Everyone needs an escape now and then. Diversions from life and work are important to renew your creativity and maintain a fresh perspective.
I’ve found amazing transformational power in regularly pursuing various hobbies. I wrote recently about how taking an acting class can help you understand yourself better and even become a catalyst for major life changes. Learning to sail is similarly life-affirming while also being great fun.
If you don’t live near a good sailing waterway, don’t worry. You can always fly somewhere known for its sailing like San Francisco Bay for a week or two on a learn-to-sail vacation.
What Are the Benefits of Learning to Sail?
Learning to sail isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s expensive, time-consuming, physically challenging, occasionally scary and mentally taxing, and those are exactly the reasons it is so rewarding.
Sailing opens up whole new lifestyle options. Taking friends out for a daysail is a great bonding experience. People who really get into sailing often charter boats for vacation in beautiful places like the British Virgin Islands. Some people decide to live on a boat, traveling from port to port for parts of the year. Others even decide to sail around the world. It’s not as uncommon as you might think.
In addition to the fun and excitement of sailing and the potential lifestyle options, sailing can also create strong new friendships. Sailors often form a strong camaraderie around the activity. Whether it’s at your local sailing school, marina or in some remote harbor, you’re sure to meet new people who share your interest in sailing.
Sailing can be a great family activity as well. I’ve met inspiring families from around the world who have decided to take off for years at a time sailing to exciting places and experiencing new cultures.
How Do I Get Started Sailing?
Before you plan your first circumnavigation, you’d better learn to sail. There are lots of great sailing schools around the country.
I learned through OCSC Sailing in Berkeley, California, and I can’t recommend them enough. OCSC has an amazing group of incredibly competent, safety-focused and fun instructors. The school has impeccably maintained equipment and is located on some of the world’s most challenging sailing waters, the San Francisco Bay.
Wherever you decide to learn, do some research about the school first. I’ve heard from people that which school you choose has a big impact on how well you learn to sail and how much you enjoy it. You’ll probably want to make sure the school offers a US Sailing-based curriculum and certification standard.
For most people, the first goal after learning to sail will be to rent a boat for a daysail. Most schools offer boats for rent to students who have completed some level of instruction. The level of instruction or certification required will depend on where you learn to sail.
In calm waters, you may only need the first level of US Sailing certification called “Basic Keelboat” in order to charter boats. In more challenging places or to charter larger boats, you may need “Basic Cruising” or even “Bareboat Cruising.”
Each certification level will require about 40 hours of instruction and classroom training and a written and possibly on-the-water test. The costs will vary from school to school, but expect to pay between $600 and $1200 for each certification level, depending on the quality of school and location.
The length of time it takes to obtain certification is largely a personal thing, and some people take longer than others. Make sure your school has decent options for practicing and retesting if you should require it.
Find out more about learning to sail, or find a school at US Sailing’s Sailing Certification website.
Have you had a positive experience with learning to sail? What other ways do you escape from your job? Let me know in the comments!
If you liked this article, subscribe to Free Pursuits.
photo by tiarescott