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Advanced beginner
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a complete sailing newbie. But I've been on a friend's boat in the Chesapeake a few times and fell in love. I've been researching schools in the area and was hoping to ask more experienced sailors what their experiences and opinions are regarding these programs.

Right now I'm considering the Mariner Sailing School (in Virginia), J World Annapolis, the Chesapeake Sailing School, and BaySail. Any experience with these schools? Any opinions? Any other recommendations?

Also, for someone who doesn't really know anything - or even how much I will like sailing, does it make sense to start with a shorter (and less expensive) course? Or will I be so little confident after two days on the water that the money will be largely wasted?

Thanks! :)
 

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AEOLUS II
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I had good experiences with both the Chesapeake Sailing School at Port Annapolis Marina learning on a 22ft Tanzer keel boat and Mariner Sailing School on the Potomac River at Belle Haven marina on Flying Scots.

Both these schools have a laid back yet thorough approach for teaching new sailors the basics.

A good link on the topic...

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/chesapeake-bay/46027-sugesstions-best-place-learn-chesapeake.html

BTW~I took the long weekend course from Chesapeake Sailing School and thought it was great.

Both have rental programs for grads so one doesn't have to go full bore into ownership to enjoy.

We did that for about two seasons before settling on the boat we bought.
 

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I would recommend you at least look at the Annapolis Sailing School. While it was a number of years ago, I took their weekend sailing program followed by a 5 day bare boating course, it was great. We had such a good time we took a second bare boating course from them in the Virgin Islands (not sure if they still have that location). The courses were great, the instructors fantastic, 20 years later we are still sailing, and still telling our stories from these classes.

Subsequently I have taken racing courses from Steve Colgate, and a Blue water course from some forgettable outfit in Florida. While these courses were good (certainly Colgate was), neither made the same impression as the courses from Annapolis. Clearly my information is very old, and a lot may have changed in the past 20 years, but I would encourage you to at least look at Annapolis, today with the web research is easy!

Enjoy!
 

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Another Idea

Before you spend many hundreds of dollars on J World, Annapolis Sailing School, etc., look at taking lessons from a Community Sailing Program. I am sure that they have them in Annapolis as the have them here in Boston.

They are typically a fraction of the cost of the others and the lessons will teach the basics and allow you to sail on a small keel boat easily. It will also give you a idea if you really like sailing without a huge cost. While you may not get "professional" sailors teaching you as you may in the more "fancy" schools, the instructors at the community sailing schools will know how to sail well. A lot of them are collegiate sailors keeping their skills up and earning some money over the summer.

DrB
 

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I went to Annapolis Sailing School (the oldest I think) and also Maryland School of Sailing across the bay in Rock Hall. Both were great. The MD school does it on Island Packets which are big heavy boats - The advantage is that once you learn to dock one of them everything else seems easy.

I also went to Baysail for one course - but it isnt near Annapolis - Its in Havre de Grace - A very good course though.
 

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Advanced beginner
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the tips!

Thanks so much for the very helpful suggestions. I'm particularly glad that someone has experience with the Mariner Sailing School - as I'm in DC it is much closer than Annapolis, and seems to offer a very good value. (My one concern was that there might not be enough wind on the Potomac to learn properly.)

I had looked into the Annapolis Sailing School, but had crossed it off the list because I found a comment (yelp? here?) that they didn't refund or reschedule classes if there was bad weather.

I will also look into a community sailing program. I found one here, but the marina looked to be highly unpleasant (very urban, have to motor around cruise ships). I hadn't thought to extend that search to Annapolis.
 

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Maryland school of sailing and seamanship lets you stay on the boat durring the class. Saves on hotel bills.
 

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I took my daughters (age 11 and 8) to Chesapeake Sailing School last week. I went there becasue Annapolis SS has an age limit (12 I think) and a lot of other schools were not open yet. I went for two 4 hour private lessons for the 3 of us (I needed a refresher) as it was pretty cost effective and they train on Tanzer 22s which are easy to singlehand. The teacher (Irene) was great and she is an instructor at USNA so she new her stuff. I found that Chesapeake was friendly, more than willing to accomodate us coming all the way from upstate NY, and they were flexible.
 

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AEOLUS II
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Thanks so much for the very helpful suggestions. I'm particularly glad that someone has experience with the Mariner Sailing School - as I'm in DC it is much closer than Annapolis, and seems to offer a very good value. (My one concern was that there might not be enough wind on the Potomac to learn properly.)

I had looked into the Annapolis Sailing School, but had crossed it off the list because I found a comment (yelp? here?) that they didn't refund or reschedule classes if there was bad weather.

I will also look into a community sailing program. I found one here, but the marina looked to be highly unpleasant (very urban, have to motor around cruise ships). I hadn't thought to extend that search to Annapolis.
1. That's always the chance you take!!

2. I don't go out in small craft warnings, but I think you will find that unless there is lightning, the show goes on!!

3. Community sailing programs are great for the committed but some require as much time as ownership itself.

The long and short of it is, you are going to spend about $400

You may get good weather or bad, but either will give you experience.

When our instructor said "today we are learning to reef the main" instead of going home I just :eek: but it was an experience!!
 

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Hi,

I posted a reply to this thread a few days ago but I guess it got lost in the ether.:eek:

If you are looking for a "learn-to-sail" program that is convenient to your residence/work in DC, here's another vote for the Mariner Sailing School. They run a really nice basic sailing program, using Flying Scots which are a nice stable platform for beginners.

Don't worry about lack of wind -- they generally have a decent breeze there. If there is ABSOLUTELY no wind -- they will reschedule your lesson. But the Scots are actually quite decent in light air, so it's unlikely you won't sail.

Also, think of these first lessons as an initial step or building block. After completing a basic program locally, you may later want to consider a more advanced program out near Annapolis. In other words, it's not necessarily an either/or decision.
 

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Tartan 28
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I went to J World in Annapolis - I was extremely satisfied and couldn't say enough good things about the program and it's instructors. The 5 day course will set you back around $900. The instruction is done on J24's and they have you doing everything right off the bat with more than enough water time. Usually 3 students per boat that rotate between the helm, mainsheet trim and jib trim. I have also been back for some additional private instruction on a new 105 to get instruction on docking under power and other sailing techniques. I've had a few questions post-instruction with my new boat and just gave them a ring or e-mailed them and they gave very detailed answers (had to follow up on using the boom vang effectively)... They also have various alumni events - you can jump in on a first come first serve basis to jump in on their weekly races for free and they do various flotilla's (BVI's etc) at reasonable rates. I'm pretty sure Sail magazine consistently ranks them as the top sailing school based on student surveys...
 

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Advanced beginner
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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks again everyone!

After reading all your very helpful responses, I think my plan is to sign up for the 2-day beginner course at the Mariner Sailing School (near DC) and spend a good part of this summer taking advantage of the cheaper boat rentals on the Potomac to practice. Thanks for reassuring me about wind conditions on the Potomac, that was my main concern about learning here, rather than on the Chesapeake.

Then next summer, perhaps I'll take one of the more advanced keelboat classes on the Chesapeake. Looks like it would be hard to go wrong among several recommended programs there, although I'm leaning slightly toward the 4-day live-aboard program at the Maryland School of Sailing.

Thanks again for all the great suggestions. :) I learned the hard way with a very disappointing skulling class last year that good instruction is very important - particularly with regards to boat safety (not until I dumped myself in the Potomac catching a crab on the last day of class did I realize we had done no capsize drills at all - I actually had to be rescued from the water - what if it had happened the next day when I would have been in the boat alone?) I'm determined to do my research this time around.
 

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Sailtime Annapolis

I just finished a 3 day ASA 101 class out of Port Annapolis with Sailtime. I thought the class was really good and they only have 2 people in their 101 classes. We got to sail a 22' and 33' Hunter for the class. I think having that extra 3rd day allowed you to practice what you learned in the first 2 days.
 

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Sailing Instructor
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Selecting a school

Right now I'm considering the Mariner Sailing School (in Virginia), J World Annapolis, the Chesapeake Sailing School, and BaySail. Any experience with these schools? Any opinions? Any other recommendations?

The schools you quote have 3 different programs, Red Cross, ASA and US sailing. Firstly, you need to establish which program you would like to follow. essentially: Red Cross is very basic, ASA is more cruising focussed and US Sailing is more racing focussed. Once you have done this narrow your choice to 3/4 schools by location/cost etc and then call them and ask about their program and ask if you can speak to former students. You're spending good money - get a good school!
 

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Advanced beginner
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Discussion Starter #16
Report from sailing school

I just finished the 2-day Basic Sailing Course at Mariner Sailing School in Belle Haven, Virginia and wanted to report back.

The course was great. The first day we got right in the boat (19' Flying Scott) after a short introduction and learned/practiced points of sail, tacking and jibing. The second day was more practice with basic sailing techniques, and also man overboard and docking/mooring drills. The class size is very small, only three to a boat (we had two plus our instructor so it was almost like a private lesson for the price of a course, which was great) so there's very little time spent not sailing, and lots of practice at the tiller. There's a week of free boat rentals (weekdays only) after the class to practice and half-price rentals from the Marina afterward. For those considering a short course, I highly suggest taking it with a friend/partner so that you can have a crew to practice with after the course, or make friends with a more experienced sailor who will want to go out with you.

We had different instructors on both days, which really underlined the difference an instructor can make to the whole experience. Both were quite good, just very different styles. We learned a lot and I would definitely recommend them to others in the area who want to learn to sail.
 

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AEOLUS II
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That is a fun place to sail.

It's much more peaceful than the Washington Sailing Marina with the planes taking off from Regan National!!
 

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I would recommend The West River Sailing Club in Galesville, (South of Annapolis). They have an excellent (and inexpensive) learn to sail and learn to race program. It is also a nice place to relax and enjoy the view.
 
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