Great advice Heimdal, if you can get out with someone that is experienced then you will definately benefit as they will tell you all the areas to look out for. I went for a while without doing a day skipper course but I did have experience in the areas that I visited so all was fine, however, the day skipper is an excellent course and will make you far more aware of what to do and how to read charts properly (planning routes, tides, boat lights/shapes, buoys, entering harbours etc) it definately gave me more confidence. If you don't do the day skipper course, then the minimum i would recommend are some charts, plotter, compass, vhf and some spares for the engine e.g belts, filters, lifejackets are an absolute must and flares. I would not recommend photocopies of charts as they are nowhere near as clear to read unless colour. If it's black and white you'd spend most of the time trying to distinguish whats sea and whats land. (sounds silly i know but try it if you want) Also, if you don't have knowledge of local areas, the charts and plotter are unbeatable as some of the voe's have rocks near the entrance which can't be seen unless the tide is right. For example, whiteness is a bit of a dogs leg to get into. So, you would check on the plotter and cross reference on the chart to make sure your not missing anything (or missing everything i probably should say). If you do decide to buy a boat then can be worrying going out with no experience, but once you know the areas, you will definately have some of the best times ever with scenery, fishing, wildlife etc. Best wishes ,and i'd still recommend doing the day skipper course.