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Learning how to sail

Sailing Courses and Classes


A little about us...

Our certified sailing instructors are committed to making sure you learn about sailing and have a fun time too! From the American Sailing Association's classes Basic Keel Boat (22'-25' sailboat certification) to Bareboat Cruising (30'-45' sailboat certification), we will help you prepare for your next adventure by teaching you the skills and knowledge to ace your exam.  Northern Virginia Sailing School has monohull sailing crafts from 22 feet to 30, all equipped with outboard motors or inboard engines.

What will you learn?

ASA 101: Basic Keel Boat

American Sailing Association certifications are lifelong and globally recognized for charters – just in case you were looking for an adventure.  Good for sailboat charters with 20′ – 27′ sloops and includes 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. The class is 10 hours long and is four segments of 2.5 hour instruction that is hands-on and on the sailboat.  This class comes with an official ASA logbook and ASA 101: Basic Keel Boat textbook.

ASA 103: Basic Coastal Cruising

ASA 101 certification is required in order to enroll. This course prepares you to operate a 25’-35’ sailboat, including cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather, safety and seamanship. The course includes ten hours of on the water and classroom instruction and ASA 103 text book.

Do you offer non-certification courses?

Try Sail

If you ask us, there is nothing better than gliding across the water with only the wind behind you (or beside you - more on that on your lesson!).  Think you, your loved one, or a buddy would love to sign up for sailing lessons but want them to try it first? Sign up for a try sailing package, a two-hour excursion on the water where they will get some basic instruction, a feel for the boat, and even take the tiller!  Feel free to ask about our Basic Keelboat Certification course to learn more about what you will learn and how to prepare.  There is so much to learn!

Refresher Course

Are you already certified but have not been on the water in awhile?  Perhaps you received instruction at one point but would like to get more practice with an instructor before your next solo.  It all comes back quick, we promise - hone specific skills like docking or heeling.  Start sailing again like a pro! Courses are approximately two hours long and tailored to individual needs.  Available to current ASA certified sailors only.

Boat Owners Classes

Bought a sailboat and wondering what that thing-a-ma-bobber does?  Want an extra hand onboard the first few sails?  Yup, we do that to.  Depending on your location and circumstances, we might even be able to come to you.  Please call us for availability and pricing, as this may vary depending on your location and needs.

Do you offer any discounts?

YES!  SAVE $110 when you sign up for ASA 101: Basic Keel Boat and ASA 103: Basic Coastal Cruising at the same time for discount value of $1080.  When booking, scroll down to packages and deals and select (or just click the link provided here) Discount ASA 101 & 103 Class Package.

VETERANS and ACTIVE MILITARY DISCOUNT: Navigate to this form to register as a veteran with the American Sailing Association. After you register, please bring your discount code with you when you sail. Registered veterans that bring their discount code receive $50 off their ASA 101 classes!

Class Comparison


What if the weather looks bad on reservation day?

We do our best to watch the weather, but mother nature often has the last word when it comes to sailing. Cancellations due to weather can occur at any time before or even during your sail. Your safety on the water is our #1 concern, and we will let you know if the weather looks unsafe. The school may cancel reservation at any time due to inclement weather, wind, unacceptable activity, or any other reason deemed permissible by Northern Virginia Sailing School. If the weather is forecast as a small craft advisory or worse, management will determine if your rental or lesson will be postponed or rescheduled and if it will be no cost to you.

What should I bring with me?

Please bring your sunscreen, hats, and lots of water! Wear boat shoes or rubber-soled shoes will prevent scuffs on the boat surface. Please check the weather before you come and give us a call at 571-331-0901 if you are unsure. The weather on the water can be 10 degrees warmer on hot days with no wind and can be 10 degrees cooler on windy, wet, or overcast days. Pack accordingly to make your experience a positive one!

How old do you have to be to sail?

Anyone can sail! We are only able to give ASA certifications to sailors 16 years of age or older. An adult must accompany all minors at all times, but we do allow children 5 years and older to participate on captained cruises. Children and infants may accompany an adult, but a personal floating device (PFDs) must be provided, properly fitted, and worn at all times. The school does not provide PFDs for children and infants age 5 or below..

How do I get into the park?

We are located inside Leesylvania State Park. Enter the park and tell the contact station you are headed to the sailing school. Drive in until you see the boat ramps and large parking lots on your right. Turn into this and head to the far boat ramp (on the far side of the building). You will see the sailboat masts!!

I have a sailing certification but it is not ASA, can we start with advanced courses?

ASA courses are tailored to build a foundation of sailing safety, knowledge, and practical application.  They are sequential and we cannot take shortcuts or offer certain sailors special privileges not available to others.  You must start with ASA 101 if you are not certified.

Can I bring food or drinks?

Yes, please!  We only ask that you do not bring anything that will stain white boats (red wine, grape juice, etc.).  Please do not pollute the beautiful Potomac River with any trash.  It is illegal to throw all materials (glass, paper, plastic, etc.) into the river.

What is your cancellation policy?

Reservation changes must be made 24 hours in advance of the reservation or a cancellation fee may be charged.  The school may cancel reservation at any time due to inclement weather, wind, unacceptable activity, or any other reason deemed permissible by Northern Virginia Sailing School. Cancellations made by the school due to inclement weather will be entitled to a refund for the remaining time left on the reservation.

Can I bring a friend/child with me?

Please call us at 571-331-0901 to discuss any last minute changes to the reservation and we will try to accommodate you.  However, if we do not have room on the boat, we will not be able to accomodate your last minute addition.

Are private classes available?

We highly recommend learning in a group!  With group classes you are able to watch others and learn from their mistakes and questions as well as your own.   All of our classes are group classes.  Private classes are available for additional fees and you must schedule them directly by phone or email (not on our booking platform).

If I decide I do not want to finish my certification, can I have my money back?

If you are unsure if sailing certification is for you, please book a Try Sail class to try it first.  None of our ASA certifications are refundable once you begin your classes.  Teaching certification classes is expensive and our class materials and expenditures are invested in your success.

Can I finish up my certification next season?

We recommend scheduling your classes without any large gaps to get the most out of your purchase.  Our certification courses should really be completed in the season they are begun.  If you are unable to complete, you must pay additional administrative fees and may need to purchase additional classes at the discretion of your instructor.

Northern Virginia Sailing School
rebel sailor
Northern Virginia Sailing School