San Juan Cruise & Learn


4.5 star instructor ratingRated 4.9 of 5 Stars by students (read reviews)!

NauticEd and ASA excursion / cruise & learn Sailing ClassExplore a world-class sailing destination while training with local and veteran instructors Capt. John and Kathleen Salinas on Alethea.

The 3-day course departs from Friday Harbor, explores the San Juan Islands and students train with some of the best instructors in the NW.  This is a truly unique sailing opportunity to sail, cruise and learn:

• 3-day small-group Cruise & Learn in the San Juan Islands
• Earn NauticEd crew, skipper or bareboat training and certification with TWO veteran and top-rated instructors.
• Explore the San Juans with experienced and local sailors intimate with the area.
• Gain confidence and skills with "big boat" sailing, anchoring and navigation challenges.
• Enjoy the best of what NW sailing offers: sailing, kayaking, hiking, whale watching, and more.

register now for sailing classes, courses and clinics

The San Juan Islands

Turning Point LighthouseWith literally hundreds of marinas, islands and bays to explore, the itinerary is infinitely amendable. The Salinas’ work with the guests to plan an itinerary that best fits everyone’s expectations.  And, cruising is incomplete without time for relaxation and exploration: hiking, biking, wildlife viewing and kayaking….

Sailing and anchoring overnight in the San Juan’s offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the natural and human history of the area. We often find ourselves in the presence of a pod of Orca whales or sailing past a group of Stella Sea Lions perched on an isolated rocky shore. read more!

island sailing whale watching san juansAfter a day a sailing, while anchored in one of the many harbors, conversations turn toward the early explorers, the history of the natural resources, and the possibility of an evening or morning hike on the nearby trails which take us through 100+ year old native trees. With John and Kathleen (both science educators) your sailing certification course becomes a field study of the Salish Sea!

Some favorite spots include:

  • Anchoring near Rosario resort for a tour, hike, swim, concert and ice cream.
  • Beachcombing along the sandy stretch at Spencer Spit
  • Whale watching along the southwest side of San Juan Island
  • Hiking to Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island
  • Spending a cozy evening watching the sun set at tranquil Otter Bay
  • Kayaking around smaller islands
  • Sunset watching from secluded harbors

Sailing Certification

island sailing studen takes the helm

On-water training and certification is the primary goal of our Cruise and Learn sail. 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 - this allows you to enjoy more fun sailing and practical instruction on your cruise!

On your cruise, you'll receive personalized practical instruction from both John and Kathleen.  By the end of the class, your sailing competency will be verified, which means the instructors are confident in your abilities to sail or crew a similar sized sailboat.

Certifications available:

(note: only 1 of the below certifications is available per student, per voyage)

Bareboat Charter Master - learn to sail and charter big boats read more

Bareboat Course and NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master certification

Prerequisite: Skipper, ASA103, or equivalent experience required.

Sail big boats and charter in exotic locations with the Bareboat Charter Master Certification. This Course teaches a complete understanding of vessel systems, planning, and large boat handling.

Skippering a large sailboat for multiple days requires a diverse range of knowledge and skills: you're the Skipper, Navigator, Weatherman, Engineer, Cook, Plumber and all while responsible for the proper care, feeding and planning of your crew.

Bareboat Charter Master Certification requires you pass all the competency tests listed below. Each step is recorded in your online resume, and once ALL the required steps are achieved - you're certified.

√ Knowledge: successfully complete Online Bareboat Chartering Clinic, Coastal Navigation Clinic, Anchoring Clinic, and Electronic Navigation Course.
√ Practical Competency: 3-day course
√ Experience: 50 days of qualified sailing experience (prior experience counts). note

The days are logged into your NaucticEd online logbook and once completed - you're certified a Bareboat Master Rank!

Skipper/Coastal Cruising - advance skills past basic sailing read more

Learn to Cruise and sail further and faster with improved sail and boat handling techniques, in heavier weather and with sailboats 25' and larger.

Prerequisite: Skipper-Small Keelboat, ASA101, or equivalent experience required.

Sail further and faster with the Basic Cruising Course and Skipper Certification. Learn improved sail and boat handling techniques, including heavier weather sailing and sailing on sailboats 25' and larger.

After mastering the fundamentals, sailors are introduced to more advanced topics and sailing in diverse conditions.  You will learn to cruise: be prepared for extended sailing, planning for new waters, adverse weather and troubleshooting. By the end of the course, students will have the skills to plan a full day or overnight cruise, and the confidence to execute it safely and enjoyably.

Skipper Certification requires you pass all the competency tests listed below. Each step is recorded in your online resume, and once ALL the required steps are achieved - you're certified.

√ Knowledge: Successfully Complete Online Skipper and Maneuvering Under Power classes
√ Practical Competency: 3-day course
√ Experience: 4 days of qualified sailing experience (prior experience counts)

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.

Crew - invite your spouse/friends to gain beginner sailing and crew experience read more

NauticEd Qualified Crew CertificationUpon completion, you will feel confident in your ability to understand the workings on the sailboat and enjoy contributing as a knowledgeable crew member. There are tips on how to hold a straight course when at the helm, sail trimming, rules of the road so you're not second guessing who has to give way, and just what the heck does that blue line do.

Qualified Crew requires you pass all the competency tests listed below. Each step is recorded in your online resume, and once ALL the required steps are achieved - you're certified.

√ Knowledge: Successfully Complete Online Qualified Crew
√ Practical Competency: 3-day course
√ Experience: 4 days of qualified sailing experience (prior experience counts)

The additional days of experience are required to demonstrate that you can successfully crew on your own, utilizing what you learned online and on-the-water.


Meet John and Kathleen

Capt. John and Kathleen Salinas, USCG ASA Instructors, Pearson 43-foot sloop, AletheaSailing has been a part of John and Kathleen’s life for decades. They began sailing a Catalina 15-foot skiff, quickly graduated to a Catalina 22-foot keel boat and now rank among the top sailing instructors in the more!

John holds a USCG Masters 100-ton license with sail certification and is an active member of the USCG Auxiliary. His specialties include weather, navigation, seamanship, communication, and leadership. He enjoys the physical, mechanical, and navigational challenges in sailing. John is a physical scientist in limnology, astronomy, chemistry and physics education.

Kathleen has certifications for instruction through the ASA for Keelboat, Coastal Cruising and Bareboat. She is an educator specializing in the natural environment. Kathleen enjoys cruise planning which includes provisioning, route plotting; wind, tide and current forecasting, and safety afloat. Preparing delightful meals is another of her passions.

S/V Alethea

Alethea, Pearson 43 from Friday HarborA classic Pearson sloop (sailboat) that's built for comfort, speed and [overbuilt] for safety. Alethea is 43 feet long with a V-berth, saloon berths, and an aft cabin. She can easily sleep three couples or four guests. Her size, draft and outfit is PERFECT for not only sailing the San Juan Islands and training big boat skills, but for also exploring all the many harbors and anchorages.  learn more

She has a new mainsail, genoa, a 100% jib and a beautiful blue and yellow spinnaker. Creature comforts include a three burner stovetop and oven, electronic toilet and shower to provide comfort on the water. Alethea has been fitted out with the latest electronic navigation and communication gear including VHS radio, radar, AIS, fathometer/water temperature, GPS with chart plotting, and high frequency SSB radio. She has a 49 HP Kabota diesel engine and a 40 gallon fuel tank.

She has been a very dependable vessel for over four decades.

More details from John & Kathleen: You have made plans to sail aboard Alethea, a 43-foot Pearson sloop. Alethea is a wonderful sailing vessel with entirely new sails, rigging, engine and many of the amenities that make being out on the water comfortable. read more!

Capt. John is a long time sailor with years of experience in the San Juan/Gulf Island area (The Salish Sea). He is a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and has introduced many new sailors to the sport. As you organize yourself to join the crew on San Juan Island, there are several thoughts that will help you have a most favorable experience.

Packing for your cruise

have fun learning to sailMost important here is the fact that you have a berth, a bunk, on Alethea. It is all yours and everything you bring must always be there. At night while you are in your bunk some things might find their way onto the floor, but during the day, the floors are clear and your possessions are back on your bunk. For this reason, a duffle bag is the best choice for toting you things aboard. It folds up and disappears when it is not needed. All bedding is provided aboard, so no need to bring sleeping bags, unless you wish. We will be cruising for several days, so all your toiletries and medications must be with you for those days. Some odd items you might not consider include you own life jacket (we have them aboard too), binoculars, swim suit, camera (not too odd), and clothes for hot, rain, and cold weather. One stop at the store and we will be basically in the wilderness, what we bring is all that will be available.


Sailing in the San JuansAlethea is berthed in Shipyard Cove Marina, one mile south of the Port of Friday Harbor, where the Anacortes ferry docks ( ). Your planning must include getting to Friday Harbor. You will not need to drive onto the ferry. Driving will involve making a reservation (about $65) and the chance that you will miss the ferry if you are not 30 minutes early. Walking aboard is $13, there no reservations, and you will not be refused. There are several ways to get to the Anacortes ferry terminal going to the San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor, you can drive there and park in one of several lots ($5 to $10 / day) or you can take the Skagit Transit bus ( ) from many places in Burlington or Mount Vernon ($1).

Did you know that Amtrak can deliver you to Mount Vernon ( )? You will have to check the schedule for those trains and buses. The three schedule pieces to put together are: (1) the train from where you can board to Mount Vernon, (2) the bus from Mount Vernon to the ferry terminal in Anacortes, and (3) the ferry to Friday Harbor. We will take care of you from Friday Harbor. Those wishing to arrive a day early or depart a day later may arrange to stay aboard for an additional $50 per night.

Once again, we will escort you from the ferry terminal to Shipyard Cove. Once aboard Alethea, we will plan the details of our cruise, including provisioning, instruction (NauticEd classes), certification, and the cruise itself. We will not get into those details presently, but you will be asked about foods you would enjoy while aboard and places you might like to visit in the San Juan Islands.

Preparations for Certification

NauticEd Flagship School. The leading sailing school and sailing certification.There are two major parts for most sailing certifications: basic knowledge and sailing skills. The basic knowledge section is you enjoying the online preparation and testing for that certification. If you spend time studying the materials and understanding the details of your chosen certification, you can jump start your time aboard Alethea. I would suggest that once aboard, we discuss any details of the certification you wish. There is no need to sit through instructor led presentations over the material if you have studied and have tested, unless requested. Once we depart, the on-water sailing skills can be practiced. Your instructor will ask you to perform all of the skills listed for the certification and you can work at becoming experienced in each maneuver. If you pass these sections of the certification, you will have your NauticEd log signed off. What comes next is up to you!

Cruising Actively

Captained Charters in the San Juans from Friday HarborBefore joining the cruise, relax with thoughts of what you would like to do and experience in the area. Food-wise, breakfasts could be quick and simple or relaxing watching the day begin. Lunches will quite possibly be quick and simple if we are underway motoring (we hope not) or sailing and working to help Alethea prove her worth. Dinners can again be simple affairs while exploring islands or relaxing aboard while anchored, watching a sunset over the water.   So, join the crew with suggestions for what you would like to experience in food and discovery, for the days we are together. Actively cruising also means come aboard with suggestions of places you would like to visit. Places you have heard about, read about, or just want to know if there is an anchorage in that area. Here is a site to start with, We will sit down with a map and plan our anchorages before we leave. You will be an important part of our cruise planning. We will work with the tides, currents, and weather to plan a safe and enjoyable cruise.

I look forward to being with you during this exciting time in your sailing journey,

I wish you safe travel and welcome aboard,

Capt. John Salinas

S/V Alethea

Prices & Registration:

San Juan Cruise & Learn: $900.00 per sailor*

What's Included:
• Online Courses for either Bareboat, Skipper or Crew certifications
• 3 days Small Group Instruction
• Basic Provisioning Included
• 2 days (limited) Free sailing, Free Tracklink ios App
• NauticEd Certification once all certification requirements are achieved
• NauticEd Membership and online resume
Students can optionally stay aboard the night before or after: $50/night (depending on availability)

Additional Sailing Days:

Do you want to sail longer and further explore the San Juan Islands? If available, students may be able to sail additional days for $200/person/day.


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

Upcoming Basic Classes (date is first day)

  • May25Fri
    San Juan Learn & Cruise
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250
  • Jun22Fri
    San Juan Learn & Cruise
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250
  • Jul27Fri
    San Juan Learn & Cruise
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250
  • Aug10Fri
    San Juan Learn & Cruise
    sold out
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250
  • Oct05Fri
    San Juan Learn & Cruise
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250


Please contact us with questions or if a convenient course date is not listed.





Need Help? Contact Island Sailing

Alternatively, you can contact Josh Shenkman directly at or (503) 285-7765 with questions, for more information or to sign-up!

Sailing ReviewsWhat our students say about San Juan Cruise & Learn...

4.5 star instructor ratingRated 4.9 of 5 by students (11 reviews)

Student reviews are submitted to NauticEd upon course completion. The ratings are based on 25 total points in 5 categories - here aggregated to total out of 5 (highest). For more info, see Sailing Reviews.

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Matthew M. on 9/16/2017

John was a great teacher who gave me confidence in my abilities and made me feel right at home on the water.

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By james B. on 8/17/2017

Awesome instructor and a great cruise.

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Clint V. on 8/3/2017

John and Kathleen were phenomenal- very knowledgeable as well as both patient and accommodating. A great trip!

4.8 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Phil F. on 7/30/2017

John and co-instructor Kathleen were exactly the role models that I needed for captains of sailing excursions. They made good decisions, but better yet they patiently and wisely handled leadership issues that kept the cruise safe and enjoyable for all crewmembers. I had theory but they guided us through the practice of cruising, from route planning to sailing tactics. Their use of chart-plotting aids and human lookouts made navigation a continuous process while underway. And they were interesting and full of information and stories that helped the crew transcend our tiny box of geo coordinates, probably ensuring our psychological health.

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Gary V. on 7/23/2017

Great time and fun!

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By John D. on 6/13/2017

A great teacher. Maybe because he was in the educational field as his profession. He had a great manner at putting you at ease. His instructions were also very clear. His wife was great at teaching and helping also. They made the learning experience great plus making it a fun time on the water. I would recommend them and their boat the Althea to anyone.

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Mark P. on 11/14/2016

John worked with my partner and I after several attempts to schedule our training. We went at the end of October, sailing through the San Juan Islands, and had a wonderful time. John was most of all kind, but patient, professional, and tireless. The Alethea was a wonderful sailing vessel and we look forward to returning in warmer weather. Mark Padgett

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Dean W. on 10/7/2016

John is an excellent instructor. Knowledgeable friendly, nurturing and also appropriately demanding and challenging. John expects his students to give their best and I believe I'll be a better sailor because of his mentoring. I love the S/V Alethea. She's a wonderful, lovingly maintained 1968 Pearson 43 with many upgrades and improvements. Her systems are more complex than most (typically much newer) charters and I really think that makes the Alethea a much more valuable interesting teaching platform.

4.2 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Rick B. on 8/19/2016

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Kevin M. on 7/22/2016

I had a great experience with John as my Bareboat instructor. His boat, Alethea, was the perfect yacht to learn on, as well as gain knowledge and confidence.

5 / 5 rating: Bareboat Course with Capt. Salinas
By Dan G. on 7/4/2016

Captain John was wonderful and so much fun to sail and learn with. My wife and I had a great time sailing and gaining confidence.