There are lots of boating schools in Miami due to the wonderful weather and perfect waters, but with so many companies to sift through, it can be hard to know where to start!
Don’t worry; we have everything you need to find the perfect school for you. We will help you figure out the most important aspects for you, give you the knowledge to know what to ask, and even show you our top 5 boating schools!
Know What You’re Looking For
Are you hoping to learn about speed boats or pontoons? Yachts or sailing? Knowing the type of lesson you are aiming for is the number one thing you should be thinking about before you book a class.
Each school will have a limited knowledge set, so be sure that the one you are using can teach you about the boat you’re after.
Anyone who wants to sail in Miami and is born after January 1st 1988, has to successfully complete a “National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)” course. If this is why you want to learn, be sure to find a school that offers this course explicitly.
Some might expect you to have this one-time achievement already, and others may (illegally) allow you to learn without it. To make sure you don’t get caught out by the NASBLA, make sure to prepare for this course!
Pick The Right Season
The best time of year to pursue boating is from April to May because there will be less rain and fewer storms while still being in sunny weather. Smooth waves will help you learn the ropes, and the sunshine will keep you warm.
The super sunny days of Summer should really be avoided, so you don’t have to worry about tourists and other learners. Plus the beaches won’t be as crowded. Specifically, try to stay away from June, July and August trips as Miami beaches will be packed with vacationers.
Ideally, you should avoid September, October, and November months, as although you can expect warm temperatures, the chances of hurricanes dramatically increase. A hurricane is the worst terrain to learn boating in, so don’t chance it!
From December to March, the weather is a little chilly. Although you can learn through these months, falling into the water can be horribly cold.
Ask For Safety Certificates
As we said before, every sailor must have a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators certificate to sail on Florida shores. This is the first thing you should ask for when hiring a teacher.
Without it, you cannot trust that the teacher can safely navigate the shores of Miami, nor can they understand the fish and wildlife conservation efforts. If you want to know more about the safety certificates, click here.
Check Their Reviews
As with any purchase or experience, you need to check the reviews before settling on a school.
Anyone with a boat can tell you they are a boating school, but that doesn’t mean they are any good. They could double book you, give you terrible lessons, or suggest you keep coming back to drain money from you.
Depending on the type of boat you want to sail and the hidden skills you possess, it can take anywhere from a week to a season to learn to become a captain! So keep this in mind when you are weighing up schools.
Ideally, you shouldn’t go with anyone with less than 4 out of 5 star ratings. It could be that their business is just starting out or that they hit a wall with a bad employee, but don’t chance your success in low rating schools. Give yourself the best start on your sailing journey.
Our Top 5
Aquarius is a growing business that has really taken off on the Miami shores. One of their main goals while teaching you how to boat is to make sure Bay Safety and Wildlife Safety has been installed into their students.
They include the mandatory NASBLA as part of the course, so you don’t need to worry about that, and they recognize that every person has their own learning speed. Because of this, they are more likely to tell you your realistic end date once you’ve had a day of training.
Each lesson will be personalized to you, and you can apply for the lesson online! Each class has the option of a 2 to 8 hour time slot. Their most recommended is a 4 hour time slot, but these get booked quickly.
However, although Aquarius is a wonderful company, their teaching element is an add-on for their touring experience. This means that you have to make the company aware that you’re opting for lessons instead of just a ride. It’s a little fiddly, but the experience, in the end, will be worth it!
Castle Harbor has been on the Miami scene since 1956. Every instructor on their team has an ASA Certification, so you know you will be in safe hands.
You can learn anything from classic sailing to powerboat training in the school. In the classic sailing classes, you will learn the basics, along with cruising through the waters and bareboat chartering. With knowledge like this, you can take all you have learned to every part of the American shores.
In the powerboat school, you’ll have an education system surrounding navigating the seas and learning how to maintain your boat. You’ll also learn how to use electronic navigation from advanced machinery.
Castle Harbor’s motto is “Lessons are cheaper than problems.” In this philosophical phrase, the school reminds you that fixing a broken engine, getting stranded in the sea, or capsizing are problems much more expensive than simply taking lessons. We completely agree.
They offer lessons for Novices, Intermediates, and Advanced sailors, so anyone can learn to navigate the waters or take their skills to the next level.
Blue Water is just a splash away from Miami, as the school is in Fort Lauderdale. However, the little trip over is worth the journey! Known as the “Venice of America,” the river and canal system that flows through the land, many sailors park their boats right outside their houses!
If there is a specific boat that you want to learn about or a particular skill, the Blue Water might be the best choice for you. They have dedicated classes for ships like the Monohull and the Catamaran. You can even ask for courses in Coastal Navigation!
Each class will leave you with an ASA certification, but some require you to already have some level of knowledge beforehand. For example, the advanced Coastal Skipper classes need certificates in ASA 101, 103, and 104 before you can sign up.
The Blue Water Sailing School is the most serious school on our list, and they take their craft with the utmost responsibility to the sailors and the water. If you want a school that gives highly rated certifications, choose this school.
SoFlo Yacht Club is another sailing school that has been around for years. They set themselves up as a serious school to teach you how to charter to the Caribbean or to feel confident captaining a sailing weekend with your friends.
In the school, you’ll learn about navigation, theory, basic cruising, and coast cruising along with ASA 104 courses like Intermediate coastal cruising. The classes are expensive and can last from one day to a week, but you will finish the training with everything you need to sail through the seas.
After you’ve learned the skills required, you can even hire one of their 5 star boats for personal voyages. This means you can learn and sail without having to buy your own boat. Hiring is also an expensive treat, but you will be alongside your new sailing mentors!
Many Miami locals say that Biscayne Bay is the perfect place to learn to sail. The waters are calm, the area is wide, and the landscape is beautiful. This is why the famous Biscayne Bay Sailing Academy had settled here!
In their classes, you can learn how to cruise in a Catamaran boat, take on a yacht or have a private session with the ship of your choosing.
All of the classes are ASA-based, with education sessions in areas like ASA 101 Basic Keelboat all the way to ASA 114 Cruising Catamaran. You can also learn the ASA 105 Coastal Navigation system separately or during the same lesson.
Biscayne Bay Sailing is such a great place to learn that they even offer Corporate Team Building sessions and Couple sessions too. Their leader, Tony Wall, has even been awarded the “Instructor of the Year” award!
The school’s main aim is to teach you more than what is on the courses, so you get a whole and enriching experience and not just something that allows you to sail the waters. They want to build your self-confidence and enable you to learn with self-sufficiency in mind.