Adult Beginner Learn to Sail

DC Sail's beginner sailing course ensures that with practice you will master 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:
  • 4 days of instruction (12 hours total).
  • 1 capsize course required to complete your US Sailing Small Boat Certification.
  • A 1-year membership to DC Sail which provides access to all of our programs and allows for plenty of sailing practice
  • 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 every time you leave the docks.
  • Includes a Start Sailing Right! textbook & the US Sailing Red Certification Booklet.

We teach in 19-foot Flying Scot sailboats. DC Sail teaches from the US Sailing Small Boat Curriculum.  US SAILING is the leading governing body of the sport of sailing in the United States. This certification ensures that you are receiving the best quality of sailing education.

See below for more on Curriculum, Prepare to Sail, Guarantee Policy and Certification Guarantee

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 Level 1 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


All course material is taught at the marina or on our sailboats. There is a heavy emphasis for hands-on teaching. In every lesson students will spend the majority of their time on a sailboat practicing skills and applying their knowledge.

The Wharf Marina is located at 600 Water Street SW in Washington DC, just two blocks from the Southwest Waterfront Metro stop on the Green Line.

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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).

    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 a rain-jacket. We will evaluate weather conditions at the dock and will sail in the rain if there no severe weather is in the area. 

  • What else to bring
    Bottled Water

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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 20 miles per hour. Click here for our detailed weather policy.

If you need to reschedule your lesson, please do so by phone or email up to four days prior to your lesson time. If you fail to reschedule within this time frame, there is a $75 cancellation fee.

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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.

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Please call or email us. Email to Traci Mead, Director of Business Operations 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 Office Mailing Address: 600 Water Street SW, Unit 9-16, Washington, DC 20024
Diamond Teague Park Piers Waterfront Address: 99 Potomac Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003
The Wharf/Gangplank Marina Waterfront Address: 600 Water Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
Telephone: (202) 547-1250 · Email: Traci Mead, Director of Business Operations - 
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