Learning to take to the waves can be plain sailing.

There is no better way to escape the frenetic hustle and bustle of the city than sailing off into the sunset along
the Gulf's crystal-clear waters. If you've always wanted to learn to sail, the UAE is a great place to do so.

For the fledgling sailor a favoured sailing course in Dubai is the 'Start Sailing' Level 1 course, which is run by the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club in Jumeirah. The course, which costs approximately Dh1,650 per person, teaches the key skills involved in handling a sailing boat and is a great way to start.

Meanwhile, Bluesail – Dubai, a qualified Royal Yachting Association (RYA) school in the Middle East, teaches a full range of theory and practical courses through its weekly courses run from Dubai Marina. Greg Boyle, Director of Bluesail – Dubai, says, "We run more than 15 types of courses for clients wanting to learn to sail, drive fast powerboats or captain a luxury motor yacht. Courses cover all levels, from novice all the way through to commercially endorsed Yachtmasters. Courses start from as little as Dh1,000 and all our courses are RYA certificate courses recognised by most countries in the world."

One of the 3,000 students Bluesail has taught since setting up in Dubai four years ago is Scott Clegg. He says, "I've sailed for some 20 years or so on and off and when I came to Dubai I decided it was about time to actually do my proper qualifications.

"One of the courses I did was the Day Skipper Practical course. This is where you start to learn to 'be in charge' of the boat and its passengers, being able to safely take yourself, the boat and a crew, out for the day.

"You're taught how to handle the boat in different weather conditions, take it in and out of marinas and so on. It's a five-day course so you get plenty of practice at doing these things while also exploring the Dubai coastline and sometimes up as far as Ras Al Khaimah. You walk away having learnt a significant amount and more importantly the practical application of what you learn."

But how difficult is the course? Clegg says, "The easiest for me was most definitely the practical sailing aspect, as this is where all my experience had been. The hardest part was the more complex theory at the advanced levels, where you have to pick up some quite difficult concepts and remember a lot of detail."

Sailing through

While the courses may have their tricky parts the fact remains that learning to sail is enormous fun. And as Bluesail also handles yacht sales, you may even find yourself a new toy that can further enhance your enjoyment out at sea. For information on courses at Bluesail Dubai contact 04 882 3129 or see www.bluesailyachts.com. The Dubai Offshore Sailing Club can be contacted on 04 394169.

If you'd prefer someone else to do all the hard work you could charter a boat. Dusail Yacht Charters provide a two-hour daily morning and sunset cruise on a 50-foot sailing yacht. Depending on weather and sea conditions the yacht normally heads along the Dubai coastline past the five-star beach properties including a sneak peak at Jumeirah Palm Island and the Atlantis, before returning to its base at the Dubai International Marine Club. The excursion costs Dh255 per person including soft drinks, mineral water and snacks.

Alternatively, for the ultimate in luxury hire the yacht for private charter at a cost of Dh1,800 per hour (minimum two hours). For more information contact Dusail on 04 3989146.