View from a sailboat looking into Marina del Rey channel with other sailboats in the sea

Learn to Sail: Q&A with Blue Pacific Yachting

Ahoy, future sailors! Let’s dive into the world of sailing with a special Q&A session featuring the seasoned sailors of Blue Pacific Yachting. Scroll below to read answers from Blue Pacific Yachting’s General Manager, Mollie Perlman. 

If the idea of mastering the art of sailing has been floating in your mind, then you’ve come to the right place! Picture yourself gliding through the sparkling waters of Marina del Rey, the wind tugging at your sails, and the sun kissing your skin. Whether you’re a complete beginner or have dabbled in sailing before, L.A.’s Marina offers a perfect playground for honing your skills. 

American Sailing Association recently named Blue Pacific Yachting within their top 5 places in the world to learn how to sail this summer!  Click here to read the story. It’s even more remarkable considering they are one of only two locations in the United States mentioned in this list. 

Photo credit: Blue Pacific Yachting 

Small crew sailing on a boat

Do you offer group classes?

Blue Pacific Yachting offers group and private courses. Most of the courses we offer are certified ASA (American Sailing Association) classes.

We also offer certified US Powerboating courses. We run semi-private (2 people), private (1 person), family classes, and custom courses as well. Believe it or not, we offer these classes 365 days a year! We have weekday courses and weekend courses to fit everyone's needs. If our scheduled class dates don't work for you, and if you have a group of 3 or larger, or sign up for a private class, we can schedule the course around your schedule. We try to accommodate everyone and provide as many options as possible for our clients. 

Sailboat in the ocean near an island

How many days to get certified and sail your own boat?

This depends on your goals. We have a building block approach. After your first class (Sailing - ASA 101, US Powerboating - Basic Powerboat Cruising), you'll be able to charter our smaller vessels (up to 28ft).

The beginning level class lasts 2 full days. We also offer a confidence sail after you complete the course to give you extra practice with an instructor before you set sail on your own. 

If your goal is to operate a slightly larger boat (up to 40ft), you'll want to then take our intermediate level class (Sailing - 103, Powerboating - Inshore Powerboat Cruising). This class lasts 3 full days.

If your ultimate goal is to take our vessels to Catalina Island for a multi-day trip, you'll then want to move onto our ASA 104 course for a 3 day/ 2 night class. Most of our students combine this class with our catamaran course (ASA 114), so you will take one of our four beautiful catamarans to the island.

I've taken this class myself a few times and highly recommend it! There's nothing like waking up on a boat, listening to the waves, and watching the sunrise over the island. 

Bow of sailboat in the ocean

On what kind of sailboat do you learn?

You will start out on our 25ft sailboats with an outboard engine. We recommend starting out on a small vessel due to the fact you feel the vessel respond much faster than a larger vessel.

As soon as you make an adjustment to the tiller (steering), the vessel immediately responds. Also, you will feel the change in direction and speed when sheeting in the sails and sheeting them out.

Lastly, body weight affects how the vessel sails... if you move weight to windward/leeward/forward/aft (all sailing terms you will learn in class!), you will see how that helps steer the boat, speed up the boat, etc.  

As for our powerboating program, you will start out on a 28ft sports cruiser. 

People on a sailboat docked in a harbor

How would someone get to “practice” sailing? Is there a membership or some way to rent boats from you once someone gets certified?

In terms of practice, yes, we highly recommend that once our students complete their classes, they should come back as soon as possible while the material is fresh in their minds and practice. Students can either sign up for 3-hour confidence sails, come back with fellow students to rent, or practice with family and friends on our smaller vessels.

We do offer a membership which helps bring down the costs of classes and charters. For example, our members get to take our 25ft vessels out for as little as $99 per day! We do this to encourage our members to keep up their skillset and so they have plenty of opportunities to get out on the water... even if it's just for a couple hours after work on a beautiful summer day.

As for our powerboating program, our clients can rent our 28ft sports cruiser for as little as 2-hours so they can also practice and enjoy some time on the water. Our membership will give them access to lower pricing. 

Sailboat in Marina del Rey channel during sunset with clouds

What makes Marina del Rey a good spot for learning to sail?

Marina del Rey is a great place to learn how to sail! Did you know, Marina del Rey is the second largest man-made marina in the world! The marina was designed and built with wind direction in mind, so sailors can easily sail in and out. For beginners, you can spend all day just sailing around inside the marina if you are not yet ready for ocean sailing. The conditions are ideal... average wind speed is between 5kts - 10kts (for non-sailors, this means you have just enough wind to go sailing, but not too much where it is overwhelming).

The Santa Monica Bay coastline is beautiful... head north and you will pass the iconic Santa Monica pier (and see the Hollywood sign in the distance!) and then up to beautiful Malibu. Head south and you will hit Palos Verdes cliffs and do some whale watching! Or head southwest and you will hit Catalina Island... a very popular destination for our students and charter clients! During wintertime, you can sail within the marina and see the snowcapped mountains in the distance. We are very lucky to be in a climate (65-to-75-degree average) where you can sail 365 days/year!

Anything else you should know about learning to sail?

Everyone learns differently and at different speeds. ASA has designed their sailing program to reach all types of learners... kinesthetic, audio, and visual. Their award-winning textbooks were developed by passionate sailing professionals. There are also quizzes and glossaries to help readers quickly pick up nautical terminology. Plus, the on the water drills will give you plenty of repetition and practice. If you feel you need more practice before setting sail on your own, you can purchase additional confidence sails so you can practice with an instructor until you feel ready.