Sailing Lessons on Biscayne Bay
We knew we were seriously lacking of any sailing skills. We’d read every sailing book we could get our hands on. We’d attended about a half dozen boat shows where we’d attended dozens of seminars covering subjects from simple sailing techniques, to marine meteorology, to navigation.
Yet, we still didn’t know how to sail. We’d spent time in the Keys with our friends, Jim and Sharon, sailing on their catamaran. We learned lots from Jim’s gentle, patient instruction. Still, we lacked the knowledge and experience to go it alone on a sailboat. And we were convinced there was no way we could purchase insurance on our boat without some sort of proof of sailing experience or certification.
And then we attended the 2018 Miami Boat Show. We’d only been on the grounds of the show for an hour or two when we ran across the section dedicated to sailing. The next thing I knew Jane was having a conversation with a friendly British chap about receiving sailing instruction. His name is Tony Wall, an award winning ASA (American Sailing Association) instructor and sailing-related writer. It turned out he had an opening in a sailing class two and a half weeks later out on Biscayne Bay off Miami! Successful completion of the four day, four night course would provide us with our ASA 101, 103 and 104 certifications (for some strange reason there is no ASA 102). A down payment check and a handshake later, we were enrolled.
Our classes began March 8th aboard a 35′ Hunter sloop with one other couple (coincidentally from St.Louis) and the instructor, Tony. For days prior to the on-water instruction, we studied the materials provided by the ASA. There was lots to learn (particularly nomenclature) in preparation for the three written examinations that needed to be passed before certifications would be awarded.
I’m going to spare you the details of the four days on Biscayne Bay, except to say it was a fabulous experience, and Tony Wall is a fabulous instructor. This was an accelerated class, very fast-paced, and we got to experience lots of things that most first time students of sailing don’t, including very high winds while sailing, very high winds and strong swells while anchored for the night (and attempting to sleep in the forward V-berth), and and interesting situation in the middle of Biscayne Bay involving a near sinking of the boat!
If you’re interested in a description of the the near sinking incident, you can read all about it by clicking here.
In the end, though exhausted one step beyond total exhaustion, we walked away from the wonderful experience with sailing knowledge we could have never acquired in a book, a confidence in ourselves to solve problems and manage a boat, and our ASA certifications.
Thanks to Tony Wall for his kind patience and tolerance of two mid-westerners way outside of their comfort zones.