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2024 June 1

Students share the sailing school experiences that have changed their lives and make them full-fledged sailors

John Easlick Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

 Age and occupation:  69, retired

Sailing courses: ASA 101, 103 and 104, liveaboard for one week, taken at LTD Sailing’s Prickley Bay, Grenada location.

What would you advise a friend about how to choose a sailing school?  

I started searching for sailing schools from Lake Lanier, Georgia, to Bluewater Bay, Florida, to Grenada.  I found LTD on YouTube. Research locations and check references before you decide. 

Do you have future sailing goals that you’d like to pursue?  

I’m considering buying a used boat and maybe living aboard for a year. First, I plan to take ASA 105, 106 and maybe 114. And then I want to charter in different locations around the world.

Have there been unexpected benefits to your sailing courses? 

Most of my sailing was done in my younger years, so I went all in and picked LTD because of the liveaboard instructor, provisions and the chance to finally see Grenada.  I loved it.  I met a great couple from Charlotte, North Carolina, and we had lots of wind, rain, fun, large seas, laughs. And my instructor, Dwayne Miner, was so great. I hadn’t spent a week on a monohull for 35 years, so it was amazing to go back in.  

Favorite tips

Pass the tests during your course and then charter immediately the following week to practice what you learned.

Erica Sutehall Camano Island, Washington

Age and occupation: 46, certified registered nurse anesthetist

Sailing courses: ASA 101,103,104, 105 and 106 at San Juan Sailing School; ASA 119 at Starpath School of Navigation

What was the best or most useful thing you learned through a sailing course?

I learned to push past being uncomfortable. The old adage is true, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” I was blessed right out of the gate to have two of the best teachers anyone could have asked for. Bob and Nick at San Juan Sailing took us straight away into challenging conditions that I would have never ventured into on my own. They nudged me well past my comfort zone, when everything at first seemed overwhelming and scary. It’s that exact place that the learning began. 

A few days into the course I was enjoying being triple reefed, doing MOB drills in a gale, all with a smile on my face, safely and successfully. Dealing with difficult situations, and learning a systematic approach to problem solving was my biggest take away from a structured sailing course. That mentality has given me confidence to seek out new and challenging sailing opportunities and I don’t see an end in sight.

What kind of sailing do you like to do now that you weren’t doing before your sailing courses?

I never thought in a million years I’d be racing sailboats. The advice given to me was: “Go forth, find a club, go racing. You now know what safe looks like.”  That’s been the catalyst to so many new adventures and true in every sense. I found a home at Milltown Sailing Association and they welcomed me with open arms. The sailing community is really a special place, with exceptional people. I had a great foundation to work from and I continue to learn something new every time I set out on the water. 

What’s your favorite kind of sailing and why?

Racing has taught me to be a more proficient sailor, but expedition-style cruising with friends feeds my soul. Doing challenging things together on a boat is my favorite pastime. The bonds you forge with people on the water provide a level of connectedness that is hard to find elsewhere. It’s swift and deep. Cast off the lines, sail away from the dock, and as you watch the bars of service drop one by one from your phone the richness of a shared experience builds. 

My instructors became mentors, and now I’m lucky enough to call them friends. There’s no place I’d rather be, and nothing I’d rather be doing than watching the wind fill our sails.  

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