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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 12-13-2006
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Question How to Get Started?

I'm new to the board and also to sailing. My husband and I are interested in learning and trying to figure out the best way to do so. We live in the DC area and therefore have a large number of options.

Our eventual goal is to be able to do bareboat charters in the Caribbean. However, that will be a few years in the future. We are looking to do some local day sailing in the meantime. At this time, we don't have any plans to purchase a boat. Instead we are looking to join one of the local sailing clubs to gain experience.

Having done a bit of research, I have found that there are several options for learning to sail in the area. They are--
a) take an ASA 101 class
b) take an US Sail Basic Keelboat class
c) take a weekend "learn to sail" class from one of the local sailing schools
d) take a weekend "learn to sail" class from one of the local clubs

What type of intro class would you recommend for someone looking to do chartering in a few years? Also, if we do get a certification, are we locked into completing any future classes with that agency?

Thanks!
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Old 12-13-2006
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Others can give you better recommendations how to learn basic sailing. My only comment relates to certification. Your implication is this is a prerequisite to chartering which it is not, albeit some of the schools would want you to believe it is. The charter companies care much more about experience than credentials. In fact, some ignore these so-called certifications.
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Old 12-13-2006
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well, i can only speak for myself, worked for me, maybe not everyone. i took a weekend class from the local yacht club. learned the basics. safety, knots, basic sailing manuevers(sp). met some really cool people and got invited on a couple of their boats. hung around on race days. sometimes you go , sometimes not. depends on if they need crew or not. sometimes they will take you just because you're there. bought an inexpensive boat to learn on and been doing it since. only been sailing maybe 10 months, but having a good time learning, and just putzing around on my boat. i sail on a lake, so not as big a learning curve as on the ocean, which i will have to learn, cuz im going cruising in the next year or so. be VERY careful. extremely easy to get hooked on this stuff. have fun. regards, j.d.
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Old 12-13-2006
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To get started I would recommend an adult basic sailing course from a local marina. This class will teach you the essential basics like point of sail, man overboard drills, and docking maneuvers. I used to live in DC and took this class from the Mariner Sailing School at the Belle Haven Marina. Check out this link http://www.saildc.com/ They have great deals on 1/2 price rentals and free practice time for those who take the class. Great for local day sailing. This is a cheaper way to get sailing with confidence than jumping right into the ASA classes, which you will probably be learning from a 30' boat with an inboard and lots of systems to understand. I suggest learning the basics then learning all about prop walk. Good luck!
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Old 12-14-2006
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None of the more popular sailing schools in Annapolis use anything near a 30-foot boat for basic sailing courses. Chesapeake Sailing School does teach ASA courses and uses Tanzer 22s, basic keelboats with only basic sailing set-ups. I am not sure if Annapolis Sailing School teaches ASA but they use Rainbows, which are 22-24 foot basic keel boats. Chesapeake is located in the Port Annapolis Complex on Bembe Beach Road (starts out as Edgewood) and Annapolis is at the very end of Bembe Beach Road. J World in Eastport also uses 22-foot basic keelboats, but they're geared towards teaching performance sailing (racing).

The most advanced system on any of these boats is an outboard motor. The Rainbows don't even have that. And they all use tiller steering, which is better for learning the basics.

Last edited by SailinJay; 12-15-2006 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 12-16-2006
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All,

Thanks for the input so far. At this point we're debating between taking a certification class and the class offered by one of the local clubs. These classes look to give us a good bit more time out on the water with an instructor than some of the other options we've found. To me, the more instructor time, the better the option.

I do have one question based on what k1vsk said. If we don't go through a certification process and don't own a boat, how would one get the experience/knowledge to do a bareboat rental?

Thanks, this has been very informative so far!
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Old 12-16-2006
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Experience is the best teacher for me. Read and ask lots of questions, Purchase an in expensive boat and get out there and practice, You will meet both knowledgable and "interesting" people to learn from. Try http://www.chapman.org/ for a starter boat. Best of Luck

Fair Winds,

Bill
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Old 12-16-2006
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If we don't go through a certification process and don't own a boat, how would one get the experience/knowledge to do a bareboat rental?

Tiggy...it is absolutely true that there is NO requirement for any sort of certification for bareboating charters...but the charter organizations DO want to be assured you won't destroy their boats so they look for education, experience and proof of competence in some combination. From your posts it sounds as if buying a boat is not in your plans so here are a few things you can do OUTSIDE of ASA type courses:
1. Take a Coast Guard auxillary course to get basic rules of the road and navigation skills and certification of completion.
2. Offer yourselves as crew on other peoples boats. Since there is so much racing going on in the Annapolis area...some index cards posted in the marinas should get you some offers. Keep an eye on ads in SpinSheet magazine too.
3. Join one of the sailing clubs that sell you boat time rather than boat ownership and get out on the Bay.
4. Take some Captained charters in the Bay and learn to sail larger boats under supervision so that you have the confidence to handle one alone.

Once you feel confident about your abiities...chances are the charter companies will feel the same.
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Old 12-16-2006
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This is ancedotal, but from a vetern charterer. Often times, a company will simply have you take the boat out of the slip, and put it back in, to determine your competence.
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Old 12-16-2006
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Thanks for the input! This has really been quite helpful. It sounds like joining one of the local sailing clubs is the best idea for getting some more experience. We're much closer to DC than Annapolis, but I've found a couple of clubs in there. (As much as I'd like to think about getting a boat, the cost and logistics preclude that option at this time.)

I've sent out a couple of requests for additional information on classes. We have a some time to figure that piece out. Classes don't start for about 5 more months.
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