Should I Take a Sailing Class?
Maybe you’ve been out on boats with your friends or crewed a couple of times in your local races. You’ve been able to follow directions (from one side of the boat to the other!) but really weren’t sure what was going on, or maybe you totally got it.
Either way, if you want to be a Competent Sailor taking a class with on the water instruction is never a bad idea. Most charter companies will require some level of certification or a really extensive sailing resume. So if you ever want to do that, the easy route is just take the classes. I can speak from experience that I met some really cool people in those classes that I still keep in touch with and sail with from time to time.
Classes range from basic keelboat or small boat and then the boats get progressively get bigger and more advanced. The most basic class will usually be a 22′ boat or smaller with a tiller. After that, they may be boats with wheels and more systems.
You should know that you don’t have to start at the “basic” level with classes. If you already know something about sailing, you can usually challenge the test, and if you pass, you are allowed to take the next class up. Don’t underestimate the value of systems knowledge that you get from the more advanced classes. Most of the time on bigger boats, that is as important as the sailing!
Finally, you’ll probably take your class from a US Sailing or American Sailing Association certified school. Either system is fine. Their classes mostly align and most places recognize both for charter purposes.