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~ A Cut Above ~


Why Maryland School?

I'm often asked this question by prospective students: Why should I choose the Maryland School over other sailing schools? What do you offer that they do not?

When initially founding the Maryland School of Sailing in 1991, we stated that our purpose as a school was to help people become competent sailors of cruising yachts with the skills to cruise in remote areas away from the immediate support and distractions of modern society. This meant that we'd need to:

  • Offer a full range of courses from basic through ocean sailing.

  • Teach on rugged cruising yachts.

  • Use highly skilled, USCG Licensed Captains as instructors.

  • Set up the basic level courses to provide necessary building blocks and pathways to the advanced courses and extended cruising.

  • Offer courses in a variety of cruising locations.

  • Develop comprehensive lesson plans and text books meeting our requirements and goals..

  • Offer ASA certification for each skill level.

It also defined what we are not:

  • Not yacht brokers.

  • Not a charter company.

  • Not a yacht club.

  • Not day sailors.

  • Not racers.

As a result, our ASA101 Basic Keelboat Sailing course is taught over a four day period, while many schools teach this level in two days. We believe that it is not possible to properly teach all of the ASA standards and skills for this level and provide the necessary building blocks for advanced levels in less than four days, and students taking abbreviated classes will lack basic skills when attending higher level courses or sailing in the real world on their own.

Also, we teach this basic level on rugged Island Packet 32 foot cruising yachts representing the type of boats needed for extended live-aboard cruising. Many schools teach on smaller or lighter boats intended for racing or inland sailing in protected waters, and their students lack the necessary hands-on skills and experience needed as they progress to advanced levels. 

Because of the type yachts we use, students coming for basic level classes are invited to sleep overnight aboard the training yachts during the class sessions thus avoiding hotel and additional travel costs and learning something more of the live-aboard experience. 

Our instructors are hand-picked professionals with many years of extended cruising experience, and they bring a wealth of knowledge and sound advice to our students. They are all USCG licensed with ASA instructor certifications for the advanced cruising levels that they teach.

We also do not short cut the quality or duration of our courses just to grant multiple certifications to students. For example, when properly taught, the ASA105 Coastal Navigation course takes a full four days of classroom work including the examination, and the ASA106 Advanced Coastal Training Cruise takes a full eight days and 400 miles to complete. Some schools combine both of these into one onboard course of one week and maybe 100 miles, and the student gets both certifications but not the necessary level of training for advanced or independent sailing.

We've also developed a number of specialized instructional text books to augment the ASA course manuals, since we teach many topics well above the ASA standards in order to support our advanced program. Two of our text books have been recognized by ASA as superior to anything else around, and they have adopted them as ASA standard texts. These are Coastal Navigation & Piloting used for the ASA105 course level and Docking Techniques used for the ASA118  Docking Endorsement. 

Our Offshore Training Cruises Preparation Guide has been developed and evolved over a twenty year period based on our extensive experience in conducting, to date, more than 280 advanced training cruises of 400 to 1500 miles each. 

Our courses are offered in the following locations to broaden the experience and opportunities for our students:

  • Chesapeake Bay


  • Offshore Atlantic Ocean to Bermuda and return.

Well, there are some of the reasons to choose the Maryland School of Sailing, and we have been recognized by many as a top notch school which is a cut above the others in terms of the thoroughness of our program. A look at feedback from our graduates says a lot about the subject.

I hope this at least partly answers the questions. If not, please give us a call to inquire further.

Happy Sailing!
Captain Tom Tursi


While the tired waves vainly breaking
Seem here no painful inch to gain
Far back through creek and inlets making
Come silent flooding in the main

...Arthur Hugh Clough


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