With spring comes sailing season. New skippers and crew should be on the lookout for lessons. Sailing is safer and more rewarding with the right knowledge.


There are lots of schools in the GTA to choose from, with some different approaches to teaching.


“You can learn in a dinghy or in a keelboat,” explains Simon Dennis, principal of the Toronto Sailing School. “The difference is dinghies capsize, while keelboats don’t. So it’s up to you if you want to get wet or not.”


Boats without motors don’t require a licence, but they do require proper skills. Also, there is a language specific to sailing. Sailing without the right knowledge makes a boating landlubber a menace to himself and to others.


“It’s like golf,” Dennis says. “Taking lessons completely revamps your game. If you don’t take a lesson from a pro, it’s likely you have a lousy swing. Then when you do finally go get some lessons, it’s harder to correct it.”

Dennis, whose TSS teaches in keelboats, stresses that while sailing doesn’t require accreditation, learning the basics and getting acquainted with seafaring is fairly straightforward.

“All courses are designed around the Canadian Yachting Association’s curriculum,” Dennis says. “It’s a mix of theory and practise. Anyone who has completed these courses is certified CYA competent as skippers and crew. They also get a log book and a seal proving they’ve done the course.”

As of last September, boats with motors require a pleasure craft operator’s card to be legally manned. Many of the sailing schools in the GTA also teach motor boating, so when you are comparing sailing schools online, make sure the school you’re perusing offers the kind of teaching you want.

Sailing season goes from the last week of April until the last week of October, and so lessons begin this month. Learning the basics to get certified takes about 30 hours of lessons, with textbook study and hands on experience. These lessons are offered over the course of a week, or over two weekends.