually opportunities to crew on the summer cruise, either on one boat but in the past we have had ‘floating crew’ who go on different boats during the week.  This is a great opportunity to sail on a number of different boats and try them out.  You do not have to commit to the whole week, but if you are joining a boat on a given day you need to be prepared to travel to wherever the boat happens to be.  You need to tell the sailing secretary if you are interested in crewing on the summer cruise, or if you need crew for your boat.


At Lydney Yacht Club, whether or not the club has arranged the event, skippers are fully responsible for the wellbeing of their boat.  On a cruise, it is the decision of the skipper whether they wish to stay with the fleet or make other arrangements.  Skippers have the final say as to whether to accept a crew member.  Crew, of course, can leave a boat if they do not feel confident on it, at the earliest reasonable opportunity and without putting themselves or their skipper in danger.  Children are the responsibility of their parents – if parents are confident in letting their children go on a boat without them they must accept responsibility should there be an accident, however all boats should be insured for third parties and it may be possible to make a claim.  It should be noted however that in the 40 years this Yacht Club has been around we have not had a serious injury.

What should you do?

If you are new to sailing then there is usually a summer sailing course.  There are sailing courses available at other local clubs such as Bristol or other local sailing lakes.  However none of these are essential – at Lydney, the best approach is to make yourself available as crew for any event that appeals to you.  If there is a day sail then just turn up an hour before the start time and see if anyone can fit you in as crew.  When you feel confident you can take out the club mirror yourself on a race day when there is a light wind, and build up your experience from there.

A race is an ideal place for someone who has sailed before to start off ‘being a skipper’ at Lydney. If you are unsure of any aspect of the sail then talk to the safety boat crew and make sure they will be there to help you if anything goes wrong, for example, coming into the slip can be tricky and it’s good to have the safety boat at hand if you get swept past the pier.   If you don’t have your own boat, you can hire the club wayfarer or mirror. 

Experienced sailors:  If you are doing a cruise please advertise if you would like to have crew and what level of experience you need – or if you have a space for an inexperienced crew.

Finally – you need to be proactive:  Look at the programme and find out who is listed as running the event, if you have a telephone list, then call them and tell them you would like to crew or you would like to have crew. Otherwise call the sailing secretary, or any committee member whose number or email address you have.  Please be persistent.  When the weather is bad, or just no one feels like sailing that day, you may turn up for an event and find there’s no one there.  Or you may turn up hoping to crew and find that there isn’t a space.  Just keep at it and you will find there are many sailing opportunities, you can learn something every time and build up experience of our wonderful river over the years.  Good luck!

Compiled by Annabel Bowker-Dance

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