Sailing With Your Partner

By: Sailing Story, Schools

Learning to sail with your life partner is a growing trend among new sailors. The time you spend together builds on your relationship and fortifies the bonds that you are making. Whether you are daysailing on your local waters or planning a life-altering sail adventure, having your partner beside you can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a relationship.

The basic concepts of a strong relationship are relied upon when learning to sail. Trust, confidence, communication, and the desire to be closer are all intrinsic values of learning to sail. Engaging in a sailing course with your partner allows the relationship to blossom with a new platform and more room to grow.

Learning to Sail with your Partner

Narragansett Sailing School in Rhode Island has a number of couples who have taken a series of sailing courses with them and then set out to buy a boat and embark on sailing adventures.  Their students are proud to share their story with American sailing readers and we hope that you are inspired to follow your dream of sailing full time.

Jeff and Deb enrolled in ASA 101 and 103 in July of 2018. They moved on to ASA 104 in August of 2018 and then finished of ASA 105 and ASA 106 in June of 2019.

Jeff and Deb’s Timeline:

  • July 2018 – Completed ASA 101
  • July 2018 – Completed ASA 103
  • August 2018 – Completed ASA 104
  • Jun 2019 – Completed ASA 105/106
  • Oct 2019 – Annapolis Boat Show – They put a deposit on a Valiant 42
  • Aug 2020 – Their Valiant 42 Sails home to Barrington
  • Oct 2022 – Jeff and Deb sell everything, move onto the boat, and sail south

I was surprised that as a couple of more than 40 years, that we can still learn new things together, about each other, and about being sailors and live aboard cruisers!!

Growing Together – Deb

Their story: (as told in their own words in their log)

We left Barrington in late October and have been heading south at a very relaxing pace. We decided on offshore hops: Block Island, Montauk, Atlantic Highlands, Cape May, Norfolk, ICW inside Hatteras, back out to Southport NC, Charleston SC, Amelia Island FL, Canaveral, Ft Pierce, then Coconut Grove. Soon we crossed to the Berries in Bahamas and then the Exumas.

Lots of motoring this trip as the winds have been unfavorable to sailing down the coast. We’ve been in some interesting weather and have experienced some crazy inlet conditions, particularly an early morning entry to Cape Fear with wind against current, that was a scary learning experience: We learned that huge standing waves that stop the boat can happen in big boat channels AND that we and our trustworthy boat could handle it.

Other things we are learning. The weather is the center of everything. I heard this but living it is crazy. There are a lot of boats out here full of snowbirds heading south. Everyone is so nice and helpful. Marinas are expensive. Finding anchorages in the south for 6ft draft sailboats is challenging. There are 1,000,000 possible docking scenarios but each makes you better at it, be deliberate, decisive and confident.

Living on a boat is actually the easy part.

Experiencing Life as a Sailor

The Sailing School Experience

When we decided to “get real” about the cruising lifestyle we needed to have a fun way to ease into it and discover if we really thought we could do it and have some idea of what boat to buy.

We heard about Narraganset Sailing School and liked what we read on their website. We decided to do the whole series even though we both had sailing experience. 

What parts of learning as a couple did they enjoy most?

Deb – I enjoyed the hands-on sailing experiences with my husband the most (both the good and the more challenging). It was very important to me that we be on the same page with the same foundational skills. We are such different learners, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to show him what I know about sailing. This opportunity allowed me to show him & myself that I am a capable sailor. Even if we are different types of sailors. He is more technically aware and I am more concerned with the feeling in my guts and wind on my face.

I enjoyed the hands-on sailing experiences with my husband the most (both the good and the more challenging)

Spending time together

Jeff – It was a good choice to get the whole package as a couple. We heard the same thing as each other from the same authority. We had the same vocabulary. We could discuss real-time what we learned in the classroom and what we experienced on the boats.

We had different sailing backgrounds and very different learning styles. Deb is not the kind of person who is going to listen to me “teach” her sailing. And I knew little of cruising, only racing.

We could discuss real-time what we learned in the classroom and what we experienced on the boats.

Working on Communication

What I enjoyed most was watching Deb’s confidence and competence grow in your great learning environment. This was also reinforced by the others in the classroom. Deb seems to thrive in group learning. I appreciate her discipline and more serious approach to cruising and the right way to do things. This has been helpful in later situations, her insistance on rules and checklists. Many times I have reminded of important oversights.

What’s different about learning as a couple compared to learning individually? 

Deb -I think we were able to discuss the classes and shared experiences. “Remember when Mary (or another instructor) said this…” or “When this happened, we did that…”. We were able to chat and dive deeper and work on practice test questions (I am not a good test taker & he would try to simplify for me.) Note: I did take an additional class on my own to help me with my 105 Navigation knowledge. It was good to meet & share with others, but I did miss the “debriefing” afterward with Jeff. Fyi-I still need to take that test.

Jeff -There needed to be times when I wasn’t there at all and I was only getting in the way or not helping or judging. Then the instructor or some others in the group could step in and I could try to disappear.

Maybe it sounds silly, but that we did this together, something new and exciting, fueling a dream of adventure, was worth it alone.

On Intimacy – Jeff

What surprised you about learning with your partner? 

Deb -I guess I was surprised that as a couple of more than 40 years, that we can still learn new things together, about each other, and about being sailors and live aboard cruisers!!

Jeff -What surprised me the most was that Deb never got flustered or scared or indecisive on the boat. In every situation she stepped up and took care of things. This made me proud, especially on our 106 cruise where we had challenge after challenge and smiled all the way through it.

We never would have made the leap into buying a live-abord cruising boat without the sailing school foundation. It would have remained a dream. Maybe we would have started slowly, not sure, but the school gave us the confidence to buy a 42ft cruising boat and head off. Time will tell if that was a good idea or not but thank you for the solid start.

Narragansett Sailing Schoolnarragansettsailing.com(401) 575-0964Cove Haven Marina 101 Narragansett Ave.BarringtonRI02806United States
Courses Offered:
101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 118
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