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.

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.

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.

Cruising to Burnham-on-Crouch

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.

Overnight accommodation is at the Royal Burnham Yacht Club.

RYA Level 3 "Better Sailing" Course

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. It is also an excellent introduction to tidal sailing.

RYA Level 4 "Seamanship Skills" Course

The Seamanship Skills course 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.

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

During the middle of August we hope to organise weekday dinghy cruising at Brightlingsea, of up to three days, which we hope will be particularly attractive to members who are not constrained by work.

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

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

The West Mersea "Round the Island" Race in August

As a part of the weekday sailing, the Wednesday is spent 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.

Other Sailing Weekends

In addition to all of the above events, there should be four other dinghy cruising weekends in September and October. Please look at the full 2021 Brightlingsea Information & Booking Form for all the dates and details.

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

Following the removal of Covid-19 restrictions on indoor gathering on 19th July 2021, activities at Brightlingsea have restarting although with some degree of caution regarding close contact indoors.

A Booking Form for NLSA Events at Brightlingsea during 2021 including RYA Dinghy Courses and NLSA Sailing Weekends is now available to download using the link below.

Download the 2021 Booking Form for Brightlingsea RYA Dinghy Courses and NLSA Weekends

Download Brightlingsea Travel Directions and Kit List

Download a List of B&B's in Brightlingsea

NLSA Dinghy Cruising Weekends (After Covid)

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.

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

Alternatively, visit

Brightlingsea 2021 Sailing Schedule

The NLSA plans to have an exciting package of activities this year at our Coastal Sailing Base at Brightlingsea which will be listed on the 2021Information & Booking form as they are organised.