So you have the itch to either learn to sail, or further your skills!
There are tons of good schools around, each with different philosophies and different slants on how to impart the appropriate knowledge and confidence. There are two main accreditation organizations, US Sailing and the American Sailing Association. These organizations do not dictate to a school HOW to teach, they both provide standards of what needs to be covered. The HOW depends on the school itself, and there are a lot of different methods out there.
Here at Narragansett Sailing School we are an ASA certified facility, and teach Coastal Cruising from the get-go. To get you comfortable with a cruising boat faster, we start you out on a 30’ boat with wheel steering and inboard diesel engine which is more intuitive than a smaller boat steered with a tiller. We have created an integrated SYSTEM that not only will teach you how to sail; but will give a variety of boat options to hone those skills. After instruction you can rent a boat for a day or a week, chartering increasingly larger boats as your confidence and skills grow. You can share a boat for a season using our SailTime fractional use vessel. You can also join our Flotilla's renting a cabin for a week with a captain, or join our annual "Cruising Rally" where you join a group of other boats on a week's trip. So as you learn there are lots of ways to build experience without having to buy a boat! Or if you want to own rather than rent you can use our full time Buyers Broker dedicated to helping you find the appropriate boat.
Here is how we are different:
The method we use to teach sailing
The boats we use
Number of days of our class
We have been awarded "ASA Instructor of the Year" for multiple years
Our Women Teaching Women program
How is our teaching different? We are First and Foremost a CRUISING oriented school, where you will learn to sail without focusing on ‘sail trim’. We use a sailing method using fixed boom position while being aware of wind direction and not get bogged down with adjusting the sail constantly for maximum efficiency. So the beginning student can focus on all the other things to learn and we get to sail trim and sailing efficiency in the later courses. Think of it as learning to sail with training wheels.
We submit you only need to know five things to make a sailboat go!. We can teach you those five things in an hour, and by the afternoon you are sailing the boat around the harbor knowing what you are doing. Doesn't mean you know how to make it stop, or what the buoys mean, or which way you need to pass another boat… Those are the things we teach on day two and three of 101. Some schools say they can teach you the sailing standards in two days. I think you can be exposed to it; but not learn it in two days.
We are a hands-on school. Our average day is two classroom hours and five hours sailing. There is no substitute to doing a maneuver again, and again, and again. That is an important part of turning those new skills into intuitive movements. Additional sailing time is available after the class is done, if you want to cement those skills.
Very few schools have an instructor on staff that gets 'Instructor of the Year' as it is a difficult thing to get. It is based on customer service scores returned to ASA by graduates. Out of the 4000 certified ASA instructors, only the top 20 get this award, or about 1/2 of 1%..