Learn to Sail

Interested in learning how to sail? Well you are taking the right steps – Welcome to Sail Charleston! Our goal is to introduce as many people as possible to this lifelong sport. More importantly we want to make sure you learn how to sail in a safe and fun environment. Sailing includes a wide range of boat types, and any would be appropriate for a beginner to start sailing. Let’s figure out what kind of boat you want to learn on…

Small Sailing Boats – “Dinghies & Daysailing Keelboats”

Small boats are a very simple and inexpensive way to get started in sailing. It is here that the basics of sailing are most easily learned, as everything is at an arms reach. Some small boats are designed specifically for youth, but most provide a lifetime of enjoyment for adults as well.

Generally, small boats, are under 25 feet in length. They include a wide assortment of dinghies (open cockpit), daysailers (with foredecks and gear enclosures) and small day sailing keelboats. Because of their size and simplicity, many small sailboats can be sailed single handed or with a single crew member. Their performance, depending on design, may range from ‘stable and relaxing’ to ‘wet and wild’.

Many instructional programs teach on and/or rent small boats including community sailing programs, most yacht club junior programs, and an assortment camps & recreation departments.

Small Boat Instruction

Charleston Community Sailing

Charleston Yacht Club

College of Charleston Sailing

Hobcaw Yacht Club

James Island Yacht Club

Keelboats – “Basic Keelboats to Large Cruising Yachts”

The term ‘Keelboat” refers to those sailboats which have a weighted keel (the vertical fin at the bottom of the boat). So, “basic” keelboats are most commonly larger than the centerboard and dinghy class of vessel and start at about 20′ in length and go up to about 30′ in length.

Beyond the “basic” keelboat, the term keelboat continues to describe sailing vessels and yachts through much larger sizes.

A common way of describing the next class of keelboats from about 30′ – 60′ is “Cruising” keelboats. All cruising keelboats have auxiliary engines, with most over 30′ in length employing an inboard diesel engine. Most over 30’ usually have a wheel steering system. Also, these cruising vessels are usually set up for the possibility of multiple day trips aboard and include many of the modern conveniences found in a home: hot and cold water, cooking facilities – oven and stove, sleeping quarters, and private bathrooms with showers.

Keel Boat Instruction

College of Charleston Sailing Foundation

Sailors in the News