Learn to Sail • Basic Keelboat Sailing

Begin your sailing with no prior experience needed.  In Basic Sailing you learn to sail with the fundamental knowledge and practical skills required to be become a competent basic keelboat sailor - all in a relaxed and fun weekend.


  • In Person and Online
  • 2 days Small Group Instruction
  • Advanced Online Training
  • **2 Free Days Additional Sailing**
  • Skipper Small Keelboat Certification & NauticEd Membership
  • Discounted Couples Crew Option
  • Guaranteed Competency
  • Included in Island Sailing Club membership
  • Prices & Registration

No prerequisite experience required.

Learning to sail is fun, easy and safe.  You begin shortly after sign-up with online knowledge courses - the online knowledge courses allow you learn the fundamentals at your own pace.  The class itself is mostly on the water and with an emphasis on students practicing and refining basic sailing maneuvers and skills. Testing is online, which frees a significant amount of on-the-water time.  Your instructor is US Coast Guard Licensed, highly experienced and dedicated to making the class a safe and enjoyable learning experience. If the instructor feels the class (or individuals) need more training (no wind, &c.), they're empowered to follow-up at no additional cost to the students.  And, after class students receive 2 free days of sailing! Not a promotional gimmick - after 35 years of teaching, we find students need that additional post-class experience for the training to really take hold.

2 Days Small Group Instruction

Courses are kept small for personalized instruction, and our instructors are highly experienced sailors and USCG Captains. The weekend will be spent both in the classroom (a little) and on the water (a lot), and the emphasis is on learning and practicing practical skills.   By the end of the class, the instructor will verify your competency at a Skipper level, which means the instructor is confident in your abilities to sail or crew without him.  Some examples of what you'll learn and practice:read more

  • Sailing terms and communications
  • How to use the tiller properly
  • How to raise the sails
  • Use the various lines to make adjustments or “trim” the sails
  • Basic maneuvers such as tacking and gybing.
  • Docking,
  • Raising and lowering the sails
  • Retrieving crew-overboard.

By the end of the course, you’ll garner respect from your crew as a helmsman, learn to handle the sails and lines as crew, and tying knots such as bowlines and hitches will become second nature. And, we guarantee competency!

Advanced Online Knowledge Training

NauticEd Worlds most advanced sailing education. Click and receive 2 free online sailing courses.Learning to sail requires understanding a sailboat, terminology, the theory of how wind powers sails, basic maneuvering, navigational rules and more....

For knowledge, we offer NauticEd's online courses to prepare you with the most advanced and current online sailing education available.  Start immediately, take your time with interactive content, and test online.read more

When you sign-up, you'll receive a NauticEd account that includes the following courses:

Skipper Small Keelboat Course - topics include (full description at NauticEd Skipper Small Keelboat Course):

  • Weather and Sea Conditions
  • Electrical Systems and Mechanical Systems
  • Rigging
  • Rules of the Nautical Road
  • Maneuvering in the Marina
  • Sailing
  • Communications
  • Navigation Introduction
  • Anchoring and Mooring
  • Coping with Emergencies

Navigational Rules Clinic - topics include (full description at NauticEd Navigational Rules):

  • Why "Right of Way" is more properly called "Stand On"
  • Essential knowledge regarding the Rules with other vessels
  • How not to get squashed like a bug by big container ships
  • Who gives way between power driven vessels and sailboats
  • When sailboats must give way to other vessels
  • When Sailboats give way to each other
  • You'll be presented with realistic illustrated situations

Skipper Small Keelboat Certification

Learn to Sail Skipper Small Keelboat Basic Sailing

Certification requires you pass all the competency tests listed below. With NauticEd it's really simple: when you sign-up, you'll be given access to an online resume that records your online training, instructor sign-offs and experience.  Each step is recorded in your online resume, and once ALL the required steps are achieved - you're certified.  Pretty cool, eh?

Certification requires successfully passing the following competency requirements: read more

√ Knowledge: online courses
√ Practical Competency: 2-day course
+ Experience: 2 additional days of sailing experience

The additional days of experience are required to demonstrate that you can successfully skipper on your own, utilizing what you learned online and on-the-water.  The days are logged into your NaucticEd online logbook and once completed - you're certified! For more information, see Sailing Certification.

And yes, this is a higher standard in that you're required to demonstrate 2 days of experience on your own (prior experience counts).  That's why we include the 2 sailing days free.

2 Free Additional Days Sailing

Once you complete our course and the online requirements, you can sail our boats for 2 days at no charge. It's the last step in your certification requirement, and arguably the most important and fun step.  Important because you need to get back on the water soon to reinforce your learning, and fun because you get to sail for free!

  • Requires the Instructor verifies your practical competency as well as successfully passing the online courses for Small Boat Skipper.
  • These days are limited to weekdays, daylight, moderate sailing conditions, and available small boats.
  • But, IF a boat is available on weekends or your class wants to sail together, then we might break the weekday rule if boats are available (worth asking about).

Guaranteed Practical Competency

Simply, you're paying us to learn to sail at a certain level (not for a certain number of hours).read more

We guarantee that in practical courses your instructor will verify your practical competency.  By this we mean that Island Sailing management cannot override instructor decisions; and towards the end of the practical course your instructor will decide whether you're sufficiently trained (or not).  Sometimes the instructor may want to reschedule if the weather's uncooperative, or they may feel a particular student may need additional instruction or mentoring on certain topics.  If the instructor feels as you're not trainable as a competent sailor (which has never happened in our 35+ years), then we'll refund the practical portion of your class.

And, if you're not satisfied with your instructor, then you can retake the course at no additional charge.

Couple's Crew Option

If your significant other wants to join the fun as a First Mate without all the work, then they can join the class as crew with fewer knowledge and experience requirements. Lower price, fewer knowledge requirements, and the practical course is the same.read more

Why the same practical? Because a competent crew needs to be capable of performing all of the basic functions of a skipper.  For example, as the "lookout" crew need to understand navigational rules, and if the Skipper takes a break or there's a crew-overboard - crew may need to take the helm.

  • Subject to available open class space and scheduling.  At least 1 student must register for Skipper.

  • 2-day Small Group Instruction

  • Knowledge requirements include NauticEd's Navigational Rules and Basic Sail Trim

  • No certification unless you take the additional the NauticEd Skipper Course, an instructor verifies your Small Boat Skipper Competency or you meet the Small Boat Skipper requirements.


Learn to Sail - Skipper Small Keelboat: $415.00 per sailor (included in Club Membership)

What's Included (Skipper Small Keelboat):

  • Online Courses: Skipper Small Keelboat, Basic Navigational Rules.
  • 2 days Small Group Instruction with Guaranteed Competency
  • 2 days (limited) Free sailing
  • NauticEd Skipper Small Keelboat Certification once all certification requirements are achieved
  • NauticEd Membership and online resume

Couples Crew Option: $375.00 per crew

What's Included (Couples Crew):

  • Online Clinics: Basic Navigational Rules, Optionally Qualified Crew online (additional purchase)
  • 2 days Small Group Instruction
  • NauticEd Membership and online resume

Contact us if interested in this option


To register online, select a class date to begin registration.  Please complete the form and process for each student as we need those details for the class....  *note: if a member, please contact us to book directly with Member Discounts.

Class Booking Conditions (Deposits, Refunds and Cancellations) are detailed here >

Certainly contact us at (503) 285-7765 or info@islandsailingclub.com to sign-up over the phone or with questions.

Payment is through PayPal's secure server, which accepts major credit cards as well as PayPal options.

Paypal Payment Options

*note: dates are the beginning day of the class

Select a date to sign-up:

  • Apr01Sat
    Basic Sailing - Kirkland
    sold out
    09:30 - 17:30Island Sailing, 135 Lake St S, Kirkland, WA 98033
  • Apr08Sat
    Basic Sailing - Portland
    sold out
    Island Sailing, 515 NE Tomahawk Island Dr, Portland, OR 97217, United States
  • Apr08Sat
    Basic Sailing - Olympia
    sold out
    West Bay Marina, 2100 W Bay Dr NW, Olympia, WA 98502, United States
  • Apr15Sat
    Basic Sailing - Portland
    sold out
    Island Sailing, 515 NE Tomahawk Island Dr, Portland, OR 97217, United States
Show more

What our students say about learning to sail...

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Brannan, 10/09/16, 4.8/5 rating

Karl D.Bellevue WA

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Brannan, 10/09/16, 4.6/5 rating

Dorann L.Olympia WA

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Somervell, 10/06/16, 4.8/5 rating

Philippe T.

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Somervell, 10/02/16, 5/5 rating

Alan was a great teacher.

Cathy H.USA

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Somervell, 09/28/16, 4.6/5 rating

Re teaching ability, I have sailing experience, and didn’t have any trouble following his directions. I think my wife, in the same class and without prior experience, found that his instruction sometimes wasn’t basic enough, especially in how to handle the tiller.

JOHN B.Portland OR

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Somervell, 09/28/16, 5/5 rating

Carlo N.USA

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Powning, 09/27/16, 5/5 rating

I had a great time and learned a lot. i now feel completely comfortable with taking a boat out, dealing with any potential problems that may arise and getting the boat back to the marina without a scratch.

Carl D.Hillsboro OR

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Frankland, 09/19/16, 5/5 rating

Matt W.Portland OR

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Frankland, 09/08/16, 5/5 rating

Stephen was an amazing instructor — so patient with us newbies, very nicely detail-oriented, enthusiastic and passionate about the sport, and diligent about issues of safety and practice. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!

Laura S.Portland OR

Basic Sailing Course, Capt. Frankland, 09/05/16, 5/5 rating

I appreciated that Stephen was calm and receptive throughout our lessons. He is very kind, very knowledgeable and very helpful. You can see where it would be easy to finish the course overwhelmed and completely flabbergasted considering all the material and experience to be had. Stephen provides a safe and open learning environment so everyone can begin to experience the joy of sailing. I can’t wait to sail more!

Traci W.USA