The NLSA is fortunate to own a residential coastal sailing base, Brightlingsea Coastal Sailing Centre, at Brightlingsea in Essex, situated on the Colne estuary. 

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.

Groups of up to 16 members can be accommodated at the Centre, a converted historic building. Accommodation is in bunk beds in simple but comfortable dormitories or in 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 and their guests.  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, and special activity weekends are also run - for example tidal racing practice, or navigation, or weekends especially for families.

Brightlingsea's location on a creek near the mouth of the River Colne gives easy access at all states of the tide to a large and sheltered tidal sailing area with extensive areas of sheltered water in the Colne suitable for beginners even in relatively strong winds, but trips further afield also provide challenging sailing for the more experienced.  For day sailing there are many destinations within easy reach in most combinations of tide and wind.

Dedicated racing takes place at Brightlingsea during the Brightlingsea 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.

A charge is payable for Brightlingsea weekends to cover catering and the Centre's operating 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 guests sail Wayfarers which can accommodate up to four 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

Brightlingsea Coastal Sailing Centre organises a wide range of residential and non-residential RYA dinghy and powerboat courses and there are discounts for NLSA members.  

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 the 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 Centre.  For further information contact the Bookings Coordinator, Christine Williams, at or visit

Brightlingsea 2019 Sailing Schedule

The NLSA has an exciting package of activities planned for this year at our Coastal Sailing Base at Brightlingsea with up to 28 days of sailing, all listed on the 2019 Information & Booking form, downloadable above. If you require any further information, please email the Bookings Co-ordinator, Christine Williams, at

Coaching Weekends: Introduction to Coastal Sailing and Level 2 Coastal Endorsement

The Introduction to Coastal Sailing coaching weekends are tailored to give newer members a gentle introduction to the differences between sailing on inland waters and at the coast. Two coaching weekends are planned this year.

During these weekends, experienced members familiar with sailing at Brightlingsea will be present to offer guidance and there will be additional instructors on hand to give further support if needed.

Those sailing for the first time in coastal waters will have the opportunity to practise their Level 2 skills in tidal conditions so that by the end of their weekend the Coastal Water section of their Level 2 certificate can be signed off as completed and recorded in their logbook.

The first of the two weekends took place in May and was ideal for members who joined during 2018 and wanted to try coastal sailing for the first time.

The second weekend will take place in early September and will be ideal for members who have joined this year and are, by September, wanting to try coastal sailing for the first time.

Cruising to Burnham-on-Crouch in July and September

Last year’s very successful cruise to Burnham-on-Crouch is being repeated this year, not just once but twice.

In July it was a three-day event, sailing the Wayfarers the 17 miles from Brightlingsea to Burnham on the Friday, then exploring local River Roach on the Saturday, before sailing back to Brightlingsea on the Sunday.

In September there will be another cruise to Burnham, this time a classic two-day weekend like our first-time visit last year.

For both of these trips, overnight accommodation is at the Royal Burnham Yacht Club and which is booked and paid for well in advance to secure the beds.  Bookings by members for these weekends therefore also need to be made well in advance. 

RYA Level 3 Better Sailing Courses in July & September

The Better Sailing course is intended to practise and consolidate Level 2 sailing skills and introduces some of the activities the more advanced modules have to offer, helping to build confidence and to support development of good technique and independent sailing.

RYA Level 4 Seamanship Skills Course in July

The Seamanship Skills course takes place on the same weekend as the July Better Sailing course and alongside it but is intended for those who have already achieved the practical skills and absorbed the background knowledge required for Level 3.

The course includes, among many other things, skills such as sailing without a rudder or without a centreboard, sailing backwards and anchoring. The emphasis is on increasing self-reliance and decision-making so the sailor can manoeuvre a dinghy in a seamanlike manner and make seamanship decisions in moderate conditions.

The West Mersea Round the Island Race Weekend in August

Over the course of this weekend the Saturday is spent as a normal Brightlingsea sailing day. The Sunday is spent in first sailing the boats to West Mersea for the start, then taking part in the race around Mersea Island over a circuit of about 14 miles and finally, after the finish at West Mersea, sailing the boats back to Brightlingsea.

The Round Mersea Island Race is organised by West Mersea Yacht Club.

Pyefleet Week in August

For several years, some members and guests have taken part in a three-day long weekend of dinghy racing during Brightlingsea Sailing Club’s Pyefleet week and each year we look forward to participating again sending a bunch of keen racers to challenge the locals.

For more information and the Pyefleet booking form, please go to the Pyefleet racing page.

Weekday Sailing in August including an RYA Level 4 Day Sailing Course

During the second half of the August Pyefleet week, after the racers have left, there will be a chance for some weekday dinghy cruising at Brightlingsea, up to four days, which we hope will be particularly attractive to members who are not constrained by work.

Although four days are available for weekday sailing, some may wish to attend for all four days, others for the first or last three days, others for the first, middle or last two days etc.

An RYA Level 4 Day Sailing course may be organised for those who want it, over those four days. This will include evening sessions discussing navigation and chartwork, compasses and position fixing, tides and tidal streams, meteorology and passage planning.

Full involvement in the Level 4 Day Sailing course will best suit those joining the event for the whole 4 days.  We therefore ask those who is interested to send in an early booking form so that we can know if there is sufficient interest to run the full four days and whether the Day Sailing course can be run.

It will be necessary to make a small surcharge to those joining the Day Sailing course to cover additional expenses such as RYA certification.

Other Sailing Weekends

In addition to all of the above events, there will be four other dinghy cruising weekends in September and October.  Please look at the 2019 Brightlingsea Information & Booking Form for all the dates and details.