Why Should You Learn With a Certified Sailing School?
Updated: Jun 9
Ahoy! You went on your first sailboat ride, and now you're hooked. You want to learn how to skipper your own vessel, but don't know where to start. We've got ya covered for the best way to get learn how to sail.
LEARN WITH A CERTIFIED SAILING SCHOOL! Why? They have a curriculum they're required to follow, and their school must be inspected by the the association. The instructors had to pass evaluations, and went through rigorous training on how to teach. There are standards put into place, so you can be sure you're getting the best use of your money. There are a few different certifications for sailing. In the US we have the American Sailing Association, US Sailing, and Offshore Sailing. All three are great, but depending on what you're looking to get out of your new sailing life, might determine which school you'd prefer to go to. We chose the the American Sailing Association for our school, as they are geared more towards the long term sailor and cruising. They have a great commiunity as well.
The first step to learning is to take a 101 course. This teaches you the very basics of sailing. Everything from navigation aids, parts of the boat, wind, and how to maneuver a small sailing vessel. Once you complete the 101 course, it's now time to practice your skills. What's that old saying... How do you get to Carnage Hall? I won't finish this, as I'm sure there will be lots of eye rolling. Join a sailing club or rent a sailboat! You can also buy a small sailboat, but this option is a lot of work / trial and error for first time boaters. If you're not into maintenance and storage fees, just rent a boat. It's a lot cheaper in the long run.
Once you feel comfortable handling a small sailboat, it may be time to move on to the next class. 103 will get you comfortable with handling a wheel, you'll learn about a diesel engine, and docking. After you take 103, stop, and practice. Once you get comfortable with 103, keep moving on to higher courses and then practice.
A few sailing schools will push you to take 101-104 in one week. While this can be done, we've seen this as an inefficient way to learn to sail. The students forget everything within a couple of weeks. We suggest learning slowly over time. There has been great success at our school with this method. Sailing is all about the jargon. It's extremely important to know what everything on a sailboat is called. If you get caught in a bad situation, communication is key with your crew. "Pull that rope over there by the thingy" is not going to be effective in relaying what needs to happen on the boat.
We hope this has helped you choose your path to sailing freedom!
Pro Tip: Take your lessons at the end of Spring / beginning of Summer, so you have the rest of summer and fall to practice your skills.
See you on the water!