Learning how to sail takes a bit practice, but it’s an incredible skill that pays off in many ways. You get to captain a vessel that moves under power of nothing more than the wind, something that’s quite magical with you first experience it. Sailing is a social sport, an experience you get to share with friends and family when you become proficient. And, it’s something you can use when you travel, opting to charter a boat say in the Caribbean or Mediterranean and do some island hopping. So what’s involved in learning how to sail? Let’s get into it.
Sailing Certifications – Not Required, Highly Recommended
Legally, anyone with the money to buy a sailboat could do so and sail it the same day with no prior training, meaning you don’t need to be certified or obtain a license to sail. Seems odd, but it’s true.
However, handling a sailboat well, knowing how to navigate inland waterways or the open ocean, and keeping yourself and other safe on the water aren’t skills we’re just born with. If you plan to get into sailing by initially renting boats, most charter companies will want to see that you’ve undergone some training, so getting certified is practical to enjoying the sport and staying safe.
How to Get A Sailing Certification
In the US, there are two main educational bodies for sailing: US Sailing and American Sailing Association (ASA). Your local school will likely be an affiliate of one these. We’re lucky here in the US that both of these sailing associations provide an excellent curriculum and the cost is roughly the same. Which one you go with may likely depend on what’s offered where you live.
Far more important than this is reputation of the local school and their instructors. Do your research on Yelp or other review sites. Better yet, ask around within your network. If you live close to water, there’s a chance someone in your network sails.
What A Basic Sailing Course Is Like
Your first Basic Sailing class will involve roughly 14 hours of instruction that may be completed over 1-3 weekends depending on your school. The cost will be around $150. This first course really sets the foundation for your sailing knowledge. You’ll learn about:
- The basic physical principles that allow sailboats to move
- The controls that make that possible, all the parts and rigging on sailboats and nomenclature
- Basic navigation, reading charts, buoys, markers, and other aids to navigation
- Rules of the road, the stand-on and give-way navigational rules and collision avoidance.
- Safety and emergency procedures
The first part of instruction usually takes place in a classroom setting on or on the docks. Your first class will also take you out on the water for practical learning. You’ll get a chance to handle the sails, steering, and learn techniques for departure, anchoring, and returning to dock.
After Your Basic Sailing Course
After your first sailing course, you can continue with more advanced keelboat courses, take specialized courses in handling larger boats, passage making, and more. You new skills can take you places you’d never dreamed of and create moments you’d only find out on the water. Happy sailing.