Over the past year or so, the family and I have been attending the US Sailboat Shows in downtown Annapolis. We've come to really enjoy the area, the vendors, having the opportunity to climb aboard so many different types of boats, and generally taking in the sites. During our visits to the show, we took an interest in taking some formal sailing courses, gain experience on larger boats, and build our confidence and expertise so we could charter and one day cruise aboard our own boat. We have sailed mostly boats 25ft or less up to this point without any formal instruction.
After talking to representatives from the various schools and reading up on the course offerings of each, we were consistently drawn toward the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. There were several reasons for this:
- The staff was genuine, friendly, engaging, and down-to-earth
- The price of the courses seemed reasonable and discounts were offered to those who attended the sailboat show
- The courses are longer in duration relative to some of the offerings from other schools, which meant more time to practice the skills taught with a qualified instructor
- We could "live aboard" during the class and experience a little taste of cruising life
- The school is in the quaint town of Rock Hall, MD, which is within a reasonable driving distance
My wife Amber actually took the lead in reaching out to the school to schedule the class. She was excited and nervous. I was just thrilled she was the one who had been motivated to take the class and I wasn't simply being the adventurous husband dragging her along on one of my exploits. The class turned out to be everything we had hoped it would be and then some. The difference in our confidence and ability from Day 1 to Day 4 were really amazing. Everything from sailing knots and their applications, sailing theory, procedures for pre-departure, how to check the oil on the Yanmar diesel, how use all the equipment aboard the boat, invaluable experience with docking techniques and standing turns, proper sail trim, how to read the water, how to communicate with crew, anchoring, etc, etc.
Our instructor for this course was Don Boccuti, USCG Licensed Captain and Certified ASA Instructor. Don is a patient, even keeled, and highly capable instructor. His thorough explanations of not just how but why, his depth of experience and insight, as well as the thoughtful teaching style demonstrated a clear commitment to our success in learning the material and applying it on the water. We had a lot of time to practice our newly acquired skills and develop as much mastery as one can hope to do within the framework of a four-day sailing course.
In the evenings, we enjoyed watching the sunset from the deck of the Island Packet 32 while docked comfortably in the slip at the Lankford Bay Marina. We also enjoyed trying the local fair at some really great waterside restaurants in Rock Hall. The town felt like stepping into another place and time where life happens at a slower pace and folks know and respect each other.
My wife and I had an unforgettable experience and both passed our exam with flying colors and demonstrated the skills on the water to earn our first level ASA Certification. We would highly recommend anyone who is interested in building a solid foundation of sailing competency and skill to consider the MD School of Sailing and Seamanship. I know we can't wait for our next course in Coastal Cruising Basics.
*** This post was not solicited nor are we in any way affiliated with the MD School of Sailing and Seamanship. If you'd like to know more, feel free to leave a comment and we're happy to share our experience. ***