Baltic Wharf Sailing Club

Sail in Bristol's Docks with the Baltic Wharf Sailing Club

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What happens at the Bristol BWSC? Try sailing & Join Up!

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Visit BWSC & Try Sailing before joining...
BWSC Boats on our Bristol Sailing Pontoon

BWSC runs a scheme where non-members can visit Baltic Wharf and arrange, where possible, to sail with an established member of the club before they need to become a member themselves.

The first visit to the club is often just to have a look around, meet some members and to answer any questions you might have. If this goes well, we should be able to arrange for you to try club racing with one of the members you've been introduced to at the next club event.

This is a great way to find out about Baltic Wharf Sailing Club without any commitment, which can be particularly useful if you've just learned to sail and are wondering what to do next. You'll get some club racing experience, a chance to steer a boat and plenty of opportunities to meet the club's diverse membership.

To find out more about trying club sailing at Baltic Wharf, please contact the BWSC secretary at any time to make the necessary arrangements.

Hopefully, following this introductory period, you'll decide to join the club. The club's New Member Contact, who's generally also available during visiting days, will then be able to make arrangements for you to become a full member at BWSC.

This offer is open to any adult subject to availability of suitable helms and the agreement & discretion of the club secretary. All club sailing takes place only with the agreement of and at the discretion of the BWSC Committee, its race officers and volunteering helms in line with club rules. Baltic Wharf Sailing & Cruising Club accepts no liability for any damage or loss to persons or property incurred as a result of any club activity. If the weather is bad we may need to reschedule.


For those who know how to race & just want to join and turn up...

If you already know how to race & are ready to join the club - all you need to do is send us your membership form. When this has been processed you're ready to sail. The New Member Contact is then available to provide a brief club induction with regards to safety & the location of the facilities and to help where needed. The club secretary is able to advise regarding any membership queries.


How much does membership & boat storage cost?

If joining after August 1st 2016, membership fees are half price.

  • Membership fees for 2016...
    • Adult (18+) - 90.00
    • Over 65+ - 60.00
    • Students & Cadets - 45.00
  • Add boat storage & Floating Harbour navigation licence for 2016 - subject to space & waiting lists...
    • BWSC Open Air Locked Compound - 110.00
    • Dutch Barn - 110.00

Membership Form downloads...

Membership forms are available as Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word documents. Page two of the form lists the Treasurer's address where the form and any accompanying documents & payments should be sent.


What happens when I join?
Club Sailing to the Centre of Bristol

When the paperwork is signed & sealed, that's pretty much all there is to do before you can carry on sailing after using up our three free try club sailing days offer.

All of the club facilities & boats are then available for you to use as a member. It really is that quick & easy to start sailing Baltic Wharf!

If you haven't already managed to come along & meet us, we'll try and make contact through our New Member Contact. They're available to answer any questions & officially welcome you to the club.

From there, our members are used to helping new members get started - they'll be able to introduce you to other members and tell you more about BWSC. We're a sociable, family friendly club and meet at/outside the Cottage after sailing, which is a great way to quickly feel at home.


I've not got a boat, can I join & use club boats to race?
BWSC Club Boat - Wanderer

We've a selection of club boats available for any member to book via the website, or OODs on the day. So anyone can sail whether or not they want to own their own boat.

Our club boats are a very cheap way of sailing. For a very small donation to the club, starting at 5 a day for a single hander, you can take out a boat without having to pay storage, launching fees & insurance costs! Helping to keep sailing easily accessible to everyone while the donations are invested straight back into the club.

If you'd like more information about club boats & their general availability before you join, please Contact Us at any time.


Do I need any equipment, even if I've not got a boat?
Club Member Racing

The minimum equipment you'll need to sail is a Buoyancy Aid or Life Jacket suited to your weight & ability to swim. Although we have some available for club visitors you'll eventually need to procure your own. Chandelrys, such as Force 4, a short walk or drive down the dock from us, or websites such as Sailboats.co.uk are generally a good start & can supply them for around 30.

During colder periods the club also requires all sailors to wear either a Winter grade Wetsuit or a Dry Suit with clothing appropriate to the conditions and event duration. This is essential from a personal safety point of view when the water temperature is low.

Second hand equipment can be invaluable to the club sailor. However, if there's one thing we don't recommend re-using - it's dad's old buoyancy aid. After a few years they become less buoyant, especially when well used & sunned. Some older designs can also have a tendency to fall off during a capsize, rendering them unsafe for use now that better alternatives are available. A new one will be an invaluable investment and can be used for other water-sports too.


Do I just send a membership form? - What about qualifications & boat insurance?
BWSC OOD Race Officers

The form's pretty much it, it's really easy to join up & start sailing!

If you've just started dinghy sailing & are keen to start sailing solo right away then you'll really need to have completed at least an RYA National Sailing Scheme Level 2 certificate. We ask this just to make sure all helms racing know the same basics of sailing to help keep racing at the BWSC safe & simple. Don't worry too much if you don't have this yet, we've often helms looking for willing crew, (hopefully they'll let you helm a bit as-well,) to get you started.

RYA Sailing courses are available through the Bristol Sailing School, conveniently some of our members are also instructors there in their spare time, so you might be persuaded to try sailing with the club by one of them.

If you've arranged to keep a boat with us you'll also need to include a photocopy of your dinghy's insurance certificate as proof of third party cover.

Insurance is cheap & easy to get. Pretty much all insurers offer, which happens to be the minimum needed to sail with the BWSC, a third party indemnity of 5 million & doctors fees for the full crew of your boat while racing.

To give a rough idea of the cost of insurance, most fully comprehensive policies held by members are generally between 25 - 65 per annum.

Many of our existing members will be able to help you find good insurance cover & the best value policy for your boat.

Insurance is a requirement for all Water Sports in Bristol. It's also nice to know that if, in a very rare event, your boat's damaged then it's easily fixed!


Storing a boat in Bristol with the sailing club...
Boats racing in the Floating Harbour

If you're up for some regular Bristol Sailing we've got our own secure lock up as well as offering massive discounts on storage arranged, at the start of the year, in the Harbour Master's storage compounds.

For more information & an availability check please contact us, any time, via the Contact Us page.

Just to make sure everyone's happy the club requires all boats to have a valid insurance policy when on club premises & on the water, see here for insurance information.


The form says I might have to do some 'OOD duties'...
Tom in the club Motor Boat

As the club's run by it's members we need an hand to run races & events. OOD 'duties' are actually really simple and nothing to worry about.

Unless you join early in the year you won't generally end up on the OOD lists, so you're probably off the hook for your first year of membership.

Every year members spend a few hours, for one to two races, helping us set out buoys, (most members over 18 eventually learn to drive the motor-boat,) raise the flags and write down some race times. The OOD team are also available to help assist troubled sailors.

We won't send you out to do all this by yourself & without practice!
We use a system of OOD#1s and OOD#2s... OOD#1 will be a long standing member of the club who can pretty much organise & run a race by themselves as well as drive the motor boat. OOD#2's generally a newer member, as this is a great place to see how a race is arranged and to see how other member's sail. Pretty much everyone tends to feel confident enough to become an OOD#1 within a few years of club membership & some free training!

Once you've joined up there is a whole page dedicated to OODs and running races for beginners in the Member's Area. OODs are also a fantastic way to understand racing & how to get the best out of your boat - so there's a little incentive to have a go.


Where is the club & and is it easy to get to?
Club boats sailing clost to the Matthew in Bristol Harbour.

The club's just a short drive, walk (a nice circular route around the harbour,) or bus journey from the Centre of Bristol. Often we'll sail right back up to the centre!

We've a map at the bottom of the Contact Us page which should best demonstrate where we, and the car park, are.


Do I need to be able to swim to sail?

Although we have a powerboat to assist people in trouble; to help towards keeping club sailing safe in extreme circumstances (such as multiple capsizes in a race,) BWSC expects all crews to be able to recover from a capsize and/or a man overboard situation without outside assistance where possible - as covered in RYA National Sailing Scheme Level 2. For this to happen, sailors will need at least basic experience of swimming.

If you are a non-swimmer, please contact the club secretary for further advice.

A non-swimmer may act as shore support during an event, but will need to wear a suitable auto-inflating life jacket while near the water, slipway and hoist areas.


I don't know how to race - does this matter?

Not at all. No prior knowledge of racing is needed.

If you've just learned to sail, we recommend reading a few basic racing rules before heading out - there's a nice A3 poster on the wall of the clubhouse to help with this. We are, however, quite relaxed about rules for new members; we all know it takes time to learn to sail the boat well, let alone worry about racing rules. We'll run through one or two safety notices / rights of way as part of the club induction by the new member contact to get things started.


I can sail an Yacht, do I still need RYA Level 2?

If you've not previously sailed a dinghy regularly, then yes. There are quite a few different skills required to those on an Yacht; so we do ask that helms have an RYA Level 2 dinghy sailing certificate if you want to immediately start sailing solo right away.


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Find out more about Baltic Wharf Sailing Club in Bristol. How to join, about the club & what happens next? Go sailing!