Elements of Sailing I & II
Learn to sail courses that emphasize seamanship, instill confidence, and are fun.
- Jane Ahlfeld & Arista Holden — June 21–27 (for women only)
- Jane Ahlfeld & Arista Holden — June 28–July 4
- Martin Gardner & Sue LaVoie —July 19–25
- Jane Ahlfeld & Gretchen Snyder —August 2–8
- Martin Gardner & Rich Naple —August 16–22
- Jane Ahlfeld & Anna Yoors —August 23–29
- Geoff Kerr & Annie Nixon —July 5–11
- Sue LaVoie & Gretchen Snyder —July 26–August 1 (for women only)
- Martin Gardner & Robin Lincoln —August 9–15
Elements II Qualifications
Becoming a sailor takes time (more than one Seamanship course, we can promise), and it takes work. To ensure that you not find yourself “in over your head” in our Elements II course, we ask that you have recently completed our Elements I course, or have equivalent experience: you should feel reasonably comfortable sailing a small boat from a mooring or dock, and returning her safely, using crew to help. Improving your sailing skills will ultimately increase your enjoyment of the sport. If you have any questions regarding your abilities, please give us a call.
Since early in WoodenBoat School’s history, we’ve had the great pleasure and satisfaction of introducing thousands of students to the joys of sailing. Our Elements courses continue to be among our most popular offerings, often bringing students back, year after year, for more sail training. Anyone can learn to sail, but these courses cover much more than that; our experienced instructors immerse each student in the art of seamanship. Our emphasis is on the skillful handling of small craft and building confidence in one’s abilities. These come from practice, and more practice.
Sailing can provide a lifetime of fun and recreation, but it also requires some basic knowledge and experience. We have observed that the quickest and best way for folks to learn the fundamentals of sailing is by starting out in small boats. Our program will get you onto the water quickly, safely, and fully prepared. Under the calm and knowing guidance of our seasoned instructors, you’ll learn the essentials—sailing dynamics, boat rigging and spars, and safety precautions—followed by practical lessons on sailing techniques. Daily hands-on exercises and drills will take students through getting underway, maneuvering through the points of sail, keeping a course, tacking, returning to a mooring and dock, and much, much more.
You’ll learn to rig our boats. We have various craft here that are suitable for the most timid and the most adventurous of students. Your on-the-water classroom for the week will be our fleet of Herreshoff and Haven 12½s—keel/centerboard daysailers that are a pure delight to sail safely. Above all, we want to take the drama out of sailing—it is a safe and enjoyable sport, and our heavy emphasis on seamanship should go far toward ensuring this goal. You’ll definitely have fun this week!
When the wind is fickle, you’ll practice rowing and sculling. There will be daily classroom lessons about charts and navigation, safety equipment and weather conditions, knot tying and heavy-weather strategy. Our instructors focus their entire summer on our fleet and waterfront facility; their “sea sense” is highly tuned, and experiencing that may be the biggest lesson of all.
In our Elements II course, students who have some prior small-boat sailing experience will have the chance to refresh their own “sea sense” and fine-tune their boating skills. You will work toward handling our vessels competently and confidently. Solo sailing will be encouraged, and a variety of more challenging tactical/navigational exercises will be presented. If you’re a graduate of Elements I, this is the perfect second step in your mastery of sailing. Essentially, this course is about sailing, sailing, and more sailing!