Sail Fast!

Boating in DC

Posted by George Stevens on Sun, Feb 19, 2017 @ 12:16 PM

There are many places to rent a boat in the DC area. You need to know where to go for sailing vs. kayaking or paddleboards. There are no powerboat rentals out of the major marinas at this time though there are private boats that can be available.

For the Sailors;

Belle Haven Marina

Washington Sailing Marina

Gangplank Marina


For kayaks & paddleboards;

Belle Haven Marina

Fletchers boat house

Key Bridge kayaks

National Harbor

Thompson Boat House


Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Flying Scot, Learn to Sail, Potomac River, Dyke Marsh, US Sailing, Boating in DC

Top 10 Reasons I Love To Sail with my Family ~by Beth Crabtree

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 @ 09:42 PM


Photo by Dan Phelps

Photo by Dan Phelps

1. Sailing is one of the best forms of family bonding. Because multiple generations can sail together and teamwork is a necessity, few sports bring families together the way sailing does.

2. One of the best parts of sailing is that there are so few electronic distractions. Although our kids bring their phones aboard, they only use them for photos and music.

3. Limited space and 360 degrees of surrounding water mean that it’s hard for teens to hide. Sailing can bring even the most reclusive teen topside for some quality time with the family.

4. Sailing provides time for daydreaming and reflection. On a sailboat, the work comes in bursts. You’ll have moments where the whole crew is intensely busy, but you’ll also have long stretches of time when each family member can retreat into his or her own thoughts.

5. Sailing with my spouse is an ideal date. Spending time on the water away from work, household, and parenting responsibilities is a great way to relax and recharge.

6. Sailing is a great place to watch sibling interaction. Although they may squabble on land, they’ve got to work together to make the boat go.

7. Some of my fondest childhood memories are the hours my dad and I spent sailing. I hope my children will feel the same way someday.

8. Sailing is full of teaching moments. Crew work requires interpersonal skills, but sailing also provides a platform for parents to teach proper planning, accountability, engineering, math, chart reading, ecology, and more.

9. Sailing with children gives them an opportunity to see parents as individuals, not just as Mom and Dad. One of the interesting dynamics on a sailboat is the sense of equality among the sailors aboard. Skills matter more than age.

10. Sailing keeps our hands and our minds busy. It gets us out in nature. We leave our worries and commitments back on land. We come home tired and happy. Sailing is a mini family vacation.

~by Beth Crabtree

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Flying Scot, Learn to Sail, adult sailing lessons, Mariner Sailing School, sailing lessons for children

What Sailing and the Water Means to Some Teens by John R

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 @ 03:48 PM

The feeling of being free and in charge is one of the reasons why I believe that sailing is truly amazing. By yourself or with friends, you can travel wherever you want on the water without having to worry about gas money or a motor.  Sailing is an activity that you can participate in that is fun, exciting, relaxing, and for anyone of any age. In the more recent years, I’ve noticed that there are fewer and fewer sailors my age. When my dad was growing up in the 70’s, he was sailing his heart out with lots of kids his age. They were all good friends back then. I look now at my sailing club and see maybe seven or eight others my age. Very few  teens are active members at the club, or frequent sailors.

Teenagers sailing 420 dinghiesI asked someone at my high school a couple months back if they would want to go sailing with me sometime, and they replied with, “Oh! I love para-sailing! I did it once in Florida!” I think most teens would love the sport if they were given the opportunity in the right circumstances. A medium breeze, on a warm day are usually the ideal conditions for taking out a first timer. Where the wind is just high enough to get one of the hulls out of the water, or to where the hull would heel (lean) to the side.

I’ve only brought one person sailing in heavy winds on a chilly day, and their experience wasn’t the best. Other than that,  most of the kids I have brought along on the right days have stuck around and still enjoy the sport to this day. Sailing also teaches one to make quick decisions, like when tack in a stormy or dangerous situation.

Sailing and teens go hand-in-hand with making great memories. Some of mine favorite memories include meeting life-long friends at regattas, tying our Hobie Cats together on the 4th of July in the middle of the lake and enjoying some cold Cokes, traveling for races, or just sailing in a new place. Sometimes sailing is great date activity; bringing girls on dates to the club-owned Flying Scot, one of those dates including my first kiss! (Note to the other teen boys out there: girls love guys that know how to sail!)

There are just so many reasons why sailing and teens go together or should go together. To sum it up, sailing is a sport that is totally worth learning. Anyone from ages 8 to 80 can do it! To the teen sailors reading this, I challenge you to invite at least 5 new people to try out the sport. If we already enjoy it, they probably will too, you’ve just got give them a chance to give it a shot. To the ones out there that don’t sail and are reading this, give it a try! You don’t know what you are missing out on!

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, Flying Scot, Learn to Sail

Flying Scot - By Jack Hornor (Boat US editor)

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

Flying Scot

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012

Flying ScotWhen I speak with sailors and prospective sailors, I am often asked what I would recommend as a good "starter boat" for a beginning sailor. I have toyed with the idea of a "10 best" or similar review but have found there are far too many variables to cover the subject in a column. However, if I were to compile a "10 best" list the Flying Scot would most certainly be included. Among the many reasons I would pick the Flying Scot is that many who chose her for their first sailboat have found her to be the only boat they ever needed. When one boat can provide a lifetime of sailing enjoyment, it's a special boat.

Gordon K. "Sandy" Douglas, the dean of U.S. planing dinghy designers, designed the Flying Scot in 1956 after nearly 40 years of designing and building boats. Douglas had designed and built the 17-foot Thistle in 1945 and followed that with the 20-foot Highlander class in 1951. The Thistle class met with almost immediate success and remains an active racing class today. Although less successful than the Thistle, the Highlander is a big planing hull design with a relatively high sail area/displacement ratio. Those ratios are 47.6 and 40.8 respectively and result in an exciting but fairly demanding boat to sail, one that is not very forgiving of a beginner's mistakes.

For those unfamiliar with the term, sail area/displacements can be thought of as a sailboat's horsepower rating. The higher the sail area/displacement, the greater the horsepower relative the weight of the boat. Rather docile daysailers, in the 16- to 20-foot range, would be expected to have a sail area/displacement ratio in the mid-20s, while for high-performance racing dinghies that number can exceed 70. In an effort to offer a more manageable family oriented boat, Douglas designed the Flying Scot with the same 191 square foot sail area as the Thistle but she weighs in at 850 lbs., 20 lbs. heavier than the Highlander. The resulting sail area/displacement ratio is 34 and to say the combination was a success would be an understatement.

Still in production more than 5,800 Flying Scots were built between 1957 and 2008. The Flying Scot remains one of the leading one-design classes in the United States as well as Douglas&s most successful design.

In 1957, Douglas, who had been one of the principals of Douglas and McLeod Boatbuilders (later Tartan Marine) formed the Gordon Douglas Boat Co. in Ohio to build his new design but soon moved the operation to Western Maryland. Douglas retired in 1971 and sold the business to longtime employee Eric Ammann who, after 20 years of ownership, again sold the business to one of his longtime employees. In 1991 Harry Carpenter bought all the company assets and renamed the company Flying Scot, Inc. This truly unique succession of ownership has resulted in consistant production without interruption.

Unlike the Thistle and Highlander, whose early models were built of cold-molded wood, all Flying Scots are fiberglass constructed and strict one-design class rules dictate how the boats are built. The gelcoat is first sprayed into the mold followed by hand-laid layers of chopped strand fiberglass mat and woven roving fiberglass cloth. Flying Scots have always been built with balsa wood cored composite of the hull and deck. Woven roving is used on both sides of the balsa in the hull layup.

The hull and deck are joined, in a shoebox fashion, using bolts on 12-inch centers and then additionally joined on the inside with fiberglass cloth and resin. This results in a very strong, stiff hull and deck, albeit relatively heavy. As testimony to the strength of their boats, Flying Scot proudly boasts that hull #1, built is 1957, is still going strong. Class rules prohibit Flying Scots from having auxiliary power and most have none. For sailors who are not competing, a small gas or electric outboard can be mounted on a transom bracket. Although the Flying Scot may not cause as many white knuckle moments as Douglas's Thistle and Highlander models, that is not to say her performance is boring or sluggish. Typically raced by a crew of three with a mainsail, jib and spinnaker, the Flying Scot easily planes when reaching and running in a stiff breeze & there are few sailing experiences more exciting. For daysailing, the Flying Scot easily accommodates a family of five or six. There are active Flying Scot fleets throughout the country and new owners are likely to find plenty of great sailors willing to welcome new sailors to their ranks and very willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Few would argue that many of the best sailors began as dinghy sailors. It would be hard to beat a Flying Scot as the place to start.

Flying Scots

Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Flying Scot, sailing, Mariner Sailing School

6 tips for choosing a sailing school on the Potomac River

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 @ 01:46 PM


1) How long has the School been in existence?

Like any business selection,  are you willing to take a chance with a recently started program or one with a proven track record? Schools that have been teaching for 35 years must be doing something right. Belle Haven Marina has been teaching sailing skills on a full time basis since 1977.

2) What Certification is Offered?

Certification of sailing is a relatively recent phenomenon.  There is no one single standard in the United States nor is it required to rent or buy a sailboat. The Mariner Sailing School is an approved US Sailing training facility. US Sailing is the governing body of sailing. This certification is recognized by sailing professionals and charter companies worldwide and ensures that our school complies with an established and comprehensive program.

  US Sailing Logo

3) What type of sailboats will I learn on?

The last thing you want to do when learning how to sail is to pick an  unstable boat. This would hardly inspire confidence, nor do you pick a boat that feels like a floating battleship. The best of both worlds is to choose a stable, yet responsive centerboard boat. 19' Flying Scot - is our choice for all Adult Learn to Sail, Racing and Private Instruction. The skills acquired can be easily transferred to other larger boats.19' Flying Scot

 Sunfish - our choice for the Youth Learn to Sail courses. The sunfish can be enjoyed by all ages and sailing skills and confidences are quickly acquired.

 C&C 34 - an ideal boat for learning to cruise with its centerboard design and outstanding performance. We will  make cruising in the Islands a pleasure.

4) How large is my class?

This is probably one of the most important questions to ask when selecting a sailing school. Obviously, the more students per instructor, the greater the profit margin for the sailing program. There are three positions on the boat, skipper, mainsail trimmer and jib sail trimmer. If you have more than three students aboard, you are getting ripped off. 

5) What happens if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate?

Great question to ask in the mid-Atlantic area. No one learns to sail while sitting in a classroom, but rather by being out on the water. When investigating sailing programs ask them how they make up for rainout days or days with no wind. At the Mariner Sailing School, no attempt is made to sail in dangerous or miserable conditions and lessons will be rescheduled. 90% of your sailing time is on the water.

6) What if I just don’t feel confident?

So what happens if you just completed a sailing course you don't have the confidence you need? Do you have to take the course over again? Our guarantee to every student: If after completing a course you feel you could use an extra lesson, we will be happy to arrange this for you. We are so confident in the quality of our Instructors that we offer you a week of unlimited free practice Monday - Friday, immediately following the completion of your course.


Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, Flying Scot, Mariner Sailing School, US Sailing, Sunfish, C&C 34