Sail Fast!

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

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


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

Top 10 reason to go sailing from

Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 @ 03:56 PM

10. Peace and quiet.

9. Creating life long memories comes easily.

8. Sailing is FUN, FUN, FUN !

7. Experiencing life moment to moment.

6. It’s at least 10 degrees COOLER than land.

5. Full of rare natural beauty.

4. Gain greater confidence ~ sailing through life

3. Sailing takes you places

2. Makes you younger

and the number 1 Top reason to Just Go Sailing is

Escape to Adventure !

BVI escape

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

Sailing And Life

Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 07:23 AM


Sailing on a sailboat is very different from motoring around in a motorboat with its loud engine. With a sailboat, you must feel and rely on the wind to move you to your destination. You can't just point your bow and throttle up. As the wind pushes the boat, you feel her surge with every gust. She heels over and then stiffens up as she cuts through the waves with ease and grace. Instead of bouncing over the waves, you feel the swell beneath your feet and time is not counted in minutes, but instead by the rise and fall of each passing crest. The sounds of the wind whipping through the canvas, the water lapping against the hull, and of winches and halyards raising the sails fill the air.

The silence of a downwind run ...BVI cruising

Working with Mother Nature and simply trying to overpower her is an amazing feeling. While sailing, you become more than just a simple human. You become part of the world around you, dependent on your boat, your knowledge, and the natural forces of our planet. You remember that we are all connected and, although it is possible to move at a faster pace - rarely is it as beautiful or as gratifying. The most important part of sailing is the journey itself ... not the destination. Wherever that may be - don't worry ... you'll get there.

Life is like that too.

By Fortadam

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, sailing, boating, Potomac River, Sailboat racing

The Age Of Sail - Why Learn to Sail?

Posted by George Stevens on Sat, Apr 21, 2012 @ 08:40 AM

Sailing. The timeless art of moving a vessel across the water using nothing but the power of the wind. This ancient form of transportation remained the dominate mode of travel for thousands of years. Sail powered vessels plowed the waters of the first trade routes in theMediterranean. Thousands of years later, the great sailing warships of the English Armada dominated the western world. Sailing vessels carried and created the colonies in theAmericas, forever changing this history of the world. Since the dawAt anchor in the BVI'sn of civilization, sails have dominated the horizon of the endless sea.

The sailboats of our ancestors changed the world on more than one occasion. A sailboat represents man's desire to explore, quest for the unknown, and challenge oneself. Humankind's affiliation withMotherOceanand the wind is responsible for more conflict, adventure, loss, and discovery than any other single aspect of human nature.

So even though it is an "obsolete" form of travel, many people today are still driven to cast off the bowlines and raise sail to the wind. Sailing never actually went away ... it just evolved. Even though sailboats became an obsolete way to travel and transport, people just couldn't abandon the ancient call of the ocean and the lure of the sail anymore then they could ignore their desire to eat and sleep. Recreational sailboats quickly became a common past time all over the world. The small sailboat became a symbol of elegance and freedom.

Go to any body of water on a sunny, breezy day and you'll undoubtedly see a small regatta of sailboats silently ghosting along gently pushed as if by magic. Their movements hypnotize the imagination and whisper tales of adventure from the high seas. This is the call that millions of people have heard throughout the ages. It is the call of the ocean. And she still calls as strong as ever.

And it is not hard to understand why. When you first set foot upon a sailboat, you feel a connection with the sailors who first laid eyes upon the New World, the ancient humans hauling fish in the Mediterranean, the trade ships following the seasonal trade routes across the Atlantic and the mighty warships that helped to build nations and explore the entire world. But you will also feel a connection with something much more immediate ... the world around you.

Author (Fortadam)

Tags: Learn to Sail, sailing, Mariner Sailing School, regattas

Sun Protection when sailing on the Potomac River

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 @ 08:44 PM
Follow these tips to protect yourself from the sun when on the water.
By Ron Eldridge

Between the sun’s direct rays and reflections from the water and deck, boating is hard on your skin. Your sun protection strategy should also include the proper sunscreen, sunglasses and clothing.

Slather It On
Many sunscreens block only burning ultraviolet-B rays. Make sure yours also protects against the UVA radiation that causes deeper skin damage. Look for products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher that are marked “broadspectrum protection” or “multispectrum protection.” The Skin Cancer Foundation ( recommends applying two tablespoons of sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapplying every two hours or after swimming. Make sure you take extra care applying in the spots most prone to skin cancer — for men, the ears and torso; for women, the arms and upper thighs.

Shades of Protection
The area around the eyelids is one of the most common places for nonmelanoma skin cancers. Shield eyes with polarized sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection. Wraparound models with dark lenses are best.

Dress for Success
Dermatologists recommend doubling your protection by wearing broadbrimmed hats, shirts, shorts and swimsuits made from UV-resistant technical fabrics. Fingerless gloves, such as Patagonia Sun Gloves ($25, provide protection and sensitivity while fishing. They’re light, cool and comfortable — perfect for a day of fun in the sun.

Click here for our Semi-Annual Newsletter

Tags: sailing, Sunscreens, boating, Potomac River

What you need to know about sailing near the Wilson Bridge

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Mar 07, 2012 @ 04:12 PM

map3 resized 600Once you get below the Wilson Bridge, the river broadens nicely. On your port side is Smoot's cove, the location for National Harbor. Many boaters are tempted to aim directly at National Harbor from the bridge. They soon find a discontinued spoil area where they will find themselves firmly aground. To navigate into National Harbor, one must go past buoy 90 and then pick up the channel markers provided by National Harbor.

On your starboard side as you are heading down river, there is once again a large tidal mud flat located in front of Hunting Towers and Porto Vecchio. More than one boater has been fooled by the sight of docks in front of Porto Vecchio and thought there to be deep water. Unless you are in a canoe or kayak you cannot get close to the docks.  Porto Vecchio

Slightly further downriver on your starboard side is Belle Haven Marina. The best way to approach the Marina is to go to buoy 87 and then steer a compass heading of 320 into the Marina. Follow this heading until you past two private markers on your starboard side.

Tags: sailing, Porto Vecchio, NAtinal Harbor


Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 @ 06:57 AM

New to sailing? Let us help you master the basics with these handy sailing tipsand instructions for beginners. Both novice and experienced sailors alike can benefit from a quick review of these beginner sailing basics!

First lesson, rigging

  • Choose calm, uncrowded waters If you’re just starting to master sailing basics and learn how to sail, then one of the most important beginner sailing tips to remember is to practice in ideal conditions of light winds and low traffic. 
  • Choose a small boat to learn how to sail It’s easier to learn how to sail with fewer lines and sails. A small dinghy will be more responsive and easier to maneuver, and is also perfect for practicing test capsizes in (see tip #7 below). 
  • Follow sailing basics for safety There are certain sailing basics for safe boating that should go without saying, no matter what your level of expertise. These include always telling someone before you go out on the water, always bringing a floatation device and knowing in advance how to swim.
  • Research tide, wind and weather conditions. Check the weather forecast so you can be prepared for whatever the weather might bring. Be sure to bring along adequate provisions, clothing and basic weather gear as needed. Boating and sailing basics means always being prepared. 
  • Become familiar with sail control The best sailors are the ones who are able to adjust sail settings to take the best advantage of different wind and water conditions. In general, sails should be relatively flat when the wind is either very light or very strong, and full when there is a moderate wind. 
  • Respect the boom Some of the most common sailing injuries are a result of not being aware when the boom is about to swing. To avoid a bump to the head, or even worse, being knocked overboard, one of the most important beginner sailing tips to always remember for both passengers and crew is to be conscious and respectful of the boom at all times. 
  • Learn basic sailing terms. Before you venture out on your first trip, be sure to acquaint yourself with basics. Make sure you know the difference between port, starboard, and other important concepts. 
  • Practice makes perfect. Don’t try to teach yourself all the sailing basics. Invest in a good sailing course, research guides and books, and learn from friends with experience.
  • Register for a free 2 hour sail


Tags: sailing, Safety, tide, weather