How to Choose a Sailing School

Congratulations! If you are reading this it's because you have made a decision that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE, you've decided to enter the fabulous "WORLD OF SAILING". More than just a sport, sailing is a lifestyle filled with fun, excitement and adventure and one that I am happy to say has enabled me to travel to some of the most beautiful places on earth. Through sailing I have been introduced to wonderful people over the years and some have become life long friends.

Another great feature of the “Sailing Life” is that anyone can enjoy it whether male or female, age 8 to 80. Some sailors enjoy cruising to exotic ports while others enjoy the thrill of competing out on the race course. The Sailing Lifestyle holds a place for everyone's taste and ability.

As a beginner who is investigating sailing schools you have probably reviewed numerous websites, as I did when I first started sailing (in reality I collected a stack of brochures as there were no such things as websites when I first started sailing). With all of that information available online it may be hard to sift through it all to find out what sets one school apart from all the others. That is why I have put this guide together. Below I have listed 10 questions that you should ask in order to make an informed decision as to which sailing school to attend. I am very confident that after you do your homework and find the answers to these questions you will choose the TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL as your sail training facility!
If after that you are still not convinced... then please read “Things you should know when comparison shopping.

Fair Winds
Rick Van Loon
True North Sailing School
10 Questions You Should Ask :

The type of boat you will be sailing has a great effect on your educational experience and just like there are different models of cars, there are hundreds of types of boats. At THE TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL we use  J/29 Performance sloops for all of our Basic Sailing Courses.

The J/29 is one of the fastest, most maneuverable keelboats (it won't tip over) ever designed and it is "Roomy" enough to sleep 6 adults in its cabin.  J/29s the largest and fastest boats used by any sailing school in the Tri - State area and they are extremely responsive so when you make an adjustment at the helm or to the trim of the sails, you can instantly see and feel the changes in how the boat performs. Not all boats give you this instant "Feedback" which is necessary for skill refinement especially at the “beginner level”.

Some Sailing Schools use training boats that do not have engines. This denies their students Motoring Practice which is a valuable part of a modern sailor's education. All of True North's J/29's are equipped with outboard engines and Basic Engine Operation is a part of our curriculum. All of our yachts are professionally maintained.

Why learn to sail in a cramped J/24 or Colgate 26 when at TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL you can learn in a much larger J/29!

At the TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL we have designed our Basic Sailing Course so that our students have a total of 5 sessions to learn and retain the knowledge and skill level necessary to become an A.S.A. Certified Sailor. Our course consists of three 3 hour Classroom sessions covering Sailing Theory, Terminology, Nomenclature, Knots and Chart Reading plus two separate On Board Sailing Sessions where you learn and refine your boat handling skills for 5 hours each day.

Most schools give you only 2 sessions total with classroom and sailing sessions all on the same day. That's truly not enough time to absorb the numerous concepts covered. Some schools even teach their Basic Sailing Course in just 2 days. There's just no way! Believe me, if as a beginner you spend long 10 hour days on the water you will get "Burned Out" and suffer from "Diminishing returns". Some schools "increase" their course hours by throwing in what they refer to as an 8 hour "Class Sail" which means sailing without an instructor. If I were paying hundreds of dollars for a sailing course I would want to spend as many hours sailing with an instructor as possible.

At the TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL you receive On Board instruction over 2 days plus 9 hours of classroom instruction. That's 19 total hours with an instructor. I know that some people have such busy schedules that they don't think they can find the time for such an intense course so they decide to take a 2 day "Express Course" at other schools. When they do this they end up only "Scratching the Surface". I guarantee that you will be so hooked on sailing after your first day out on the water that you will be very happy that you signed up for our 5 session course at the True North Sailing School If you are going to do it, why not do it right! If you want to learn ABOUT sailing, go and see them.

If you want to BECOME A SAILOR, come to TRUE NORTH.

AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION (A.S.A.) CERTIFICATION is your "Diploma" or proof of sailing ability recognized by charter companies worldwide. Not every sailing school offers A.S.A. Certification. If renting a boat is in your future, you will be very happy that you received you’re A.S.A. Certification as most sailing rental facilities will not rent you a boat without it. At True North we have a 99.9 % success rate for our Basic Sailing students taking their first A.S.A. Certification Exam.

At the TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL we never place more than 4 Basic students On Board our J/29's with each A.S.A. Certified Instructor. With True North's arrangement you will receive more personal attention plus more "Hands On Tiller Time" to perfect your driving skills. The fact is that ALL sailing schools place 4 students on each boat but on smaller J/24's or Colgate 26's. only 2 students are working at any one time because the boats are so small. On True North's J/29's all 4 students are involved with every maneuver as there are separate positions for all four students on the boat. On the smaller boats that the other schools use you will spend half your time on the water just watching the other students maneuvering the boat.

At the TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL we realize that teaching the Basics to a "New" Sailor is a tough challenge. Beginners come with great expectations, they are very excited about their first sail and some are even a little nervous. One false step at this critical stage of development and all the joy can instantly vanish. It is imperative that the instructor is skilled at maintaining a productive and enjoyable sailing experience.

All TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL instructors have been trained and certified by the AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION. They have the knowledge, patience and enthusiasm to make your initiation into the world of sailing a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience. True North's instructors are all PROFESSIONALS, they are not college kids on summer vacation. They also have U.S. Coast Guard Licenses which not all instructors at all sailing school have. When shopping for a sailing school you should definitely ask that question because if the boat has an engine then the instructor MUST have a license to be legal!

Since 1991 THE TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL has been voted "A.S.A. SCHOOL OF THE YEAR" fifteen times and our director was named "A.S.A. OUTSTANDING INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR" fourteen times.
We must be doing something right!

All course graduates are invited to become members of the TRUE NORTH SAILING CLUB which was established so that people who love to sail could do so without the expense of chartering or the headaches associated with boat ownership.

Members have access to our fleet of professionally maintained yachts throughout our six-month sailing season. The more you sail, the better the value. Dues are prorated for sailors who join after the season begins (in your second season) so you don't pay for any unused sailing time.

After graduating from other schools they will gladly charter you a 24 foot boat for approximately $500 per day. At other schools you will get 4 sailing days for the price of a whole season of sailing at the True North Sailing Club. If you sail just once per week at True North you get a minimum of 26 sailing days. It doesn't take rocket scientists to see where the better value is.

Just imagine how good a sailor you will be after 26 sailing sessions!

The TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL in Liberty State Park is accessible via the Hudson Bergen Lightrail and just 10 minutes from Manhattan via the Liberty Landing Ferry.  It couldn't be more convenient for sailors who live or work in Manhattan to get here. By car we are less than 5 minutes from the Holland Tunnel, Routes 1 & 9, and the N.J. Turnpike (exit 14 C).

We are so close that you can leave the office and enjoy a relaxing after work cruise during the week. There is no need to make the long haul out to Long Island or to City Island in The Bronx.

Sailors who would like dinner or to enjoy cocktails after sailing, can watch the sunset reflected off the N.Y. Skyline from the Liberty House Restaurant, which is located in the marina right next door to the sailing school.

You can't beat the view!

Each season THE TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL offers exciting CARIBBEAN CRUISING FLOTILLAS where you can earn A.S.A. BAREBOAT CHARTER CERTIFICATION while sailing from island to island through the Caribbean. Over the years we have introduced thousands of our students and club members to the greatest cruising grounds in the world.

Through our affiliation with "The Moorings & Sunsail Charter Companies" we have organized sailing events in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Belize, Croatia, Thailand and the Grenadines aboard 45 - 50 Ft. yachts. Singles, couples and groups are welcome. No previous sailing experience is required (Call for details.)

Just call Rick at the THE TRUE NORTH SAILING SCHOOL at (908) 489-0589. I'm sure you will agree that sailing at True North is the most convenient and affordable way to learn and continue to enjoy the beauty and excitement of Sailing.

  • Great boats J/29 & Hanse 40
  • More Hours Of Instruction
  • A.S.A. Certification Available
  • 4 / 1 Student To Instructor Ratio on  J/29's
  • Professional Certified Instructors with U.S. Coast Guard Licenses
  • Continued Sailing With Our Sailing Club
  • Convenient Location
  • Caribbean & Worldwide Sailing
  • Advanced Courses
  • Learn To Sail At The A.S.A. Sailing School Of The Year!
  • E-mail us or call us at (908) 489 - 0589
Things you should know when comparison shopping

At The True North Sailing Club we hope prospective members will really take the time to compare our program with other area sailing clubs because when they do we are sure they will realize where the best value in sailing is.

    • At some clubs annual skipper members’ dues are nearly twice the price of True North member fees. The problem with this policy besides the obvious fact of paying "Manhattan" prices to sail lies in the fact that skippers who are paying twice the price of crew members are highly unlikely to want to relinquish the helm while sailing with crew members who are paying half the rate that the skipper is paying. If the crew member doesn’t get an equal chance to drive it will be very difficult to become a better sailor.
    • At some clubs you must first go through an interview and bring letters of recommendation as part of the application process. Do you really want to sail at a club that will make you ask your boss for a letter to prove that you are "worthy"? Come on, we’re talkin’ sailing here not a job interview at a nuclear power plant!
    • Some clubs tout themselves as the "Ivy League" of sailing schools. Believe me they charge Ivy League prices for their sailing courses as well.
    • Some clubs insurance policies prohibit their members from sailing south of the Verrazano Bridge or North of the George Washington Bridge. If you want to get ocean sailing experience you’ve got to sail out of the Harbor. Be sure to ask about club sailing boundaries.
  • The True North Sailing School is the only A.S.A. Sailing School in the country to win the School of the Year Award fifteen times.

True North is the way to go!