Few men can credit a garbage bag for leading them towards the career of their dreams, but Steve Klump does just that.
“I became instantly hooked on sailing through an ‘ah-ha’ moment while canoeing downwind in Everglades National Park using a garbage bag as a sail,” Steve says of the inspiration. “From that day forward I progressed through all sorts of sailing craft.”
Always an outdoorsman, Klump is a former Ranger with the National Park Service where he spent many an afternoon hiking in the serenity of the deep woods and mountains. Continue reading →
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
What the wise poet demonstrated about life itself is equally true in sailing: When it comes to where, when, and how you get sailing experience, it’s entirely up to you. The options are more various and appealing now than ever before. Whether you want to become intimately familiar with your local waterways close to home, or seek out fair weather and relaxation in the tropics, or anything in between, those choices are available to you.
Most people who enjoy sailing don’t own boats. That should not stop you from participating in the sport, improving your skills, and exploring new places. We’ll run down some of the ways you can gain sailing experience here, even if you don’t own a boat:
1. Take a sailing course at your local ASA school.Find a school here, and get in touch to see what courses they’re offering. If you’re new to sailing, you’ll start with ASA 101. If you’ve already got some sailing chops, you might be interested in higher level courses. Either way, you’ll be out sailing on your local body of water with expert ASA instructors.
2. Take a “destination” sailing course through ASA. Many of our schools are either located in, or teach periodic courses in, exotic locales. They can be found throughout the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico to the BVIs and down to Central America, and in numerous other countries around the world. Contact your local school to see if they have destination courses, or look at at the ASA schools based outside of the US.
3. Go on a skippered or bareboat charter. If you’ve taken courses through ASA 104 (Bareboat Cruising), you’re likely excited about the prospect of chartering. This is a great way to get the cruising experience you can’t get close to home. On a skippered or bareboat charter, you live aboard the boat, sail it from place to place, and practice skills such as mooring and anchoring that you might not use in your local marina. Not to mention, it’s a fantastic vacation. To learn more about charters and book yours, visit Find My Charter, ASA’s official charter partner.
4. Practice your sailing skills with a local club or school. Many ASA schools also run sailing clubs, host races, and have boat rental or timeshare programs. When you don’t own a boat and you need access to one, your sailing school is often a great resource. Stay in touch and let us help you keep your skills sharp.
My first sailing class on the windy, choppy waters of Puget Sound was a Christmas gift, and probably the best one I’ve ever received. I was hooked immediately, but little did I know where sailing would eventually take me: Cape Cod, Mexico, the South Pacific, Europe, and the Caribbean, just to name a few places, and my adventure continues.
Now, with the holidays coming up, we’re all starting to think about what to get for our family and friends this year. Lessons at an ASA sailing school are the gift that keeps on giving–years after the course is over, you’ll still be getting joy and adventure out of what you learned. So if you’re looking for something different to put in the stockings this winter, consider skipping the long lines at the mall, and look up your local sailing school instead!
Here are just a few of the reasons why a sailing school is the best place to learn:
1. Expert Instructors
Maybe you have a very good friend who is a master sailor, owns a boat, and has the time to take you out and teach you everything you need to know. But if that’s not the case, the place to find someone like that is an ASA sailing school! Our instructors are highly trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to sailing, spending countless hours on the water and in the classroom. In order to become an ASA instructor they must offer proof of substantial sailing and teaching experience, and undergo a rigorous Instructor Qualifying Clinic. In other words, only the best make it!
2. Comprehensive Curriculum
There are many books, online tutorials, and videos on how to sail, and some of them are very good. But those alone can’t teach you to sail. On-water experience, combined with study, is critical, as there are some things you can only learn by doing. How does it feel to steer a boat, or haul a line? How does a boat respond to the wind and waves? It’s about more than just getting your sea legs, it’s about really understanding how a sailboat works! And after all, isn’t being on the water the reason you’re doing this in the first place? That brings me to my next point…
3. Skip the Painful (and Expensive) Trial-and-Error
Learning a new skill or hobby is always a process of making mistakes and learning from them. But it shouldn’t be a shot in the dark, which is why sailing lessons from a qualified instructor can save you a lot of time, money, and stress. Sailing can be easy when you’ve had the right preparation and training, but if you’re unprepared it can turn into a frustrating experience. In a worst-case-scenario, it could even be dangerous. Much better to have an expert sailing instructor along to guide you through any uncertain moments. That way you’ll be making your beginner’s mistakes in a safe, constructive environment.
Here’s a fun fact: Most people, even avid sailors, don’t own a boat. Your local sailing school, however, DOES own a boat–probably a bunch of them. The best part of all? They’ll let you use it. A huge part of ASA’s mission is making sailing accessible to everyone, so that your education doesn’t end with certification. You don’t need to splash the cash on a brand new Beneteau or Hunter–we do it so you don’t have to. In addition to teaching sailing, many of our schools also operate sailing clubs, racing regattas, and double as charter companies, meaning you can rent their boats for an afternoon, a weekend, or a fortnight, whatever suits you. Once you start taking ASA classes, you’re part of our community, and we’re determined to provide opportunities to practice your skills and enjoy everything sailing has to offer.
Not only will you be able to share the sport of sailing with your friends and family, at your sailing school you’re sure to meet like-minded people, both students and instructors, and who knows where that will lead? Maybe you’ll put together a team for Saturday night beer can races, or just find a group to go daysailing with. Perhaps you’ll even end up going on a flotilla in some exotic locale? Our instructors lead dozens of them every year, all over the world. (Here’s a list of ASA’s 2013 flotillas, by the way.) Once you start sailing, there’s just no telling where it might take you.
My sailing adventure began as a gift all those years ago. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) Now, are you ready to start yours?
Let’s say you’re a novice to sailing and you’re curious to give it a try. Where do you start? How can you get a taste of the sailing lifestyle, and what are you getting yourself into? Here’s a secret: You don’t have to buy a boat. You don’t need grand plans to sail around the world. You definitely don’t need to spend a lot of money. All you need is a little time and the willingness to give it a shot.
Luckily, getting new sailors started is one of ASA’s specialties. You can ease your way in without even leaving the home, plunge straight into an exotic sailing adventure, or try something in-between. Whatever your style, here are five ways you can begin to live the dream.
1. Complete our free eLearn course, “Your First Sail.”
It only takes about 30-45 minutes, and covers all the basics for a new sailor or anyone looking to brush up. You’ll learn sailing terms, the parts of the boat, basic safety skills, and even what to wear and bring with you. This is great preparation for a first sailing lesson, and will also make you a better guest aboard someone else’s boat. Try it for free here.
2. Attend an On-Water Clinic at a boat show.
ASA exhibits at boat shows around the country, and now offers a variety of on-water clinics so you can go sailing at the show! There are courses for all levels, from first-timers to seasoned cruisers. You’ll learn sailing skills straight out of the ASA curriculum, taught by our certified instructors. Check with your local boat show to see if we’ll be there!
3. Sailing School Open House
Many of our sailing schools host “Open House” events periodically where you can get to know the instructors and the boats, and sometimes even go sailing for free. It’s an easy, low-stakes way to see what sailing is all about. Find your nearest ASA sailing school and contact them to see if there are any open house events scheduled.
4. Take an introductory ASA sailing course.
This is where the REAL learning begins. Sign up for ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing, and get ready to become a confident small boat skipper. You’ll learn everything you need to have a great time as a casual sailor, and have the option of continuing through our courses to become an expert. Once again, just contact your local sailing school to get started!
5. Join an ASA Flotilla.
This is for those who want to start their sailing lives with a bang! ASA flotillas take place all over the world each year. Some of our favorite repeat destinations include the Caribbean, the San Juan Islands, Greece, Croatia, and Tahiti. And you don’t have to be a hardened sailor to go! Each boat will have a qualified skipper on board, and the trip will be led by an ASA instructor who is an expert in the local waters. Check out our flotilla schedule for 2013 here!
It’s one thing to decide you want to learn to sail. But when it comes time to actually do it, what are you getting yourself into? At ASA sailing schools, the answer is fun, adventure, and a new sense of confidence on the water. Read on as we walk you through what it’s like to learn to sail with one of our affiliates.
How To Pick a Sailing School
Picking a sailing school is kind of like choosing the right college. There are lots of great ones, but it’s important to find one that fits you and your goals. ASA has over 300 schools across the country, so there’s sure to be one near you. We also have a number of schools in the Caribbean and overseas. These “destination” schools are great for people who want to combine their sailing lessons with a relaxing tropical vacation. Continue reading →