Learn Sailing Right

Overview | Scheduling

Learn to to sail with confidence

Family Sailing at Its best

Perhaps you have never sailed or you enjoyed your first sailing adventure and are looking for the next step toward continuing the experience.  You may have some exposure to sailing but would like to improve your basic skills and develop the confidence to expand your sailing horizons. Our Learn Sailing Right course for small boat sailing (Dinghies to small keel boats less than 25 feet) is just the learning experience for you.  We teach the basic skills necessary for safe, competent and confident sailing here on Lake Murray.  Our goal is to help you fully realize the joy and fun of sailing.

Instruction is scheduled by appointment.  You and your assigned instructor form a learning team and will arrange mutually agreed on training sessions.  (For students who may wish to train together, we will assign a learning team of one instructor and two students.)  Click on the “Registration and fees” link for details.

Overview and Instructional Philosophy »

Overview and Instructional Philosophy

Our program employs a “mentoring” model to teach the 14 basic skills we emphasize.   Rather than scheduling fixed class sessions and coaching multiple students from a support boat, our volunteer instructors demonstrate and coach from aboard the training boat. Observation, communication, and feedback are immediate.  Quality of instruction is enhanced and learning time is reduced.  We fully embrace the small boat as a training platform because it offers far more opportunity for feedback and repetition so necessary to a rapid learning curve. The skills learned easily transfer to sailing larger boats when desired.

Instructor and Student(s) agree on a training schedule that is mutually satisfactory. Training, up to a maximum of 16 total hours, continues until the instructor and student are satisfied that the student has achieved competence in all 14 basic skills.  Where scheduling requires, two students per boat may be assigned.

Syllabus »


The course is built on development of 14 specific skills fundamental to achieving competence in sailing small boats (dinghies and small keel boats up to 24 feet)

  1. Wind direction – Identify wind direction and indicators for wind direction
  2. Rigging  – Fully rig and un-rig a boat
  3. Knots and lines – Demonstrate 4 basic knots essential to rigging and securing a boat.
  4. Rules of the Road – Identify right of way between sailboats and between sail and power boats.
  5. Departure and Landing – Embark from a dock and return to a dock
  6. Steering – Steer a straight course with proper tiller grasp and seating placement.
  7. Safety Position – Stop your boat, then trim sails to resume course.
  8. Tacking – Tack your boat smoothly and efficiently
  9. Points of Sail – Identify the 5 points of sail (Times 2 for opposing tacks)
  10. Jibing (Gybing is also correct) – Perform a controlled jibe.
  11. Capsize Recovery – Demonstrate one of three capsize recovery methods.
  12. Overboard Recovery – Use the Safety Position (Skill 7)  to recover a “victim” (floating device) from the water.
  13. Getting out of Irons – Place your boat head to the wind until it stops, then use tiller and sails to resume sailing on a predicted course.
  14. Upwind Sailing – Steer close hauled (Upwind at approximately 45 degrees to the wind) without  excessive luffing or falling off the wind.

Training boats »

Training boats

Our training boat is the 19′ Flying Scot pictured above. (Click here to view a photo.)  It offers an amazingly efficient compromise between stability, roominess, comfort, and responsiveness so necessary for the student to get useful feedback without the stress of being “tippy”.  All our Flying Scots are fully rigged, shipshape, and ready to sail.

Instructors »


We have a small corps of instructor volunteers who are competent to coach the basic skills of the course.  If demand is high, some patience may be required while we address each students needs.  Training requests will be accepted on a first come first served basis.

Registration and fees »

Registration and fees

To request training and register for the course, email Instructor Coordinator, Ryan Gaskin.

Course fee is $250.00 per person ($150 for LMSC members) plus $10.00 for the “Learn Sailing Right”  text book and the Small Boat Sailor Certification Record Book that we use for our skills checklist.

If you desire it, ask your instructor about obtaining official certification from our US Sailing Certified Level One Small Boat Sailing Instructor.

Class Preparedness Checklist »

Important Information follows.  Please read before attending class.

1. *Wear soft soled shoes. Boat shoes are better for wet surface traction, but ordinary sneakers or athletic shoes are fine. Do not wear open toed sandals or thongs.
2. Bring sunscreen or sunblock. If you normally wear sun protective clothing outdoors, be sure to wear it for these sessions.
3. Wear sun shades. Your eyes need the protection.
4. Layered clothing is best for unexpected weather.  A waterproof bag for the extra layers and a light rain jacket (for spray in frisky conditions) are recommended.
5. Bring plenty of water (or your favorite electrolyte beverage).  Two 20 oz. bottles should be considered a minimum.  Dehydration on the water is much more common that most folks realize.
6. **Bring a properly sized US Coast Guard approved PFD with you.
7. Use your sun protective gear, clothing, or lotions even if the day is cloudy. Indirect UV is just as harmful as UV from full sun.

Risk of injury from wearing open toed or hard sole shoes prohibits us carrying students wearing these items.

**Safety requirements prohibit us carrying students not wearing USCG approved Personal Flotation Devices.  If you do not have an approved device and cannot borrow a suitable one from a friend, West Marine or your local sports outfitter offers basic models at nominal cost.