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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 06-29-2010
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Sailing for All? Really? $$$?

Oh boy. Dh and I recently heard the author of "Saving Sailing" speak and thought he was spot on about values and sailing for everyone.

In searching for a sailing school and finding Boston Sailing Center to sound ideal, the tuition for 2 adults is about 1600. to *learn to sail!* One well-respected Sailingnet member, Sailingdog, endorses this school and I can see why ... but 800+ per person seems a lot to spend to learn the basics. Am I off base here?

Thanks to any and all -- if it's par for the course, we'll learn at that expense, but it just seems a bit high ... Thanks again for your help!
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Old 06-29-2010
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I don't know the right price for sailing school. But I taught myself, using a book, a dinghy, and practice. You can too.
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Old 06-29-2010
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Try finding a community sailing center. Many large cities have them (Milwaukee, Chicago, etc). Also, there may be local sailing clubs that have subsidized or really discounted adult learn to sail programs. I'm a member of the Gulfstream Sailing Club in Fort Lauderdale and our Adult Learn To Sail is less than $200 for 8 weeks of Saturday instruction. Lastly - check out local community colleges...they too may have non-credit or adult enrichment sailing classes at lower rates. Broward Community College, for example, had an 8 week learn to sail for about $250 a person including books and certification.
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I'll go ahead and cast my lot with WanderingStar. If the stricture and discipline of a class will help you, then by all means go that route. And I think the suggestions about looking at community college and at local sailing clubs rather than established sailing schools is a great idea to same some money.

But I bought myself a dinghy without knowing much more than the names of the two sails that came with it (the big sail and the little sail, right?), and I got out on the water. I read everything I could get my hands on about sailing, and it didn't take me very long to figure it all out. I particularly liked The Complete Sailor by David Seidman.

My experience has been that once you understand the conceptual basics of what makes a sailboat move, the rest of it generally comes pretty easily after that. There are some nuances that you may not pick up on, and some things are counter intuitive, but teaching yourself to sail isn't so hard.
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Old 06-29-2010
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I took my ASA 101 Basic Keelboat course at a local sailing school for about $400 last year. That included 16 hours of instruction, the book, the certification exam and my one year membership fee with the ASA. My ASA 105, Coastal Navigation, ran about $200. What is the school you refer to teaching you? As others have said you can find less expesive ways to get the basic skill set.
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Old 06-29-2010
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How about crewing on a boat? Last time I checked its free? Maybe I little blood and sweat
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Old 06-29-2010
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Thanks everyone - I can see all sides of this. Crewing is on the to-do list to be sure, but I'd like to have some real skill to offer instead of feeling like America's guest, you know? Off to explore options. Have to say that while it's expensive, Boston Sailing has a nice fleet of boats and, frankly I'd rather spend my money on experiences that stuff (read: want to buy a boat later, if at all!)
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Where I teach part-time, it's $75 per student for a 3-hour lesson, with 4 lessons usually putting you in position to take the ASA basic keelboat test (book and test prep cost extra but not that much).

My lessons usually last a little longer than 3 hours if conditions are good and schedule permits, so you're getting a boat and skipper/instructor for a little less than $25 per hour.

It's about the same at the local YC where I occasionally teach in Flying Scots, they run adult-ed sailing classes out of the USSA book to develop sailors and hence graduate you into crew for their members who race (translation: now your "lessons" are free, and they give you beer).

Maybe "up East" it's higher, but around the South this is fairly standard.

So learning can be pretty reasonable cash-wise, if you look around.
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Old 06-29-2010
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I'd point out that all of the BSC courses come with a short membership, usually a month or so...where you can use the boats at the BSC.

While, you can learn on a dinghy, with a book, a lot of people are just more comfortable learning in a more structured environment. An ASA 101 type course gives you a very solid foundation to start with—in terms of basic sailing knowledge as well as theory, terminology and practice. Learning on a dinghy is great, if you have access to the boats... however, having access to cruising sailboats and sailing on them is a huge advantage if that is your ultimate goal.

As for books to read... if you haven't picked up Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor, please do so. It is really the best sailing primer I've seen in many years.
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Old 06-29-2010
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Another Option

Boston Harbor Sailing School

My wife took this course and she thought it was good. I took the course that you are looking at the Boston Sailing Center and thought it was a good course. Losts of hands on sailing.

The other idea is to hire a instructor for you and your wife and go out together. For probably 1/2 the $, you could get the same level of instruction and learn how each operates as a team.

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