How to Pick Kid Sailing Schools?
There are a myriad of programs that have many different curriculums when it comes to teaching children how to sail. Depending on location, region, and proximity to water, you really have a pick of the litter. Most of the same apply to when you are picking a school out for adults. There are a few differences, however. If at all possible, get your kids out to a summer camp for sailing or sailing club. This is the optimal time since your kids will more likely be out of their general education schooling.
If you do not belong to any club, do not panic or get discouraged to join one for your kid. There are tons private junior clubs (yacht, sailing, etc.) that are ecstatic to bring in fresh faces. We would keep an out of for the registration season during the off-season ( winter) to guarantee your son/daughter a spot. We would also advise giving your child some discretion here when picking a sailing school, especially when there are more than one to choose from.
There is a good chance that if your children’s friends are also going to take the classes, that they will want to take the classes with them. This is completely normal as you probably have insight on already! A lot of times we get involved with and stick with those things our friends also get involved with/stick with. It usually makes the experience that much more fun, and will probably pay dividends with keeping them excited about the wonderful sport that is sailing.
Minor Sailing School considerations:
- Does your child need any equipment to bring with them to the school? What does the program/club/school provide to your child? Do they proivde life jackets/ life vests?Safety always comes first so don’t be surprised this one is at the top of the list. With safety always at the forefront, makes sure the school doesn’t have a history of being liable for any catastrophes that may have occurred. Really, any problems, in general, need to be fished out ( no pun intended). Your babies are your babies and extra precaution is not really asking much.
- Instructor research– How many students are there for every instructor at this program? Very important. Why? Children, in general, have shorter attention spans than adults. Therefore its critical to have classes where the instructor is constantly getting the attention of your child. The smaller the classroom the better. Also, what is the instructor’s background? Many times these instructors are in school themselves (collegiate level) and are instructing for the summer as volunteer work or summer job. Make sure the instructor you choose has some sort of experience.
- The instruction itself– This is slightly different with children as opposed to adults. Fun and engaging should be at the top of the list when researching for children. Why? The more fun they are having, the more engaging they will be and the more they will absorb from the training. Make sure to also acknowledge which training program (racing, recreational) they emphasize in their training. This will be a preference thing, so make sure you pick based on what aspect of sailing your child seems to be most interested in.
- Duration of schedule– classes can run up to 2-2.5 months. Some run twice a week. This is also a preference in not tying up other obligations your child or your family may have. Breaking up the classes is a good idea for most.
- How does the program divide up the students? We feel as though dividing by skill level over just age fixes a lot of the problems that arise. Some children that are the same age may be at way different skill levels and it will be hard for little Susan if kids her age are way more advanced then she is! Remember, safety and FUN always come first when teaching children. Make sure they are having lots of both.
- What kind of boats will the children be utilizing? Will they have boats available to the students or do you need to bring your own boat? In many schools, if you don’t own the boat then they put you in a crew. There is nothing wrong with this if you have a little bit of experience, but if you are brand new, you may not get to steer/navigate the boat, as usual, the boat owner gets to do this. It’s sort of an honor system.
Looking For a Sailing Summer Camp?
If your child is interested in possibly joining a summer camp then there are plenty of resources to look into.
We are keen on looking into the American Camping Association’s search bar for lists of camps that provide instruction for sailing. Children will be elated to go to these camps and will stay refreshed because many of these camps take place on beaches or lakes. If your children say NO! to anything you suggest, look for camps that also utilize fun water sports like canoeing, kayaking, swimming jet skiing, para-sailing, diving, water polo or anything that may grab their attention. Then fit in some classes and get them involved in any of these. This may eventually lead to wanting to learn about sailing because of how the children at these camps may talk and influence each other about learning how!
What About Sailing Schools Strictly For Women?
If you are someone that doesn’t necessarily like to take strict orders from seamen 🙂 and maybe imagines herself in an all-woman sail club, then fear not, for there are plenty of programs you can find throughout the US.
A program to look into, that we really like is catered by Ladyshipsailing , which offers niche sailing lessons like the Bareboat Charter program which runs for 5 sessions and teaches those women how to deal with catastrophic accidents off-shore in how to swim to safety and sailing solo. They also have classes on Sailing Essential Tools needed to understand to be comfortable with boat mechanics, a Docking Made Simple class and many other classes worth looking into. They have classes made into vacations all over Caribbean and Europa!!!
How Do I Practice Sailing?
Just like anything you can fathom, the more you train/practice on one particular subject, the higher your capacity to grasp the subject becomes and the faster things start to make sense. At least that is what we’ve learned!
Once you have finished your first few courses in sailing, you are going to be really excited to get out there and show yourself and others what you have learned. This is absolutely normal, but as we’ve mentioned earlier, this is not a race. Only practice on the things you were taught. Look into getting an additional advanced education from the schools you learned your first few lessons from. They will usually have some form of advanced training classes to teach. Take a whole year and only work on the things you have learned. Get in a routine to employ these skills, as if on a checklist. One very important thing to note here is, to be honest with yourself and your abilities and ask a lot of questions before embarking on new skill-sets you may not have even heard of yet. Make sure you hone in on what you have learned or you may lose the skills you worked on in the classes.
After taking about one season of honing your skills, you may want to advance your skill set, depending on what kind of sailing you plan on doing long term.
If you are trying to navigate offshore waters then you need to probably get familiar with Coastal Navigation Classes, if you plan to ride solo, Bareboating classes are recommended. If you want to learn how to read direction without using technology (GPS/sonar) than celestial navigation would be an advanced course to look into. If you want to figure out how to create your own path offshoring then offshore passage making would be the recommended class.
After taking about 3 levels of certification, we would probably be comfortable saying you have really done enough as far as in the classroom. Fundamentals and a little-advanced technique are all you really need to get ahead but you must use these tools learned otherwise you will forget them. The rest would be learning as you go.
Check too..with the Coast Guard (If you live nearby a US Coast Guard office) for courses that they may or may not offer. You will learn everything from safety, how to tie important knots for sailing, weather lessons, rules of the sea, and seamanship. With the coast guard, much of the emphasis will be on powerboats, but there is plenty of sailboating training as well.
If your passion is racing, then you logically need to search for a sailboat that is race ready in order to train on it. Remember to head to the dock and let those with race sailboats know you are willing to help their crew if you can get on the boat and into the thick of it. You can also find lessons online like this one!!!
As earlier mentioned, you first want to grab some certified lessons from certified instructors before getting your education from friends that don’t hold a certification. We prefer ASA over most other certifications. However, once you have the fundamentals down pat, then having BFF’s who are sailors can be the thrill of a lifetime. You will begin sharing/bouncing the skills you have learned off one another. It’s a gratifying feeling that most sailors will tell you they are super content with when you have your sailing legs and can control the sails like a champion would.
If you would rather learn by renting a boat or using someone else’s boat, there are always plenty of sailors (daily) looking for willing crew members to take on board with them. Literally, walk around most docks and spread the love of being an avid newbie sailor and guaranteed someone will extend their hand out to bring you on board with them. Getting your feet wet as a crew member and learning from someone that has tons more experience then you is a wonderful move. Just open the floodgates by just asking around dockside.
Depending on where your abode is located, renting or chartering or getting a loaner boat may be a better option than buying a boat. If you live on or near a big body of water (lake, ocean) then sure spend a little money on your own vessel. You may just have to pay a docking fee when doing this. Most properties around big bodies of water lend themselves to the room around the garage to store a medium sized keelboat. However, if you are landlocked and live nowhere near a body of water then renting is your best bet.
There are times where if you have not taken any classes with the boat rental company, then the company may want to in person, view your sailboating skills. If you can flash an ASA certificate then they will more than gladly pass you with flying colors. Some boat companies may send a staff member with you to see how advanced you are no matter what certification you send them. These boat charters do not mess around with their boats, and it is very fair because they do not want to feel like there is a good chance something happens to the boat while in your hands.