Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Columbia, MD
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Pentagon / JWorld / Maryland / Chesapeake
New guy here; my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first daysail with a captain on a 30-something foot boat on the Chesapeake a couple weeks ago. Now that we live a measly 25 miles from Annapolis, we'd love to explore this hobby further. We're the type of people who seek out quality instruction to "do it right" from the beginning...we'd rather not learn bad habits early & have to unlearn them later when we find out we're unsafe, naive, and incompetent. We've both been scuba diving for nearly 20 years and we've sought out the best instructors of our regions for each major new skill....I suppose we've just been trained that knowledge, safety, and redundancy goes a long way toward ultimate enjoyment.
I've been searching the forums & the web re: sailing instruction and have a few questions. I'd be eager to hear from anyone in the area. Many of the Annapolis-based schools have received great reviews on here, but many of those reviews are getting a bit dusty and I know that instructors move on. Having said that, some of these schools have such a long track-record of success that I can't imagine they'd take a nose-dive overnight.
Here is my current list of curiosities:
1) Anyone familiar with the Pentagon Sailing Club? I've seen several favorable posts, but all (?) from one person who is affilitated with the club, it seems. I'd love another opinion. Price is excellent, 4 days on water + classroom, boats to rent once competence is demonstrated.....all pluses in my book. Washington is a reasonable commute for me, so it'd be logistically do-able. I'd be looking at ASA 101.
2) I've read great things about JWorld. I've read that it appeals to the "technical" sailor and that they really excel at racing. Ultimately, we're looking to cruise (we have 5- and 6-yr-old daughters....the thought of moving some of our camping trips to the water sounds like a blast), but I've read some opinions that learning with a racing attitude can really teach the nitty gritty of sailing technique, which only seems like it would transfer to more relaxed cruising. My wife and I are the technical types (e.g., it took sitting down with vector diagrams after our sailing excursion for the "ah hah!" moment to hit re: points of sail); I don't know if this instruction style is unique to JWorld/racing or not.
I've seen some suggest that JWorld does not provide ASA or US Sailing certificates, but their website seems to indicate the the 3-weekend (6-day) or 5-day "Learn to Sail" course includes US Sailing Basic Keelboat testing. I'm under the impression that US Sailing vs. ASA is not a big deal; some refer to the former as more racing-oriented, others say that's not necessarily true. I'm not so worried about the certification agency unless you all have a reason for me to be; in diving, I carry certs from multiple agencies since I choose the best instructor for the job & take his/her agency along with it.....
3) Some refer to Maryland School of Sailing as one of the best schools on the Chesapeake. It's a reasonable distance from me as well. I'm a bit hesitant, however, that the best first experience for us would be to learn on a 35' yacht. Not saying we couldn't do it, but it seems that having something smaller and more maneuverable would help learn how the boat responds to the wind. Perhaps I'm totally naive, but I didn't learn to drive by getting behind the wheel of a bus.
4) Annapolis School of Sailing and Chesapeake Sailing School both seem to get good marks and have a long reputation of success. I don't have any questions about these specifically, but if you took classes at either I'd love to hear about your experience in a PM. Mostly, I'd be interested in hearing about your specific instructor.
Thanks in advance to anyone familiar with any of these operations. If you're hesitant to post info about specific instructors publicly, I understand; drop me a private message, please. If anyone has other recommendations for quality instruction in the area, I'm all ears.