Join Date: Jul 2008
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In your neighborhood
I also live in the DC area and have some places to suggest trying out. A few years ago I did my ASA 101 and 103 courses at the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. They're a great school and (relatively) not too far of a drive from DC. They're on the northern part of the Eastern Shore in a small town called Rock Hall....practically due east across the bay from Baltimore. The course includes overnights on the boat while it's docked in a sheltered marina, so it's pretty calm. Just a little gentle swaying all night. But if that's too much or your boatmates complain about the snoring, you can always stay at a hotel in town and just "commute" to the marina. It's not too far. I would go into town before the class started every morning anyway to get a coffee.
You can also take the kids (and the wife, if she'll go) out for a quicky sail at the Belle Haven Marina. It's just south of Old Town Alexandria, just off the GW Parkway. They rent out 19' Flying Scots, which can comfortably seat 4 in an open cockpit, for a couple hours at a time and the sailing area is a pretty wide patch on the Potomac just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It's pretty calm water except for the occassional giant powerboat owner who doesn't know the meaning of "no wake". So I would imagine this would be a good chance for your wife to try a little sailing without a giant time or money committment. You could be back in the marina in minutes if she got uncomfortable. They also offer basic sailing classes.
I've discovered a few other places on the Bay that offer day sail rentals and lessons. You can try the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels for lessons, South River Boat Rentals near Annapolis for rentals and the Chesapeake Sailing School in Annapolis also does ASA classes and I think they offer discount rentals for their "graduates." Their website also says they offer the ASA 114 course. I stayed away from them when doing my ASA class specifically because they don't offer a live aboard option, but that may be perfect for you. You could sleep at home and drive out there every day for the class. But the sailing area's a bit more crowded than Rock Hall, and going home everyday means you lose that feeling of a sailing vacation I got in Rock Hall.
As for your wife's seasickness, I can offer my own experience. I suffer from a bit of seasickness too...as I think many sailors do...so I preventatively take a Dramamine every morning when I wake up. I got that advice from my ASA 103 instructor who does the same thing...and he's one of those "old salts" who's been sailing for 40 years. My wife also has seasickness problems and when I took her sailing in the BVIs for the first time a couple years ago, she discovered that 2 Dramamines did wonders for her. 1 pill still left her a bit uneasy, but after that discovery she had a blast living aboard a boat for a week. So much so that we're going sailing in Belize next month. We even went to the Bahamas last spring for a quick land-based getaway, and she kept complaing the whole time that we should've been on a boat. So I think there's hope for your wife. Good luck, and feel free to contact me if you need any more infro...since I'm right nearby.