First time trips

Our free four-day sailing adventures for 8-17 and 18-24 year-olds can be transformational. But whether you get afloat on the Isle of Wight or in Scotland, sailing is only the start.

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Inspiring brighter futures

Children, teenagers and young adults face different challenges after cancer.

However old you are, or whenever you were treated, our free four-day sailing adventures from Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, or Largs on Scotland's West Coast are geared up for you to get whatever you need from it.

Sailing is just the vehicle; on the boat some magic happens and it's not really the sailing or the water, but the environment being on a boat creates that helps young people feel they belong and realise they are not alone.

All the skippers and volunteers on each boat are very experienced, understanding and encouraging. Many of these volunteers also sailed with us after cancer and seeing these volunteers, now healthy, confident and enjoying life, is very aspirational.

The Frequently Asked Questions below answer many questions you might have but contact the team if there's something else you want to know or be reassured about.

Register for a trip Your 2024 trip information

"After his trip he looked taller. Emotionally he had become a giant.”

Callum's Story

Being at the wheel, you feel so in control, like you’re finally in the driver’s seat, literally and metaphorically.

If cancer feels like losing control, then learning to sail with others who have been through the same thing feels like taking it back again, says Callum.

Find out more about Callum's Story

Find out more about the trips Support the Trust

The magic of our trips

It’s hard to explain how only four days on a boat can be so transformational. You have to live it to understand it. The result is very special.

Our impact - live dashboard Register for a trip

The other big trip FAQs

When are the trips?

The 8-17 year-olds trips run during the school summer holidays in July and August, and the 18-24 year-olds trips are outside of that holiday period (June, July and/or September). The trips are four days / three nights long and normally run from Monday to Thursday (except for Bank Holidays).

When is my place confirmed?

Your confirmation of place is subject to meeting our eligibility criteria and us receiving a medical form, which we send you to complete and submit, and a Medical Risk Assessment (MRA), which is typically completed by your CNS or Consultant (if you are being referred through your hospital) or could be your GP if you are applying through our website and/or have been off treatment for a long time. Once we can confirm your place, this will be sent to you by email and could be up to 4-6 weeks before your scheduled trip.

Do I have to arrange my own travel?

No! All travel is free and organised for you. Once your trip place is confirmed, about a month before your trip we will send you your full trip information, including everything you need to know about your travel (drop off/pick up location, times, who you will be meeting etc).

I don't have great mobility, can I still come sailing?

We have 2 boats - 1 in each of our bases in Cowes and Largs - that are specially-adapted to be accessible. Many young people who have a prothesis, use a walking aid and/or have sensory impairments, sail on these boats every year and many of them return each year to come sailing again!

Features on these boats include...

  • the back of the boats fold down and have less steep steps so you can step from the pontoon straight onto the boat.
  • extra handles added in saloon and inside and outside the toilet.
  • cockpit and saloon areas are bigger so everyone can move around easily with a lesser risk of tripping.
  • winches - the bits that help control the sails - have been moved so young people can get more involved in the sailing for more of the time.

Watch this video to see what's it's like on one of these boats. Your guide, George, had an above knee amputation during treatment for bone cancer - 360 video: experience what it's like to sail with the Trust

As a general guide, we say a young person will need to have a movement range similar to/would allow them/you to get in and out of a bath independently for example, and be able to shower, dress, and use the toilet unaided. There are wheelchairs available, but we are currently unable to accommodate full-time wheelchair users on this type of yacht trip.

For young people who are full-time wheelchair users, have very poor mobility, or require a high level of support from the staff, we run annual canal trips on fully accessible canal barges. You can find out all about those here - Come Canal Boating.

If you are uncertain or have any questions, contact us to discuss individual requirements.

I can’t swim. Does it matter?

Nope! During the trips we don’t actually go in the sea, so you don’t need to be able to swim. Lifejackets will be provided for when you are sailing.

How many other young people will be on the trip?

Each trip varies but there will be a maximum of 30 young people on any four day sailing trip. The group will be divided between a number of 38-48ft yachts – based on age and ability – and there will be a maximum of six young people on each.

I still get really tired or lack energy. Will this stop me coming?

No way! All our staff and volunteers understand the after-effects of cancer, including fatigue, can last a long time. They can make sure you get as many rest breaks as you need. You will be encouraged to join in all the activities, but won’t be forced to do anything you won’t be able to manage. We always also try to put young people into groups with similar abilities, so no one feels left out. You will surprise yourself.

Do we sail the whole time?

You’ve probably already figured it out, but sailing is really just the vehicle for an incredible all-round awesome experience. There is a good mix of time on the water and on shore. If the weather is great, we can spend between four and six hours a day sailing. We stay at different places each night (depending on conditions), and you get to use all the facilities in the marinas, including showers, toilets and hairdryers.

What do we eat?

We will always do whatever we can to cater for everyone’s needs and aim to promote a healthy diet. You can tell us if you have any dietary requirements when you complete your Medical Form. Everyone helps to prepare the meals plus we also have a BBQ night, baking competition and, in Cowes, a chippy supper. You will be given a Trust water bottle to use whilst on the trip, which you can fill up on the boat and in the marinas. We will make sure you drink plenty of liquids while on and off the water.

What safeguarding measures are in place?

Nothing matters more than keeping young people safe. You can read how we do that here - How we look after young people.

What if I feel seasick?

We want you to enjoy your trip so we will never go out sailing if it’s really rough or windy. The skippers and crew will make the decision. We also have plenty of tips and tricks to help if you do feel a bit green.

How are medications managed on the trip?

Any medication bought on the trip MUST be in its original packaging with an up-to-date dispensary label attached, or a pharmacy-issued and fully labelled dossette box. This does NOT include regular daily tablet organisers and/or pill boxes. Failure to do this could stop you/your child being able to join the trip. If you anticipate this being a problem, please let us know as soon as possible.

There are at least 2 medics on every trip*, who once the young person arrives in Cowes or Largs, take all drugs (under 18s) and controlled drugs (over 18s) to be stored in a safe, central location. Any medications that need to be stored in the fridge will be.

The medics keep a log sheet of who should be taking what medications when, and will remind the young person when it’s time to take their meds and what they should be taking then.

Medics do not dispense medications themselves, rather are there to help and support everyone, especially younger children, manage what to take and when.

Everyone coming on a trip must also be able to self-administer any required regular injections.

Before your trip, there are a few other things to remember if you have certain medical requirements. The details can be found here - Pre-trip medical information

This will all be discussed and confirmed with you on your pre-trip call, which will be arranged for the week before the trip.

*We rely on the support of a number of different health and allied health care professionals to deliver our activities and support young people during these activities, this includes Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, who take on the role of a ‘medic’ for the purposes of our trips.

What do I need to bring?

Not as much as you think! Closer to the time of your trip we will send you a full kit list containing all the information you need.

Please don't bring big bulky bags or suitcases as there is very limited storage space onboard - a soft holdall or something that can be squished down is perfect.

You won’t need any specialist clothing, waterproofs or a lifejacket – we provide all that - just normal clothes, including some warm layers, shoes you don’t mind getting wet and a pillow. You will basically live in joggers/leggings, a hoodie and your Trust trip t-shirt! We also always have plenty of high-factor sun cream on all of our trips.

You can download the kit list here - sailing kit list.

Can I speak to my family during the trip?

Anyone can bring their phones on the trip, although this is entirely at your own risk and we cannot be responsible for any loss or damage.

On the first night, the crew on each boat make a ‘crew charter’ to agree a sensible time to call family/friends. We encourage all young people to ‘switch off’ and enjoy the full trip experience with their new friends, but we also understand some contact with home might be reassuring to a young person so that's why everyone on a boat agrees to 'sign up' for the same thing.

The skipper on each yacht has a mobile phone that is permanently on, so they are contactable at any time in an 'in case of emergency' situation.

Where do I sleep?

Everybody sleeps on their allocated boat. You will share a cabin with at least one other young person of the same sex and similar age. The cabins are cosy, but they are private and just for sleeping in.

Should I bring my phone and spending money?

Any phones or valuable electronic equipment are brought along entirely at your own risk and we cannot be responsible for any loss or damage. We recommend these are left at home, but do understand you may want to bring them along for the journey. Network coverage and charging facilities can vary greatly during the trip.

Our staff and volunteers will have phones you can use to phone home if necessary and a Trust contact will be provided to family and friends should they need to get in touch while you’re away. Because everything is provided, you only need enough money for any extra snacks or souvenirs you want to buy. We suggest no more than £20.

Do I need to have had a COVID vaccination?

Vaccination against COVID-19 is not part of the trip eligibility criteria and/or a requirement for anyone taking part in our trips in 2024.

But, due to the personal protection offered by the vaccination against serious illness and death from COVID-19, we strongly encourage everyone involved in Trust activities to be vaccinated in line with Government guidelines.

How can I see photos from my trip?

Every boat has either a disposable camera or a phone on it, which can be used by the young people and crew to capture amazing memories. At the end of every trip, these photos are sent to everyone on that trip so you have something to make you smile from the summer.

During trip season, we also keep our social media channels - mainly Facebook, Instagram and YouTube - up-to-date with photos, videos and snapshots of what's happening every week. Don't miss anything - make sure you're following @EMCTrust!

Can I come back again?

If you want to, yes! We know many young people need support over time. Our sailing and outdoor adventure weeks mean young people can stay involved for as long as they need. You can find out what's on offer here - Return Trips.

What difference will the trip make to me?

Explore our live, real-time impact dashboard and learn how and in what ways we make a difference to the young people we support - Our Impact.

What should I do if I've been or feel ill before my trip?

All advice and guidance on what to do if you have been or feel ill before your trip can be found here - Guidance on pre-trip illness

Register for a trip 2024 first time trip information

Sailing not right for you? Come canal boating.

These trips are for young people, who are who are full-time wheelchair users, need more 1-2-1 support, or are anxious about their mobility. The trips take place on fully accessible canal barges and the Trust team look at who might benefit more from this trip and invite them to take part.

Find out more

Other useful resources and information

2022 in numbers

Our impact - live dashboard Contact the team

Staying involved 

Many young people need continued support over time. Our return trips mean build a relationship with the Trust that goes beyond a one-off experience.

Once a young person has been on a first time trip, they are invited back the following year. They have a selection of trips to choose from depending on their age. Some are five-day sailing trips, others are outdoor adventure weeks across the UK.

Wherever a young person lives and whatever stage of recovery they are at, they can always turn to the Trust. Our return trips are where we make a lasting difference.

See our return trips Return to all trips