WHY CHOOSE ONDECK?
Students who have taken classes elsewhere consistently tell us that we have the best program of instruction they have experienced. We receive ample feedback that Ondeck Charleston consistently provides high quality programming that meets and exceeds the expectations of students. At Ondeck, students spend more time on the water learning and practicing than most other programs. Our three-day class structure allows students to have ample time to understand the instruction without feeling rushed. We also offer additional practice time in the form of Focus Classes and Refresher Courses.
Ondeck instructors are excellent sailors and highly qualified teachers. Combined, our teachers have logged more than 100,000 nautical miles and hold other maritime positions in addition to Ondeck. Furthermore, Ondeck Charleston instructors are qualified to teach Ocean Passage Making. These credentials make Ondeck Charleston one of only 3 schools in the country that offers transatlantic passage to fulfil the final US Sailing course.
Ondeck is a top notch sailing school and we take teaching seriously. Our goal is to make every student an extremely competent sailor. Sailing is such a great tool to promote self-confidence and self-reliance that once a student begins to grasp the nuances of sailing a boat, they feel empowered both on the water and in life.
HOW DO I KNOW IF SAILING IS FOR ME?
If you're thinking about learning to sail but you're not sure whether to take the plunge into your first 3-day course, try our 1/2 day Introduction to Sailing class. This 3-hour class is packed with fun and information. The class will provide you with basic nomenclature and maneuvering. It is a great way to try a sailing class to see whether you'd like more.
WHAT IS A KEELBOAT?
It's a boat with a fixed, weighted keel as opposed to a centerboard. Fixed weighted keels are found on all larger boats, while centerboards are common in very small sailboats such as the Sunfish. A keel is a projection or a ridge that extends straight down from the bottom of the hull. A keel provides lateral stability, which keeps the boat from blowing sideways, as well as providing vertical stability, which keeps the boat from tipping over. A keelboat cannot tip over because more than half of a keel boat's weight is below the water line.
WHAT KIND OF BOATS WILL WE BE SAILING?
It depends on the course you choose to take. In the Basic Keelboat course (hyperlink), all students will sail 26 foot Colgates, which are tiller-steered. Tillersteered, medium-sized boats give students a very direct connection with the water and the way displacement boats handle. All subsequent courses are taught on larger wheel-steered boats with cruising quarters. There boats are classified as yachts versus day-sailors or dinghies. Cruising yachts suit our higher level coastal and offshore courses.
WHAT DIFFERENT TYPES OF CLASSES DOES ONDECK OFFER?
We teach people how to sail via a variety of different classes. To become a good sailor, you might consider approaching your classes from all of the following directions:
SO THAT MY FAMILY CAN ENJOY SAILING TOGETHER, DO YOU OFFER SPECIAL TRAINING FOR CREW?
Yes, we offer a 2-day Learn To Crew class aimed at providing crew members with a really good foundation in basic sailing support skills.
HOW LONG ARE YOUR CLASSES?
Except three hours for our 1/2 day Introduction to Sailing and our 1/2 day Specific Skills - Focus Classes. US Sailing Certified courses generally range from 3 days for our Basic Keelboat and Cruising courses, to 5-10 days for our Coastal Navigation, Coastal Passage and Ocean Passage courses.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH CLASS IS FOR ME?
Ondeck's courses are set up to be followed in progression. Each class provides the skills foundation for the next. Unless you opt out of taking specific a course due to sufficient personal sailing experience, you will start with Basic Keelboat and progress from there. You may choose to move quickly ahead, or take your time, practice, repeat, practice. People learn at different rates and have different time frames available for learning to sail. Call us and speak with one of qualified instructors to help you determine the best strategy for your sailing instruction.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN A TYPICAL CLASS?
Four people is the maximum in all our sailing certification courses. Even on the larger boats that can sleep more, we limit our class size to four so that the highest quality of personalized instruction is provided. Our minimum class size is two people. Private sailing instruction for one or more is also available upon request.
WHAT IF IT RAINS OR IS TOO WINDY?
Ondeck makes the weather call on the day of the class. We have found the weather service forecast not to pertain specifically to the harbor and immediate offshore waters. If conditions are not favorable for teaching the skills required of the course, we will cancel and reschedule. Appropriate rain gear is always recommended, since conditions do change. An essential part of sailing is to be prepared to handle variable weather conditions.
HOW CAN YOU MODIFY CLASSES FOR ME?
We recognize that people come to sailing from different backgrounds, so we offer various ways to learn.
1) If you are in a course with others, you'll find we use a variety of teaching styles being used concurrently to cater to those who learn auditorially, visually, or kinesthetically (hands on).
2) If you would like to learn on your own boat, we conduct private lessons.
3) Perhaps you already know how to sail and you would like to practice a certain skill: you may join a skills class or arrange private instruction.
4) Our goal is to teach you how to sail. Let us know what your needs are and we can figure out how to meet them.
WHAT IF I FEEL SEASICK?
It is rare, though not impossible, to feel seasick in the harbor. This issue comes up very infrequently for beginning sailors. It is generally not the small waves that make one ill, but the larger and less frequent offshore swells.
If you are feeling seasick, we will return you to shore. Prior to heading offshore, we provide you with information that will reduce or circumvent the problem. However, if you find yourself offshore and seasick, we do our best to make you comfortable.
WILL I BE SAFE?
Safety is our number one priority. Wherever you go to take classes, check into your instructors' qualifications and sailing experience. Take into account personal recommendations of past students and online reviews.
Our instructors have a great deal of experience sailing, and have passed a rigorous program of instructional preparation. As a US Sailing certified school, we follow very specific safety guidelines.
WHERE DO I STAY DURING CLASS?
For day sailing classes, you may chose from a variety of nearby hotels. The closest hotel is at our doorstep: Charleston Harbor Resort. Call Corporate Sales at 843-856-0028 and ask for special Ondeck student rates. A mile from here is the new Best Western at Patriots Point. Call 843-408-7311 for their Ondeck student rates. Other nearby Mt. Pleasant hotels include the Red Roof Inn and Extended Stay.
Downtown Charleston's many hotels and Bed & Breakfasts may be accessed via a three-season ferry which leaves from our docks hourly. For upper level cruising courses, you'll spend most nights onboard. Click HERE for more recommendations on accommodations and things to do in Charleston.
HOW OLD DO MY CHILDREN NEED TO BE TO PARTICIPATE?
Young children of any age may learn to sail from us as long as parents accompany them. We teach families the art of sailing together as a well coordinated unit. Without parents in attendance, children must be 14 years of age to take our classes, and 16 years old to qualify for U.S. Sailing Course Certifications.
WHAT IS THE U.S. SAILING CERTIFICATION?
It is proof of your achievement at various levels of sailing proficiency. This form of proof is recognized at sailing schools and charter companies all over the world.
WHAT IS U.S. SAILING?
US Sailing is the official amateur racing body for sailing in the US. It is a non-profit organization begun in 1897 to create a national training program for sailors and sailing instructors. The U.S. Sailing Foundation is recognized by the U.S. Congress as being the official National Governing Body of Sailing.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN U.S. SAILING AND A.S.A. SAILING CERTIFICATIONS?
Both are organizations that provide guidelines for learning to sail. US Sailing, est. in 1897, is the official governing body of the US Olympics and Junior Olympics: an organization specializing in providing standards and programs for racing and training at all levels. Each course has its own text book. ASA Sailing, est. in 1983, is younger. Its courses are shorter. It certifies more sailors. Ondeck teaches all U.S. Sailing courses. We appreciate its in-depth approach.
WHY GAIN SAILING CERTIFICATION?
Some people want certification so they can charter boats all over the world to locations that want to make sure renters have a thorough background in the basics of sailing. Other people want simply to learn sailing via a logical, timetested progression that reduces their chance of errors en route to happy sailing experiences.
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?
We're on Charleston Harbor in Mt. Pleasant; our office and docks have a direct view of downtown
Charleston. Three miles from downtown, we are a 10 minute drive over the Cooper River's Ravenel Bridge. We are located on the docks at the end of Patriots Point Road, a mile past the aircraft carrier Yorktown. Our offices are in the freestanding building at the end of the Charleston Harbor Resort Marina. We are 4 miles from the mouth of Charleston Harbor enjoying a great location for harbor-based day sails and instruction, and easy access to coastal and offshore sailing.