On-Water Boating Skills Courses

Whether you’re an experienced boater or not, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your skills.

Many boating safety courses are offered throughout the country, for all types of recreational boats and for boaters of all ages. Qualified instructors in national associations, local schools, clubs and community centers provide a full range of programs, from beginner-level introductory courses to comprehensive boating-skills programs.

The On-Water Boating Skills Courses listed below are boat-based and delivered primarily on the water for beginner-level boaters. Aligning with the National On-Water Standards (NOWS), these courses follow national best practices for providing on-water instruction to develop the skills and experience needed to safely operate recreational boats. In-Classroom or Online Boating Safety Courses are also available. Also listed below, these courses provide basic knowledge related to boating safety. Choose boating safety courses from the lists based on your needs.

On-Water Boating Skills Courses

The following courses have been self-assessed and declared by their providers to be aligned with the NOWS. They provide fundamental skills and experience to safely and confidently operate recreational powerboats, human-propelled craft (such as canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards), and sailboats. Click each listing for a specific link to the course offering.

On-water courses provide boaters with fundamental skills. Photo: NOWS

Abaco Sailing: ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing

Learn to skipper a 20′ – 27′ sloop-rigged keelboat by day, in light to moderate winds and sea conditions. Learn basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards.

American Canoe Association Introduction to Kayaking (level one)

This course teaches you the fundamental kayaking skills needed to have fun and stay safe on the water.

American Canoe Association Introduction to Canoeing (level one)

This course teaches you the fundamental canoeing skills needed to have fun and stay safe on the water.

American Canoe Association Introduction to SUP (level one)

This course teaches you the fundamental SUP skills needed to have fun and stay safe on the water.

American Sailing Association: ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing

Learn to skipper a 20′ – 27′ sloop-rigged keelboat by day, in light to moderate winds and sea conditions. Learn basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards.

American Sailing Association: ASA-110 Basic Small Boat Sailing

Learn to sail a centerboard or multihull sailboat in light to moderate winds and sea conditions. Learn basic sailing terminology, sail trim, points of sail, crew responsibilities, seamanship and safety including capsize avoidance/recovery and navigation rules to avoid collisions.

Boat Control On-Water Training Course (NSBC)

Whether you are new to powerboating or would like to increase your confidence in docking and maneuvering in close quarters, this course is for you. Boat Control On-Water Training Course Modules are designed to teach boat handling skills to recreational boaters or personnel hired to operate a vessel used in marine patrol.

The Brendan Sailing Program for Youth with Learning Differences

The Brendan Sailing program’s mission is to build pathways for self-confidence and personal growth in children with learning differences ages 14-18 through individually tailored experiential instruction in sailing. The Curriculum covers an introduction to sailing including parts of the boat, maneuvers, navigation, and Rules of the Road that follow the National On-Water Standards.

The Downtown Sailing Center Basic Keelboat

Learn to Sail and earn your Basic Keelboat Certification with our pro staff aboard J/22 or Sonar sailboats. 

The Downtown Sailing Center Accelerated Safe Powerboat Handling

Develop safe powerboating skills over two days of hands on, engaging on the water skill development with an appropriate balance of land-based instruction. 

Essentials of Close-Quarters & Open Water Boat Control Instructor Certification Course (NSBC)

The National Safe Boating Council Instructor Certification course is a train-the-trainer model. Instructor candidates will train with a NSBC Certified Instructor Trainer in a ratio of one (1) Instructor Trainer to four (4) Instructor Candidates. Over a 3-day training period, the candidates will learn the NSBC curriculum; the training program progresses from close quarter maneuvers at idle speed, to maneuvers in displacement mode, and advanced open water maneuvers on the final day.

Gulf Coast Sailing & Cruising School: ASA 101 Basic Keelboat

Learn to skipper a 20′ – 27′ sloop-rigged keelboat by day, in light to moderate winds and sea conditions. Learn basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards.

Naples School of Boating On-Water Powerboat Training Course 

Naples School of Boating provides on-water powerboat training to help beginners gain the skills and confidence needed to become safe, successful recreational boaters.

R&R Charters and Sail School: ASA 101 Basic Keelboat

Our ASA 101 Basic Keelboat provides students with all the necessary skills and safety instructions for them to sail a small keelboat (24′-32′) in moderate conditions on the Chesapeake Bay.

Sail Hawaii International: ASA Basic Keelboat 101 Course

Offering basic to advanced sailing and navigation instruction in Hawaii. Based in Honolulu with sailing adventures charted all around the islands, courses are taught both in classroom and with on-water instruction, leading to American Sailing Association certification.

Saint Croix Sailing School: Youth Optimist and 420 Sailing Programs

The youth sailing programs teach kids, aged 7-17, the skills to safely operate a Club 420 or Optimist dingy. Students learn about on the water safety, tacking, gybing, sail trim, and boat handling in a one week session.

Saint Croix Sailing School: Adult Club 420 Sailing Program

The adult Club 420 sailing program teaches adult sailors the basic skills involved in safely operating a Club 420 sailboat. Skills include taking off/landing, tacking, gybing, mark rounding, and safety mangroves.

Skipper Club™

The National Safe Boating Council’s Skipper Club™ is for ages 13-19 interested in learning on-water powerboating skills and maneuvers. In partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Skipper Club is focused on teaching teens valuable safe boating lessons and preparing the next generation of safe boaters.

Spirit of America Foundation: America’s Premier Youth Boating Education Programs

A youth-based, safe and comprehensive on-water educational and recreational program providing powerboating, sailing and paddling craft instruction instilling confidence and fostering the spirit of teamwork. Underlying goals include developing self-esteem while nurturing responsible behavior and positive, lifelong ambitions. 

Sunglow Sailing Charters Basic Sailboat Certification

Beginner center board or keelboat course, covers safety, basic sailing skills and rules of the road. 

United States Power Squadron Hands-on Training: Basic Powerboat

Elevate your skills. Learn basic and advanced techniques for powerboat operation that will last a lifetime.   This course has been awarded the Verified status by NASBLA.

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