finding best sailing school

Shopping for a Sailing School

By: American Sailing Association, Learn To Sail

Join Lauren as she continues on her journey to learn to sail. Follow her as she gets her feet wet as a beginner, gains experience, and earns her ASA certifications. The ultimate goal is to complete ASA 104 and go bareboat chartering somewhere exotic.

ASA 103, Part 1 – Shopping for a Sailing School

I passed the ASA 101 course in the spring. I went home, bought a copy of Treasure Island and a pair of dock shoes, and suddenly the summer months had passed with only a handful of days on the water. I got so wrapped up in the idea of becoming a sailor I forgot to get back to the marina!

If I really want to get comfortable out there on my own (which I do), I need to be more persistent. It’s time to level up and sign up for the 103 course, Basic Coastal Cruising.

From what I’ve read online and from my 101 instructor’s tips, I believe ASA 103 involves gaining a deeper understanding of a sailboat’s operations and how to properly manage a day trip along coastal areas. I want to continue building a strong foundation with thorough instruction- when the forces of nature are involved I don’t mess around!

An online search for nearby ASA-certified schools yielded ten results. With a double-click to zoom in on the map I narrowed my options down to three. They all offer the 103 course in a beautiful location, and have photos of people who seem to be having a great time. How do I decide?

sailing school los angeles

How to choose between ten sailing schools? Decisions, decisions!

Just a few minutes of research helped me make a decision. Here’s some criteria worth considering:

Courses Offered

This would be the most obvious question: does the school offer the specific course you want to take? Does it offer the next level course as well? Don’t book a hotel or start looking up the best post-sail restaurant in town until you’ve verified this information. You can find it directly on the school’s listing page.


Not all locations may offer the same price for the same course. Perhaps one school offers more perks than another, such as a smaller instructor-to-student ratio. Aim for a school that fits into your budget, especially if you want to take multiple courses.


Is this course only offered on certain days in the week? Does the course only fill up once every few months? These are worth considering so you can find a school that fits your schedule.


Let’s say you’re like me and don’t want to fall off the sailing wagon again. Some schools offer sailing instruction packages with a discount for enrolling in multiple levels at once. Not only will this save you some money, it will also keep your head in the game!


While I too would love to learn to sail along Hawaii’s shores, ASA has schools in 40 states (even Kansas?!) so your odds of finding a location within a reasonable distance are pretty good. You could also make an adventure of your sailing education and try a school somewhere more exotic, as ASA has schools in nearly 20 countries as well.


I don’t want to flash my millennial card here, but I almost always check online reviews before making a decision about a service. Make sure to look past the ridiculous ones: “The water was cold and the wind messed up my hair- 1 star.” Many of ASA’s schools have reviews directly on their online listing. You can get a better feel of people’s experiences: the atmosphere, the type of instruction, and more.

If you have been like me and have been waiting around for someone to pick you up and place you at the helm, waste no more time and get registered for your next sailing course!

Meet Lauren Lauren Coiro

Lauren is a marine conservationist, writer, and advocate for ocean-friendly living. She’s spent her entire life in the water, snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking, and has traveled to various parts of the world to study the ocean’s biodiversity and explore coastal communities. Lauren realized that the very best way to experience and appreciate the marine world is to get out there and start sailing!

With her ASA certifications Lauren hopes to make sailing a permanent part of her life and to connect with like-minded people who share her love of the sea. She admires the hard work and simplicity that can come with the nautical lifestyle and is eager to share how her ASA experience raises questions, challenges, and new opportunities along the way.