Let us introduce ourselves - hello

We started Blue Box Sailing with one aim in mind, to make sailing aboard yachts accessible. Starting the company fifteen years ago aged just twenty-one, we were not afraid to dream big and our first yacht Whitbread 60 Blueprint, was pretty special. With cutting edge design and being a former speed record holder, she was super quick, agile and just like the dinghies we had learnt to sail in. The boats may have changed over the last fifteen years, but our enthusiasm and desire to share our passion for sailing with as many people as possible has not been dampened.

We are far removed from the traditional stuffy image often associated with yachting, along with our incredible team we aim to make our boats inclusive, relaxed and fun places to be, with the opportunity to be actively involved in sailing our yachts should you wish. Our customers are the most important people in our business and we aim to make each and every experience we offer special for everyone on board, ensuring you get the very best from your experience.

We now have three exceptional and special boats, offering three very different experiences. We have carefully chosen these boats to hopefully ensure there is an experience to suit everyone and enable as many people as possible to enjoy the freedom that being out on the water offers. Taking out over 38,000 customers to date we feel super pleased that we have been able to make it possible for so many people to get out on the water!

You can read our story below, it has been an amazing fifteen years and we would love to welcome you aboard one of our boats soon.

Jono and Lisa

jono

lisa

Our story - find out how Blue Box became the company it is today

Summer of 1997, Jono & Lisa meet… in a lake.

Jono and Lisa meet teaching dinghy sailing on a lake at Burghfield Sailing Club in Reading, aged 16…

1999 – 2002, an education of sorts…

Lisa did the sensible thing and went to the University of Warwick to study business… meanwhile Jono followed his dream and ran away to sea… 50,000 sea miles, a lot of sailing qualifications and one degree later we’re still in contact and start to come up with a plan …

Autumn 2002, an idea is brewing…

We start seriously talking about the concept of Blue Box. Getting away from the stuffy yacht club stereotype and blazer wearing yachtie, we are disillusioned with what ‘yachting’ is. Coming from a dinghy sailing background, we want to try and change the ‘yachting’ world and how people get access to boats. Focusing on making sailing on high performance yachts accessible to everyone, regardless of their age, gender and background. The only issue was convincing people that lending cash to two 21 year olds to go buy a 60ft yacht as a startup business was a good idea… that was the tricky bit! A solid business plan and a huge amount of passion for making it happen begin to start making things move ……

13 February 2003, Blue Box is born!

Blue Box Sailing was incorporated as a proper Limited Company!

April 2003, first boat is bought!

April 2003, first boat is bought!

We buy Blueprint, our Whitbread 60 from Sweden! As with all memorable journeys, a transit van started it all off, with a long drive to East Sweden.  An exciting delivery back through the Baltic after the marina defrosted enough to allow us to launch in the snow and FREEZING temperatures makes for a memorable journey! With just four of us aboard – Lisa, Jono, Ed and Sean – we cruised through the Dover Straits at 17knots making an amazing sail back into Southampton. From then we knew we had found the perfect yacht for the start of something truly special. The achievement of buying her felt particularly special as, after the original so called ‘Yacht Broker’ wouldn’t take two 21 year olds seriously, we found another who would believe in us and he gave us a chance even poaching the boat from the other broker for us – Thank you Tom!

2003 Our first season…

2003 Our first season…

After the excitement of actually getting the Whitbread back to the UK, the onerous task of getting the MCA coding to use the boat to carry ‘passengers’ began, but finally all was signed off and we began offering sailing experience aboard Whitbread 60 Blueprint on the Solent from our home base in Ocean Village Marina, Southampton. In our first year, we manage to convince just over 600 people to come for a sail with us! We can’t believe it – our idea is actually working and people really love getting access to this type of boat – the type of yacht they had seen on telly, read about in the magazines and could now experience for themselves. Having no money, we live on the boat and our office is a 20ft shipping container. We connect our mobile phone (that we shared) twice a day to check for emails and we even have a paper diary (the ‘booking system’)…

Summer 2004, day sails and record attempts…

Summer 2004, day sails and record attempts…

Alongside our day sails in the Solent aboard Whitbread 60 Blueprint we also had the daft idea of try to break a World Record… So we collected together a boat full of under 25 year olds, gained sponsorship from Fat Face Clothing and attempted to sail non-stop around Britain. Unfortunately, mid summer when all should have been perfect weather, we had a ‘British Summer’ and got hit with 55+knots of wind in the Irish Sea. Although the sailing at high speeds (we touched 26knots) reaching between Ireland and Wales waiting out the storm was fun, with great disappointment we had to abandon the attempt and return home.

2005, Round UK Cruise

2005, Round UK Cruise

After the previous year’s bitter disappointment with not getting around the UK non-stop, we decided to spend 6 weeks cruising around the UK on Blueprint instead. An amazing journey seeing some incredible places, with some wonderful customers, sailing over 2000 miles. Back on the Solent, our day sails really start to take off, leading to us working with the gift agencies to establish sailing as a viable gift day out.

2006 – Tesco rings our phone…

2006 – Tesco rings our phone…

We receive a call from a small grocer called Tesco wanting to run a trial offering experiences though the Clubcard Scheme – with such incredible exposure it all kicked off!! Busiest summer on record. By the end of 2006 we have taken over 6,000 people sailing since we began in 2003…

2007, new boat added…

2007, new boat added…

By the end of the summer season in 2007 we were not able to keep up with demand for day sails in the Solent with just one boat, so we expanded the business buying our 2nd boat… Scary and exciting times, but in August we bought Clipper 60 Taeping from Clipper Ventures.

Winter 2010/11 Big move to the Hamble

We made the jump from Ocean Village Marina, to the iconic River Hamble and found a new home at Hamble Yacht Services.

2013 – Sam joins the team

2013 – Sam joins the team

Sam joins the team. Making the big (and brave) move down from the North East, Sam joins us as Mate aboard our boats. With a strong background in the sail training world, she soon shows her abilities and passes training to become Skipper of our Clipper 60s. Now full time Skipper of Mermerus.

July 2013 another boat…

July 2013 another boat…

With demand building, we expand again and buy another identical Clipper 60, Serica.

2014 – over 30,000 people taken out on the water!

By the end of the 2014 season we have taken an incredible 30,000 people on the water since our beginning in 2003….

December 2015 yet another boat…

December 2015 yet another boat…

Another boat added to the fleet, sister boat to our Clipper 60’s, Mermerus. That’s 3 identical Clipper 60s now…

2015 – Dom joins the team…

2015 – Dom joins the team…

Dom joins us as Mate aboard our boats. Moving on from a strong background in Watersports and keel boat instruction, Dom is full time 1st Mate..

2016 move to Hamble Point Marina

2016 move to Hamble Point Marina

We make the move to Hamble Point Marina at the mouth of the River Hamble – as close to the Solent as you can get! MDL build us a new building over looking the Solent…

2016/17 Winter, buy and sell!

2016/17 Winter, buy and sell!

Swap around of boats… With our new location, we respond to the ever changing market and sell Clipper 60 Taeping to a charity that had recently lost their boat and buy Betsie Jane, our 1938 Gentleman’s Launch to offer River Trips along the River Hamble…

2017 – re-brand…

2017 – re-brand…

Whoops. Someone went and bought a powerboat to add to the fleet and the obvious is pointed out to us – Blue Box SAILING isn’t going to work anymore! So we re-brand as Blue Box Experiences 🙂

2017 season – over 38,000 people taken out…

By the end of 2017, we have now taken out over 38,000 on the water since beginning in 2003. I guess this shows the idea kinda worked… with our original aim to get as many people as we could on the water. We’re pretty chuffed we’ve managed to convince 38,000 people they should give it a go.

2017/18 Winter – Valerie arrives!

2017/18 Winter – Valerie arrives!

With a final swap around, we finally get to where we want to be! Selling Whitbread 60 Blueprint and Clipper 60 Serica, we buy the AMAZING Valerie – built in 1895 and following a full on restoration over a number years she is a real piece of sailing history… From the very first moment we saw her it was true love and we were determined to find a way to add her to our fleet! Sometimes we wonder how did that all happen, a couple of state school kids meeting on a dinghy sailing lake ending up buying a boat that would be more commonly found racing on the exclusive Med Circuit sailed by blokes in salmon coloured trousers and blazers…. We are so excited to share her with our customers in 2018!

Jono

Jono along with Lisa is one of the founders of Blue Box Experience. Jono's background in sailing spans 25 years and he has logged over 120,000 miles at sea. Commercially endorsed Yachtmaster Power and Sail with a background in instructing. Age 36.

Lisa

Lisa along with Jono is one of the founders of Blue Box Experience. Lisa's background in sailing spans 25 years and she has logged over 35,000 miles at sea. Commercially endorsed Yachtmaster Sail, but normally found running the office. Age 36.

Sam

Sam is Skipper of our Clipper 60 Mermerus. Sam's background in sailing started in Sail Training aged 17 and she has logged over 36,000 miles at sea including an Atlantic crossing. Commercially endorsed Yachtmaster Sail. Age 32.

Dom

Dom is First Mate aboard Mermerus and Valerie. Dom's background in sailing started in dinghies aged 8 and he has logged over 10,000 miles at sea including working in the Middle East, America and the UK. Age 25