Hear About Real Experiences From Real Alumni
I took the all Women’s diesel course in January of 2017. The sailing school could not have been a better experience. Worth every penny and then some! As a professional mariner in the commercial tourism industry, that course has helped me tremendously. I took the course because I didn’t feel like I was getting enough hands on at work and as I moved up to a captains position, I was being given responsibilities that my knowledge wasn’t quite up to par with. I now have 5 seasons under my belt being the head captain of a single hand cruising boat and a 105 ft schooner. I use my skills from this class daily and it has given me the confidence to diagnose problems and winterize systems by myself. I’m looking forward to my electrical course with Narragansett Sailing school next month!
Great people and professional but friendly. Learn to sail and have fun! We chartered a catamaran for a family vacation week and had Casey, the perfect captain for us. I’m now getting certified myself to charter my own catamaran by next year. Small class size and knowledgeable, friendly instructors. Beautiful area to learn to sail in. Doing ASA 103 after 101 last month. Looking forward to it all.
Took the Diesel course Oct 2019. Great instructor and curriculum. Geared perfectly for cruisers and recreational sailors. Ron McBain blended a humble, calm teaching style with the credibility of an amazing background of do-it-yourself and do-it-for-others experience. We assembled an actual Yanmar twice during the instruction. The course had it all: a bit of theory, lots of hands on, real maintenance work on a boat and troubleshooting. Highly recommended course. Completed the Fall Decommissioning course with Rich Munson. Rich ran an excellent course; he’s got an easy-going teaching style as we worked through the actual decommissioning of a 42’ modern sailboat. His experience as a Charter business owner gives him total credibility. He was a wealth of tips and ideas on making thing easy and effective, always covering the safety aspects and whys of what we were doing. This is a course with an immediate payback, took the fear out of winterizing and I can now immediately save $1,400 service fees and still feel confident the job’s been done right. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly I’ll be much more in touch with the state of my boat each season. Nice course.
I recently attended the ASA Instructor Qualification Clinic (IQC) at the Narragansett Sailing School. I was very impressed with the quality of the clinic due to the outstanding staff at the school. The IQC was led by Rob Lawnsby and assisted by Glenn Miner. Both did an exceptional job throughout the multi-day clinic. I found both to be uniquely talented sailors who were very knowledgeable in all facets of sailing. More importantly, they demonstrated strong communication skills with a unique ability to convey complex concepts into practical application and demonstrations. I also attended a one day docking endorsement course taught by another excellent instructor, Dave Pelkey. The course was outstanding and I learned a great deal about docking techniques in a variety of conditions. Finally, the owner of Narragansett Sailing School is Mary Goff. She was extremely pleasant and cordial throughout my stay at the school and went out of her way to make sure the clinic participants were well cared for. In summary, I strongly recommend the Narragansett Sailing School for anyone who wants a quality sailing experience in a beautiful setting.
We came away from the diesel engine class with a solid foundation of how the engine works, and how certain tools are used, like the torque wrench. I have not stopped telling friends how we spent the weekend. Being able to take this class in an all female environment attracted me to the class in the first place. I did not know if I was paying too much or not for the class, but in my mind after the fact, it was worth every penny. Thank you, Mary. Regina was a superb instructor and the book and handouts will be a great resource.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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!)
Thanks to all of you at NSS.
Thank you. Keep up the excellent work!
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
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.
Always generous with his time, Rob is truly the best mariner and teacher there is for learning the sailing and cruising lifestyle!
Get out there and sail!
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.
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.
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.
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!