There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
--"The Wind in the Willows"
If you enjoy messing about in boats, but would also like to become a truly proficient sailor, there are a number of Southland sailing schools that offer year-round instruction, ranging from beginning seamanship to advanced navigation.
Many of these schools are affiliated with sailing clubs or associations in which membership is an option; others are solely instructional schools without membership features.
You can also find sailing instruction available through some parks and recreation departments, community colleges and universities.
The following is a sampling of Southland sailing schools:
Island Passage Sailing Club, 3150 S. Harbor Blvd., Channel Island Harbor, Oxnard, (805) 985-8643. This school, established in 1977, has a basic course designed for the student with little or no experience in sailing. The 25-hour program includes nine hours of practice on the 22-foot Santana, with a maximum of four students per boat. Members of Island Passage's boating club are eligible for discounts on lessons. Non-members may take the basic course for $195 or an intermediate series for $245. Minimum-use requirement is $30 monthly, applicable to charters. Membership is free.
Blue Water Sailing, 13505 Bali Way, Marina del Rey, (213) 823-5545. Since 1978, this school has offered fundamental and advanced sailing. Sailing I provides basic training with boats in the 14-to-20-foot range, while Sailing II is designed to provide skill in offshore sailing, including heavy-weather sailing, anchoring techniques and navigation. Each 12-hour course is $160 per person for group lessons (with a maximum of four students to a boat) or $25 an hour for private lessons.
Marina Sailing, 746 Washington St., Marina del Rey, (213) 432-4672. Marina, established in 1962, has a complete sailing course that includes basic through advanced levels plus navigation. The 20-hour course costs $245, which includes a lifetime membership. Students train in boats ranging from 21 to 30 feet, with a maximum of three students per boat. Marina Sailing also has schools in Oxnard and Long Beach.
Rent-A-Sail Inc., 13560 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey, (213) 822-1868. Established in 1973, Rent-A-Sail is among the largest of the sailboat-rental operations on the West Coast and offers all levels of sailing through its school. "The great majority of our students are beginners who have never been in a boat before," owner Don Ingram says. "However, we do offer advanced instructions as well." The three-hour basic program, aboard 14-foot sloops, costs $28 an hour for private instruction, $38 an hour for two people. Advanced instruction in larger, oceangoing sloops or catamarans ranges from $20 to $24 an hour for the boat rental plus $15 for instruction.
Wind 'n Sea Sailing Club, 14100-B Marquesas Way, Marina del Rey, (213) 472-6037. This 21-year-old club's main goal is to train its members for ocean sailing. An initiation fee of $107 plus a $32 monthly fee includes classroom and at-sea training on 30-foot or larger boats. Classes range from beginner to ocean sailing, including celestial navigation. The basic program is seven hours of classroom sessions and 14 hours at sea. On-board training is limited to four to six students, depending on the size of the boat. The club has chapters in San Francisco, Long Beach and San Diego. Lessons are available for members only.
Calypso Sailing Assn. & Sailing Schools, 2727 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, (800) CALYPSO. Since 1970, Calypso has offered both basic and advanced levels, 12 hours for $175, with up to four students per class in 25- to 31-foot boats. "After completion of the 12-hour class, if either instructor or student does not feel 100% comfortable and competent in the student's sailing skills, Calypso will continue to provide however many classes it takes until they do, at no additional charge," Dan Stetson, general manager, says. Completion of the basic course qualifies a student to become a member in the Calypso Sailing Assn. ($225 plus $29.50 per month). Calypso also has schools in Ventura, Marina del Rey and San Diego. Call the 800 number to reach any of the locations.
Windward Sailing Inc., 3400 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, (714) 675-9060. Windward, established in 1972, offers its members a 14-hour basic course, which costs $175 for two people. The non-member price is $25 per hour for two people, with a minimum of a two-hour lesson. All instruction is on the water in 26- to 28-foot boats. Advanced lessons are also available.
Balboa Sailing Club, 503 E. Edgewater Place, Balboa, (714) 673-2802. Balboa's basic course for beginners consists of 14 hours of private on-the-water instruction, two people per boat. Training takes place in 27-foot boats and costs $200 for members, $350 for non-members. "After that, we have yearly, ongoing seminars on specific aspects of sailing, such as speed sailing, navigation and anchoring," said Susan Avery, co-owner of the 3-year-old club. Lifetime club membership is $165.
Aventura Sailing Assn., 24650 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, (714) 493-9493. Established in 1976, Aventura's sailing academy offers a 22-hour basic/intermediate class that includes on-the-water time in 27- to 32-foot sailboats. Advanced seamanship, also 22 hours, uses sailboats 34 feet and longer. The courses, consisting of 12 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of sessions on the boats (maximum of five students per boat), cost $125 each for Aventura members, $165 for non-members. An additional three-hour course, "Navigation and Coastal Piloting," costs $35 for members, $45 for non-members. (One-time membership fee is $150, with $22 monthly dues.)
Harbor Sailboats, 2040 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, (619) 291-9568. This school, established in 1969, has a 12-hour basic course offered in 22-foot Santana sloops (maximum of four students per boat), while the intermediate coastal-cruising class uses boats up to 34 feet. Additional classes in navigation and advanced coastal cruising, in 39-foot boats, are also offered. Membership (for a one-time fee of $275, plus a minimum $35-a-month usage fee) includes 12 hours of basic lessons free. Non-members pay $180 for the basic course.