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Frequently Asked Questions

When does your Boston sailing season begin and end?

We begin our season on May 1st and our season ends on October 15th.

How long are your sailing certification courses?

Our ASA 101 - Basic Keelboat and ASA 103 - Basic Cruising courses are 3 days long and run from 9 AM to 5 PM. They are held Monday through Wednesday and Friday through Sunday.


Our ASA 104 - Bareboat Cruising course is a four day “live-aboard” course, where students spend 4 days and 3 nights aboard our cruising sailboat.

Why are most of your courses an extra day longer than other sailing schools?

While we teach the same ASA certification courses and administer the same exam, First Reef Sailing courses cover a lot more topics and skills and go further into detail than the basic requirements set forth by the ASA. In addition, learning to sail is all about gaining experience at the helm. By having all of our courses held over a minimum of 3 days, students are able to spend much more time on the water and gain that valuable experience.

What does a typical day in one of your sailing courses look like?

Each course begins in our classroom with a formal lecture and whiteboard discussion. We typically break for lunch around 11:30 or 12:00. We are on the water by 1:00 pm and spend the rest of the day sailing and practicing practical skills. This means a minimum of 12 uninterrupted sailing hours per course! 

When should I arrive at a sailing course?

We ask students to arrive 10 minutes prior to the start of each course to allow time for parking, check-in and getting settled before we begin the sailing lesson.

Where do I park? Do I need to pay to park?

Parking is free! You will be parking in the main lot of Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina. You will need a guest parking pass, so stop by the First Reef Sailing office prior to parking and we will provide you with one.

What should I bring to a sailing course?

For the classroom sessions please bring a notebook and pens/pencils if you are a notetaker. Some students choose to take notes directly into their textbooks.


We will take a 45 minute break for lunch. Feel free to bring lunch and eat at our classroom or at the picnic tables in the marina. There are also several restaurant/take out options within a few blocks.


On the water, we recommend bringing a small bag with an extra layer or two, windproof top, sunscreen, water, etc. All of our boats have dry storage areas to keep bags in.

What is your cancellation and refund policy?

Our policy is to provide full refunds up until 21 days (3 weeks) before the course starts. If you need to cancel within the 21 day period we can reschedule you on a stand by basis to another course date, so long as there is a spot available. You must re-book within the same year, as our stand by policy does not span multiple seasons.

What should I wear to a sailing course?

Please dress in comfortable clothing, keeping in mind that it is almost always 10 degrees cooler on the water. We recommend bringing an extra layer and a windproof top. No need to bring a towel, our boats are fairly dry aside from the odd splash or spray.


Sneakers or sailing shoes give the best grip, please avoid classic boat shoes (think Sperry brand) as they are actually quite slippery!


We sail rain or shine, if the forecast looks rainy please bring the appropriate wet weather gear. 

What happens in the case of inclement weather?

Typically we do not get delayed or canceled due to weather conditions. If we do have adverse weather where we cannot sail, we will spend the day completing our classroom lectures and have longer sailing sessions on the other days.  It is extremely rare for us to be affected by bad weather for more than a day.

Do I have to take an exam in order to get certified?

Yes, students must achieve an 80% or higher on a multiple choice exam on the final day of class. Don’t worry, every question will have been addressed during your course and students typically find the written exam very easy. We guarantee that everyone passes our course! If you are not able to pass on the first try we will work with you to create a study plan and re-test until you do at no extra cost!

Are your Instructors professional sailors or educators?

All of our instructors hold US Coast Guard captain’s licenses and have years of experience teaching sailing and boating.

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