Re: Are sailing schools worth it?
Sailing Schools (like any other school &/or teacher) varies. I will say right up front that I am an ASA instructor working in California and the Caribbean. I've sailed for 40 years, starting with lessons at 13. I sailed sabots a lot, bought a 32 boat when I was 40, took a couple of advanced ASA classes, then spent 10 years racing my brains out. Got my 50 ton near coastal USCG License 5 years ago, then certification as an ASA instructor 4 years ago. ASA has a very high standard (I passed my USCG navigation test first time, but the ASA instructors navigation test took two tries!).
Now, what do you need to know?
Nothing beats sailing a little boat (< 24'-26') a lot. This gives you immediate feedback and the all important "feel" for what is happening in and outside the boat and quick results of actions you do or do not take. Learn from friends and crew on a few boats. If you crew with quality people that like to talk about what they know great; but formal training will let you see gaps in other's knowledge. I think all cruisers should join a race team and all racers should take a cruising class no matter how long they have been sailing. But just Go Sailing!!! There is NO Limit to the level you can take it....