Discover Sailing

Want to Try Sailing?

Discover Sailing took place in 2021 and is no longer offered. We will update this page if there are any future events. 

Here is your chance to try it for free.

Discover Sailing is an event put on by the Barrie Yacht Club with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation to allow anyone to experience the joy of sailing.

This is a fully free event, adults and children are welcome. Children 8+ unless accompanied by an adult. 

You will be sailing with a qualified sailor who will show you the ropes (pun intended!), and take you out onto Kempenfelt Bay on beautiful Lake Simcoe for a tour. 

What to Expect:

The Barrie Yacht Club has mobilized a team to make YOUR experience the most memorable possible and maybe even whet your appetite to continue on your sailing experience by taking lessons, joining our Club or even start looking at buying a boat! We are proud of the community we have built together and are happy to share that sense of community with you, to see for yourself when you Get Out On The Water on:

Your experience will last about 60 to 90 minutes in total, you will learn lots about sailing, boats, lessons, our club, our community. Then one of our experienced skippers will take you out on the water sailing!

We look forward to welcoming you to our Club and hope you have a great experience!

A few more things:

  • Sailing is a very safe sport and we take great care to sail safe.
  • We will lend you an approved personal flotation device unless you want to bring your own. 
  • The event is weather dependent but even if it is raining, we will still be holding the event. Only in the event of extreme weather (no wind, very high winds, thunderstorms) will we cancel the On-Water part of the experience. This can only be decided at the club – remember the weather on the water may be very different than where you are located.
  • If you have any questions, please feel free to send us an
  • email If you end up being unable to attend, please let us know by email so that we can release your tickets, as demand is high.

Please sign up below for an hour session so that we can plan and organize sailors to run the event efficiently.

Cost: Free

Why Sailing?

For newcomers, sailing can appear daunting and confusing, not least because sailors seem to speak a different language. Every part of the boat and sails has a specific name and so do all the maneuvers. If you don’t know your luff from your clew or your gybe set from your windward side, don’t panic! Things can be explained simply and ‘pulling the red one is just as acceptable as ‘tailing the spinnaker halyard!’

All these words give an impression of a whole new world of knowledge and skill, but you will pick it up fast.

Learning to sail may seem complicated or beyond reach for many but there are courses and different learning opportunities for almost everyone. Learning the basics about sailing can also be discovered through online workshops and even reading a how-to book, but nothing beats learning to sail on the water in a boat.

Sailing has the power to change your life by introducing you to a new hobby and opens up the possibility of a whole new way to travel. It also provides a fresh perspective on how and where you spend your leisure time. There are really no age limits to sailing, everyone is encouraged to learn.

Sailing is the balance of a physical, technical and mental challenge. In some ways it really is like playing chess on water, but getting a good workout and lots of fresh air at the same time.

But unlike kicking a football it can appear to be a difficult sport to get started in. So how do you get started and is sailing really a sport for all?

In the following we are going to help dispel the myths about sailing and provide you with some tips on how to get started.

Sailboats – what is the difference between a keelboat and a dinghy?

A keelboat is any sailboat with a weighted keel

Dinghies use unballasted centerboards or daggerboards, relying entirely on crew weight for righting moment to oppose the rotational force of the wind on the sails.

Typically dinghies are for learning, having fun, and for racing. They are lighter and more flexible to take out on the water than keelboats.

Keelboats offer more comfort, sometimes with cabins and other amenities. They also allow you to travel greater distances.

Myth 1 - "You have to start young"

As in any sport, you learn faster and it comes more naturally when you are young. But the beauty of sailing is that you can sail well into retirement and everyone can find a boat to suit them. Don’t let age deter you from sailing.

Myth 2 – “You have to be really strong to be good at sailing”

Obviously, national teams are not only highly skilled but also very athletic these days and some jobs on a keelboat require huge physical strength. But there are lots of different jobs and some need to be done by a lighter more nimble crew. Your power to weight ratio is often important and this is one reason why girls can compete so equally with men. Britain’s most famous sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur sailed around the world several times and she is tiny!

Myth 3 – “You have to be rich to sail”

It’s true that flashy yachts and newer boats can cost a lot of money, but so do top racing cars. Many boat owners are often looking for crew and willing volunteers are rarely refused. Second-hand boats can be quite affordable and well-maintained fiberglass sailboats can last forever. Membership in a club is typically affordable and comes with lots of perks and benefits, as well as the opportunity to learn from others and opportunities for socializing. Many people think of their sailboat as a floating cottage, one with no waterfront property taxes.

Myth 4 – “It is not a sport for girls”

Nothing could be further from the truth and one of the great things about sailing is how men and women compete on equal terms. There are more programs and events being created to help more girls and women learn to sail.

Myth 5 – “You have to buy a boat to go sailing”

Again this isn’t true. You can start by doing a learn to sail course. The Barrie Yacht Club offers Associate and Voting Members the opportunity to use club boats. You can start like many sailors before you by crewing for other people in their boat.

Myth 6 – “Sailing is a dangerous sport especially if you can’t swim”

Being able to swim is a good idea for everyone and perhaps going sailing will motivate you to learn. If not, you should always wear a personal floatation device that will keep you afloat if you fall in.
The only other real risk is banging your head on the boom or other equipment on the boat. Working with your captain and practicing safety first can prevent any issues onboard.

Myth 7 - "You need a lot of "sailing gear" before going sailing"

Nope. Sunglasses, a hat, gloves, and non-marking shoes are a good starting point.
Depending on the conditions, your windbreaker and other clothing will work well for inclement weather.

The Benefits of Sailing

Freedom & Sustainability

Boating is fun but sailing is grand. Harnessing the power of the wind and feeling the spray fly is amazingly freeing. It’s a great way to forget about the office, challenges at home and recharge your personal batteries. When done right, sailing is also a green and sustainable activity so you can start a new hobby without increasing your carbon footprint. Whether you just want to reset on an afternoon solo sail or get the blood flowing with a raucous upwind beat, there’s really no feeling like commanding a ship under sail.

Adventure on the Water

Whether it is sailing around Lake Simcoe or through uncharted waters to new locations, completing your first coast-to-coast crossing, seeing a dolphin at sea for the first time or facing the challenges of fighting a big wind on an ocean voyage, there are so many varied experiences to be gained through sailing.

Lifestyle and Community

Once you learn to sail (and even as you continue to improve), you’ll notice the strong sense of community that sailing creates. People dedicated to the lifestyle feel a kinship and you may find new friends. Whether you become a racer with strong ties to a yacht club, or a cruiser with a love of isolated anchorages, you’re bound to find like-minded individuals who will be more than happy to gather, share stories and help each other out.

Friends and Family

With busy schedules, it’s hard to carve out time for family and friends to gather and reconnect. However, a fun shared activity has a way of bringing people together and you may even be able to pry teenagers away from their phones to join in a physical endeavor that provides hours or days of enjoyment. It’s true that couples, families and friends who play together, tend to stay together.

Competition and Goals

If leisurely daysails and weekends of discovery aren’t enough, you can always step up your sailing game and set some goals. Sailing doesn’t take long to learn but it can take a lifetime to master so there’s always some skill to work on. Become a master sail trimmer, navigator or helmsman and try your hand at racing. Whether around the buoys in a dinghy on a lake or on a large offshore racing machine, there’s no end to the kind and amount of racing you can do and the goals you can set.

Travel and History

Sailing opens up new ways to travel and see the world. Once you know how to sail, you can charter boats at bases around the world and enjoy water-based vacations that will take you off the beaten path. You can choose exotic locales or ones packed with history. Imagine cruising the turquoise waters of Tahiti or following the path of Odysseus throughout the Greek isles on a boat that is yours for the week. Of course, if you become really committed, you may end up buying your own yacht and sailing around the world, which brings with it a new set of challenges as well as accomplishments.

“Even the greatest was once a beginner, don’t be afraid to take that first step.”

– Muhammad Ali