We asked our past students, David and Manja, about their experience learning to sail as a couple. We have to start by asking something important: Do you still have your boat, “Island Girl”?

Yes, we still have Island Girl! We have sailed across a good amount of southern New England, dropping our anchor in various spots in Narragansett Bay, Point Judith, Block Island, Fishers Island, Long Island, Cuttyhunk, Martha’s Vineyard’s Lake Tashmoo and Vineyard Haven, and Nantucket. We’ve experienced all kinds of weather and sea state (not storm force, though, thanks to weather planning we learned with the school!). We have come to recognize New England as a truly amazing summer cruising ground, which boasts amazing dining, fishing, clamming, swimming and paddling, biking and beach-going.

We have learned, partly from the school and partly from our own experiences following the courses, how to communicate better as a couple, especially in challenging or high-stakes situations. (For example, no screaming at each other while docking or mooring!)

Our two most poignant instances of using what we learned from the school, in terms of knowledge and situational awareness, came in our first year of ownership. First, we had a blocked engine raw water intake and were able to avoid overheating or damage to our impeller by alertly checking the overboard discharge, communicating the problem, and then fixing it. This problem probably would have been missed by both of us prior to our training. Second, we had a thru-hull fail miles from safe harbor and, again thanks to our training, identified the source of the leak, made a plan together, and successfully plugged the hole while underway.

Both of these situations could have been traumatic or even deadly experiences had we not been prepared by what we learned from the Narragansett Sailing School.

 What parts of learning as a couple did you enjoy most?

It gave me (David) more confidence in my own knowledge and skills while giving me a lot of comfort that Manja was also getting a good, well-rounded set of sailing skills and knowledge. It also helped ensure we have a lot of common understanding about the basics, which is important, because we have very different histories of sailing experiences and languages.

What’s different about learning as a couple compared to learning individually?

Learning as a couple, we got to see how each of us learns, and also help each other. This helped us not only as we worked through the course, but as we have continued to learn and grow as a sailing couple. We were also able to start using a common set of rules for basic sailing, navigation, and trip planning that has helped set us up for success on all of our trips from day sails to multi-week outings.