Learn to Sail



Learn to sail at the Northwest Maritime Center!

Our highly experienced US Sailing instructors, a year-round windy bay, and a beautiful waterfront location surrounded by the Olympic and Cascade Mountains combine to make the Northwest Maritime Center’s Basic Keelboat Program one of the best and most beautiful in the region. Experience sailing for the first time or take your sailing skills to the next level! All Basic Keelboat classes are taught on our 26′ Thunderbird sailboats. 1 instructor and no more than 4 students per class. At least 80% of each course is taught on the boat!

The Northwest Maritime Center has received accreditation through US Sailing to teach US Sailing Certified Basic Keelboat Classes. Each student graduating from the US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification Class will receive a US Sailing Membership, a Logbook and Certification Sticker that can be used around the country to rent or charter sailboats. US Sailing is the national governing association for sailing and accredits only the top schools in the country.


Intro to Racing with the Port Townsend Sailing Association

September 14-15 | 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM | $350 Non-member | $315 Member
NEW IN FALL OF 2019! Join us for the trial run of a new collaborative offering with the Port Townsend Sailing Association. They’re the folks responsible for rallying all those pretty boats you’ve seen racing on the waterfront Wednesday and Friday nights.

What you’ll get out of it:
  • Level up: Sailing side-by-side against similar boats and other sailors with a range of skill provides immediate points of reference and feedback that can dramatically lift your learning and your performance.
  • Community: Essential to any decent racing program is the social energy that builds around learning and competition, the planning, race committee (referees), the after-party, and everything in between.
  • Strategy: Sailboat racing is about more than being tight on your tacks and gybes (tactics); it’s a bigger game played at many levels from meteorology to campaign planning, leadership and team dynamics to ecologically-informed navigation. All that and the proper snack regimen.
What’s covered:
  • 8 hours on the water: racing on three Thunderbirds with an experienced racer on board as coach. You’ll have a chance to try different roles on board and experience several short-course races from start to finish
  • 2x 2-hour morning seminars
  • Bird’s-eye-view: Racing rules and typical race courses
  • Crew roles: Skipper, trimmers, tactician, foredeck—who does what and how
  • Communication and crew work: the fundamentals of good teamwork on deck
  • Gear: What you need to be comfortable and competent on board
  • Local knowledge: typical wind and tidal current considerations in local waters
  • Basic strategy and tactics: sail selection, starts, upwind and downwind legs, reaching, “laying the mark,” thinking in terms of Velocity Made Good (VMG), adjusting for current
  • Distance races and regattas: learn about the many different racing possibilities on the Salish Sea
  • How to get a crew position: do’s and don’ts of getting into racing as a greenhorn
  • Casual after-race debrief with refreshments at a local pub (loc TBA)

Saturday Sails

Saturdays Sept 14 – Oct 26 |  1:00 – 4:00 PM  |  $75 Non-member  |  $67.50 Member
NEW IN FALL OF 2019! Take advantage of Port Townsend’s beautiful fall season with our new Saturday Sails! Spend 3 hours with an experienced sailing instructor on a 26’ Keelboat sailing on Port Townsend Bay. This class gives you the opportunity to discover what sailing is all about without committing to an entire course. Also great for folks who just want to get out on the water, with or without prior sailing experience!

Introduction to Sailing

Aug 16, Aug 23  |  4:00 – 7:00 PM  |  $75 Non-member  |  $67.50 Member
Spend 3 hours with an experienced US Sailing Instructor on a 26’ Keelboat sailing on Port Townsend Bay.  This class gives you the opportunity to discover what sailing is all about without committing to an entire course.

US Sailing: Learn to Sail

Basic Keelboat “Crew”

Aug 24-25, Sep 14-15  |  9:00 AM – 5:00 PM  |  $375 Non-member  |  $337.50 Member
Learn parts of the boat, points of sail, sail theory, sailing upwind and downwind, steering, basic knots, safety on the water and practice crew overboard drills.  Step 1 toward your US Sailing Certification. 15 hours over a weekend (Saturday and Sunday).  No prerequisite.

Basic Keelboat “Skipper”

Aug 17-18, Sep 21-22  |  9:00 AM – 5:00 PM  |  $425 Non-member  |  $382.50 Member
Learn advanced sail trim, tacking, gibing, rules of the road, basic navigation, knots, reefing, line handling, outboard engine basics, docking. 15 hours over a weekend (Saturday and Sunday).  Receive your US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification!

Prerequisite: Basic Keelboat Crew or Beginner class with NWMC.
Includes: Basic Keelboat books & exam, and US Sailing Membership for 1 year.

Basic Keelboat Full Course

Aug 12-16, Aug 19-23 (women only) |  10:00 AM – 5:00 PM  |  $775 Non-member  |  $697.50 Member 
Sep 16-20 |  9:00 AM – 4:00 PM  |  $775 Non-member  |  $697.50 Member 
These classes combine the “Crew” and “Skipper” classes in one 30-hour week.  Receive your US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification.  See “Crew” and “Skipper” descriptions for information on course content.  No prerequisite.

Includes: Basic Keelboat textbook, training, Basic Keelboat exam, Skippers Logbook, US Sailing Certification, Keelboat Certification Standards, and US Sailing Membership for 1 year.

NEW IN 2019! Basic Cruising

Aug 19-23 | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $840 Non-member | $756 Member
Basic Cruising is the advanced follow-up to Basic Keelboat. Students will learn to take command the boat, fine-tune the sails, practice navigation skills under way, set an anchor, manage complex docking scenarios, and level-up their rescue skills. At least one day of the class will involve a voyage to Mystery Bay or another nearby anchorage. Classroom components include advanced sail shaping and navigation fundamentals. Basic Cruising certification is a pre-requisite to chartering boats in the Sailing Club (coming in 2020!) and sets you up to advance to US Sailing’s Bareboat Charter course.

Sailing Club

COMING IN 2020! Take advance of the summer winds and warm weather, ideal for pure sailing enjoyment! Join the Sailing Club knowing that you are doing so with the guidance and support of our well trained sailing staff. Join at one of two levels.

Learn more about the sailing club

Race Like a Girl

Stay tuned for future programming dates. Intermediate and advanced sailors, are you looking to hone your buoy racing skills? Come sail with members of Team Sail Like a Girl on their Melges 32, winner of 2018 Race to Alaska, and fine-tune your trimming, tactics, race starts, roll tacks and other techniques to help you around the course!

Learn more about Race Like a Girl

Customized Sailing Classes & Charters: Youth, Adults and Families

May-Aug 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM | September 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM | $25/hour per person
Perfect for students that want to learn to sail but don’t require a US Sailing Certification. Learn from our highly experienced instructors who will customize your lesson based on what you personally would like to learn! Or head out on the water and let our captain take you for a ride on the beautiful Port Townsend Bay. No age limits—bring your entire family! There is a 2-hour minimum.