Sail to Learn - Sailing

Steve helming solo just west of Passage Key.
Sail2Learn offers sailing lessons for beginner to intermediate sailors in the Sarasota/Bradenton, FL area. Lessons are aboard 'Joycee' - a 17' trailerable daysailing fractional sloop (one mast with mainsail and jib)... a perfect learning vessel and a wonderful boat for new sailors on a budget. The sailing grounds for these lessons are on Sarasota Bay and/or in the Anna Maria Sound area... Depending upon the expected wind conditions we will rig and launch Joycee from either; the Kingfish Boat Ramp (N of Hwy 64 on Anna Maria Island), the Palma Sola Bay Ramp (S of Hwy 64 on the causeway), the Ken Thompson Boat ramp at Lido Shores, or at Centennial Park (W of Hwy 41, N of 10th St.). [See MAP]."
Half-day or full-day lessons for small groups (3 max!) are 'hands-on' by design with an experienced coach at your side. Start from scratch and learn all required to effectively and safely handle a daysailer including:
  • creating a "floatplan" for the excursion - dependent upon weather conditions,
  • successfully rig (standing and running rigging assembly and step the mast) a daysailer which entails learning to assemble spars (mast and boom), securing sails to control lines (mainsheet and jib sheets) and fittings using hardware and tying proper seaman's knots,
  • launch via boat ramp from trailer,
  • helming or crewing and both simultaneously, under outboard power, under sail - on all points of sail - learning to execute tacks and gybes smoothly),
  • identifying viable points of sail and avoiding getting caught "in irons" - and if it happens (and it will!), quickly recovering by backing the mainsail,
  • read a local chart and pilot (different from helming!) effectively,
  • recover a "man-over-board" (not you - or your partner(s)! ;-) It's a drill!),
  • make a "beach" landing & relaunch (the Hunter 170 with a swing keel and kick-up rudder has an 8" draft and is "beachable" in low surf),
  • recover from capsize (optional... the Hunter 170 is a very stable vessel and she is difficult(!) to capsize, BUT we will - if students desire it! The recovery from capsize is a challenging skill to master but is a great confidence-builder),
  • reduce sail by reefing main (jiffy reefing and stowing flaked section of mainsail in lazy jacks system) and jib (self-furling headstay reefing),
  • drop and weigh anchor, and
  • planning and executing return to dock under reduced sail or auxilary power safely - includes throwing lines.

All of the above can be accomplished in a Full Day (7 hour) lesson or two half-day (3.5 hour) sessions. As a bonus we will often sail beside dolphins, eagle and/or leopard rays, manatees, comorants, even an occasional sea turtle during a sail - and large pelicans and other seabirds coast on the breezes nearby and then suddenly swoop and drop with a terrific splash when diving for a meal. We'll sail among classically pretty power and sailboats, tour boats, jet skiers, kayakers, windsurfers, kiteboarders and paddleboarders.

When we get hot/sweaty - we'll anchor and swim or snorkle to cool off... search for scallops, triton and conch shells, sand dollars, sea urchins, sea horses - all of which are found in these waters. You'll learn in an active, fun manner - to speak the language of sailing, to choose and tie the right knots for the particular situation, to helm and crew effectively, throw lines, and much more.

Joycee's large cockpit will accommodate six, but class size is limited to three to maximize the learning by DOING experience.

Will you master sailing in this class? Honestly!?? No! Certainly not in your first class...
Sailing masterfully in all conditions takes hundreds(!) of hours of practice. But in each session/lesson we will build upon your prior experience(s) - and focus on relevant and appropriate individualized objectives. "Nothing succeeds like success!" - and while you will tackle situations and problems that are challenging, they will be fairly immediately obtainable with practice and attentive coaching.

Steve Bonham
Steve Bonham
Sailing coaching provided by Steve Bonham, a calm, patient, experienced (40+ years sailing) and friendly skipper with current ASA certifications. Bonham is a former college health & kinesiology professor, an NCAA division I Mens Gymnastics coach, and an instructional systems designer/faculty developer. He believes that for learning to stick it must be hands-on and immediately relevant.

So learners can expect sequences of progressive drills and mindful practice with individualized, kind and constructive feedback from a laidback and patient instructor. Sailing mistakes will be made! And that is great! Bonham believes those are effective learning moments sometimes the very best kind. Sailing is a wonderful and therapeutic form of play - and learning to sail should and will be fun!

If conditions permit - the Full Day sessions will include an island landing and a picnic lunch.

The Hunter 170 Daysailer

Snorkeling Stop

Porpoise Encounter


So! You've decided to become a sailor. :-)

Christopher Cross got it right. Sailing can be magical...

"Well, it's not far down to paradise
At least it's not for me
If the wind is right
You can sail away
and find tranquility.

Oh, the canvas can do miracles.
Just you wait and see...
Believe me...

It's not far to never-never land
and reason to pretend
and if the wind is right
you can find the joy of innocence again.
oh, the canvas can do miracles.
Just you wait and see...
Believe me..."

Sailing does takes one away. You will soon - believe me!

The decision to become a sailor is something you will be grateful for the rest of your life! Sailing is a recreational activity (soon a passion!) that you can do all life long. You can putter around on inland ponds and lakes... along the coasts, or make passages that could carry you across oceans - or even completely around the world. That is the kind of an adventure that you have begun. Congratulations!

Conch find
Sailing... the art of moving a vessel across the water with nothing but the wind is simple - and also very complex. To become a master sailor you will be required to know an incredibly wide variety of things. But you don't have to learn it all at once. You'll learn aspects of astronomy, geology, physics, geometry, hydro & aero-dynamics, meterology, and lots more besides. You'll learn to read the wind, the clouds, the waves, and currents... about the creatures that inhabit the waters upon which you sail. You will immerse yourself in nature in a true physical connection that you have previously never even imagined. It is wonderful. And it's why I call this experience not "Learn to Sail" but Sail to Learn!

Want just a "taste" to see what it's like to sail a small boat? Join the Bradenton Sailing Meet-up Group!

Steve Bonham

Email to schedule your sailing lesson - or to request further information.


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