Learn to sail on San Francisco Bay. Tradewinds stands apart from other sailing schools. Stop by and visit our sailing school and club.
Learn to sail on San Francisco Bay. Tradewinds stands apart from other sailing schools. Stop by and visit our sailing school and club.
Our ASA course offering prepares you for sailing the Bay or anywhere in the world. Sailing schools on San Francisco Bay.
(510) 232 - 7999
Open Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed Mondays)
Not sure where to start? Click here!
Sign Me Up!!!

Sailing School


Competency is gained through knowledge...

Tradewinds Sailing School has a program for sailors at any level who are serious about gaining the foundation knowledge of sailing and continuing on to become a competent sailor.

With more than 50 years of teaching experience, our successful method is based on a thorough understanding of how people learn. We also want to make learning to sail easy and enjoyable. But, we don't take shortcuts. Our instructors are selected for their teaching skills and their ability to make learning to sail fun. 

We show you the sailing secrets
that other sailors do not share.

Why Choose Tradewinds Sailing School?

  • We have great instructors
    • All of our instructors are American Sailing Association (ASA) certified
    • Our instructors are USCG licensed skippers
    • We have a proven teaching method
  • We offer you a professional training program
    • Our instructors follow a standard teaching curriculum
    • Our lead instructor is a certified ASA Instructor Evaluator
  • Each of our ASA courses offers the maximum number of hours on the water
    • On average, you are sailing 6 hours each day
  • We are affordable
    • You will like our course pricing
    • ASA certification and textbooks are included in our course pricing
  • Specialty classes are available
    • We don't stop with the ASA courses, you can enjoy extending your learning with our advanced skills classes
  • We have an all Women's program
    • Tradewinds offers the unique opportunity to learn sailing with other women
    • Our female instructors are excited to help other women with their sailing skills

So, whether you want to

  • Cruise the world in your own boat
  • Charter sailboats for exotic vacations
  • Share sailing with your friends and family without the boat ownership hassle
  • Buy your own sailboat
  • Experience our all-women's sailing

Our Teaching Methodology

We have discovered over many years of teaching that the traditional way of learning is the best way to learn. When you take lessons from qualified instructors, practice, get feedback, and continue to learn, you get as much out of learning as you put in.

Think about the last time you learned to do something well. It took time and practice. Don't be talked into shortcuts... learning is a continuous process.

The Tradewinds Way

Our training methodology works great, and at the end of the ASA course series, you will be a competent skipper.

Here is how your training will progress:

  • Learn. Each ASA course exposes you to a set of new skills. We teach using a combination of minimal classroom time and maximum on-the-water exercises. Each course's skill set builds on prior knowledge.

  • Practice. After completing a course, you practice the new skills using one of our Sailing Club boats. You track your practice sessions by using the course exercise sheet as a guideline. Completing the exercise sheet usually takes 5-7 practice sessions on the water.

When you know you know,
your crew knows you know.

Benefits of the Tradewinds Methodology

  • We limit our sailing courses to 3 or 4 students
  • You have the same instructor each day of your course
  • Each instructor is ASA-certified for the training level that they teach
  • You get a different instructor at each course level, which exposes you to different experience


Frequently Asked Questions from Students

We developed this page to help answer questions that we receive from our students before and after they take their courses.

What should I bring to class?

The following is a list of items that you should bring with you to your class. In addition to physical items, please have all your textbook reading completed before the first day of class.

Please be ready to go at 9:00 am. on the first day. PLEASE BE PROMPT!!!!

Items for all ASA Courses
  • Appropriate clothing for the weather. Please do not wear jeans with rivets, as they scratch the boat. On the bay, the weather can vary greatly. We recommend dressing in layers. A good waterproof windbreaker is a good idea. Foul weather gear is not necessary at this level, but is a good investment should you choose to purchase it. West Marine is a good source for quality sailing gear, and there’s a store near us here in Point Richmond.

    • Boat shoes--non-skid and no black soles
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat with tether
    • Sunscreen
    • Sailing gloves
      (We generally have West Marine sailing gloves for sale at our office.)

  • Personal Flotation Devices are provided, but we encourage you to use your own if you have one. (We generally have inflatable PFDs for sale at our office at a discount to students).

  • Lunches: Please bring your lunch with you! You may have the opportunuty to eat on board at anchor, at a dock, or back at the club house.
Basic Coastal Cruising

In addition, please bring:

  • Please bring work gloves for muddy anchoring.
Bareboat Chartering

Bring your lunch for day one. The class will plan meals for days two and three and each student will be responsible for a portion of the meals.

It is often cool and wet during the night and early morning, so be ready for that.

  • As this is an overnight trip, please bring a sleeping bag, toiletries, a change of clothes and any other necessities, such as prescription medication.

  • Dinner and breakfast will be shared with the other students. Please bring enough food for 4 people. For evening meals, students will prepare a hot meal for dinner including vegetables and dessert. Hot meal suggestions include spaghetti, meat loaf, stew or soup, casseroles, etc. Also plan a hot meal for breakfast. Breakfast suggestions include scrambled eggs, French toast, oatmeal, etc. Fruit, instant coffee and juice should be included. Cooking, serving, and eating utensils are onboard. Meal preparation should not take more than an hour. Meals can be prepared ahead of time and frozen.

  • Alcohol is only permitted after the boat is secured for the evening.

Do I need to bring my own life jacket?

No. We provide US Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices to all of our students. We have correct sizes for people of all ages, including juniors. We insist that our students wear a PFD while participating in our programs. However, you are welcome to bring your own lifejacket if it is US Coast Guard approved.

Do I need lots of expensive clothing?

No. When you first take your lessons, wear normal outdoor clothing. As well, bring running shoes and a hat. Bring a few extra clothes as the temperature can be cooler on the water. When you sign up for one of our courses, we send you complete course instructions. When you are sailing on a regular basis after completing your lessons, you may choose to purchase some sailing clothes - eg. foul weather gear.

What can I expect during my class?

How do we teach our classes?

First of all, we spend as much time on the water as possible. We begin each day with a short lecture on theory, knot tying, or Coast Guard rules to ensure that our students are prepared to execute the practical requirements on the water.

Students are expected to have completed all of the assigned textbook reading prior to the first day of the course. If all students adhere to this requirement, then even less time is spent on land.

Then it's out of the slip for practical application. The instructor demonstrates the procedure and then it's the student's turn.

Students alternate as either crew or helmsman for each procedure. Back in the slip, we have a critique of the day's activities and plan for any areas that require additional work. We don't believe doing something once is enough. We stress repetition to reinforce what the student has leaned.

Our instructors only act as helmsman or crew to demonstrate procedures, the majority of the time, the students are handling the yacht.

Our Sailing School method allows students to learn the roles and responsibilities of both helmsman and crew and develop their skills working as a team. When a student is acting as helmsman, he is responsible for organizing and commanding the crew. Proper and clear communication skills are an important part of this position.

Our class size limit of 3 (most courses) to 4 students allows plenty of practice time.

The Written Test

Prior to sailing on your own at your course level, you must pass the written ASA test. You will take the written test on the last day of your course. A passing grade of 80% is required overall and 100% correct is required on the Right of Way rules questions.


Where can I sail after I complete my class?

As you complete each ASA level, more and more of the San Francisco Bay is available to you.

Download a map of your practice area:

  • Basic Keelboat graduates and Bronze Fleet (Hi Res Chart) - note: The 25' boats are restricted to this area regardless of the Skipper's qualifications.
  • Basic Coastal Cruising graduates: (Hi Res Chart)

After completing your Bareboat Chartering course, you can sail the entire San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay during daylight hours. You can not sail under or west of the Golden Gate Bridge.

After completing your Advanced Coastal Cruising course, you can sail west of the Golden Gate Bridge.

What and how much should I practice before my next class?

Your success in completing your next course level depends greatly on the amount practice that you do in between each course. We recommend that you practice on various boats. Practicing increases your confidence and the diversity of your skills.

We suggest that you practice a minimum of 5 4-hour sessions between courses and complete the set of exercises outlined in our practice sheets:

Why should I get ASA certified?

ASA certification provides documentation of your training and is recognized by many national authorities, charter, and insurance companies. Sailors may join the ASA and take advantage of many valuable member benefits. Certification could help you in the future if the State and Federal governments are successful in their desire to have sailors licensed.

How fast can I go through the ASA course series?

As fast as you can take the class, complete the course exercise sheet, and master the skills required at each level before moving on to the next course. Trying to shorten our program by doing the minimum practice between course will not benefit you in the end. Please see Our Teaching Methodology.

Give yourself a minimum of 6 months to complete the 3 course package with 5-8 practices between each course. The 6 month pace requires about 24 days of sailing in 24 weeks, which is a tight schedule. Most members take longer because they want to practice more between courses at a more leisurely pace.

Do I need to join the Club after passing my course?

No. Some members own their own boats or sail with a friend. You must still complete the required practice before moving onto your next level.

Can I challenge a course level?

Yes. Some members come to our program with prior sailing experience. If you think that your sailing skills are at ASA level and you want to challenge that course, please call our office for more details. A normal challenge starts with taking the ASA written test for the levels that you are challenging and then taking a Practical Skills evaluation on the water.

What is the difference between ASA certification and US Sailing?

When you finish the entire keelboat program that we offer... there is no difference. You will be a very competent, skilled, and experienced sailor. Your certification will be welcomed by charter companies throughout the World!

US Sailing and the American Sailing Association have different techniques and course outlines toward the same goal. US Sailing focuses more on the technical/racing aspects of sailing early on in their program. The ASA course outline is oriented to the cruising sailor. Both are quality programs.

Am I too old to sail?

Sailing is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Some of our students are retired and are looking for a new sport. Sailing can be enjoyed at whatever pace you choose. While there is a physical element to sailing, cruising is not a speed endurance activity.



Last modified on: Tuesday, 05-Mar-2024 09:57:09 MST