This Q&A Page should help explain things that we think new and not so new members would like to know in a question-and-answer format. Any question that is not in here, please ask somebody on the committee they will try to help you. It’s also a source of general information about the club. Any suggestions and ideas are welcome and if you don’t tell us there’s a problem, we can’t fix it.
1. What are the club facilities?
We have a large dinghy park close to the club and there are changing rooms, the galley and a bar in the clubhouse. Ask a club committee member for a tour, including where we keep our club boats and their sails, keys, codes, etc. You will find their contact details on the programme card and in our website Contact Details section.
2. When can we sail?
DYC is in the upper reaches of the River Deben, this means that at low water it’s impossible to go sailing in Woodbridge since we have a large expanse of mud. Club sailing events usually start two to three hours before high tide. Mostly, we aim to stop sailing at about high tide; if we finish later than this the outgoing tidal stream can make it impossible to get upriver to the club when winds are light. The river is navigable at all states of the tide downstream from Kyson Point.
3: Where can we sail?
The river is navigable from Wilford Bridge in Melton all the way to the sea at Felixstowe Ferry. Club events are usually organized in the waters from the Woodbridge Tidemill downriver to Waldringfield. People with their own craft are free to sail where they like, and many yachts have ventured as far as The Baltic. If you stay in the Deben then there are places to land and picnic as well as pubs and restaurants to visit at Waldringfield, Ramsholt and Bawdsey and Felixstowe Ferry.
4. Do I need my own boat to go sailing?
No, we have over 30 sailing dinghies for hire during club events which we hope will encourage you to try sailing different sorts of boat. They are only available during organized sailing events when there is safety cover, to be covered by the club’s insurance. Many people choose to use club boats on race days if they can stay with the fleet, they don’t need to race but we do ask them to “sign on” the entry sheets so we are able to check that they are safe.
We have Argos, RS Fevas, RS Qubas, Toppers, Wayfarers and a Laser. For more details – have a look at the Boat Hire Rules on the club website under Sailing then Boat Hire.
You can of course use your own boat. Our Dinghy Park has spaces for members boats available for reasonable annual fees and racks for canoes.
5. How can I hire a club boat?
Just turn up on Club Sailing events and you can choose and rig a boat. For other events, either book in advance using the website Boat hire information page here or just turn up to see what is available on the day.
6. How much does it cost to hire a boat?
The cost depends on the type of boat and club event – boats are free for cadet members, except during Regatta Week. We make a small charge for adults so that we can encourage people to start sailing without them having to buy a boat. More details are online in the Boat Hire Page.
7. How do you pay for a boat?
You can pay online using PayPal when using the Boat Hire Calendar https://www.debenyachtclub.co.uk/wp_dir/sailing/boat-hire where you can use a debit or credit card even if you don’t have a PayPal account.
You can pay in the galley by card, cash or cheque on the day or direct to the DYC current account, details of which are available by contacting our Boat Booking Adminstrators
8. How do I report defects/problems whether it’s with boats, the website, changing rooms, etc.?
If there’s a problem with a boat, please let us know using the whiteboard on the inside of the door to Shed 4. Report other problems to the galley or Officer of the Day who will contact someone who can help.
9. Launching and Recovering Dinghies
Our Club Wayfarers are often on moorings, so you’ll need to ask for a lift out to the dinghy on a safety boat. If you’re using a boat from the Dinghy Park, then you’ll need to use the launching ramp.
Get your boat organised in the dinghy park so there’s less to do on the ramp where you could be in the way of others. If you’re sailing single handed then you can tie your boat to the ropes on the ramp sides while you park your trolley on the hard, remembering where you left it. When you’re sailing back to the club, green and red striped posts on the bank acting as leading marks to show you where the edges of the ramp are so you can avoid stepping off into deep water. Don’t forget to raise your centreboard, when approaching the ramp!
10. How is the dinghy park organized?
If you have your own dinghy, you’ll be allocated a space in the dinghy park. Please put your yearly sticker on your boat so we can see it’s in date. If you have a road trailer or road base, you can either keep it under your boat or request an additional space for it, although there is a charge for this. An additional benefit of keeping your dinghy on its road trailer is that it’s less likely to blow over in a gale! We like everything in the dinghy park to be labelled with the owner’s name.
11. How about racing?
a. When to arrive? We suggest you arrive at least one hour before the race start to give you time to rig your boat, get changed and get afloat. Race start times are shown on the sailing programme.
b. How long do races take? We either have two races, sailed back-to-back, of about an hour’s duration each, or one longer race on a racing day. Since the Deben is tidal, the normal start time is between 1 and 3 hours before high tide so we can get boats back before the tide turns. The ebb gathers pace soon after high tide and if there is little wind it can be challenging to get back upriver.
c. Racing fleets Most of our races use the RYA Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) handicap system so different types of boat can race together; we usually have two fleets: fast and slow.
The Fast Fleet is for boats with a PY above about 1150; such as the Laser, Laser 2, Laser 2000, Laser Vago, RS Vision, RS200, RS300 and RS400. The Slow Fleet is typically comprised of boats such as Toppers, Miracles, Mirrors, RS Qubas and Fevas.
d. Race Courses – where to find maps and how to identify the course? Courses – The Course Card lists about 20 courses and has a map to show the buoys to be rounded for each course. The Officer of the Day (OOD) chooses one suitable for the wind strength and direction. The course number for your class is on a board hung from the Crow’s Nest Veranda about 15 minutes before the race start. Races may use Committee Boat starts downriver or start lines from the Crow’s Nest across the river to black and white leading marks on the other side of the river. Nearly all races finish at the club. Paper and laminated course cards are available from the Crow’s Nest and a printable version is on the website. If you still need a bit of help, just ask the Officer of the Day.
e. What do the flags and hooters mean? The DYC uses a 5, 4, 1 and 0-minute count down sequence, using flags raised and lowered at the Club House; each flag event is signalled by a klaxon. The Fast Fleet starts first; at five minutes the black and white “6” flag is raised, at 4 minutes the Preparatory flag “P” – a blue square with a white centre – is raised. At one-minute P is lowered and at the start “6” is lowered. The slow fleet’s five minute, red and white, “F” flag is raised at the same time as 6 is lowered, P goes up and down at 4 and 1 minute respectively and F is lowered at the start of the slow fleet’s race.
f. What is an OOD and what do they do? The Officers of the Day (OOD) are experienced volunteers responsible for organizing racing and other events. They open the Club House, choose courses, start, and finish the race, record times and calculate the results using the handicap system. They are also responsible for closing the clubhouse and checking that the sheds and dinghy park are secure.
g. If you are available to crew another boat, or if someone needs crew, how can the two get together?
Many of our members have two-person boats and sometimes have need of a crew. We are considering options to have a message board on our website to allow people to connect with potential crews. There is a WhatsApp group called ‘DYC General Forum’ where you can ask for crew or to crew. If you’d like to join it, please email the Honorary Secretary .
Alternatively, pop a message onto the “For Sale” board in the Club House. Or just turn up on the day and see if anyone can help (whether you’re looking for a crew or offering to crew!).
h. When is there safety boat cover? Club events are usually supported by 2 RIB safety boats manned by 2 people each. We also use a displacement boat which is used for directing events or acting as a committee boat. Club boats may only be used when there is safety boat cover.
12. What do volunteers do?
Safety boat crews, OOD (Officer of the Day) and AOD (Assistant Officer of the Day), Galley team, dinghy and powerboat instructors and the Winter Work Party let the club operate on a self-help basis. At Club Sailing we are always looking for help rigging boats and getting them launched and recovered. We ask members to volunteer for specific volunteer duties at renewal time ready for the new season.
13. What does each duty entail and what are volunteers expected to do?
The safety boat crew member helps the helm from about 1 hour before racing until 1 hour after. You will generally get a free hot drink and meal. See 14 and 15 below.
Officer of the Day (OOD) organizes events and safety boat cover, sets the course, runs the start and finish and works out the results. See also 11 above for how racing is organised. The AOD (Assistant Officer of the Day) helps, often operating the flags and keeping an eye on the boats.
Galley help entails providing hot drinks and food in the club house for most sailing events based at the club. Each year the Galley Team Leader prepares a rota. Each event is assigned a galley lead and helper. The Galley lead will arrange the supplies and explain the duty. Galley duty will start before racing and end afterwards with cleaning up the galley. See 16 below.
The Winter Working Party maintains club assets, including the clubhouse, safety boats, club boats and dinghy park. It meets at the club on winter Tuesday mornings at 09.30 and lead hands organize activities. No great expertise in DIY or boat building is needed since there’s plenty of helpful advice available.
14. What experience do I need on a safety boat?
Safety Boat crews need no experience; volunteers learn over time and may take qualifications such as RYA Power Boat 2 and Safety Boat Certificates. As they learn, they’ll do more responsible tasks. Choose what you feel comfortable with and build from there.
15. What clothing is suitable for boat duties (will there be a need to get wet / life jacket or buoyancy aid)?
- Buoyancy aid – essential when you’re on the water. It’s best to buy your own but you can borrow one from a changing room, Crow’s Nest or the locker under the key hooks near the Galley.
- Warm clothes that are OK to get wet, hat & gloves/mittens, or sun cream in the summer!
- Use several thin layers or wet suit & layers to keep warm.
- Water and wind-proof jacket and trousers or a spray suit are useful on cooler days.
- Wetsuit boots or other suitable footwear like old trainers (not garden wellies).
- Towel and a change of clothes in the unlikely event that you get back damp.
- One of the safety boat crew should be prepared to go into the water although this is very rare.
16. Do you need to be able to bake or cook to do Galley duty?
No. The normal fare is sandwiches, rolls, hot dogs, bacon sandwiches, cake and hot & cold drinks. Many basic supplies and drinks are part of Galley stock. Perishable items like cakes, bread, milk etc. can be bought at places convenient to the volunteer or made at home. We always put a new volunteer with a more experienced helper, so they can “learn the ropes”.
Galley team will send you the year’s rota, information and instructions before the start of the sailing season. This will tell you all you need to know about helping run a Galley session. These documents are also on the Clubs Galley web page and also in a folder in the galley along with volunteers’ contact details. Our Galley Lead contacts galley volunteers in the week before each sailing session, so can answer any queries or pass on useful information. You can email the Galley
17. Who will contact you before your duty, and how long before?
Safety boat, AOD and OOD: We use Dutyman, a computer timetabling system, to manage our duties; this lets you volunteer for duties when you are available, and you can swap duties if you change your plans. Dutyman emails information and instructions and the lead helm or OOD will contact you before your duty.
18. When can I use the clubhouse?
Members, their families and guests may use the clubhouse at almost any time. We have an “honesty box” in one of the galley cupboards near the sink so you can pay for any drinks you make when the galley is unattended. Milk pots are usually available in the fridge. Occasionally there may be a private function when the clubhouse is used for a party or meeting. Then, please just use the changing rooms or access the pontoon. Access may also be restricted if there’s a need for emergency maintenance.
19. Can I go sailing any time I like?
If you have your own boat, you can go sailing whenever you want. However, it’s important that you’ve told someone what you’re doing. We also like you to record your trip in the “Leisure Sailing” book in the clubhouse. Please do not leave the clubhouse unlocked and remember to take your key fob so you can get back in again!
20. Does the club run any courses?
Yes – dinghy sailing, powerboat and safety boat courses, some early in the season and others later in the year. The club has RYA accredited dinghy and powerboat instructors but may use other qualified tutors for aquatic first aid and other courses.
21. How to find out which courses are running and when
We advertise courses by email circular. Otherwise, contact the club’s training team using links on the clubs Sail Training web page You can book a course either using the email details or just follow the link.
22. What are ‘Club Sailing’ and ‘Flotilla Sailing’?
Club sailing is an organized event for all abilities with safety boat cover. The OOD will describe the sailing area at the briefing beforehand (normally between the club and the island) and everyone attending should sign in and get a coloured wristband to identify their ability. It’s “simply messing about in boats”! Safety boat helms and crew will try to advise less experienced sailors how to sail better.
Flotilla Sailing is an organized group sailing together, usually down river to Waldringfield or ‘The Tips’ for a stop ashore. The OOD decides the destination with the safety boat leader at the briefing and if you’d like to bring a picnic the safety boats will take it for you. The briefing is 15 minutes before setting off, sign on the sheet, and be ready on the water, to go at the appointed time in the programme. You need to be a competent enough helm to keep up with the flotilla but it’s not a race and we stay together with the safety boats in attendance.
23. Is it possible to have private lessons or go out ‘Buddy sailing’ to gain confidence?
The club does not provide formal private tuition but if you’d like to have some informal training, please contact our Sail Training Team who can put you in touch with one of our dinghy instructors or experienced helms. You can also go along to Club Sailing and get some casual, supervised help.
24. Where can I find information about Health & Safety, Club Policies etc.?
This can be found elsewhere on our club website and in folders on the bookcase inside the clubhouse lounge. You can always talk to a committee member.