Yes, it’s true. I discovered the meaning of “swearing like a sailor” many years ago when Tig and I took dinghy sailing lessons at the Cal Sailing club. Tig even earned his Junior Skipper rating. But most amazing of all was my potty mouth that was unleashed when things got going.
And so this spring, it’s time to brush up on sailing. Now if you want to throw a doozie of a bomb into a sailing forum, start a debate on the correct way to learn to sail. There are two schools of thought. The first is to learn on what you are going to sail/cruise with. That would be a bigger keelboat. That way, you learn how to manage and dock bigger boats, the systems, and the gear. The second school of thought says that the first method is foolish and dangerous. Small boats teach you how to be a better sailor because you learn the physics of the wind, water, etc deep in your bones as mistakes are magnified with a small boat — you get dunked into the drink.
So what route are we going to take? Both, I hope!
We plan on taking small boat lessons at the Community Boating, Inc., a sailing organization that serves the metropolitan Boston Community. In 2009 CB had 2,432 juniors, 3,250 adults, 417 universal access sailors, and 278 high school sailors from over 30 towns and communities in the metropolitan Boston area. See their fleet. The Adult Program of classes runs from April 1 through October 31.
As for big boats, we haven’t entirely figured out how we will get this experience. An obvious first step is to get on other people’s boats by volunteering to crew. There are also a few opportunities to charter other people’s boats with licensed captains.
As for professional sailing lessons, week-long liveaboard and sailing schools are over $2,000 per person. The expense isn’t the barrier–if we’re going to spend money on a boat, I think we should spend what it takes to learn how to sail one properly. It’s just that we can’t be efficient and take it together like zerotocruising did because someone would have to watch our kids, one of which is a baby and nursing. Here are some of the schools I looked at (I have no personal experience with these schools and therefore cannot make recommendations).
- Bluewater Sailing school has week-long courses as well as private courses (~$5000)
- Offshore Sailing School has the Fast Track to Cruising one-week course, including a family option, but kids must be seven years old.
- Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship has a week-long Caribbean sailing program where participants live aboard an Island Packet 440. For those seeking certification, up to two levels of ASA Certification (ASA 101 and 103 or ASA 103 and 104) are available.
- San Juan Sailing has a Caribbean Learn N Cruise that is a little less expensive, but still close to $4000 per couple. The school also holds regular week long courses in the San Juan Islands.
- Boston Sailing Center is local and has a Macro Cruising package which combines its Learn to Sail, Advanced, and Cruising Courses. It is a charter preparation and certification program. 18 hours classroom, 87 hours sailing for $2370 for one person.
Another option is to have private lessons. For example, Boatwise, LLC can send a captain over to your boat to give private lessons on how to maneuver and dock. A couple other resources:
- Boston Sailing Center offers private lessons.
- A local captain offers very reasonably priced sailing lessons on his Bristol 40 sloop.
Lots to think about. Any suggestions on how to learn sailing with two young children? In the meantime, Tig is going to go get some earplugs for the spring.
Image by: Paul (dex).