Have you or your girls sailed on Somerspirit?

We’ve been Sailing on Somerspirit for 25 years in 2020! While we may think we’ve been vocal about what we do, we know it’s sometimes tough getting the message out across the county. Here’s the lowdown …

So, what is somerspirit?

On the most basic level, Somerspirit is our sailing dinghy. It’s a Comet Trio for those of you who sail. A lovely steady boat, which will comfortably hold an adult instructor, plus 3, 4 or even 5 girls.

It’s also the name of our sailing charity, a legal entity which is registered with the Charities Commission.

We’re based at Sutton Bingham Sailing Club in Yeovil, where our dighy and trailer lie while they’re not in use. They’re a friendly and supportive club, with good facilities, and a great youth sailing programme.

How Does it work?

We’re run by a friendly team of volunteers. The committee comprises Margaret Maltby (our Chair, who you may know as County President), Sue Leaver (our Secretary), Ash Carrington (our Treasurer, Boating Adviser and Instructor), Ali Stone (our County Commissioner), Linda Carrington (Deputy Chair), Hannah Kitto (our Bookings Secretary), Denise Eggington (Assistant County Commissioner, Events), Jane Brook (who is working towards her RYA qualifications), and Eliana Brimacombe (our newest Committee member).

Sailing activities are run by Ash Carrington and Paul Martin. They’re both Guiding Members who have been through our DBS checks and are working their way through Safeguarding training. Ash learned to sail not long after Somerspirit was launched (his only previous experience was picked up during a fun stint as a PGL holiday instructor in his late teens). As well as enjoying sailing on Somerspirit, Ash has taken the helm on a 26ft yacht in the Greek Ionians on a couple of occasions, and happily takes up the opportunity to crew on friend’s yachts on the South coast, whether it be racing or pleasure cruising. Paul joined the Somerspirit team more recently, and was already RYA qualified. When he’s not sailing Somerspirit, you’ll find Paul windsurfing or sailing with friends on the South coast. Both of our instructors have a lovely reassuring manner, which puts the girls at ease, and ensures that they can relax and enjoy the sailing, as well as join in wherever they can.

Got lots of questions?

When you’re arranging activities for your unit, it’s only right that you have lots of questions! You’ll be glad to know that we have loads of information on our page. A list of what to bring, a link to our risk assessment. Information about the club facilities, directions etc. If you have a question we haven’t covered, just drop us an email (somerspirit@girlguidingsomerset.org.uk), tweet or message on facebook.

Often we’re asked what the girls can do when they’re not out on the boat. If you bring a group of 12 girls, you’ll typically have four on the water, four getting ready to go out, and four just coming back in. There’s space for the girls to work on a Unit Meeting Activity in the club house (both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ spaces), and a bit of outdoor space too (perhaps for the ‘Biodiversity Blitz’ for Guides?). What we love is that there is also time for some downtime for everyone. Life is typically highly-scheduled these days, but when we’re sailing, we really can enjoy a slightly slower pace, and connect with nature. Brownies will appreciate a short activity to keep them occupied in the clubhouse, while Guides and Rangers will very likely be happy to explore, watch their friends and chat.

Surely Sailing must be expensive?

You’d think so, but no! Sailing on Somerspirit has to be one of the most affordable outdoor activities your unit could do, starting from £30 for a Thursday evening. (That price is for the whole group … we were once asked if that was per person!).

While many units rely on parents to bring their girls to / from Sutton Bingham (near Yeovil), we know that it’s a longer journey for those in the North / West of the county. If the cost of getting to Sutton Bingham is likely to be prohibitive, please do get in touch and we’ll see if we can identify support.

We do know that parents can be surprisingly willing to provide a taxi service for their children and their friends [ed: ‘football mum’ writing here!]. Even better when they’re welcome to stay onsite during your session, and make use of the self-serve tea / coffee area, or pop to the lovely farm shop / cafe next door!

Try it for yourself

This season, we’re running our popular ‘Plain Sailing’ event on Saturday 25 April from 13:00-16:00. It’s a drop in session for volunteers (and yes, you can bring your family with you). You get to see the clubhouse, the boat, the facilities, and meet our team. Best of all, there’s plenty time for a relaxed trip out on the boat!

Let us know if you’ll be joining us by contacting Ash on 07712 557952 or emailing somerspirit@girlguidingsomerset.org.uk (we can make sure there’s enough cake!)

Photo of Ash on the pontoon assisting Paul and some Brownies as they set sail on Somerspirit

If Durleigh Sailing Club (West of Bridgwater) is closer to home, why not book for you and your girls to attend our Durleigh 2020 event on Sunday 10 May?

Find out more and reserve your spaces with this booking link.

Ready to book?

Over 100 girls sailed on Somerspirit in 2019. Will your Brownies, Guides or Rangers be sailing in 2020?

To book, let us know your preferred dates on our online booking form. We’ll check availability with our volunteer instructors, and confirm.


Still wondering if it’s for you?

Here’s what one of our new volunteers has to say:

Our unit thoroughly enjoyed sailing on Somerspirit.
It’s a great asset to our county! I’d recommend it to any leader looking for an outdoor activity.

Eliana Brimacombe, Tone Division

See you in 2020!

Linda and the team at Somerspirit