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Old 23-02-2013, 19:47   #1
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Sailing school

Hello all! I am debating between a few sailing schools to do a basic keelboat course. I have sailed a few times on chartered boats and am starting to love it. I am looking at J World and OCSC in San Francisco. It seems like the Bay Area would be an interesting place to learn. The third school that I am considering is Duluth Northern Breezes. I don't know anything about them except that they are on the ASA website. I have family in Duluth, so that is why I found them interesting.
My family hopes to eventually own a boat, so I am taking it seriously to begin learning as much as I can. I have bern following this forum for several months now, so I appreciate any insight you all have for me.
Thanks! Cheers!
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Old 23-02-2013, 20:21   #2
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Re: Sailing school

If you can afford the time, I would suggest San Juan Sailing out of Bellingham, WA. Sailing & Yachting Courses in Bellingham, WA | San Juan Sailing Inc

My wife and I did this school a couple years ago and it was a very good experience. Aside from the outstanding scenery, the area offers hands-on experience with tides and currents as they swirl in and about the various islands.

This week-long live aboard school will take you through ASA 101, 103 & 104 (bareboat charter). You will learn to anchor, pickup a mooring ball and maneuver in a crowded marina with slip entry/exit in addition to sailing and basic navigation..
The live aboard aspect will give you a good taste of what it will be like to cruise for an extended period. I believe we went ashore for just one meal during the week, all others were made aboard.
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Old 23-02-2013, 20:23   #3
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Re: Sailing school

Nothing beats hands-on sailing experience in diverse weather conditions during the day and night. ASA has beginner's books which you could use to learn seamanship at your own pace; amazon.com is a cheaper place to buy them. There is a lot to learn, so be patient and set realistic yet flexible goals so you will not be overwhelmed. Let us know, if you have any questions along the way. Good luck! Mauritz
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Old 23-02-2013, 20:37   #4
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I forgot about Bellingham! Thanks for the info. That sounds like a great itinerary and learning experience. I will look into them, also. Which month did you do their course?
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Old 23-02-2013, 21:05   #5
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Re: Sailing school

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Originally Posted by MSN-Travelers View Post
My wife and I did this school a couple years ago and it was a very good experience. Aside from the outstanding scenery, the area offers hands-on experience with tides and currents as they swirl in and about the various islands.
That would seem like a good option to me. I took the J World Courses and found them excellent in every way.

My wife took only the ASA 100 class. They didn't even cover picking up a mooring ball so, not to put to fine a point on it, her skills didn't match our needs.

I figured it would be covered because (and my memory may not be correct here) picking up a mooring ball is in the book. As captain thought it really falls on me to make sure that they could do that.
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Old 23-02-2013, 21:13   #6
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Re: Sailing school

A thumbs up for Mission Bay Acquatic Center in San Diego. Good, laid-back place to learn. SF Bay can be a bit much if you're just starting out; sort of a hang on and grab the tiller with both arms experience.
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Old 23-02-2013, 21:18   #7
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I do like the idea of several courses covered in a week. I just looked at the San Juan Sailing website, and it seems like a good way to get a lot of knowledge. Now I will have to look at J Worlds week long courses compared to San Juan's. J Worlds is more expensive from $500 to $1500, so do they offer that much better of a product? Thanks again for the advice!
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Old 23-02-2013, 21:24   #8
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A thumbs up for Mission Bay Acquatic Center in San Diego. Good, laid-back place to learn. SF Bay can be a bit much if you're just starting out; sort of a hang on and grab the tiller with both arms experience.
I like the idea of hanging on to learn, too. Nothing better than a fire hose approach.....
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Old 24-02-2013, 14:26   #9
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Re: Sailing school

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I like the idea of hanging on to learn, too. Nothing better than a fire hose approach.....
I think both kinds of sailing are important for learning. The good thing about sailing in SoCal summer conditions, especially Mission Bay, is that you focus more on sail trim and finessing as much as you can out of the wind and current you have.
I took classes years ago at the Acquatic Center and loved them. I also took a class in Newport at Orange CCC and did not like at all.
Instructors at MBAC were young, calm, and well-mannered; the other place?, well, sort of the polar opposite of what I just said.
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Old 24-02-2013, 14:32   #10
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Re: Sailing school

I took Basic Keel Boat ASA 101
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Old 24-02-2013, 14:43   #11
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Re: Sailing school

many years ago a did the ASA tickets, reasonably goof basic stuff. i did 101,103,104, & 106 at the time

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Old 24-02-2013, 15:08   #12
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Re: Sailing school

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I took Basic Keel Boat ASA 101
For some reason the above got posted and when I tried to edit, the time limit had expired. Here is the rest of the post:

I took Basic Keel Boat ASA 101 at Modern Sailing in Sausalito that is north San Francisco Bay http://modernsailing.com/
Strong winds and currents, had to double reef. Current drift can be 5 knots or more at Golden Gate. Very good experience for a beginner. We sailed in a Pearson 32 and did a lot of docking practice with an inboard diesel. Instruction was good.


I took Basic Coastal Cruising ASA 103 at Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City that is south San Francisco Bay http://spinnakersailing.com/ Again the tides required careful planning. The sailboats were 24 foot with outboard engines. The instruction was excellent. Bob Diamond was a wonderful teacher, kind fellow who could really tell you how to sail, and also keep you out of trouble.


I think you should try both schools for the varied experience. Note that San Francisco Bay is challenging and therefore a good place to learn.

There are several other ASA sailing schools. The one in Richmond has a good reputation. http://www.tradewindssailing.com/index.shtml


If you want Lake Superior, there is Northern Breezes http://sailingbreezes.com/Sailing_Breezes_Current/nbss/nbsspage.htm with locations in Minneapolis and Bay Field on Lake Superior. Classes May through September because of the cold weather at other times.
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Old 24-02-2013, 19:09   #13
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Arrow Re: Sailing school

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Originally Posted by Flyf9 View Post
I forgot about Bellingham! Thanks for the info. That sounds like a great itinerary and learning experience. I will look into them, also. Which month did you do their course?
Early July. The temps get better later in the season but the winds tend to drop off too.

We were expected to have read, learned and practiced everything in the ASA 101 basic sailing book prior to arrival. We took the written test for ASA 101 before boarding.

The week-long school is intended to make you a competent sailor who could do a bareboat charter without gitting into trouble. It is not designed to teach you the fine points of sail trim to get that extra tenth of a knot of speed out of the boat.

We were two couples and the instructor. The boat was a 36' Beneteau. The hardest part of the school was not "helping" my wife when the instructor was working with her.

Good luck
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Old 24-02-2013, 19:42   #14
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That is a lot of great info. I will take it all into consideration and try to make a final decision. That won't be easy! All of the experiences sound so worthwhile. So far I have narrowed the first phase of my learning down to the San Fran Bay Area and the San Juans. If I am lucky, I would be able to do both. Although, if I can only pick one, which one would be the most beneficial first learning experience? My ultimate goal is to be able to sail a boat on my own and not to just do bareboat cruises.
Thank you all again for your advice. I give each response a lot of thought.
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Old 24-02-2013, 20:38   #15
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Re: Sailing school

Don’t over read too much into course titles. ASA 101 teaches you the basics . . . what the pointy end is called, the difference between a rope and a line, the stuff you need to know in order to learn how to sail. ASA 103 teaches you how to sail. ASA 104 (bareboat) teaches you how to skipper a boat and all that entails. (basic navigation, how to read and use tide tables, putting together a daily sail plan and things you need to know in order to sail a boat by yourself or as the captain of a boat.)

If all you want to do is sail …. Then look at the various universities in your area. I’m sure that every one of them has a sailing club that offers lessons. I was in my early 50’s when I joined the University of Wisconsin sailing club and started with basic ground school, racing dinghies and worked my way up to keelboats. Their program is now an ASA school too. Another option is check out any of the yacht clubs in your area. Nearly all will have both social & serious racing programs and skippers are almost always looking for crew.

My wife and I didn’t attend the San Juan Sailing school until we had already had our own (smaller) boat for two years. By that time, my wife had figured out that she needed to be able to handle the boat by herself if I ever had the boom clean my clock. (at least well enough to get back to port and file for the life insurance) Now she can handle the current boat in the tightest marinas and stand night watches on her own.

In the end, access to a boat on a regular basis to practice the skills you learn is the most important thing you will do.
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