Adult Beginner Learn to Sail

2024 Adult Beginner Learn to Sail Lessons:

Registration for the 2024 Sailing Season will open in February 2024. Please add a reminder to your calendar to check back in early February where we will have an update posted with the exact date/time for the opening of registration. Thank you!

Please click here for our Membership Benefits and Boat Rental Policies. 

DC Sail's beginner sailing course ensures that with practice you will learn the basics of the sport of sailing. We want you to not only learn how to sail but also to continue building your skills. DC Sail is dedicated to making your unique experience something that will last a lifetime. 


Basic Membership and Adult Beginner Learn to Sail Package: $515

Super Membership and Adult Beginner Learn to Sail Package: $675

Membership Benefits and Boat Rental Policies can be found by clicking here.

By signing up for this course, you receive:
  • Adult Beginner Learn to Sail Lessons: Sessions are comprised four lessons (Lesson 1, 2, 3, 4) to complete the course over two Saturdays and two Sundays, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. 4 days of instruction (10-12 hours total *weather dependent).
  • A 12-month membership to DC Sail (required) which provides access to all of our programs and allows for plenty of sailing practice. Membership is activated a few days prior to the first lesson and active for one year from that date. 
  • Class size is either 8 or 12 students. There are four students on the boat with their Instructor on the boat with them.
  • US Sailing Small Boat Sailing Certification (nationally recognized).
  • Ample opportunities to practice your skills on weeknights by attending Members Only and Social Sails. Sailing is a complex sport and requires many hours on the water with opportunities to learn something new every time you leave the docks. Members Only and Social Sails take place Mondays and Wednesdays, mid-May to mid-September.
  • Includes a "Start Sailing Right!" textbook & the US Sailing Red Log Book. 

Instruction takes place in 19-foot Flying Scot sailboats. DC Sail follows the  the US Sailing Small Boat Sailing Curriculum. US Sailing is the governing body of the sport of sailing in the United States. This certification ensures that you are receiving the best quality of sailing education.

REGISTRATION: To register for your lesson package, click on a Session from the red box below - the dates for the four lessons will be posted inside the registration link. Please note that your attendance is required for all four lessons within a Session. We are unable to split Sessions due to logistics. (Full payment must be made at the time of registration. Pending registrations without payment will be auto-cancelled by the system after 15 minutes. Please have your payment information available at the time of registration.)

See below for more information related to Curriculum, Prepare to Sail, Guarantee Policy and Certification Information.


Adult Beginner Learn to Sail Lessons

No upcoming events


Included in the course fee, students will receive a copy of US Sailing's acclaimed Start Sailing Right! textbook and a US Sailing Small Boat Certification Red Book.

The course content is based on the US Sailing Small Boat Certification Curriculum and is divided into general skills and boat handling skills modules:

General Skill Modules

  • Wind Direction
  • Rigging and Derigging
  • Knots/Lines
  • Rules of the Road

Boat Handling Skill Modules

  • Departure/Landing
  • Steering
  • Safety Position
  • Tacking
  • Points of Sail
  • Jibing
  • Capsize Prevention and Recovery
  • Person Overboard Recovery
  • Getting Out of Irons
  • Upwind Sailing
  • Downwind Sailing
  • Capsize recovery

Prepare to Sail

What to wear:

Wear something you don't mind getting a little dirty and possibly wet and consider what the weather is going to be both in terms of temperature and wind speed. It tends to be a bit cooler on the water than on land (that's why sailing is a great summer activity).

Lifejacket - all DC Sail members are required to provide their own USCG Certified PFD (lifejacket). Types I, II, III, and V are all acceptable. Type III jackets are the most common. Following lessons and certification, members must also provide PFDs for any guests they bring to weekend rentals.

Shoes - tennis sneakers or shoes designed for sailing have the best traction, but any sneaker of some sort will suffice (the softer the sole the better). You must wear closed-toe shoes or sports sandals (choco's or teva's). Flip-flops and open back shoes are not permitted.

Top - a t-shirt will often do the job, but if it's windy or rainy, a light fleece top, sweatshirt, rain-jacket or some combination will meet your needs.

Bottom - shorts or pants depending on the temperature.

Rain gear - If rain is forecast, please bring rain gear. We will evaluate weather conditions at the dock and will sail in the rain if there no severe weather is in the area. We do not cancel lessons due to rain.

What else to bring -

Refillable Water Bottle

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Cancellation Policy

DC Sail's programs and dock remain open when it is raining. However, we will close operations if there is a serious threat of lightning or if the wind speed exceeds 15 miles per hour. If severe weather prevents us from holding the lessons on the water, Instructors will lead lessons on land if possible.

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Certification Guarantee

Our classes are designed around the US Sailing Small Boat Sailing Certification, and most students should be ready to pass the US Sailing Small Boat Sailing Certification test after completion of our four classes.

Many of our students also take advantage of our Member Sails on Monday evenings and Social Sails on Wednesday evenings to get a little practice in during these fairly laid-back events before (and after) their check-out sails which occur during your first Flying Scot Rental. For Boat Rental Policies, please click here. Additional certification is required by the District of Columbia prior to any Boat Rental.

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Please call or email us. Email to Traci Mead, Executive Director, or call (202) 547-1250.

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DC Sail is the community sailing program of National Maritime Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Business Mailing Address: 650 Wharf Street SW, Unit 20, Washington, DC 20024
Diamond Teague Park Piers Waterfront Address: 99 Potomac Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003
The Wharf/Gangplank Marina Waterfront Address: 650 Wharf Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
Telephone: (202) 547-1250 · Email: Traci Mead, Executive Director - 
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