If you have purchased a boat here in the Daytona Beach are or nearby, power or sail, and wish a little temporary assistance during your learning period, I am available for consultation on board your boat.
Although it is possible to get information on sailing while chartering our 36' Morgan Nelson/Marek performance sloop Eagle, learning aboard your own boat has two advantages. First, it's less expensive because we are using your boat. Secondly, it allows you to get to use your own boat and to know your own boat's handling characteristics.
In 2003, a family that was new to sailing, but wanted to purchase a sailboat to go cruising, chartered Eagle for an afternoon. Later they made an offer to purchase a 45' sailboat and asked me to attend the sea trial with them. They asked me to come aboard for a few outings to begin learning how to dock, anchor, use the systems, back the boat, learn sail trim, etc., after they closed on their new boat. We also practiced navigating Ponce Inlet, which not only has part of the passage unmarked, but requires 'local knowledge' for safe passage.
The instruction is low key and while there are no diplomas with this instruction, this basis for going out and improving on your knowledge will make sailing more relaxing and fun. After learning a technique, I encourage the new sailors to go out and practice that technique until they feel comfortable and proficient in doing it.
In March of 2003, I assisted a new owner of a Catalina 30 get familiar with docking, anchoring and fueling. The owner had never owned a boat prior to this, though he had had a sailing class in Annapolis.
In July a young couple bought an Island Packet 35, but had never sailed before. We have had a few lessons which included docking, reading a chart, familiarizing themselves with the operating systems of the boat, anchoring, procedures for ungrounding, navigating an inlet in good weather and in bad and finally, going sailing. Their boat needed a few minor sail repairs and was not available for a while, so we had a bit of an adventure and participated on Eagle in an overnight race from Ponce Inlet to St. Augustine. This gave them some experience in standing watches, night sailing, coastal navigation and maintaining a compass course. It was a pleasant extra that we won in our division!
In 2004 this same couple on the Island Packet 35 set sail for Grand Cayman Island where they had been offered employment. Hurricane Ivan stopped by with winds of up to 208 mph! Because we had both talked about and practiced the different methods for tying up in a storm, depending on whether they were tying off to a fixed pier or floating dock, of the approximately 350 boats in their marina only their boat and about 4 others survived.
In 2005, a couple bought a 28.5 Hunter sloop at Adventure Yacht Harbor, where Eagle is moored. We had several lessons on docking, anchoring, sail trim and blind navigation. The day we were supposed to work on sailing techniques, the fog rolled in very thickly. So, not to let a great opportunity go by, I got out the ICW chart for our area, had them plot the courses down the Halifax River and went out for a couple of hours. I believe that this probably gave them the most confidence in their abilities of anything I taught them, because they were able to safely navigate in very very limited viability and learned to rely on their compass, knotmeter, depthfinder and their chart plotting skills. These folks purchased a 36' Hunter and sailed it from the West Coast of Florida back to here the last week of February, 2006.
In February, 2006 new students on a 36' Catalina hired me. We had our "line handling" practice and graduated to the "alongside docking" practice and then "sail setting/sail trimming". They have since gone to the Bahamas on their own. Recently, we had a "sail trim" refresher and a "docking in current" lesson which included lunch at the restaurant we were practicing at.
Also in 2006, I have also helped folks on a 44' Gulfstar centercockpit and on a Morgan OI 41 practice docking.
In 2007 I worked with a couple who had purchased a 39' Gulfstar Sailmaster. On one of the days we practiced docking, the wind was behind us at about 15 kts. coming into the slip and the reverse failed. By doing what they had learned about plan A and Plan B and being prepared to get a line thrown around a cleat, the docking was actually quite calm. The boat was snubbed at the proper time and all was well.
In 2008, while working with a couple with a Vagabond 47' ketch, we had an engine failure. Drawing on what they had learned so far, we were able to raise the sails in a timely manner without panic, sail the 6 mile trip back to the marina, drop the sails a few yards from the slip and get in without incident. Practice, practice, practice and what sounds scary or difficult becomes commonplace.
Toward the end of 2011, I worked with a couple who bought an Island Packet 38 for their retirement traveling plans.
Since then, I have helped a guy who bought a 35' Ranger, a couple who owned a 29' Hunter, which they sold to another couple whom I also helped, a couple who made the mistake of buying a boat without ever having sailed, that was massively beyond their needs and capabilities, a 56' Nautical. With an infant and a one year old, and no experience, I encouraged them to go to U-Sail Central Florida, in Sanford, Florida, and take multiple courses. I think, since I haven't seen the boat in a year or so, that they sold it. I also helped some people who had just bought a CSY 44 Pilothouse cutter, but COVID intervened, and we have not had a chance to start the lessons again. They lived out of state, and thought it too dangerous to come back for a while.
You can contact me at email@example.com or call me, Captain Eric West, at (386) 295-2578 for more information and scheduling.
The Halifax Sailing Association teaches beginning sailing on dinghies and other small boats. Their classes are for adults and children alike. Their website can be viewed at and contacted at info@HalifaxSailing.org . They are a volunteer organization supported by membership and sponsorship.