Hear About Real Experiences From Real Alumni
I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic instructor John Bell is. As you know, he was our instructor last week on the 106 course and all of us in the course felt the same about John. He clearly knows sailing and was eager to share his knowledge, teach us, challenge us. I never felt there was any downtime, other than perhaps when we went to dinner a couple nights, and we were always learning. John was informative, clear, and pleasant to learn from and sail with. The trip was definitely not a vacation but I learned even more than I expected and that’s due to John. Can’t speak highly enough about him. Excellent.
I just wanted to tell you how much the diesel engine course has helped my knowledge of, well, engines. Last night I opened up the operators manual for my engine and, I understood way more than I did a week ago. I see a couple of things I need to check on my engine that I didn’t address last fall during my first layup of the boat. My spring boat to do list has grown exponentially as a result of the diesel and electrical systems classes I’ve attended!
The non-ASA classes that NSS offers are really great to help us recreational sailors understand our boats better, so we can be better and safer sailors. I’ll be signing up for the general boat systems class sometime in the fall or next winter. I need to find out why I’ve got a joker in the head of my boat. Usually one joker on board is enough, but I’ve got 3 whenever I step aboard!
We had been sailing small boats for years and had dreamed of one day getting a big boat. When the time finally came to do something about it we realized we needed some help. Luckily we found Narragansett Sailing School.
In our first season we “challenged” the Basic Keelboat Sailing course. Jim Spiro evaluated and critiqued our skills with positive, constructive and spot-on feedback. Next we took Basic Cruising with Regina Krieger, who with tremendous knowledge and great skill introduced us to boat systems and overall boat operation, docking and maneuvering. Then was Advanced Cruising. Our first overnight trip. With instructor John Bell in a larger boat we ventured further afield and experienced provisioning, rules of the road, communications and navigation. We entered new harbors and learned the joy of a grilled dinner while at anchor in a quiet moonlit cove.
That winter we took Coastal Navigation with Adrienne Thomason on two consecutive classroom weekends. We plotted courses, accounted for tides, figured in windage and learned to love (or at least understand) Eldridge. Adrienne patiently, clearly and successfully moved us along our course.
In our second season we took Advanced Cruising – five days with night sailing, running tidal passages, more navigation, weather, emergency procedures, dinghies, moorings, sailing strategies, radios, and more. John Bell consistently maintained his composure as he mediated our arguments, guided the questioning of our decisions, suggested experimenting with technique and laid the plan that helped us put it all together. We tasted the joys of cruising, discovering beautiful hidden coves and lovely anchorages.
We were ready to go out on our own and signed up for “Sail Time” – two consecutive days each month throughout the season. First was a thorough boat orientation including docking, conducted by Mike Rejto, who wouldn’t quit until we were comfortable with the boat and all its systems. And then we were by ourselves on a new 36 ft. Hunter – down Narragansett Bay, exploring the bays and islands and even out to Block Island. Rob and his team were always available with advice and suggestions and to make sure the boat was ready.
This is now our third season. We decided to go further afield and charter in other areas. But there were some things we needed to brush up on – sail trim, big boat docking and man overboard. Rob Lawnsby and John Bell tirelessly worked with us, patiently sharing their knowledge, expertise and stories.
So this is where we are today: in two years from dinghies to short handing 40′ cruisers, with confidence, with understanding (but with a healthy appreciation of the vicissitudes of the sea). We would not be here without the team at Narragansett Sailing. Rob Lawnsby, the owner, has put together an operation that not only teaches people to sail, but teaches people how to be sailors. They were our teachers and evaluators and also our friends. Their knowledge of sailing is exhaustive and their ability to impart that knowledge in others is exceptional.
We recommend them without hesitation or question.
Narragansett Sailing School was by far the most informed and professional American Sailing Association school that I have been to. I was a student there who was undertaking the ASA 106 and the (docking) 118 courses. The level of experience that Captains Rob and Ed had was unparalleled. It is always such a refreshing and informative treat to learn from truly classic yet contemporary sailors. The whole marina was kept impeccable and the rest of the staff at Narragansett Sailing School was way more helpful than I had ever expected.
If you are thinking of a great place to take any of the ASA courses I would wholeheartedly recommend Narragansett Sailing School. The Captains and staff make sailing a very approachable sport, and more importantly you will learn so many important fundamental skills that I personally will carry with me throughout my sailing career. I would also really like to stress the ASA 118 course that is offered at Narragansett Sailing School is fabulous. Because of the level of expertise, you cannot make any horrible mistakes, therefore you are allowed to get way out of your comfort zone and practice some really awesome techniques. I know I will be periodically reviewing the material for the 118 course over and over again.
I haven’t even touched on the natural beauty and ideal sailing conditions of Rhode Island and its surrounding bodies of water, but that would be a whole other page. Basically what I am trying to say is that if you have any reservations about where to learn sailing or if you are scared and just do not know where to begin let Narragansett Sailing School and this review put your mind at ease. I will definitely be going back for another visit someday soon! Happy sailing!
This is our second season with our new 2004 Beneteau 393. Docking and backing up was a challenge last season, so we decided to take a hands-on docking class. My husband and I completed the Advanced Docking class back in May 2014. The class helped us anticipate the boat’s behavior in different wind and current conditions, as well as using prop walk and prop wash to our advantage.
We just spent an 8 days vacation on our boat, every other night at a different transient slip. We have built so much confidence from taking the Advance Docking class that we can report that we were docking like a pro. In fact I pulled into a slip at Danforth Marina at Port Jefferson and the gentleman in the boat next to us complimented me on how impressed he was on my docking skills.
I am so glad I found your docking class on the internet…it has enhanced our cruising experience from slip to slip.
Thank you and thumbs up!!!!
I just finished ASA 104. What a great class! I took it as a refresher to prepare me for my upcoming bareboat charter in the Caribbean. Now — I’m ready! The course covered the breadth of the material that I’ll need and went into depth on some critical areas like sail trim and anchoring.
The group was fun and friendly and Rob shared his knowledge and experience smoothly and with an open heart.
I came away feeling relaxed and refreshed, having deeply enjoyed the sailing in the Narragansett Bay. What a place! Rob chose to show us the narrows of the Sakonnet River and the strange passage into Kickemuit. What fun! Also properly educational in what to expect from heavy tidal current and recreational boat traffic. Reading the charts and visualizing complex channels and markers was a revealing and memorable experience. I came away with increased respect to the current and the ability to read charts.
I recommend his course for beginners and intermediate sailors. Be careful though — you just may come away wanting to buy a boat for yourself and your family.
Bonnie was my instructor on May 18th. She was great. I felt my experience was a hodge-podge running from basic knowledge to navigation and chart reading. Passed the challenge and can’t wait to continue. Kudos to Bonnie and Polo, too.
I just wanted to let you know that Adrienne did a wonderful job with us on ASA 104 last weekend. her teaching style is very easy going, but she constantly shared her insights with us throughout the weekend. With a range of situation and weather (ending with gusts of 55kts on Sunday) we all learned a lot AND enjoyed the course. Glad we had such a seaworthy boat to weather the wind.
Thanks also to Jim and Rob and Kathy – you are a committed and high quality outfit! I hope to be back to charter and possibly for SailTime. and my wife is interested in your crew course.
Had a fantastic time taking the Diesel Engine course this weekend. Removing all the various engine components by system, learning the system roles, then returning the parts to the various locations was a valuable exercise. I really enjoyed the problem solving aspects of the course. As a sailor who “lost reverse” while docking a 38ft boat last summer, I was thrilled to learn how to reverse the engine without a throttle. Thanks for everything. I’ve already recommended your business to 4 of my sailing friends!
My son and I have just recently completed Basic Sailing 101, Beginning Cruising 103, and Intermediate Cruising 104. We had an awesome experience in the classroom as well as on the water. All of our instructors were knowledgeable and well-connected to sailing the seas. Over the past several years, my son and I have sailed with a Venture Crew in the British Virgin Islands and had such a great experience that we wanted to continue sailing. The Narragansett Sailing School has given us that opportunity. The school had been highly recommended by a friend of ours and there was no disappointment from our standpoint. We spent a lot of time sailing as opposed to in the classroom which is the best way to learn.
Thank you Rob for spending so much time with us and putting together a great group of instructors!
I already had an ASA 105 Coastal Navigation Certification. But, last fall on a sail from Annapolis to Key West, I realized I needed to strengthen my coastal navigation skills. To do so, I chose Narragansett Sailing School’s 28 hour Advanced Navigation Course, and I’m glad I did. Rob Lawnsby is an outstanding instructor. He is knowledgeable and patient. It was very obvious that Rob truly wanted his students to:
1. Understand the theory & key concepts of Coastal Navigation
2. And, through numerous problem solving sessions, acquire the skills & confidence to coastal navigate effectively.
The “Sailing 101” course was expected to get me back into realizing my sailing dream. I am confident now after completing the course with Jay that I will be able to continue with my plans of cruising the Northeast coast plus?. I am an empty nester currently working. However, soon I will be looking to spend significant time on the water. I am sure the progression of cruising courses Rob’s cruising school offers will get me there.
Last late July, my dad, son, and I took the 101 course with Jay as our instructor. The experience exceeded my expectations, the whole program was tailored to us and allowed us to go as slow or as fast as we needed. Jay had that rare touch of giving just the right amount of guidance, equipping us with the necessary knowledge, but letting us to learn by doing and making our own mistakes. All the folks at the school have the right mix of professionalism and friendliness.
My husband and I just finished taking sailing 101 with Narragansett Sailing School. This has been a dream of my husbands for years. He has always sailed small sailboats all his life with his dad and 9 brothers and sisters. I on the other hand have only been sailing as a passenger. My husband has always wanted a sailboat and with a recent health scare he decided we should make a bucket list and start doing instead of dreaming.
Well it was the best thing we have done together. We signed up for all the classes and plan to start the next class after a short recuperation from his surgery today. Yes, I said, today. You see I am writing this in the family waiting room at the hospital. I have no doubt my husband will do great and will be back on the water in a few weeks. He and I can’t wait to start the next class sailing 103 with Narragansett Sailing School and I highly recommend it to anyone who has always wanted to give it a try. Rob, You were great! Thank you so much!
( Happy to say Chris Maslan did recover from surgery, finished his courses, and did an offshore sail from RI to NJ. He is getting ready to buy a boat and continue his dream of sailing!)
My son, daughter and I took the basic 101 sailing class with Jay and Kathy. We are brand new to sailing and spent 3 days in class and on the water. At the end, we were sailing on our own on a 20 foot boat. I would have never believed that was possible. It was an amazing experience. My 16 year old daughter, thought the instructor was the most patient person and the best teacher she has met. My son Nicholas, 14 years of age, loved learning to sail with Kathy. She was wonderful with all of us. She was patient , and an outstanding teacher. She has a wonderful way with kids and makes everyone feel so comfortable. Rob was always checking on us to make sure we were doing well. He is also a great source of history on the area. My daughter enjoyed the stories.
We learned how to sail on a 20 foot Bristol sailboat, which was perfect for us. It was just the three of us and Kathy on the water, so we had personalized attention. Their fleet has many boats, which is a nice feature, if you want to choose a different boat to sail. The area is beautiful and only 15 minute drive to Bristol and 15 minutes to Providence. The seafood is very good and the options of restaurants are many. My daughter loved the running and bicycle trail within walking distance of the marina. She ran every day on it.
This was a great adventure and we feel fortunate to have found this place. We will without a doubt come back and take more lessons. Thank you Rob, Kathy and Jay for a wonderful week.
(Narragansett Sailing School does not teach children by themselves, but does teach families!)
My wife and I just completed ASA 101 with these guys and it was a great time! Randy our instructor was very good and would recommend him and this outfit to anyone wanting to learn how to sail a keelboat, turns out that me and the Mrs got the same score one the test, perfect for marital bliss 🙂
Thanks to all of you at NSS.
After completing a 400 nm circumnavigation of the Delmarva Peninsula and obtaining the ASA-106 certification from an excellent sailing school in Maryland, I knew something else was missing from my sailing toolkit. Narragansett Sailing School not only was able to identify my weaknesses but also worked hard to help me become a very capable sailor. They did a marvelous job presenting a traditionally complex subject in very simple and manageable steps. As a result, I left the Narragansett Sailing School with the confidence to tackle long coastal passages as the skipper of a sailing vessel and an increased enthusiasm to continue my cruising education.
Thank you. Keep up the excellent work!
Recently completed two classes offered by the Cruising School division of Narragansett Sailing School. The first was the diesel engine class taught by Mike Rejto and the second was the Advanced Docking class presented by Rob Lawnsby. Both instructors are seasoned sailors who really enjoy teaching others. Mike presents a complete and detailed curriculum on the operation, troubleshooting, and maintenance of the diesel engine and takes the time to answer any specific questions you may have. At the completion of the class the diesel is really demystified and you understand what a simple but amazing engine it is. Having an actual engine in the classroom is a great tool that allows for intuitive understanding of the material covered in the book.
The advanced docking class was worth the money after the first half hour of the class. It is all hands on in actual docking and close quarters maneuvering. You learn the proper fundamentals and “tricks” to handle almost any situation and the confidence to understand how the boat will react to various current and wind conditions. The only question you are left with at the end of the class is why you have waited so long to take it! Thanks Mike and Rob
You know that feeling of hopelessness when you look at the engine on your boat? You know that feeling of having to be at the mercy @$100/hr of fixing the engine on your boat?
After taking the Diesel Engine course with Jay Bessinger this past weekend those feelings don’t exist anymore. Amazing amount of knowledge and hands-on experience super packed into 2 days. This course is so well thought out, designed and taught that on the other side you’ll have the confidence to do a lot or all of the routine maintenance on your engine as well as troubleshooting problems that might come up. Now I’m thinking that living aboard is more than a dream – we can make it happen.
This spring I took the Diesel Engine class and the Advanced Docking Class. Having sailed my Hunter 336 for 10 years, I did my own maintenance, but the Diesel class went way beyond just changing the oil. I learned how the engine really works, and what to do when things go wrong. Jay did a great job explaining everything. Rob taught the Docking class. We all had some experience getting our boats into a slip one way or another, but we left knowing how to maneuver in the close quarters of a marina as well as how to get into and out of a slip in multiple wind conditions. Now the last 10 minutes of the sail will be a lot less stressful, especially entering a new harbor for the first time. Thanks to Jay and Rob for a great job at helping me understand and enjoy my boat more and worry less.
Rob is the best there is! After sailing for more than 25 years on a J29, Rhodes 19, and a wooden 24ft Mason, my wife and I moved to a Hunter 41DS. Rob was our mentor, as well as our instructor, and helped us transition from thinking about living aboard to actually doing it! He explained all the systems and procedures that go into sailing and cruising a larger boat keeping it simple and taking it step by step. We were nervous with such a BIG boat (for us) and Rob showed us how to sail, anchor, approach and leave a dock, as well as so many other details until we were ready to sail south. Throughout the entire experience from reviewing the boat to launch, Rob was exceptional in mentoring us with his knowledge, temperament, and ability.
Always generous with his time, Rob is truly the best mariner and teacher there is for learning the sailing and cruising lifestyle!
I recently completed an ASA 101 and 103 challenge with Rob and Kathy, and had a great time doing it! This was in the planning stage for a long time but I never got any pressure, just concern about the season coming to an end. Although I’ve been sailing for about 10 years, I’ve never had any formal instruction. The practical portion was like spending the day on the Bay with friends. Although I was put through the paces, there was a lot of levity. The switch from my Catalina 27 to the school’s Pearson 30 was quick and easy with a few subtle pointers. I also received some excellent instruction on maneuvers that never would have occurred to me on my own: 360 degree spin in place, quick 180 in a tight space, flipping the boat on the windward side of the dock single handed. My goal was to prepare for bareboating without hiring crew. I now have the confidence to go for it. This was an excellent experience that has wet my appetite for more. I’ll be back!
Just finished an ASA challenge, and want to share my experience. I am experienced sailor (45 years of boating.) Nevertheless I learned a great amount about docking, sail trimming, and other maneuvers from Rob. He is a great instructor and knows his subject matter better than anyone. I managed to satisfy the challenge and complete my 101, 103, and 104 certifications and it was very fruitful to receive well delivered training and unlearn some bad habits from the past. Now I’m off to sail a bareboat in the Greek Islands later this week! Ciao!
The other day I came out to Narragansett Sailing to do a ASA 101 Challenge. Although I had prepared considerably for the challenge, I was anxious when I arrived. Immediately upon sitting down with Rob and Kathy, I began to feel more at ease. Once out on the water, I felt my anxiety dissipate. Kathy had a wonderful way of exuding a quiet confidence in the skills that I brought with me, and patiently showed me some of the things that needed work. By the time my written test rolled around, I felt very prepared. Not only did I learn a lot, but I experienced all of the things that make me love sailing. I can’t wait to come back for my ASA 103. Thank You. -Kris L.
Rob and his team made me into a sailor! I had scattered and varied experience sailing smaller boats — mostly as a passenger/guest. My brother and I bought a 46 foot Hunter in the summer of 2010. This was totally outside my comfort zone. Rob arranged a 101 and 103 to teach us the basics; plus private instruction for advanced docking plus 104. Just finished the ASA 105 and spent a long weekend sailing Martha’s Vineyard. I want to thank Rob for making a “bucket list” wish come true in going from a beginning sailor to being comfortable with a 46 foot boat in a season!
My wife and I took 101 with Regina and Mike in October. Regina did the classroom but it was too windy to sail that day – Mike took us out the next day for our sailing portion. Mike’s motto (I think) is “Just do it!” – if you feel nervous – you do it until you don’t! By the end of our lesson we both felt comfortable sailing around the bay in gusts that previously would have made us very nervous! My wife has never driven a boat before – and at the end of the lesson she drove up to the mooring like a pro! If you don’t know how to sail – you should really take your lessons here. The owner Rob is very accommodating and will do everything he can to adjust the schedule or add days because of bad weather.
Get out there and sail!
My wife and I took ASA 101 sailing lessons with Regina and we were immensely pleased with the training as well as the results. We were sailing by noon of the first day and after two days we were taking the Bristol 20 out by ourselves in reasonably heavy winds. This was only possible because Regina not only taught us to sail but she transferred her confidence to us by calmly explaining and demonstrating her knowledge. Regina’s ability to confidently demonstrate all of the possible bad scenarios that new sailors can encounter and the proper methods of resolving them gave us both a confidence in our own abilities that quickly made sailing a relaxing and fun experience.
I could not be more pleased with my experience taking ASA 103 with instructors Rob & Regina. Before I took the course I realized I was competent in some areas, but there were definitely some gaps in my past training. I have been to other sailing programs that were OK. Some areas were covered very well, others were briefly visited or not covered at all. Rob’s program follows ASA syllabus so there are no gaps, no surprises. And, there are many real world situations shared with you because of the many years of experience Rob and his instructors have. Rob’s methods include lots of patience, being very positive and encouraging you to learn by making decisions, and learning from mistakes instead of being coached to death. I am a civilian flight instructor, and appreciate an excellent program and instructor staff when I see one. At Narragansett Sailing, you will build a solid foundation and be a safe and confident Captain. No gaps in the program plus an Over and Above attitude!
I completed your ASA Sailing 101 class with Regina Krieger the weekend of July 16-19. I am writing to let you know that it was a terrific experience. Being slightly uncomfortable with my minimal sailing knowledge, I was put at ease right from the start because the class was made up entirely of women, including the instructor. The instructor, Regina, was pleasant and knowledgeable. Her easy going nature allowed for learning to happen purposefully but naturally.
I found I was speaking the language of sailing and carrying out the actions very quickly, even on the first day. The location of the school is second to none with views of the Bristol bay, Herreshoff Museum, Blithewold Mansion and the Mt Hope Bridge. The boats moored and sailing in the bay were a sight to see as well. I cannot think of a better way to spend a long weekend in Rhode Island. I was able to easily shoot over to Newport or Providence in the evenings for dinner and nightlife, as well. We had beautiful weather that weekend. Each day was a perfect Rhode Island summer day, hot with light steady winds. Finally, I was impressed with the fleet of boats available for training. The 20 foot Bristol was a perfect size and style for learning. The boat was big enough to hold four people but non-threatening enough for a very green sailor to gain control of. I am eager to take the next class to gain experience on the larger boats too. Thanks so much for a great time and great learning.
Everyone I have interacted with at the school gives the sense of, not just a great customer-care attitude, but of community.
I was fortunate enough to take some of the school’s cruising courses. Every instructor I had was not only incredibly knowledgeable with broad sailing experience, but also a gifted instructor showing patience and the ability to handle different learning styles. The way these courses are taught is extremely accessible. They give everything from basic sailing skills, to navigation and cruising boat systems, to the judgment skills needed to plan and embark on a real-world cruise. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to sailing, but these courses have provided a big boost to my sailing knowledge and skill set and were tons of fun, too! I’ll definitely be going back for the Advanced Docking and Diesel Engine courses.
I can’t say enough good things about my ASA 103 sailing class with captain Mike. The material was well thought out. Mike did an excellent job teaching us the theory in the classroom immediately followed practical application on the water. He had a very calm, steady demeanor and did an excellent job working with all the students equally to rapidly improve our knowledge, skills and confidence.
I’ve taken sailing classes at a couple different schools and Narragansett Sailing was BY FAR the best. The school insists on small class sizes unlike other places. This gives you more time to work on developing your skills. I’ve worked with 4 of the instructors at Narragansett and they were all more knowledgeable and better teachers than anybody anyplace else. My wife also took a class here and raves about the place more than I do.
Rob uncovered the black box that diesel engines are by explaining in detail what makes them run. He broke the diesel engine down into its basic systems and then illustrated each one, first on the blackboard, and then hands on with a number of different engines. There were four people in our course and each of us had an opportunity to take the engine apart as well as put it back together. With each system, Rob took questions and explained where things can go wrong and gave advice on maintenance, and in our case, a piece of equipment that he recommended for the engine on our boat. Rob made what would otherwise be considered a boring topic, fun and exciting. We plan to return for further courses.
This place was the best yet! Good instruction and great staff 🙂
Great place. We took ASA 101 with our instructor Dave. He was excellent. Two days later we were sailing at 22 knots winds and having tons of fun.
I just completed ASA courses 101, 103, and 104 over nine days at Narragansett Sailing School and am exceedingly pleased with every aspect of the school. Their facilities were excellent including the classrooms, the numerous boats they have, and the marina. All of the school and marina staff was very helpful and pleasant. I especially want to commend my instructor Glenn Miner. He was very knowledgeable about sailing but most importantly he has a great aptitude for teaching novices on all aspects of how to handle a boat safely. He never lost his patience with our boat load of newbies and was always quick with a real world story to support the textbook instruction which really helped to make this learning experience fun. I left school 100% satisfied that I received my money’s worth in the whole experience and plan to return for future courses as I try to become a better sailor.
Mary, I wanted to let you know that the diesel class this past weekend was fantastic. Ron McBain was an excellent teacher and very enjoyable. Totally removed the scary mystery of the marine diesel for me and made me want to learn more. Everyone in the class enjoyed Ron and learned a lot. Thank you very much.
I had a master teacher who seems to enjoy helping people discover. He asked questions, lots of questions—about why I wanted to sail; what I wanted from sailing; the pros and cons of previous sailing instruction, and most importantly, he asked about my learning style. He listened, and really considered what I had to say. Then, he began crafting a curriculum that responded to my need for lectures, hands-on training, discussion, and exploration. He was patient, engaged, engaging, knowledgeable, and seemed genuinely invested in my learning.
He gave me assignments and mini-projects that incorporated information required for the 104 certification. He answered my questions, and also helped me find answers for myself. He transformed challenges such as a loose alternator belt, low battery levels, or rough seas into teachable moments in which he pulled me into the problem solving. He listened to my ideas and encouraged my decision making. Often overlooked by instructors that I’ve had in the past at other schools, he was intentional about setting a good example for us. He was prudent and thoughtful, and didn’t take short cuts the were inconsistent with best practices. Furthermore, he structured and taught at a pace that gave it value beyond a simple 104 test prep crash course.
I had never sailed before, but decided to try an ASA 101 class. I was a bit nervous going into it, although I knew I could trust Narragansett Sailing School to provide a great learning environment.
What I didn’t expect was how much I would love sailing so quickly! I’m a lifelong Rhode Islander, but never realized how beautiful Narragansett Bay is until I was sailing on the water.
We spent a lot of time on the water, rather than being in a classroom all day, which was great. The instructor was knowledgeable and experienced. Great at catering to each of the three students in this class. It actually felt like a vacation, so I signed up for ASA 103 on the day I finished 101!