Fleet of rental sailboats

How Do I Learn To Sail?

By: Learn To Sail

Have you ever sat on a sandy beach, and looked out on the horizon, and been enamored at the sailboats beautifully and seemingly effortlessly gliding across the water?  Do you schedule sunset sailing tours each time you go on vacation? Has the romance of sailing captured your heart in the pages of a book you were reading?

If so, maybe it’s time to put yourself more permanently on the boat, and we want to remove the barriers to entry for you if it’s seemed only but a daydream.

We will let you in on a secret: It’s pretty easy to start sailing.   

We get the question all the time.  “How do I learn to sail?”  

First Things First: What’s it like to learn to sail?

The easiest way to start learning to sail today is with American Sailing’s Online Intro to Sailing course. It’s a high-level, step by step guide to what you will learn if you choose to make your sailing dreams a real lifestyle.

Intro to Sailing Online Course

Next Steps: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get Started Learning to Sail?

Taking ASA 101 – Basic Keel Boat Sailing.

This is step one in your journey to explore the world under sail.  The foundation for all of your sailing education begins with this course.

ASA 101 – Basic Keel Boat Sailing

Able to skipper a sloop-rigged keelboat of approximately 20 to 27 feet in length by day in light to moderate winds (up to 15 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards. Auxiliary power operation is not required.

The course is taken over anywhere from 2 to 3 days with plenty of on-the-water instruction to get you started and on your way to becoming a proficient sailor.  

Three sailing students

How Can I Find a Sailing School?

Start here: https://staging.asa.com/wordpress/learn-to-sail/

Everything you need to start sailing can be found on this page. All the resources to find the school nearest you as well as a description of the courses available from the American Sailing Association are right here. It is always important to understand that “Learning To Sail Is Just The Beginning.” Soon you will be planning bareboat charters and flotillas with your new sailing community.

Find a School

Locate a sailing school
Find an ASA School

What Will I Learn In ASA 101?

Points of Sail Diagram
Learning the points of sail, and how the sails look and the boat feels on each one, is fundamental to becoming a competent sailor.

When you finish ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing, you will be able to skipper a keelboat. In other words, you will be a sailor. You’ll need to practice after that, but the foundation for your sailing education will be in place.  Here are the details on what you will learn:

ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing – What You’ll Learn

How Much Does It Cost To Learn To Sail?

Every ASA school is independently owned and operated; however, they all follow the same curriculum. Because of the various techniques and methodology with teaching this curriculum, prices for learning to sail packages vary depending on the school. Find a school that you want to attend here and compare costs and schedules. 

You can check some prices on this page: How Much Does It Cost to Learn to Sail? It is always wise to find updated information and a schedule of classes with your own local ASA Sailing School.

Do I Need a Boat to Learn to Sail?

ASA First 22 Sailboat

No. ASA schools teach you how to sail on their own adequately equipped sailboats.  So don’t worry about buying your dream boat just yet. Learn the skills and then get out on the water with a sailing club or friends. Your sailing school will most likely have resources to help you get more time on the water without having to make the investment into a boat. 

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Sail?

Sailing class on dock listening to coach

ASA 101 takes anywhere from 2 to 4 days, depending on the school, the instructor, and your schedule. Each school has a different approach and they each will utilize the ASA curriculum to teach the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat course.   

However, you will always learn something on the water, even an old salt like Lenny Shabes, Founder of the American Sailing Association, still learns something new while sailing. Sailing is a lifelong adventure that will forever keep you on your toes while working on relaxation and your well-being. 

Once you have earned your ASA 101 certification, you will be able to go out and use your skills. Take a look at Where to Use Your ASA 101 Sailing Skills.

Do I Have To Sleep On The Boat?

Sailboat cabin

Your first sailing course does not require you to stay overnight on the sailboat. Well…unless you choose to do a multiday course where you learn a lot more over the course of a week.  Plenty of new sailors find a school that teaches ASA 101, ASA 103, and ASA 104 as part of a sailing vacation.  This option often is an excellent choice for families looking to learn to sail together while getting away as a group.

Should I Study Before I Take Sailing Lessons?

Sailing Made Easy textbook

When you sign up for ASA Sailing lessons your sailing school will explain the process, but it is important to understand that knowledge is power. Sailing Made Easy and Let’s Go Sailing are two official manuals for ASA Sailing courses that are very good resources for the beginning sailor.

What Can I Expect When I Learn To Sail With American Sailing?

Take a look at these two first-person accounts of learning to sail with ASA:

Falling in Love with Sailing, 101 Steps at a Time

Falling in Love with Sailing 101 Steps at a Time

8 Things I Learned in ASA 101

Learn to sail with Lauren