Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

The question of which is better – teaching yourself or taking sailing classes from a recognized sailing school comes up pretty frequently when I am teaching sailing classes.

My fast answer is that following a set curriculum ensures that you are covering all of the material. This means it is taught by a qualified instructor, and in a logical order. And there’s a lot more to it than that!

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Learning From Friends

When your friends tell you they will teach you how to sail; they will!

However, they might not be as likely to thoroughly cover docking, man overboard, or any other complicated drills in which they are still gaining confidence themselves. They also might be fantastic sailors, but not so great at teaching.

Having someone who has docked thousands of times, often eight to ten times a day, vice someone who has gotten their boat out of the slip and back in once a weekend, may yield a lot more experience and presentation of techniques.

But, do not discount the value of sailing with friends. You gain sea time, you gain a different perspective. The benefit of taking a class then sailing with friends is that you are then a more valuable crew member. Also, the overall operation of the boat is less mysterious.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Qualifications Galore

Sailing school captains often have 20+ years of experience, and 50-ton and up captain’s licenses. Also, instructors who have earned instructor certifications from American Sailing Association; ASA, have followed a comprehensive course in not only teaching sailing, but also teaching methods.

These certifications are even more rigorous than the captain’s license exam, which has been likened to the bar exam; no walk in the park.

Many instructors have decades of training students. What this means to you, a prospective new sailor, is they have already “seen it all” and probably can predict where you will have trouble or confusion.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Do You Need a Certification to Rent a Boat?

No. You don’t. However, you do need a good sailing resume, and experience. Taking courses from a sailing school is one way to gain that experience, and under the coaching of someone trained to teach you how to sail safely.

Most charter companies will not require a certification, and they probably do not offer any discounts if you have completed a certification course.

But, they are going to ask you for experience on a similar size and type boat, about the size you plan to charter from them.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Sea Time Matters

Experience counts, and you need to figure out how you are going to gain that practical experience.

Another consideration is that you might have hours on the water – but do you have the actual experience to keep you and your crew safe on a vessel. No piece of paper is going to guarantee you that; only sea time and common sense can give you a better, more well-rounded set of skills and responses.

Your sailing resume is like a job resume – it should list the boats on which you have sailed, notes on conditions, number of days, hours per day, distance offshore, or upon what waters.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Certificate Recognization

Although you do not need a certification to rent a boat, having one does give the renter a quick assessment of your skills and knowledge.

A charterer can glance online at the course level you have achieved. Here they will learn the maneuvers you have performed, knots you have tied, skills you have mastered, and know a bit about your sailing experience.

Also, if you have jotted down the sailing resume information, you can quickly explain on what size and type and age of boat you gained experience and familiarity.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Learning What You Do Know

Another benefit of taking a sailing course from a recognized provider is that they are working from a syllabus, a course outline. They have set drills that must be covered.

What this means for you is you get to learn exactly what you know, what you still need to learn, and the next steps for gaining that experience,

There’s some saying about “not knowing what you don’t know,” and a planned, comprehensive course is going to show you exactly what you do or don’t know, and what you have learned in the class or still need to learn.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Keep Learning

Also, there’s always something to learn. Always. It might not be what you thought you were going to learn, but if you are observant, there’s always something additional to learn, every hour, every day, every boat, and from every captain.

Over the years, I have noticed that more and more people want to learn more, faster, with less errors. People seem to have less free time, and seem to want to make their time off really count.

That seems to result in an increase in instruction and lessons in all fields; from sailing to surfing, gym training, sewing… the list is endless. People want to learn!

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Discounts on Boat Insurance

Holding a sailing school certification may or may not result in a discount on boat insurance from your provider.

There are many other factors they consider, such as experience, location, boat value. It’s all an consideration of how much risk the underwriter wishes to assume.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Should I Take Class With My Spouse?

Oh, wow, that’s such a huge question! I can argue that one either way, so, ultimately, it comes down to your needs and wants.

In classes where the husband and wife are together, I can see the benefit of having each of them learn all of the drills together, and also, see how they interact on maneuvers.

Also, they get the opportunity to test out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.

For other classes where I have had only the husbands, or only the wives, I feel they are missing the opportunity to learn what their partner’s ability level is, or their strongest skills.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Or – Better Without My Spouse?

However, often I have heard of students who were reluctant to have their spouse present for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes only one partner is interested in sailing with their friends. The spouse does not plan to participate, so it’s unnecessary for them to learn.

I’ve heard from some that they wanted to learn, set up a routine, get a system established, then introduce a spouse and children to the fun.

From some, I’ve heard they want to concentrate on the course material without the distraction of worrying that they are learning faster or slower than their partner, or even disappointing them.

Occasionally, I’ve found some women prefer to learn away from their husband if theirs is a take-charge sort of guy. They are concerned he will do it all for them, and they won’t get to do the dirty or hard work themself.

For the instructor, as long as everyone is interested and no one is being bossy, it all works out great. More eyes, more ears, more various means of explaining key concepts and maneuvers will be welcome from any instructor who is confident in their students.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

How To Choose a Great Sailing School

That’s such a multi-faceted question, that it deserves its own article!

Subscribe, and you’ll get a notice when that article goes live! I’d love to have you on my mailing list, and there are tons of great articles coming up next. I publish two times a week; Monday and Thursday, and a new video goes live every Friday.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

Some Sailing Class Basic Supplies

My everyday sailing backpack is by Osprey, and has about a dozen pockets inside. The list of what is inside would astound you! Outside is easier – anything I need to get my hands on quickly is kept in the outside pockets. I’ll publish an article soon on what to bring to sailing class!

I keep my sunscreen on the side pocket for easy access. I only use Stream2Sea due to the reef-safe concerns and container biodegrade-ability. As an ambassador for our outdoors salt and sealife, I absolutely must lead by good example and use only sunscreen that is safe for humans and coral larvae. You are welcome to use my code “DeepWH” to save a bit when you select your own ecoconscious sunscreen from Stream2Sea.

Also, the American Sailing Association log book stays readily accessible in one side pocket, along with the free Code of Federal Requirements for Recreational Vessels. A great place to start is by reading Sailing Made Easy from the American Sailing Association.

I get to the boat at least a half hour in advance. This is so I can check the oil, cooling water, the bilge pump, the anchor windlass… Here’s what I check every day: Pre-Sail Checklist for Sailing.

, Why You Should Take Sailing Classes From A Recognized School

What to Read Next:

How to Get the Most out of Class as a Sailing School Student

What It’s Like to be a Charter Boat Captain

Updated March 12, 2021


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