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How to Choose a Sailing School
Finding a Sailing School
Sailing School Search of USA by EduMaritime
Sailing Schools by World Regions
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How to Choose a Sailing School
By Tom Lochhaas
Do You Need a Sailing School to Learn to Sail?
When it comes to learning to sail or improving your sailing skills, what exactly are you seeking? Have you thought through your short- and long-term goals? Do you seek certification – and if so, do you really need it?
These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself before deciding what kind of sailing instruction is best for you and then seeking the best instructor or school to meet your needs.
What Are Your Sailing Goals?
There are three main reasons why people seek sailing instruction. Where you should look for a sailing school (or instructor), what kind of class you should take, and how much you’ll end up paying for it are all determined mostly by your primary goal.
I just want to learn to sail and get started, maybe some day own my own sailboat.
- You may need only an instructor, mentor, or sailing friend – you may not need a sailing school.
- You certainly don’t need certification to sail legally, to own or operate a boat, or even to charter a sailboat. (See below for more on certification.)
- You don’t need to pay a lot for sailing instruction. You have many options, once you start looking around.
- Look locally for possibilities (see below). You can learn to sail on a vacation to an exotic place, but when you return home you may lack contacts to continue sailing.
I have a sailboat but want to learn how to sail it (or sail better).
- You probably don’t need a sailing school.
- Look locally for a captain or willing sailor (see below).
- A sailing school may be appropriate if you seek specific skills, such as preparing for coastal passage making or offshore cruising.
I want to be able to charter a sailboat
- Certification is not legally required to charter, and most bareboat charter companies do not actually require certification (regardless of the hype you may hear from certificate-issuing sailing schools).
- Charter companies are more interested in your sailing experience in a similar size sailboat than in a certificate, and sailing your own boat or crewing experience can count just as much on your sailing resume. (The charter company may simply check out your skills when you arrive.)
- If you do not have much sailing experience and can’t get it otherwise, a certifying sailing school is an excellent way both to learn and gain significant experience to qualify for bareboat chartering.
Where to Look for Sailing Instruction
- Many communities offer low-cost learn-to-sail programs. Boston and Key West are two examples where you can learn to sail and then continue sailing the center’s boats. You’ll find community sailing centers in many areas – do an online search in your area. (These are usually smaller sailboats and won’t help you gain experience for bareboat chartering.)
- In many areas, the public school system (or an adult education program) has learn-to-sail courses, as do many private, state, and community colleges. Such courses are less expensive than private sailing schools, and you’ll make contacts with others in your area to continue sailing after the course.
- Many yacht clubs operate learn-to-sail programs for both kids and adults, usually at a reasonable cost. Virtually all clubs have websites easily found with a local online search. Again, you’ll also meet sailors in the community, may discover a club you’ll choose to join some day, and find sailors seeking crew on their boats.
- If your goal is to learn on your own boat or gain better sailing skills, you probably don’t need formal instruction at all. Call up your local yacht club and ask if you can post a bulletin board notice asking for help on your boat or offering to crew with others. Bartering is common – you might offer to help with an owner’s spring maintenance in return for some crewing.
- Legally, a sailor needs a USCG captain’s license to be paid for operating a boat – including yours, if you’re hiring someone to teach you on your boat. Be sure anyone you plan to pay is qualified. But lots of friendly bartering deals are made among sailors helping each other out, so explore all the options.
- Finally, consider the cost savings of learning locally. A two-week trip to a national sailing school will likely cost more than buying your own daysailer and learning to sail it near home – plus you’ll own a boat when you’re done!
National Sailing Schools
There are some good reasons to attend a national sailing school:
- If you live nowhere a coast or major lake, you may have no other option. Since you’ll be paying significantly for the experience, consider the sailing school like a vacation and make sure you’ll have some fun too. Most big sailing schools offer liveaboard learning – often in tropic paradises.
- If you really want sailing experience on a cruising size sailboat and can’t get it locally, the national schools offer courses on bigger boats. You have a wide range of choices.
- If you don’t anticipate buying your own boat and chartering is your only option, taking a course leading to bareboat certification is likely the fastest way to reach your goal.
- If you have your own cruising sailboat but feel you lack the skills needed to head offshore or on a long cruise, consider local options first. (Sailing schools are a relatively new phenomenon, sailors having learned on their own or with friends for hundreds of years.) If you have no other option, or just want the vacation, take an advanced course that meets your exact needs.
Do you need certification? What kind of course? Big or small school?
- Again, certification is not legally required, though it may help convince some bareboat charter companies that you have sufficient experience. Don’t pay more for a program offering certification unless you really have a reason. The two certifying bodies are US Sailing and the American Sailing Association.
- US SAILING is sailing “governing body” – which refers to racing, since recreational sailing is regulated only by state and federal law. Sailing schools associated with US Sailing often offer performance sailing instruction but also standard cruising courses.
- The American Sailing Association developed standardized criteria to ensure the quality of recreational sailing instruction, a system they say is used by over 300 schools.
- Both US SAILING and American Sailing Association have 7 levels of courses and certification. Both are associated in varying extents with charter companies. When choosing a sailing school, it is best to choose it on the basis of its specific services, reputation, and cost – not based on which type of certification it has.
Making Your Selection of a Sailing School
Start at the US SAILING and American Sailing Association websites, both of which link to associated sailing schools by area of search.
Before contacting or evaluating individual schools, decide first exactly what kind of course you want to meet your personal goals. Both websites have information about their basic 7 levels of instruction, from beginner to advanced and specialized courses. Many schools have additional areas of specialization.
Consider your options. Want to live aboard while learning? Want luxurious land facilities for after hours? Want to anchor off Caribbean islands? Virtually anything is possible with many sailing schools that offer customized instruction.
Consider the school’s reputation. Being associated with US SAILING or American Sailing Association means the instruction will be good, but the total experience matters as well. Two of the big sailing schools with outstanding reputations are the Blue Water Sailing School and Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School.
Smaller and regional sailing schools may offer just as good an experience, however, and sometimes less expensively. Just check them out before signing up. Pick up the phone and talk to them, and do some online searches to see if anyone has reviewed them badly. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and for what you’re paying, you really want to ensure you have a great time as well as learn to sail.
When learning to sail, it’s important also to learn and use the correct terms for different parts of the boat and for sailing maneuvers. Before starting your sailing course, it’s a good idea to review basic sailboat terminology and the terms involved in sailing itself.
From about sports: http://sailing.about.com/od/learntosail/a/How-To-Choose-A-Sailing-School.htm
Finding a Sailing School
American Sailing Association affiliated sailing schools now graduate and certify thousands of new sailors annually – sailors who learn faster, learn more and have more fun sailing in more new places. They choose ASA schools because they want to follow a proven curriculum in a professional, supportive learning environment under the direction of certified sailing instructors.
There are more than 300 ASA sailing schools across the United States as well as schools across the far east, Canada, the Caribbean and many other popular sailing locales.
Find an American Sailing Association affiliated sailing school at ASA Website.
US SAILING is sailing “governing body” – which refers to racing, since recreational sailing is regulated only by state and federal law. Sailing schools associated with US Sailing often offer performance sailing instruction but also standard cruising courses.
As the National Governing Body for Sailing in the US, US Sailing does not extend accreditation lightly. All schools in our Keelboat Certification Network undergo a full evaluation to ensure that they meet the high standards of US Sailing. Taking lessons from a US Sailing school will prepare you to meet your goals, regardless if you’re just starting out or have dreams of cruising offshore.
While the level of education, and skills learned, are consistent across the Network, schools offer a variety of scheduling opportunities to meet your needs so please be sure to connect with schools in your area directly.
Find a affiliated sailing school at US Sailing Website.
Sailing School Search of USA by EduMaritime
North East Sailing Schools
- Nelson Sailing Center – Island Heights
- New Jersey Sailing School – Bricktown
- Tracey Sailing School – Keyport
Sailing Schools – US West
- Afterguard Sailing Academy – Oakland
- Blue Pacific Boating – Marina Del Rey
- Delta Sailing School
- Marina Sailing – Long Beach
- Monterey Bay Sailing School – Monterey
- Newport Beach Sailing School – Newport Beach
- Pacific Yachting & Sailing – Santa Cruz
- South Bay Sailing – Redondo Beach
- Spinnaker Sailing School – Redwood City
- Tradewinds Sailing School and Club – Richmond
Mid West Sailing Schools
Southern Sailing Schools
- Florida Sailing & Cruising School – North Fort Myers
- Offshore Sailing School – Fort Myers
- Reef Runner Sailing School – Panama City & Key Largo
- Sailing Florida Charters and Sailing School – Saint Petersburg
- Flagship Sailing School – St. Petersburg & Ruskin
- Windward Sailing School – Fernandina Beach
- Baysail On The Chesapeake – Havre De Grace
- Sail Solomons – Solomons
- Sail Time – Annapolis and Other Locations
Sailing Schools by World Regions
WORLD REGIONS (Based on UN Country Grouping)
^ THE AMERICAS
^ ^ North America (Canada, United States, etc)
^ ^ The Caribbean
^ ^ Central America
^ ^ South America
^ ^ European Union
^ ^ Non-European Union
^ MIDDLE EAST
^ ^ Northern Africa
^ ^ Western Africa
^ ^ Eastern Africa
^ ^ Middle Africa
^ ^ Southern Africa
Click On The Country’s Link Below To Go To That Country’s Directory
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Antigua and Barbuda
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba
British Virgin Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands (US)
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Guerney and Alderney
Man, Island of
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands
Vatican City State (Holy See)
United Arab Emirates
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Tanzania, United Republic of
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Sao Tome and Principe
Sri Lanka (ex-Ceilan)
Timor Leste (West)
Papua New Guinea
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