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

Peer-to-Peer Boat Rentals: What Do You Need To Know?

Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 03:50 PM


10 Tips From BoatUS for Owners and Renters

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 24, 2015 – Airbnb may a popular “peer-to-peer” lodging site on the web, but if you want to rent a boat in your local area or away, you’ve got options, too., and are just a few of the new crop of online websites offering a chance to rent a boat for the day or weekend. These services, which connect private boat owners to renters, can help owners recoup some expenses, and can also give non-owners a chance to get on the water with friends without the cost of full-time ownership. So what do you need to know? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some information for both boat owners and renters.

  1. Renters do not want boats that are not safe and or can barely get out of the marina, so these services are often better suited to newer vessels less than 10 years old. Older, larger or faster boats may require a survey or inspection. Rental costs vary widely based on boat size and location, and renters typically are required to have some boating experience as well as a deposit.
  2. These peer-to-peer boat rental websites generally handle every part of the transaction, including taking deposits and payments. They typically take 30%-40% of the rental fee, which covers overhead, profit, as well as insurance and on water towing services (more on both of those in a second…read on).
  3. For boat owners, most boat insurance policies don’t provide coverage during the rental period and some companies may not provide coverage at any time simply if you list your boat with a rental program. If you happen to own and insure your boat but desire to rent another, your insurance company (including BoatUS Marine Insurance) may offer a temporary endorsement for liability coverage while operating the rental boat – but damage to the rental boat still is not covered. That’s why these “peer-to-peer” boat rental companies often provide additional insurance coverage. However, it’s up to owners – and renters – to read the fine print. For owners, know what happens if your boat is damaged, the claims process, how depreciation may figure in, and, in the event of total loss, how the insurance will value your boat. For renters, ensure you are OK with the level of liability coverage being offered during the rental, know how much you would have to pay if you damage the boat, and whether injuries to both you and your passengers would be covered.
  4. TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist towing fleets provide on water towing and assistance service to some peer-to-peer rental services at no additional charge to the renter or owner. For the renter that means simply calling BoatUS’ 24-hour nationwide dispatch (800-391-4869) if there is a breakdown.
  5. Renters need to ask about any other costs or fees, including fuel or other charges like pump-outs. They should also clarify with the owner what happens if the boat breaks down and becomes unusable.
  6. Boat owners have the full right to say “no” to a renter, starting with an initial phone call. BoatUS member Bob Kellet, who has successfully rented his 30-foot sailboat, says owners are in full control of the process, from pricing to vetting renters. After speaking to a potential renter on the phone, if he’s comfortable, Kellet will meet at his boat for a full run-through. He may even take the renter out for a few minutes to show how everything works.
  7. Kellet also suggests having a detailed instruction guide for the boat’s equipment and a step-by-step guide for things like starting the engine. Be sure to include safety gear.
  8. Having a walk-through, pre-rental checklist is good for both parties, as is taking a few date-stamped photos showing the condition of the vessel.
  9. While there is a certain element of trust, owner and renter reviews tend to weed out bad apples quickly, so be sure to check the renter’s history or the owner’s reviews from past renters. “Reviews are the best indicator of whether there will be a positive rental experience,” says BoatUS Consumer Affairs Director Charles Fort, who adds, “These services may also help those looking to buy a certain boat to try it out, if you will, before they purchase.”
  10. One man’s experience: BoatUS Member Kellet said he was apprehensive the first few times he rented his sailboat to a stranger, but after a couple rentals he realized the renters cared about his boat, too, and they were there for the same reason: a love of the water and boating. A couple rentals a month easily pays his Seattle, Washington, area moorage fees. The only downside Kellet reports are scheduling conflicts when he’d like to use the boat himself.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, boating, boating, Potomac River, boating safety, Boat US, Mariner Sailing School, Safety

Eight reasons to Sail from US Sailing

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, May 12, 2014 @ 10:44 AM
    • Sailing is fun!  Sailing is Adventurous. 
    • Sailing is social.  It is the only sport that all ages, genders and physical capabilities can enjoy---all at the same time.
    • Sailing is a lifetime sport (‘If you are going to do this for the rest of your life, is it not best to learn to the highest certified standards, the first time?  ergo, USSA)
    • Sailing makes one’s life bigger and the world smaller.
    • Sailing continually expands one’s knowledge of the physical world in many natural ways (STEM)
    • Sailing is transformational.  It is often a demarcation point in many lives (before vs after becoming a sailor)
    • ‘Sailing is for you’.  achievable, affordable, available,
    • Sailing is a quiet escape from daily tensions/pressures


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Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, sailing, adult sailing lessons, US Sailing, sailing lessons for children, Sailing Instructors, teaching sailing

Smart Questions To Ask Sailing Schools ~by Lisa Batchelor Frailey of Sail Solomons

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 @ 09:45 PM


Without guidance about how to find a sailing school, many prospective students may start with the least effective method: a Google search. Decisions might then be made based on cost, location, timing, and length of the courses. Let us share other important factors to consider and more targeted methods for sifting through the multiple options of sailing schools on the Bay.

Credentials, Please
American Sailing Association (ASA) or U.S. Sailing schools offer internationally recognized certification programs, allowing you flexibility in sail training and chartering locations. Each organization promotes “Outstanding Schools and Instructors,” right on their websites. Ask yourself how “far” you’d like to go in your sailing. Would you eventually like to buy or charter a boat on your own? If so, choose a school that offers the full gamut of sailing certifications. Don’t select the sailing equivalent of a junior college if you’re after a master’s degree

Do the Boats Fit the Course?
Does the school have boats appropriate for the level of certification you’re trying to achieve? Many schools start initial training on small, tiller-steered keelboats, allowing you to get a feel for basic sailing skills and build confidence. For more advanced courses, progressively larger and more complex boats should be used. Will the school offer rentals or charters for practicing your newly learned skills on your own? Many schools do; some even have sailing clubs for cost-effective practice while meeting new sailing friends.

Customized for You
Many schools offer customized sailing courses, including courses for women, couples, or families. Tailored courses may also focus on specific skills like docking, racing, or even just being a good crewmember. Through most good schools, you may hire an instructor for private instruction on your own boat, if applicable.

Shoreside Resources
Dockside resources; availability of meals and lodging; size, type, and condition of boats; and safety and maintenance of boats. These items may be addressed by a personal visit to the school for a tour of the facility and boats and perhaps a demonstration sail.

The Peeps
Top schools post instructor biographies on their websites and gladly introduce you to the teaching staff when you tour the facility in person. Are the instructors ASA and/or U.S. Sailing certified instructors? Do they have U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s licenses? Are they friendly and good at listening as well as “experts?” Would you enjoy spending a weekend with these instructors?

Better Business
Sailing schools are businesses, and if you hope to develop a relationship with one, be sure you’re comfortable with their style. Were your inquiries responded to promptly and courteously? Did the school provide the information you needed to make a good course selection? What sort of flexibility will you have for re-scheduling, in the event of emergencies or foul weather?

Do Your Homework
Ask for former student references. Sailing is an exciting and inspiring sport, and
newcomers tend to have strong feelings about how they learned. If a school
hesitates to provide happy customers’ contact information, there may be a
reason for it. If a school does not have references for you, we recommend not
writing the check.

Tags: Learn to Sail, adult sailing lessons, US Sailing, Sailing Instructors

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

Learning to Sail on the Potomac River (Connection Newspaper)

Posted by George Stevens on Sun, Mar 30, 2014 @ 12:20 PM

During the winter, Amy Zang is a teacher. Chip Johnston flies around the world in search of the perfect wind and kite surfing. Come summer, however, they both return to the Potomac — Zang to direct the sailing program at Washington Sailing Marina; Johnston to return to his post as vice president of marine operations at Belle Haven Marina.

“It’s a great gig,” said Johnston, who grew up in nearby Hollin Hall. He figures that he’s been working at Belle Haven Marina since 1980. During the winter, he uses Florida (where his parents live) as home base to head out to exotic parts. His favorite is Kovala Beach, located in southern India. He also likes Brazil up until January.Mariner Sailing School dock

“It’s a good time,” he said. “It [Belle Haven] is a gorgeous place and there is a different group of kids every time, so there is plenty of challenge. It’s the flavor of life — it’s never the same.”

George Stevens, president of The Mariner Sailing School, said that the school was started in the late '70s and continues to be the only full-time sailing school on the Potomac River.

“Over the years, the school has grown from two boats and two instructors to approximately 60 vessels and over 50 instructors. The school has adapted to student demands over the years. In the beginning, we only offered a Learn to Sail course but our graduates wanted the next step. Our Learn to Cruise graduates are now sailing the BVI’s, Bahamas and Florida Keys with confidence. Fifteen years ago, we were one of the larger windsurfing facilities in the area, but demand has waned and we are no longer in windsurfing," Stevens said. “The Youth Courses have always been an important component to our success. Many of our current staff are graduates of the course and are now sharing their skills with new sailors.”Belle Haven Marina Youth program

OVER AT WASHINGTON Sailing Marina, students were also gathering for the day. Zang said that they have 10 weekly sessions. Unlike Belle Haven that has half-day sessions, all of their sessions are full day — from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. She said that they offer beginning, intermediate, advanced and windsurfing classes. There are 38 Sunfish for the beginners; nine Flying Scots for intermediate students; six Hobie Cats for advanced students and eight windsurfers.

At the Gangplank Marina, DC Sail also teaches adults and youths. DC Sail is the community sailing program of the National Maritime Heritage Foundation. 

DC Sail offers Washington, DC's first and only community sailing program.

DC Sail, volunteers, and the community are currently working towards our goals of:

  • Raising money and support for DC Sail's youth programming, bringing children from all corners of Washington, DC together to share in maritime education.
  • Increasing awareness of the value and potential of the Potomac & Anacostia Rivers, and
  • Building a model for a larger full-scale community sailing center.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, Learn to Sail, Alexandria Virginia, adult sailing lessons, sailing lessons for children, Washington DC sailing marina, dc area, youth sailing lessons, washington dc

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

Why US Sailing?

Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 @ 02:59 PM

The US Sailing Advantage-Accomplished sailors start here.

You dream of learning to sail and charting a course to an adventure of your own. We offer the superior instruction that will make that dream escape a reality.

US Sailing is the National Governing Body for the sport of sailing and accredits only the top schools in the country. We have been serving sailors since 1897, and our commitment to our more than 44,000 members is to provide a safe, fun and successful experience.

Our programs support recreational, cruising and racing sailors in the United States. We developed a certification system that makes learning to sail easy and fun. All of our certification level programming is designed to help you learn safely and with confidence. Our educational materials are created by dedicated volunteer experts who share their passion and knowledge of sailing and education.

The US Sailing Keelboat Certification System offers you:

  • US Sailing instructional materials to help you gain competency and confidence in your sailing skills.
  • US Sailing certification as proof of your achievement and your passport to chartering boats locally or worldwide.
  • US Sailing membership that makes you part of the National Governing Body for the sport of sailing and a community of thousands of fellow sailors.
  • US Sailing certified instructors for professional attention to your safety and learning.


Start Sailing


Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, Mariner Sailing School, Sailing Instructors

Belle Haven Marina Schedules Celebration of Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day, June 8th, 2013 (9am – 12 pm)

Posted by George Stevens on Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 11:58 AM

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Alexandria, VA.June 8th, 2013 (9am – 12 pm).


As part of a nationwide observance, Belle Haven Marina is celebrating Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day on June 8th, 2013 from 9am till noon.

“Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day is a celebration of boating,” said Belle Haven Marina’s President, George Stevens. “As families search for fun outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy we want to encourage them to give boating a try. Existing boaters are always ready to celebrate with a day on the water, but on this day we ask them to bring a non-boater out to share the experience. We hope you will visit Belle Haven Marina, learn about your boating, and enjoy the events we have planned.”


Belle Haven Marina’s Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day activities include:


ü      Free 30 minute canoe and kayak rentals

ü      Free 45 minute sailing lessons, 4 per boat with an instructor

ü      Free 30 minute standup paddle board rentals


Participants should register by June 5th by calling the marina (703) 768-0018


"Now, more then ever, Americans need outdoor, safe, family-friendly ways to spend their leisure time. Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day introduces boating as just such an activity and reminds our existing customers and our community that Belle Haven Marina is a local, environmentally-friendly, beautiful gateway to on-the-water fun."


Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day is produced by the Association of Marina Industries, and Discover Boating. For more information, visit


Belle Haven Marina / Mariner Sailing School


Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, Potomac River sailing, boating safety, Clean Marina, Mariner Sailing School


Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 @ 04:07 PM


10 Beginner Sailing Terms Everyone Should Know

We’ve also compiled this short list of 10 beginner sailing terms that everyone should know. If you’re just learning how to sail, these handy terms can provide a helpful overview of sailing basics you need to become familiar with.

1. Aft - The back of a ship. If something is located aft, it is at the back of the sailboat. The aft is also known as the stern. 

2. Bow - The front of the ship is called the bow. Knowing the location of the bow is important for defining two of the other most common sailing terms: port (left of the bow) and starboard (right of the bow). 

3. Port - Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing sailing terms when used out in the open waters, port is used to define the left-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front. 

4. Starboard - Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing sailing terms when used out in the open waters, starboard is used to define the right-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front. 

5. Leeward - Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing (windward). 

6. Windward - The direction in which the wind is currently blowing. Windward is the opposite of leeward (the opposite direction of the wind). Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making the windward direction an important sailing term to know. 

7. Boom - The boom is the horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. Adjusting the boom towards the direction of the wind is how the sailboat is able to harness wind power in order to move forward or backwards. 

8. Rudder - Located beneath the boat, the rudder is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used to steer the ship. Larger sailboats control the rudder via a wheel, while smaller sailboats will have a steering mechanism directly aft. 

9. Tacking - The opposite of jibing, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. 

10. Jibing - The opposite of tacking, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. Jibing is a less common technique than tacking, since it involves turning a boat directly into the wind.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, Learn to Sail, sailing, Mariner Sailing School, US Sailing, Sailing Instructors