The NLSA is fortunate to own a residential coastal sailing base, The Old Custom House, at Brightlingsea in Essex, situated on the Colne estuary near Colchester. With a long maritime tradition of fishing and boatbuilding, Brightlingsea is also a centre for leisure boating, with superb local sailing in the Colne and Blackwater estuaries, ideal for RYA courses, race training and dinghy day sailing and cruising at all states of the tide.

Groups of up to 16 members can be accommodated at the NLSA bunkhouse, a converted historic building.  Accommodation is in simple but comfortable dormitories or two-person cabins, and the house is centrally heated with showers and drying facilities. Weekends are run on a group self-catering basis, with everyone contributing to the domestic activities. 

Brightlingsea NLSA

NLSA Dinghy Cruising Weekends 

NLSA runs several sailing weekends a year for members.  All sailing is supervised by a Senior Instructor and full safety cover is provided.  Sailing is usually day cruising to one of the many destinations on the Colne or Blackwater estuaries, although special activity weekends - for example tidal racing practice, or navigation, or weekends especially for families - are also run.

Dedicated racing also takes place at Brightlingsea during the Brightingsea Sailing Club's Pyefleet racing week in August each year.  For more information and the Pyefleet booking form, please go to the Pyefleet racing page.

An additional charge is payable for Brightlingsea weekends to cover catering and fuel costs. For further information on NLSA dinghy cruising weekends at Brightlingsea, contact the Bookings Coordinator, Christine Williams at

Boats at Brightlingsea

At the Brightlingsea base, members and their guests sail Wayfarers which can accommodate up to 4 people in their 16-foot length and are excellent sea boats with good stability.  They have an easily-reefed rig but can also provide exciting and lively performance sailing, being equipped with spinnakers and trapezes.

RYA Courses 

The sailing base is an RYA Training Centre and RYA sailing and powerboat courses are organised by our sister organisation, the North London Youth Sailing Trust (NLYST).  For further information on RYA courses at Brightlingsea, contact the Bookings Coordinator, Christine Williams at 

Use of the Base by other Organisations

When not in use by NLSA, the base and boats are also available to external sailing groups if under the supervision of an RYA Senior Instructor who has completed an induction at the Cente.  For further information contact North London Youth Sailing Trust at or visit .