Learn to Sail



Due to COVID-19 Limitations – We are pausing registration until we know what our season will look like. More information soon. Sign up for our email list.

Sailing & On-the-Water Classes 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.


Saturday Sails

Saturdays Jun 20, Jun 27, Jul 4, Jul 18, Jul 25, Aug 8, Aug 15, Aug 22, Aug 29, Sept 5
1:00 – 4:00 PM  |  $75 Non-member  |  $68 Member

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!

Basic Keelboat Level 1

Jun 6-7, Jun 27-28, Jul 4-5, Jul 18-19, Jul 25-26, Aug 8-9, Aug 15-16, Aug 22-23, Aug 22-23 (women only), Sept 19-20
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM  |  $400 Non-member  |  $360 Member

This is the first half of the US Sailing Basic Keelboat course. Learn boating terminology, points of sail, sailing upwind and downwind, steering, basic knots, safety on the water, and practice crew overboard drills. This is step 1 toward your US Sailing Certification. 15 hours over a weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Women Only classes are available—taught by women for women only.  No prerequisite.

Basic Keelboat Level 2

Jun 20-21, Jun 27-28, Jul 18-19, Jul 25-26, Aug 8-9, Aug 15-16, Aug 29-30, Aug 29-30 (women only), Sept 26-27
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM  |  $400 Non-member  |  $360 Member

This is the second half of the US Sailing Basic Keelboat course. Learn advanced sail trim, tacking, gibing, rules of the road, basic navigation, knots, reefing, line handling, outboard engine basics, and docking. 15 hours over a weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Receive your US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification! Women Only classes are available—taught by women for women only.

Prerequisite: Basic Keelboat Level 1

Basic Keelboat Full Course

Jun 1-5, Jun 15-19, Jun 22-26, Jun 29-Jul 3, Jul 6-10, Jul 13-17, Jul 20-24, Aug 3-7, Aug 10-14, Aug 17-21, Aug 24-28
Women Only: Jul 6-10, Jul 13-17, Aug 3-7
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM  |  $800 Non-member  |  $720 Member 

This is the full US Sailing Basic Keelboat course taught over 5 consecutive days. See Level 1 and Level 2 descriptions for course content. Women Only classes are available—taught by women for women only. No prerequisite.

Private Sailing & Docking Lessons

Call to schedule | $60/hr Non-member | $54/hr Member

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. We can also provide an instructor to teach you docking or sailing on your own boat.

Race Intensive Weekend

Jun 13-14, Jul 11-12, Aug 1-2
11:00 AM – 6:00 PM | $500 Non-member | $450 Member

Join us for a new collaborative offering with the Port Townsend Sailing Association, the folks responsible for rallying all those pretty boats you’ve seen racing on the waterfront Wednesday and Friday nights. Spend 2 hours each morning in the classroom learning racing rules and strategies. Then spend 4 hours on the water each afternoon 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. Prerequisite: Basic Keelboat or comparable experience.

Dinghy & Outboard Operation

Jun 28, Jul 26, Aug 16
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM | $250 Non-member | $225 Member

NEW IN 2020! Here’s a great opportunity to learn how to drive an inflatable dinghy and operate a small outboard motor. Practice starting the engine and zipping around the harbor (safely and under control!) in our inflatables both on the water and dockside. No prerequisite.

Cruising Flotilla

Due to COVID-19, the Cruising Flotilla & Prep Classes will be rescheduled. New dates TBD.

$400 Non-member | $360 Member

NEW IN 2020! If you have ever wanted to take your own boat to the San Juan Islands but are unsure of your cruising skills, here’s your chance to go with an instructor leading the way. This learning flotilla starts with an 8-hour prep course in Seattle or Port Townsend covering how to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca, navigating tides and currents in the islands, anchoring overnight, and trip planning.

The group will then meet up in Port Townsend on June 17th for a meet-and-greet happy hour. We leave for the San Juan Islands the morning of the June 18th—crossing the straits and finding an anchorage for the night. We’ll spend the next night at a different anchorage, and our final night at a marina before crossing back to Port Townsend on June 21st.

The $400 fee ($360 for NWMC Members) covers the entire boat’s participation in the flotilla and one person’s participation in the prep class. If others on your boat would like to attend the prep class, they can register for an additional $200/person ($180 for NWMC Members).

Race Like a Girl

Stay tuned for fall 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.