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Cara na Mara provides a child centered approach to introducing children to sailing and the marine environment.

The syllabus takes an interactive approach to teaching, and encourages children to be responsible for their own learning. Each course in the programme consists of a series of games, tasks, activities and experiments that will help children to discover, explore and practise the skills and knowledge they need, while under the supervision and leadership of an ISA Instructor.

The programme covers the essential sailing skills needed for children to become competent, independent sailors and also includes a strong emphasis on the skills & knowledge that will allow them to appreciate and enjoy the water & outdoor environment.



Recommended ages

Otters                    6 - 8 years

Seals                     7 – 9 years

Dolphins                8 - 10 years

Orcas                    9 - 11 years

Improving Skills           11 years


Type of boat

The sailors may use a range of boats to complete the course, including single, double and multihanded dinghies, keelboats and catamarans.

 Previous knowledge or experience

Sailors entering onto Otters are not expected to have any previous knowledge or experience.  Sailors entering onto the other courses need to have demonstrated the competencies included in the previous levels.


In order to cover the material, the course needs to be run over at least 5 full days. However, because of the age of participants, it is recommended that course providers run the course over 10 or more ½ days.

Where are the courses run?

Cara na Mara courses are only run in ISA Training Centres. All ISA Training Centres use qualified staff, who will ensure that your sailors get the safest, best and most up to date instruction possible. These clubs and centres have all undertaken to maintain certain minimum standards of facilities and equipment. The ISA works closely with these centres to help them develop the safest and best courses possible and inspects them regularly to make sure that standards are being maintained. Only ISA Training Centres can use the ISA’s “Training Centre” logo on their advertising or brochures.

Details on ISA Training Centres either in your area, or where you are going on holiday, are available on the ISA website on www.sailing.ie or www.caranamara.com

What to bring with you?

The equipment and clothing your child may be asked to bring on their sailing course will vary depending on where they are doing the course. Full details should be included in the joining instructions provided by the centre, but will typically include:


• Shoes that may be used in the water (not flip flops)

• Swimming costume – to wear under a wetsuit

• Towel

• Warm hat and a sun hat

• Sun cream (SPF 50)

• Waterproof jacket, trousers & footwear for use on land activities            

• Full change of warm clothes – just in case!

• A drink & snack in re-sealable containers



• Wet suit booties

• Wet / dry suit

• Buoyancy aid

• Waterproof top or cagoule for use on the water

• Any medication etc. required during the day with written instructions.


Do try and put your child’s name on everything belonging to them and pack spare dry clothing in a separate plastic bag which will keep its contents dry if dropped onto a wet changing room floor.



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