Our History

Cockshott Wood, Glebe Road, Bowness-on-Winderemere, Cumbria LA23 3HE
015394 45333 Registered Charity No. 1106865

 Life through Sailing – Sailing through Life

From the humble beginnings in the early 90’s, Blackwell Sailing represents a true success story. One that has grown from a single sailing dinghy and the vision of one dinghy sailor, David Hall.

Blackwell Sailing started, with encouragement and support from the staff at Whinfell Day Centre,  in 1993. We were given an old plywood GP14 and borrowed some buoyancy aids. We were based initially at Millerground in the north basin of Windermere. Our aim was to introduce sailing to adults with learning disabilities as a means to extend their experience of the outdoor environment and develop their social skills.

A few years later we moved to Blackwell Boathouse. But there was no flushing toilet, no running water and no electricity on site. We were not permitted to develop the site and access was across a field so sometimes difficult. In 2002 the boat house was sold and we had to move on. Our first season here at Cockshott Wood was in 2003. By then we had three sailing boats, a dozen volunteers and ran 2 sessions per week for adults with learning disabilities. We now have more boats – see Our Boats page – and have a total of 40 volunteers who help to run 4 sessions each week.


  • 1993 launched our first boat Nancy at Millerground
  • 1995 the project moved to Blackwell Boathouse (hence the name)
  • Purchased our 1st Lune Whammel boat and had use of an old RIB for which we purchased a new engine
  • 1996 Registered as an RYA Sailability Foundation Site
  • 1999 Purchased a new RIB and set up as a voluntary organisation
  • 2000 Registered as a charity
  • 2002 bought our 2nd Whammel boat, Joanna
  • 2003 Moved to Cockshott Wood. David now running two sailing sessions per week with about 12 volunteers. Funding raised to install a hoist.
  • 2004 Raised funds for outside wc/shower room.  David appointed as part-time Manager.   Winter walking group established.
  • 2007 Became RYA Recognised Training Centre and purchased x4 open canoes. Awarded RYAS Centre of Excellence status.
  • 2008 New jetty and quayside up-grade completed by our landlords/benefactors.
  • 2009 Three more boats purchased: x2 Laser Stratos and a 303 Access boat. New 2 storey building completed by end of season. Volunteers to do interior work.
  • 2010 Manager position becomes full time and new building opened by Princess Anne, Patron of RYA Sailability
  • 2011 3rd Whammel boat donated to us
  • 2016 RS Venture Keel added to the fleet
  • 2018 Celebrating 25 years of sailing