Online Sailing Courses for Any Skill Level: An interview with NauticEd

Post by - Published on 09/23/21 19:04 PM

Sailing instructor and head of education

A leader in US and International sailing education, NauticEd launched in 2008 with a mission to create safer, more competent sailors. Their online courses simulate real-life experiences so students can fully understand the theory of sailing before heading out for practical on-the-water training with one of their accredited sailing schools.  

The only sailing education body recognized by the US Coast Guard and NASBLA as meeting the American National Standards, NauticEd offers Sailing Curriculum and Courses, Sailing Vacations/Charter Company, Accredited Sailing Schools, Goal-Focused Learning Management Systems, and more.

Dockwa: How important is it to keep training beyond basic sailing courses?

NauticEd: Continued education is needed because the breadth of sailing knowledge and theory is so expansive. While learning the fundamentals is easy, each topic goes into progressively greater depth and detail: knots, sail control, boat handling, docking techniques, weather, tides and currents, navigation, electrical and engines, and more.

For example, if you’re skippering a large keelboat on near coastal waters then you are responsible for being the helmsman, navigator, sail trimmer, engineer, weatherman, cook, plumber, electrician, and radio operator. That skipper role requires a LOT of knowledge, theory, and experience to be responsibly competent, and most importantly ensure the safety and fun of your crew and guests

Simply, it takes time to distill and apply that much knowledge - and continued education allows a sailor to pace their knowledge-theory development while applying that education in sailing experiences. 

It’s also important to note what experienced sailors intimately understand: little things matter! Each knot has a purpose, slight adjustments to a sail or sailing angles to the wind can dramatically improve performance, or seemingly minor wind and current changes can significantly affect your course over long distances. Continued education progressively focuses on the “little things”, the details, as a sailor continues to increase their knowledge and skills." 


Dockwa: NauticEd blends online classes with on-water practicums, can you tell us how that works?

NauticEd: NauticEd takes this blended online / on-water approach because it’s proven highly effective in modern education and utilizes many advancements over outdated traditional ‘sailing association’ book + classroom lecture techniques. 

  • E-learning typically requires 40-60% less time* than learning in traditional methods. Or another way of looking at this is that a student can learn nearly 5 times the amount of material without increasing training time! 

  • E-learning increases retention rates by 25-60%* compared to traditional approaches.

  • Environmentally friendly*: as sailors, we have an intimate relationship with the environment! E-learning consumes on average 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer carbon emissions than traditional sailing education methods. 

(*Sources: e-learning studies from IBM, Brandon-Hall, Research Institute of American, and Britain's Open University.) 

Here's how it works: Sailors sign-up for a practical training with one of our affiliated schools or instructors and you can begin the online knowledge-theory coursework immediately. The knowledge testing is online and before the practical, and so you begin your practical training fully prepared with the preliminary coursework needed to make the most of your time on-water with an instructor. 

Experienced and USCG licensed instructors are expensive (for good reason), and so you want to maximize your time with them learning and practicing on-water skills (not classroom or proctoring written tests)! And so, the more you effectively learn beforehand with e-learning, including testing, means that you’ll spend more time on-water where it likely counts most – quality hands-on training and experience. 

Dockwa: What are some of the courses people can take through NauticEd that they may not be expecting? 

NauticED: Maneuvering Under Power is a course that many may not expect in a sailing curriculum, and it is also one of our more popular courses. Sailboats can be notoriously challenging to handle under power due to their design (high freeboard, keel design, prop walk, etc.); especially when docking, low speed boat handling and windy situations. One of the solutions to make that easy is learning boat handling techniques, Maneuvering Under Power. 

Other examples include that we bundle additional courses into our curriculums, such as advancing Coastal Navigation or Electronic Navigation in our Bareboat Charter Master curriculum. Typically, those are separate courses, but NauticEd includes them as important to a near coastal sailor’s competency. 

NauticEd’s an international company, approved to teach RYA (Royal Yachting Association) Day Skipper knowledge course as well as exceeding American National Standards. For students that means we incorporate international standards into our instruction, further empowering students to range worldwide. 



Dockwa: You also offer certifications for those looking to turn their casual sailing into a professional career. Can you tell us about that program? 

NauticEd: NauticEd works closely and directly with sailors looking to become sailing instructors and/or charter captains, either privately or working with a sailing school. The interest has risen significantly in 2021, especially amongst experienced sailors aspiring to become private instructors and charter captains. 

Notably, NauticEd is very hands-on with instructors and schools. We’ve found that there’s no “one size fits all” approach to becoming an instructor or captain. Some instructors teach or captain privately on their boat or on a bareboat charter. Others work closely with schools, teaching courses as part of a school curriculum. And many do both – many instructors work for schools while training privately! 

NauticEd’s program includes:

  • Instructors receive free online courses so that they can fully immerse themselves into the theory-knowledge materials. 

  • A Transformational Instructor Course written by a top-gun pilot and ex-Navy Seal. It is a powerful course that focuses on team and student leadership, working with students through stressful situations, and in general how to best adapt to students across many situations. 

  • Additional and direct support on working with our Rubrics and standards for on-the-water instruction, as well as support on learning NauticEd systems and methodologies.

  • ● Boat purchase options that include heavily discounted sailboats from leading manufacturers, which also include many tax advantages for including a new vessel as part of a training or charter program. 

  • If looking to work with a school, then NauticEd will connect aspiring instructors with regional or destination schools across the country. 

  • Additional marketing guidance and support for an instructor’s program, which includes (depending on the program) including programs or trips on NauticEd’s opportunities page. 

Once an instructor, NauticEd provides a profile page that markets the instructor and their credentials, and it includes social proofing of their services - this gives students the confidence and information they need to select an instructor or school that best fits their sailing educational goals based on past student experience. 

Dockwa: Finally, I’d love to hear more about your sailing vacations and adventures? 

NauticEd: We are a fully licensed charter broker who works with a worldwide network of charter companies and sailing schools. Currently NauticEd accesses over 5,000 boats in over 55 countries. 

There is no fee for our service to arrange a chartered vessel or sailing vacation, and the advantage of using NauticEd is that we can search worldwide charter databases and distill a myriad of choices to help find you the best options for your vacation needs and budget. 

Our expertise includes having been to most of the sailing destinations ourselves! NauticEd’s depth of ‘local knowledge’ often makes the difference between a good and a GREAT vacation. 

When you book a vacation, our systems automatically add your sailing adventure to your free electronic logbook and sailing resume. If you need an international sailing license or to brush up on any ‘rusty’ skills, NauticEd courses and certifications are fully integrated into the education + vacation process. 


As mentioned above, NauticEd is offering two free courses to get started.  If you're interested in furthering your sailing skills or learning more about one of the vacations, you can learn more here.


About NauticEd
NauticEd features over 24 online sailing courses, certification for sailors at all levels, feature-rich proprietary learning management systems, and a global network of sailing school and charter affiliates. Since Grant Headifen founded NauticEd in 2008, it has provided over a quarter million sailing courses to students worldwide and currently supports over 80,000 boating enthusiasts with courses, experience building tools and charter vacations. NauticEd is the only sailing education program recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators as having met the rigorous American National Standards, and NauticEd’s SLC licensing is accepted by charter companies worldwide.  

Get out there today!

Dockwa's mission is to connect boaters and marinas. Sign up for Dockwa to make the most of being a boat owner. Explore new harbors and book slips and moorings within minutes - all with the tips of your fingers.

Sign Up