How to Find a Good Sailing Lesson Near Me

A good sailing class near you can provide you with adequate instructions on boating safety and maintenance. This includes understanding how each component in a boat functions, how to harness wind energy, steer, tie knots, and deal with situations that might arise while traveling on water. Considering that a total of 767 people lost their lives in recreational boating accidents in 2020 alone and 77% of these accidents were said to have occurred in vessels whose operators did not receive boating safety instruction, the importance of these lessons cannot be overstated. In addition to this, a good boating lesson also provides you with the technical skills and certifications that are needed to pilot your own yacht. With over $62 million lost to recreational boating accidents in 2020, it is not always wise to pilot your yacht without obtaining adequate training.

When you are considering a sailing lesson near you, it is important that you find out whether they have qualified and certified sailing instructors. Before you sign up for a sailing lesson near you, should ask the following questions:

  1. Are You Licensed, Certified, or Registered?

    Sailing instructors are typically required to pass boaters' education requirements, and obtain a boater's license to teach sailing in many jurisdictions in the United States. These include Carlifornia, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia, and Washington State. In some of these areas, sailing instructors that receive compensation for their sailing lessons, are operating boats with auxiliary power, and are operating in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard may also be required to obtain a United States Coast Guard Captain License. Likewise, sailing schools are typically also required to fulfill any applicable business registration requirements in states where they are located. As such, before signing up for sailing lessons, you should contact your state's consumer protection office to find out whether there are specific requirements for operating a sailing school in your locality.

    In addition to this, it is always a good idea to find out whether the sailing school you are considering is recognized by a professional association. Most sailing schools in the United States are accredited by professional associations like American Sailing Association, and United States Sailing Association. Accreditation by a professional association does not only mean that the sailing school is a legitimate organization, it also means that the sailing instructors that will handle sailing lessons are qualified and certified. Certified sailing instructors possess excellent sailing skills and relevant experience, and they are more proficient in teaching sailing to novice and advanced learners compared to their colleagues who are not certified. Common sailing certification programs include American Sailing Association Certification Program and the United States Sailing Association Certification Program. Do not hesitate to verify the certification status of the school or instructor you want by contacting the organization where they claim to have obtained these certifications.

  2. How Much Do Sailing Lessons Cost?

    Sailing lessons typically cost anywhere between $15 - $50 an hour depending on your location, the sailing school's reputation and billing structure, and the type of instruction you want. Note that not all sailing schools accept hourly rates for sailing lessons. Some schools may require you to pay for the entire lesson which may last anywhere between three to ten days. The estimated cost of a complete sailing lesson is between $200 - $1,000. As such, it is always a good idea to discuss the payment structure and type of sailing lesson you want with the school you want to enroll in.

    When you are contemplating signing up for sailing lessons near you, there are certain tips you can take to reduce the total amount of money that you have to spend. These include:

    • Research sailing lesson prices in your locality: Before signing up for sailing lessons near you, it is always a good idea to research the average price of the particular sailing lesson you want. You can visit two to three sailing schools near you and compare their prices. This helps you to know what to expect from the sailing school you finally decide to enroll in.
    • Ask the sailing school to provide a breakdown of the total cost: Before signing up for sailing lessons near you, it is always important to know what is included in the total cost and what is not. For instance, some sailing schools include the cost of certification exams in the total cost while others require you to register for certification exams separately. Asking the sailing school or instructor to provide a breakdown of the total cost also helps you identify things that are not necessary or relevant for the lesson.
    • Consider signing up for group lessons: You can always minimize what you spend on sailing lessons by signing up for group lessons. This type of lesson is generally cheaper than private lessons. Most sailing schools organize group lessons for a minimum of two and a maximum of eight persons. If you are on a tight budget, then it is always a good idea to find out whether the sailing school near you offers group lessons before you sign up for sailing lessons with them.

What Are Common Sailing Lessons Expenses?

Besides the standard hourly or fixed fees, you may also incur some additional expenses when you finally decide to sign up for sailing lessons. These expenses include:

  • Traveling expenses: When you sign up for a sailing lesson near you, there is always the possibility that you may have to leave your immediate locality for practical lessons. This may happen when you choose to take practical lessons on specific waters and if your immediate locality has fewer water bodies.
  • Pro-sailing wardrobe expenses: When you sign up for a sailing lesson near you, you may need to purchase sailing equipment such as dry suits, shoes with slip-resistant soles, sailing gloves, sunglasses, and a personal flotation device or life jacket. While some sailing schools include the cost of a life jacket in their lesson fee, others expect you to bring your life jacket to lessons. Note that most sailing schools accept United States Coast Guard type-three life jackets only.
  • Rental cost: When you sign up for private sailing lessons near you, you may want to rent a sailboat for practical lessons. This is often a matter of personal taste and preference as most sailing schools provide boats for practical lessons. Note that the cost of renting a sailboat is determined by the type of boat and your location and the estimated price of renting a sailboat is $50 - $250 an hour.

While some of these expenses do not concern your sailing school or sailing instructor directly, others are determined by them. For instance, most sailing schools include the cost of a life jacket in the total lesson cost, while some require you to purchase or rent a life jacket from them. Nevertheless, some sailing schools require you to bring everything you need for sailing lessons. It is always a good idea to find out what expenses are covered in the total lesson cost and what is not. You could also ask for clarifications on how to pay for expenses that are not included in the total lesson cost. Finally, you must agree on a payment plan that suits you and the sailing school or instructor before signing up for lessons.

Who Will Do the Work?

With over 5, 265 recreational sailing accidents recorded in 2020, it is always important to make inquiries about who is going to be handling your sailing lessons. This is because most sailing schools have more than one instructor providing sailing lessons to students. You should always ensure that the sailing instructor assigned to you is duly qualified per the requirements of your state of residence. It is also a good idea to look out for certification and verify its authenticity by contacting the organization that issued the certification in question. Finally, make sure that the sailing school and the sailing instructor are covered by valid liability insurance plans. Request copies of their insurance certificates and contact the insurance provider to validate these certificates.

What Qualifications Should a Sailing Instructor Have?

There are no formal education requirements for sailing instructors in the United States. However, sailing instructors need excellent sailing skills, experience, and good communication skills to provide their services. These work-related skills are typically cultivated over years of practice and hands-on instruction from more experienced sailing instructors. In addition to this, sailing instructors may voluntarily enroll in professional certification programs such as the American Sailing Association Certification Program and United State Sailing Association Certification Program where they are taught different types of sailing including keelboat sailing, basic and advanced coastal cruising, bareboat cruising, celestial navigation, offshore passage making and many more.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are over 81, 900 water transportation workers in the United States. These include sailing instructors, some of whom are members of the United States Coast Guard.

Will You Provide References?

Before signing up for sailing lessons near you, you should always ask the sailing school or instructor to provide a list of references you can contact. Contact these references and ask questions like whether they were satisfied with the lessons, if the instructors maintained safety standards, and whether the classes improved their sailing skills significantly. Do not sign up for lessons until you have called three to four persons on the reference list to verify whatever claims the sailing school or instructor may have made. Doing this improves your chances of signing up with a good sailing school near you. You can also get recommendations on good sailing schools from family and friends. However, it is always important to ask for references irrespective of who recommended the sailing school or instructor to you.

Finally, you can find accredited sailing schools and instructors on Better Business Bureau, and other third-party platforms that allow individuals to register and put up their services for sale. Some of these platforms also allow interested parties to post unbiased opinions on sailing schools and instructors they worked with in the past.

Quick Facts about Sailing Instructors

2020 Median Pay
$59,250 per year, $28.48 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
0% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Sailing Lessons

What Do You Need to Know About Sailing?

Sailing requires a lot of technical know-how, so before you begin to sail, there are certain things you need to know. These include:

  • Components of your sailboat: The first thing you should know about sailing is the components of a regular boat. Unlike driving a car, sailing a boat requires you to always harness the energy that propels you forward. To do so effectively, you have to know the exact function of each part of the boat.
  • Point of sail: This is the difference between the direction of the wind and the direction your boat is heading. Point of sail typically describes the range of courses a sailboat can or can not travel. Note that the point of sail changes as the direction of your boat changes, so it is always important that you adjust your boat to harness the wind anytime you are changing direction.
  • Wind: Sailing requires an understanding of how the wind works. When you are sailing, you always need to observe the strength and direction of the wind. This helps you to harness the much-needed wind energy efficiently.
  • Sailing close-hauled: This means having the sail set for sailing against the wind as far as the boat can go. While a boat can sail towards the wind, it can only do so from 45 degrees off the wind direction.
  • Running with the wind: This means that the boat is sailing directly downwind.
  • Reaching: This means that the wind is coming across the boat. There are three kinds of reaching and they include beam reaching, close reaching, and broad reaching. Beam reaching is when the wind comes across the boat at exactly a 90-degree angle, close reaching means the course is close-hauled, while broad reaching is when you are sailing further downwind beyond the 90-degree limit.

Can You Learn to Sail by Yourself?

Learning to sail by yourself is possible. All you need is to research the basics and keep practicing until you get better at it. However, learning how to sail by yourself is incredibly risky and time-consuming, and you should always take sailing lessons from professional instructors.

What Do I Need to Bring to a Sailing Lesson?

There are specific items you should always take with you to sailing lessons ranging from parents' permission where applicable to accessories and appropriate sailing equipment needed to protect you from harsh weather conditions and several sailing-related risks. These items include:

  • A completed and signed waiver
  • Personal flotation device or life jacket
  • Closed toes shoe
  • Sunglasses
  • Towels
  • Bags
  • Water bottle

In addition to this, you should also wear clothes that are appropriate for a particular weather. Wearing a light dress is great on warm days, while clothes that are made with wool are better on cold days.

What Is the Age for Sailing School?

Anyone that has attained the age of eight and above can register with a sailing school. Though you can enroll your child in a sailing school, always ensure that they are passionate about sailing and can recognize and understand sailing instructions before they sign up for sailing lessons.

Do I Need a License to Sail a Boat?

The answer to whether you need a license to sail a boat or not is dependent on your location. Some states require you to obtain a license or boater's education card to sail a boat within their territory, while others do not require a state-issued license for this. Considering this, it is always a good idea to find out the requirements for sailing a boat in your locality before you commence any sailing.

Can I Pilot My Own Yacht?

Yes, you can pilot your yacht as an experienced captain. Nevertheless, piloting your yacht alone may be challenging if the yacht is over 75 feet long. Vessels of this size are difficult to maintain alone. Also, you may want to find out your state's regulations on piloting a yacht.

Other factors that determine if you should pilot your yacht alone include the distance you want to travel, proximity to the coast, and the type of guests you are taking with you. If your guests are experienced in yacht maintenance, piloting without a crew will be easier.

How Much Wind Is Too Much for Sailing?

Many sailing instructors advise that it is risky to sail when the wind is over 25 knots. This wind speed is very rough for many boats, especially small and mid-sized boats. Sailing under this circumstance is usually challenging.