Enrolling in an American Sailing Association (ASA) accredited sailing school is a good way to learn the art of sailing. Here are 3 tips, based on our own personal experience, that might help you get the most out of your sailing school experience.
- Pace Yourself: Sailing isn’t about being the first person on your block to earn every single ASA sailing certification. The sailing standards developed by ASA help guide you from beginning sailing, all the way to bareboat cruising, offshore passage making and beyond. But don’t feel like you need to get there in one marathon course! If you’re completely new to sailing, it’s our recommendation that you start out slow with a Basic Keelboat course and concentrate on earning your ASA 101 certification. This approach let’s you focus on the basics and gives you an opportunity to find out whether you really enjoy sailing. If you want to take advantage of an extended live-aboard course that offers you the opportunity to knock out ASA 101 (Basic Keelboat), ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising), and ASA 104 (Bareboat Chartering) in one fell swoop, go for it. But don’t stress over the tests. Try to soak in as much knowledge and sailing experience as you can in those few short days and, most of all, have some fun. If you burn yourself out trying to rake up the certifications, you may just lose your taste for sailing; and that would be a pity.
- Communicate Your Goals: Let your instructor know up front what you hope to accomplish during the course. You’d be surprised at how different sailing student’s goals can be. Some people want to learn the proper nautical terms for each part of the sailboat. Some want to understand the different points of sail. Some want to find out if they get scared when the boat heels. Your instructor has a much better shot at making you happy if you communicate your goals. Be patient, but if you sense your goals aren’t being met, then talk to your instructor one-on-one and reiterate your goals. It’s your investment and you need to get as much out of your sailing course as possible.
- Put On Your Thick Skin: It’s common to be thrust into a sailing class with several people you don’t know, each of whom has a personality completely different than your own. Try to be flexible with your classmates. One way to spoil an otherwise great sailing course is to get bent out of shape because of the quirks of your fellow students. If one or more of your crewmates gets to be annoying, try not to focus on their behavior. Try to have a thick skin. Focus on your goals for the class. Remember that your own behavior may get on other people’s nerves as well, so try to be considerate. If it gets to the point where a certain classmate is simply intolerable, you may consider letting your instructor know. There might be a possibility that they can switch you to another class or a different boat. In our experience, sailing courses are a great way to make new friends, but there’s no law requiring you to stay in touch with the classmates that kept hogging the wheel!
Try these 3 tips for getting the most out of your sailing school experience. If you’ve recently taking a sailing course with an ASA accredited sailing school, we encourage you to rate and review the school on BoaterRated.com. Your experience helps inform other people who are looking for the right sailing school to meet their needs.
Thanks, and happy sailing!