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I don't want this to necessarily be a plug for any specific sailing association but just an interesting observation that I have recently made, and would like to pass this on to other newcomers to the sailing world.

I have had a real keen interest in sailing for years, but either didn't know the right people to get involved or didn't live in the correct area to be sailing. I grew up outside of Annapolis, Maryland and owned a few small runabouts and ski boats in my time, but always watched how graceful and beautiful the "blow boats" were. Still no sail boating. I moved away from the Chesapeake Bay region for a decade or more in the early 90s and got involved in other land lubber activities like restoring cars and shooting sporting clays for a number of years. Any time I managed to get to Hilton Head or Charleston I would miss the water and want to go home to the Chesapeake Bay.

A few years ago I got my wish and moved back to the Bay area and settled in a little town right on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Although the town I live in is more noted for charter boats, and fishing for Striped Bass (rockfish), it still gets me close to the many sailing marinas in the area.
Subsequently, I made friends with a couple guys at work that sail a lot and was invited out on their boats several times before I became hooked and wanted to learn to sail. As I began my quest for sailing knowledge I have discovered that there is so much more to learning to sail than just buying a boat and getting under way.

This takes me to the main point of my post here. Both of the guys that took me out sailing are members of a local Sailing Association that provides both training and experience, with some camaraderie thrown in for good measure. This particular association, "The Annapolis Naval Sailing Association" is a member of the "US Naval Sailing Association" and follows the training requirements, qualifications and policies set forth by the USNSA for developing its new and upcoming members.

I joined the organization a little while ago and attended my first meeting last night. I had a good time and had a chance to meet the Commodore and several of the other officers and was pleased with the group. Oh did I mention the food was great too!

The training ANSA provides is delivered in stages or Qualification levels that correspond with the USNSA Checklists. Levels are attained through classroom work and hours spent on the boat sailing the waters of the Chesapeake on the organization's 44 foot CSY (Carribean Sailing Yacht), the "Fantasea".

Additionally, members can volunteer to assist with regularly scheduled checklist maintenance items and special maintenance projects on the boat, which develops good skills transferable to the members own boat. In addition members get to participate in day sails, raft-ups and other club sponsored events. Members can charter the club boat with an approved D-Level Skipper aboard at reasonable club rates too.

For me, I think this is going to be a great opportunity to learn how to maintain and sail my own boat. Otherwise if I had to attempt to learn on my own or through other means I'm sure it would take even longer to get through some of the learning curve associated with taking up sailing. If you are looking for a way to get involved with local sailors and learn the ropes, perhaps looking into a local chapter of the USNSA or other Sailing Group will get you moving along on a faster tack!!
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