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CONTENTS A New Sailor Guide by


Mary Iliff Ewenson


Molly Winans

DIRECTOR OF SALES ART DIRECTOR Cory Deere & MARKETING Dana Scott ADVERTISING SALES Ken Hadley, Brooke King Businesses or organizations wishing to distribute or participate in Start Sailing Now should contact us at:

612 Third Street, Suite 3C, Annapolis, Maryland 21403 (410) 216-9309 © 2013 SpinSheet Publishing Company

Talk Like a Sailor.............................................6 Smart Questions To Ask Sailing Schools...............................................9 What Sailors Wear....................................... 11 Sail for Free... Really?................................. 14 Insider Tips for Sailors............................... 16 Of Cell Phones and Sailing...................... 18 Kids’ Sailing Camps.................................... 20 Top 10 Reasons Why I Love To Sail with Family............... 23

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Photo courtesy of Sail Solomons

Cover photo by ©

What Took Me So Long?..............................4

For helpful and fun videos, blogs, and resources in major sailing hubs nationwide, visit star 2 0 13 N e w S a i l o r G u i d e


What Took Me So Long?


ou are in a sailboat under sunny skies heading out to deeper water to take a relaxing ride back and forth to nowhere in particular. Finally! You have wanted to do this for years. A gentle breeze blows across the boat, which heels gently, and you feel the pleasant, steady rock of the boat as small waves lap her sides. After taking turns with the other sailors, your instructor lets you steer for quite a while. You zig-zag at first, but it gets easier as you focus on steering toward a dip in the trees you see on the far shore. Your crew trims the sails and shares some laughs, especially as your buddy gets Photo by Dan Phelps


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splashed in the face with some wake from a passing boat. Another crew member takes the tiller and gives you a chance to just kick back and enjoy the scenery. Sailing language starts to make sense, even after one afternoon of “tacking,” “trimming the jib,” and “taking the helm.” When you head back to the dock, your crew helps to take down the sails, fold them, and carry them to the shed. You happily hose down the deck and scrub it with a brush—it’s actually fun. You already feel some sentimental attachment to this boat. Sailors who spend so much time just messing around on boats make sense to you already. After such an

enjoyable day, you feel a little giddy. As you head toward the parking lot, you glance back one more time at your boat tied quietly at the dock, lonely looking without her sails and crew. You feel a pang of sadness that the day has ended… You, the new (or returning) sailor, may ask the one question we have heard hundreds of sailors ask over the years when they get into sailing: “What took me so long?” Lack of time and a perception of sailing as too expensive hold back many potential sailors. We cannot create time your schedule, but we can dispel some of the myths about sailing and give you more reasons to carve out time to try it—cost-

“You zig-zag at first, but it gets easier ...” effectively, with gear you may already have in your closet. Sure, you can spend as much money as you want “yachting,” but you can try sailing with nothing more than a desire to learn and minimal, if any, investment. That’s what Start Sailing Now is about. So, why wait another year? Start now. Molly Winans

Turn your dreams into reality at Norton's Sailing School What are you waiting for? We offer fully sanctioned sailing classes to both beginners and advanced students. Hands-on instruction ranges from basic sailing to coastal and bareboat cruising to navigation. Our instruction is comprehensive, but relaxed. After all, isn't sailing supposed to be fun?

P.O. Box 100, Deltaville, VA 23043 (804) 776-9211 Deltaville. The Boating Capital of the Chesapeake. 2 0 13 N e w S a i l o r G u i d e


Talk Like a Sailor

22 Terms All Sailors Know


nless you speak Old English, sailing terms probably sound confusing to you. You are not alone. Even longtime sailors use the not-so-official terms of “thingamabob” and “doo-hickey.” One of the most lovable aspects of sailing is that there is always something to learn. Don’t worry if it takes you time to digest the complex language of sailing; it is an ongoing process. Believe it or not, it’s fun. Learning these basic terms will help you understand what’s going on on any sailboat in the English-speaking world.

Below: when you go into the cabin, it’s never “downstairs.” It’s always down below. Boom: the pole hanging horizontally above the cockpit that could boom into your head if you’re not careful. Bow: the front end of the boat, or as sailors refer to it with a grin, “the pointy end.” Cleat: classic ones are shaped like anvils, but there are more modern versions with pinching teeth for securing lines on deck and on the dock. Cockpit: the area with seats near the steering station or helm.


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Come   to turn the bow of the about: boat through the wind. The skipper will say, “Ready about!” The crew responds, “Ready,” and they keep their heads down to avoid the boom. The skipper says, “Helms-alee” or “Hardalee” and turns. Deck: anywhere you can walk around on the exterior of the boat. Gybing: sometimes spelled jibing (never jiving). This is when the boat turns with the wind at your back. The skipper says, “Prepare to gybe!” The crew says, “Ready,” and stays low to avoid the fast-moving boom. The skipper says, “Gybe ho” and turns.

Heel: the boat heels or leans at an angle while sailing. It does not keel over as one might after too much rum. Helm: where the skipper steers with a wheel or a sticklike tiller. Jib: the smaller triangular sail attached at the bow. Keel: the heavy fixed fin on the bottom of the boat. (see heel)

Line: a rope on a boat is always called a line or a sheet. (see sheets) Mainsail: the big sail attached to the mast. Mast: the vertical pole on deck or “the stick.” PFD: a personal flotation device or lifejacket. If someone asks you to wear one, don’t be offended. Lifejackets are not as goofy looking as they used to be. Adults, Juniors,

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Port: the left side of the boat facing forward. Port and left are both four-letter words. Sheets: lines attached to the sails to control them. Crew members help with sheets. Spinnaker: a parachute-like, triangular sail attached at the bow and used to propel a sailboat with the wind behind it. Sometimes called the kite or chute.

Starboard: the right side of the boat facing forward. Stern: the back end of the boat, opposite the pointy end. Winch: cylindrical metal hardware—beer- or paint-can sized—on either side of the cockpit where sheets are wrapped clockwise to crank sails in and out.

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Smart Questions To Ask Sailing Schools


ithout guidance about how to find a sailing school, many prospective students may start with the least effective method: a Google search. Decisions might then be made based on cost, location, timing, and length of the courses. Let us share other important factors to consider and more targeted methods for sifting through the multiple options of sailing schools on the Bay.

Credentials, Please American Sailing Association (ASA) or U.S. Sailing schools offer internationally recognized certification programs, allowing you flexibility in sail training and chartering locations. Each organization promotes “Outstanding Schools and Instructors,” right on their websites. Ask yourself how “far” you’d like to go in your sailing. Would you eventually like to buy or charter a boat on your own? If so, choose a school that offers the full gamut of sailing certifications. Don’t select the sailing equivalent of a junior college if you’re after a master’s degree.

Do the Boats Fit the Course? Does the school have boats appropriate for the level of certification you’re trying to achieve? Many schools start initial training on small, tiller-steered keelboats, allowing you to get a feel for basic sailing skills and build confidence. For more advanced courses, progressively larger and more complex boats should be used. Will the school offer rentals or charters for practicing your newly learned skills on your own? Many schools do; some even have sailing clubs for cost-effective practice while meeting new sailing friends.

Customized for You Many schools offer customized sailing courses, including courses for women, couples, or families. Tailored courses may also focus on specific skills like docking, racing, or even just being a good crewmember. Through most good schools, you may hire an instructor for private instruction on your own boat, if applicable.

Shoreside Resources Dockside resources; availability of meals and lodging; size, type, and condition of boats; and safety and maintenance of boats. These items may be addressed by a personal visit to the school for a tour of the facility and boats and perhaps a demonstration sail.

The Peeps Top schools post instructor biographies on their websites and gladly introduce you to the teaching staff when you tour the facility in person. Are the instructors ASA and/or U.S. Sailing certified instructors? Do they have U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s licenses? Are they friendly and good at listening as well as “experts?” Would you enjoy spending a weekend with these instructors?

Better Business Sailing schools are businesses, and if you hope to develop a relationship with one, be sure you’re comfortable with their style. Were your inquiries responded to promptly and courteously? Did the school provide the information you needed to make a good course selection? What sort of flexibility will you have for re-scheduling, in the event of emergencies or foul weather?

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Do Your Homework Ask for former student references. Sailing is an exciting and inspiring sport, and newcomers tend to have strong feelings about how they learned. If a school hesitates to provide happy customers’ contact information, there may be a reason for it. If a school does not have references for you, we recommend not writing the check. Four Helpful Links with Lists of Sailing Schools: American Sailing Association: U.S. Sailing: Discover Sailing:

How to become a sailor in Baltimore A tradition of sailing excellence Call Getaway sailing & book a captained three hour sail. Fall in love with sailing & sign up for sailing lessons at Getaway. Join the Club at Getaway and sail whenever you want.

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What Sailors Wear on the Water


ou would be hard-pressed to find a sailor without other outdoor passions such as skiing, cycling, running, kayaking, waterskiing, rafting, camping, or hiking. The outdoorsy types who are attracted to the sport don’t mind the sun, rain, and wind (and more wind). Dressing for success in sailing has nothing to do with fashionable navyblue striped sweaters—especially if they’re all cotton. The key to dressing well in sailing, as in other outdoor sports, is learning how to remain comfortable, dry, and mobile in the face of the elements. Before you go out and make any investment in new gear, check your closet and assess what you already have to cover you from head to toe. If you already ride your bike on mountain trails, run around the neighborhood, hike in the woods, or hit the slopes from time to time, you may already have the gear necessary to get started. We’re not suggesting you don’t invest in sailing-specific gear; we’re saying that the lack of it should not be a barrier to entry. You might have enough makeshift gear to start right now. Then once you’re hooked on sailing—as we know you will be—you will learn quickly what you need to complete your sailing gear kit.

Head Like runners, many sailors like to have a visor to protect their eyes and face from sun and rain. A safe bet is an oldfashioned baseball cap. A hat strap with a collar clip is helpful, as more “man overboard” drills are done for runaway hats than for men. Nothing says “newbie” quite like a bad sunburn. Sunblock is a must, even when it’s cloudy. Skiers, snowboarders, waterskiers, and paddlers know that snow and water reflection makes the sun twice as powerful. Effective, non-greasy, high-protection sunblock is available at ordinary drug stores. Many sailors wear SPF clothing, which is available at outdoor stores and marine gear stores (also known as chandleries).

Core As in any outdoor sport performed in temperatures between 50 and 100 degrees, high-tech layers are the answer. A T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece vest, fleece pull-over, and nylon shorts/pants such as used for hiking and camping would almost complete your sailing gear needs. The outer layer or foul weather gear for sailing isn’t unlike hiking outerwear, except that the retro cheapie poncho, which might be useful on a rainy hike, would be a nuisance in the wind. Make sure you find waterproof outer tops and bottoms that will not flap in the wind, and always assume it will rain. Rain usually brings wind, and wind is a good thing—a wet rear end is not.

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will have one onboard for you, but you might want to invest in a more stylish one; lightweight and attractive lifejackets really do exist! The vest styles can be great for keeping you warm and safe. Sailing gloves are reasonably priced ($20) and an excellent investment for new sailors. Cycling gloves work, too.

You can buy reasonable, effective foul weather gear for $250 (or more!) new. If you find a crew to sail with, it’s a guarantee they’ll each have some surplus gear to lend or donate. When it comes to lifejackets, your crew

Photo by Shannon Hibberd

A cold and soggy behind could ruin an otherwise terrific sailing day. You may already have a functional Gore-Tex shell, but do find yourself some waterproof bottoms as well.




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Toes Slipping on a wet deck, stubbing your toe on metal hardware, and scuffing up the deck of someone else’s boat are the considerations when you choose sailing footwear. Flip-flops and darksoled running or hiking shoes make lousy sailing shoes. Chuck Taylor high tops, white-soled tennis shoes, Keens, Tevas, and old-fashioned Top-Siders or Sperrys make good non-scuffing sailing shoes. High-tech wicking socks are the best.

Necklaces, dangling earrings, and precious gems can make for difficult or dangerous sailing wear. Leave them in your jewelry box at home. Buy Croakies to keep your expensive sunglasses from going “in the drink.”


The top sailing school in the country, J/World teaches all course levels. You’ll love learning on J/80s- the boats are fast, fun, and easy-to-sail. Certified instructors make sure all students leave highly skilled, suntanned, and smiling! 410.280.2040,


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Sail For Free... Really?


t’s no secret: sailing can be an expensive sport. However, there are ways to try it without investing any money. If you get hooked, you will eventually invest in gear, lessons, and maybe a club membership or your own boat—but let’s stay focused on trying sailing right now. Here are some ideas.

yourself to them, and letting them know that you are open to crewing and new to the sport. If you are lucky enough to live in a sailing hub, such as Annapolis, MD; Milwaukee, WI; or San Francisco, CA, where there are spring parties specifically set up to introduce sailors, you are in luck. Find details at

There are skippers who like to sail solo, but the majority of them sail with crew and often need more crew for casual day sailing and racing. The task is finding such sailors, introducing

Another good way to meet sailors is through community sailing centers, which you’ll find in sailing towns such as Annapolis and Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC; Stonington, CT; Boston, MA; Burlington, VT; Newport, RI; Ft. Myers, FL; Milwaukee; Seattle, WA; and San Francisco. Community sailing centers specialize in inviting the public into sailing at reasonable costs. Find listings by geographical location at Of course, we think free sailing magazines are exceptional, targeted resources for finding welcoming local sailing clubs and generating ideas about meeting sailors. A sampling of the magazines: SpinSheet


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on the Chesapeake Bay; Points East in New England; Windcheck on Long Island Sound; Southwinds in Florida; 48 Degrees North on Puget Sound; and Latitude 38 in San Francisco. SpinSheet and a few of the others offer free digital crew finder services, also listed on Once you find a sailing opportunity, you can follow the advice on these pages about what to expect and then get out on the water and enjoy yourself. One good sailing invitation will lead to many more. Go meet some sailors and let them know you are eager to learn. You will be surprised by how many of them are waiting to hear just that.




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Insider Tips for Sailors


t’s hard to know the unspoken rules of any culture. To avoid any clashes, here are a few secrets to help you understand what your new skipper is thinking in various hypothetical sailing situations and how you should react: A skipper asks you to bring lunch. Do not be offended if this happens. It’s a perfectly normal request. Fuel is expensive, as is boat maintenance. Just as you would offer a dinner party host some cheese or wine, it is standard for crew to bring their own brown bag or share costs by pitching in for snacks or beverages. Remember, recyclable cans and plastic bottles are always better than glass on boats. A skipper asks you to wear a lifejacket. This doesn’t mean he or she questions your swimming abilities; it actually means he is carefully considering your safety. Trust your skipper’s hunches, and put it on. Lifejackets aren’t as silly looking as they used to be, and the vest styles can keep you warm on rough days. A skipper asks you to wear different shoes. Again, no offense. Dark-soled shoes have always been a no-no on boats. Certain shoes


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such as Keens have dark, but nonscuffing soles. (See page 12.) To see if your shoes scuff, you may want to test them first on your linoleum floor at home. A skipper asks you to be quiet. Have you ever tried to perform a tricky parallel parking or lanechanging maneuver with someone yapping in your ear? It’s equally distracting on a boat. When a skipper asks for quiet, respect the request. Leaving and returning to a dock and certain on-the-water maneuvers require concentration. A quiet crew, who are ready to listen and jump into action, keep the tension level down on a boat. Crew members with open ears, open eyes, and open minds who keep their mouths shut get many more sailing offers than chatty ones. A skipper asks you to go down below for awhile. Especially during a gybe (see page 5) or during rough weather, it is smart to have newcomers go down below rather than be on deck unsure of what to do. It is for your safety and that of the other crewmembers. Even if the skipper doesn’t have time to explain why, just listen, and trust his or her hunches.

A skipper yells repeatedly at his or her crew. Despite the tyrant-captain stereotype, this is not cool or acceptable behavior. Yelling is offensive and often the sign of a skipper who lacks confidence, skill, and manners. Reconsider his or her next sailing offer for your own safety and sanity. There are polite, level-headed sailors out there. You don’t need to waste time on rude ones.

Discover the  

A skipper is offensive. Unfortunately, such people show up on land and in boats. We’ve told you a few times here to trust your skipper’s hunches. Make sure to trust your own, too. Say goodbye. A skipper e-mails potential sailing dates, but you don’t know your schedule yet. Please respond to his or her e-mail to say just that. Being a prompt, honest communicator will bring you future sailing invitations!

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Of Cell Phones and Sailing by Saving Sailing author Nicholas Hayes


hunk... kerplunk.” The sound of a dropped cell phone bouncing on deck and splashing into the dark water… “Awwww #^%$#!” “Splash, laugh, and holler!” The sounds, a short few hours later, of the cell phone owner, lost phone forgotten, jumping

into the water to cool off while sailing. Have you experienced such a day of loss and recovery? When disappointment and stress turn to joy in the course of a few sunny hours spent sailing, the contrast is striking. A lost phone conjures dark feelings, and a summer sail and swim erase them completely.

We’ve been told that the cell phone connects us to something. It might also be said that the “smart” phone is disconnection in the extreme. While we anticipate human contact through it, the contact is, in reality, more absent than present, more fleeting and frustrating than fulfilling. Sailing, on the other hand, is both materially untethered and socially connected at the same time. When the phone goes kerplunk and sinks to the bottom, the buzzing and beeping are silenced, leaving all other things feeling more real. Face down postures turn face up. Thumbs must do more than type. Crewmates let loose dock lines, haul halyards, and trim sails. The boat heels over, and everyone plays some role in flattening it out. Some spy the water surface to find more wind. The driver heads down.


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The trimmer eases. At the end of the swim break, the swimmer needs a hand climbing back aboard, and his or her crewmate gives it. The social and natural connections are durably memorable, in contrast to the forgettable grocery aisle tweet. Sailing satisfaction comes from feeling the breeze, teaming on a task, inventing a new game, or doing

a cannon ball into the water to douse the rest of the crew. For most sailors, our richest, deepest, and happiest experiences will happen while touching nature with friends in these ways. To veteran sailors, such experiences may seem normal, routine, and obvious, but for Facebooking nonsailors—well, how could they know them

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at all? The fact is: they can’t. And the phone, Twitter, streaming YouTube videos, or sailing simulators will never be surrogates for the actual outdoor group experience. You simply gotta do it. While the sunken phone might have been useful in getting the people to the boat, after that, it’s arguably better in the water than out.

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Kids’ Sailing Camps

Boats, Skills, Safety, and Fun by MacDuff Perkins

What kind of camp should I send my child to? Your child may be ready for a sleep-away camp. Or perhaps her schedule is already packed with other lessons, so you’re looking for a camp that will leave her

afternoons wide open. Either way, opportunities abound around the country. Find them at’s resource page.

In what boats will my child be learning? How old are the sailboats? How big is the fleet? What kind of shape are the boats in? These are all important questions. Also note that many camps don’t depend on only sailboats to teach your child water safety. Camps now utilize

kayaks, canoes, powerboats, and even paddleboards to make your child feel at home. If your son or daughter is hesitant about being on the water in a sailboat, let him or her know that sailing is only one way of being on the water.

Who will instruct my child? A sailing instructor is neither a babysitter nor a general camp counselor. The sailing instructor will be responsible for children’s safety on the water, instill them


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with confidence, and teach them valuable lessons. If your child is hesitant, find a skilled instructor who can work with him. Chuck McCann, board

Photo by Dan Phelps

member of the Baltimore County Sailing Center and parent of a junior sailor, says, “You want to transition them in as easily as you can. Sometimes, we’ll let them ride in the coach boat and watch the other kids do it for a while. Or we’ll start them off with turtle drills. If they’re timid sailors, you have to get them comfortable.”

“The number one priority is having fun.” Ah, turtle drills. Because as a camper and a junior sailor, you can count on one thing: you will be in the water just as much as you will be on the water.


• Find helpful and fun videos for new sailors. • Read Start Sailing Now’s digital edition. • Locate sailing schools, crew finder services, and regional sailing magazines in major sailing hubs nationwide.

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What kind of boater safety & swimming instruction do you provide? Your child should be a competent swimmer before signing up for sailing camp. Most camps will give kids a basic swimming assessment test before putting them in the water, but stress that a life jacket will be worn at all times. For small children, one of the biggest fears in sailing is that the boat will tip over, or the child will

be sent overboard. It’s important to emphasize that being in the water isn’t a bad thing. This is supposed to be fun, and capsizing is just a part of that. If you plan on boating with your child during the summer, a boater safety program and test are excellent additions to the standard instruction.

How much fun will this be? To answer this, you have to find a program that will match your expectations and also instill in your child the idea that learning

to sail is not an obligation; it’s an opportunity. The number one priority is having fun.

Index of Advertisers


Blue Water Sailing School.................19

Norton’s Sailing School........................ 5

Boatyard Bar & Grill.............................21

Offshore Sailing School.....................24

Chesapeake Sailing School................ 8

Planet Hope...........................................17

DelMarVa Sailing School...................17 Downtown Sailing Center................... 7

Rock Hall Yacht Club Sailing School, Inc............................19

Getaway Sailing....................................10

Sail Solomons........................................15

J/World Sailing School.......................12

Schooner Woodwind..........................15

Mariner Sailing School......................... 8

The Sailing School...............................10

Mount Gay Rum..................................... 2

West River Sailing Club........................ 7

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Top 10 Reasons

I Love To Sail with My Family by Beth Crabtree


Sailing is one of the best forms of family bonding. Because multiple generations can sail together and teamwork is a necessity, few sports bring families together the way sailing does.


One of the best parts of sailing is that there are so few electronic distractions. Although our kids bring their phones aboard, they only use them for photos and music.


Limited space and 360 degrees of surrounding water mean that it’s hard for teens to hide. Sailing can bring even the most reclusive teen topside for some quality time with the family.


Sailing provides time for daydreaming and reflection. On a sailboat, the work comes in bursts. You’ll have moments where the whole crew is intensely busy, but you’ll also have long stretches of time when each family member can retreat into his or her own thoughts.


Sailing with my spouse is an ideal date. Spending time on the water away from work, household, and parenting responsibilities is a great way to relax and recharge.


Sailing is a great place to watch sibling interaction. Although they may squabble on land, they’ve got to work together to make the boat go.


Some of my fondest childhood memories are the hours my dad and I spent sailing. I hope my children will feel the same way someday.


Sailing is full of teaching moments. Crew work requires interpersonal skills, but sailing also provides a platform for parents to teach proper planning, accountability, engineering, math, chart reading, ecology, and more.


Sailing with children gives them an opportunity to see parents as individuals, not just as Mom and Dad. One of the interesting dynamics on a sailboat is the sense of equality among the sailors aboard. Skills matter more than age.


Sailing keeps our hands and our minds busy. It gets us out in nature. We leave our worries and commitments back on land. We come home tired and happy. Sailing is a mini family vacation.

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Enriching Lives Through Excellence

Jennifer Card • Chicago, IL Learn to Sail

“This experience was life changing and opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunities. Before taking this course I had never been on a boat, let alone sailed. I never imagined that after only one week I would be sailing with confidence. Both of my instructors were extremely patient, never intimidating, and always encouraging. The difference between Offshore Sailing and other organizations is that both of the instructors had extensive experience and knowledge in sailing. Now, something that was once so foreign to me is full of endless opportunities. I can’t wait to take the next course.”

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