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. 

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.

NLSA Dinghy Cruising Weekends

NLSA runs several sailing weekends a year for members and their guests.  All sailing is supervised by a volunteer 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 occasional special activity weekends are also run - for example tidal racing practice, or navigation, or sometimes if there is sufficient demand and a volunteer Senior Instructor is available, weekends especially structured for member families including children between 8 and 14.

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

"Introduction to Coastal Sailing" Coaching Weekends

These coaching weekends, led by an experienced volunteer Senior Instructor, are tailored to give newer members a gentle introduction to the differences between sailing on inland waters and at the coast.  Experienced members familiar with sailing at Brightlingsea will also be present to offer guidance and 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 the weekend they will be more familiar and confident in coastal sailing.

In 2023, 2 weekends are planned for May and September.

Cruising to Burnham-on-Crouch

A three or four-day event sailing the Wayfarers the 17 miles from Brightlingsea to Burnham on the Friday, then exploring locally along the River Roach on the Saturday, before sailing back to Brightlingsea on the Sunday or Monday.

Overnight accommodation is at the Royal Burnham Yacht Club.

Currently being planned for 2023, this trip is proposed for the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August

The West Mersea "Round the Island" Race on a Summer weekday or weekend

As a part of an NLSA sailing event, this very active day's racing involves first sailing the boats the 7 miles 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 7 miles back to Brightlingsea.

In 2023 the race takes place on Saturday 2nd September.

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

Other Sailing Weekends

In addition to all of the above events, there were other dinghy cruising weekends from May to October.  

A Booking Form for most NLSA Events at Brightlingsea during 2023, is available to download using the link below.

2023 Brightlingsea Booking Form

Download a List of B&B's in Brightlingsea

RYA Courses

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

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.

The next Better Sailing course will take from Friday evening 9th June to Sunday afternoon 11th June 2023.

You can book using either the downloadable 2023 Brightlingsea Booking Form link above or on-line using this link:

Booking Form for RYA "Better Sailing" Level 3 Course at Brightlingsea 2023

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.

The next Seamanship Skills course will take place  from Friday evening 11th August to Sunday afternoon 13th August 2023.

You can book using either the downloadable 2023 Brightlingsea Booking Form link above or on-line using this link:

Booking Form for RYA "Seamanship Skills" Level 4 Course at Brightlingsea 2023

RYA Safety Boat Course

The Safety Boat course is for holders of Powerboat level 2 certificates and introduces the techniques used when providing safety and rescue cover for training and racing fleets and assisting in race management. Some places are still available. 

No Safety Boat courses are currently planned but can be organised if there is any demand.

Book using this link: 

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