About the Author
SailingCourseGuide.com was created to fill an unfortunate void in the world of sailing: quality, unbiased information for prospective students to help them make the right choice of courses. I wish that this site had existed when I chose my first sailing school, and I hope that it proves helpful to all those who spend the time to read it.
Fact Tree Enterprises
This site is a part of the Fact Tree Enterprises network of objective consumer guides. Our mission is to provide the Internet community with much needed expertise on particular consumer purchasing decisions. Please visit our partner sites, Classical CD Guide and Spain Adventure, or contact us for more information.
The Reason for this Site
I created this site to aid all of the people out there who watch longingly as sailboats float by on the San Francisco Bay and wish that they too could sail one of them. One year ago, I was also in this position--watching the boats go by from the Bank of America building--and it occured to me that I should take lessons. My entire search for a school consisted of finding schools on the web and calling them for more information, and lasted about two days.
Upon starting to search, I quickly found that the most helpful resources on the Web for someone who knew nothing about sailing or sailing schools were published by schools themselves. Their information was useful, but almost always colored with sales pitches and claims to fame. When I finally enrolled in a course, I realized that there were dozens of little details that I would have considered when choosing that didn't even occur to me because I wasn't familiar enough with what I was signing up for.
I believe that America functions best when consumers are as informed as possible about what they're purchasing. To promote that ideal, I've created this site to guide my fellow consumers toward a better informed choice. I hope that someday this site can expand to be a resource for finding schools and helping make the right matches between student and teacher.
My Own Choice of Sailing Schools
I have found that sharing my own decision process with other prospective students has helped them figure out what school to choose. I chose primarily on scheduling and price, although I did look into a handful of the other aspects of the courses in the Bay Area before realizing how constrained by timing I was in the middle of winter when I took my first course. Being completely naïve to the sport and its instruction process, I trusted that all of the schools would have competent teachers, small class sizes, and adequate facilities.
Eventually, I found a course for a reasonable priceduring the two-week period I wanted, so I enrolled. My experience was mediocre. I started off with a perfect class, a wonderful instructor, and gorgeous conditions for the first two days. But, with the good comes the bad: my class switched instructors for the balance of the first week to someone who made sailing a chore. None of the students could understand his explanations, and his impatience put us all on edge. After our first instructor told us that we were all naturals at sailing, this second instructor flunked the entire class because there wasn't quite enough wind for him to be satisfied that we knew what we were doing. He accompanied failing us with the comment that my fellow student and I were very difficult to teach. Strangely enough, I've never had a problem with an instructor since.
Next, this school cancelled my second week of classes because of low attendance, leaving me with a week's vacation with nowhere to go and not much to do. I quickly realized that with some more careful planning I would have had a much better experience.
This experience explains why I am so quick to tell others to do their research. I'm convinced that much can be discovered about a program just by doing a little digging and making a few phone calls. I just hope that other students have a better experience than I so that we can all be happy sailing buddies some day.
How to Find Sailing Schools to Consider -- Make sure to start yourself with a solid list of schools to compare before making a decision. The right school for you isn't always the easiest to find.
The Final Decision: There Can Be Only One -- A summary of the most important aspects of a sailing course and thoughts on how to make your choice.