join us at our annual open house

Join us on Friday May 26th from 4-8pm. Try a ride on a keelboat, or a fast racing scow at the Upper Minnetonka Yacht Club on Lake Minnetonka. Email to reserve your ride.

it’s never too late to learn

You’re just four sessions away from your American Sailing Association Certification

ASA 101

Start from the beginning, with no experience necessary

ASA 103 & 104

Take the next step, and perfect your skills for liveaboard cruising

ASA -106

Ready for the big leagues? Learn everything needed for off-shore, long-range crusing on a long-haul, 60 mile voyage across Lake Superior

Additional courses

All 100 level ASA courses are available, as well as ASA-200 courses, Instructor Qualification.

Looking to get started with no experience?

SIgn up for ASA-101 for an introductory, no-experience-necessary class.

Captain Joan Gilmore named 2020 oustanding instructor by asa

We set the standard in Adult Sailing Instruction

Adult Courses, from Beginner to Professional

Sail Away Sailing School, LLC takes pride in excellent customer service, conducting classes, cruises and coaching in Minnesota, the Great Lakes, and Caribbean. Lead instructor is Captain Joan GiImore, who holds a master’s degree in adult learning styles. She has conducted research and presents seminars on how adults learn. She has been an Instructor Evaluator for ASA since 2000, training Small Boat through Advanced Coastal Cruising instructors in the U.S., Japan and Caribbean. The former ASA Education Coordinator now serves on three non-profit sailing boards and writes articles for Sailing and other national magazines.

USCG Licensed Captains

Minimum 10 years’ experience for each insructor


Experiences range from Minnesota, Florida Coast, Great Lakes, and Caribbean.


All our Instructors own a sailboat themselves. Sailing is not a part time job for us. It is our way of life


In addition to all Instructors being experts in Adult Learning techniques, Captain Joan has her Masters Degree in Adult Learning


Certified, with the experience to back it up.

joan gilmore

USCG 100 Ton Captain


ASA Certified Instructor


USCG Certified Captain



ASA Certified Instructor



Unsolicited feedback from our students

The 103/104 courses were challenging and educative. We really appreciated how you personalized the learning to make it relevant to each of your students, and adeptly administered to each of our personalities in an inclusive manner. Your sailing history and personal accounts complimented the course content and made it memorable and pertinent. Thank you for sharing your history, knowledge, and skill with us. We will confidently recommend your instruction to others.

Kathleen B.

ASA 103 & 104

Thank you again for wonderful classes! I enjoyed them and learned so much. You are a gifted teacher!

Todd Thicksten

ASA 101

Patricia, Max and I are having a wonderful time learning to sail and we cannot thank you enough for your calm demeanor, thoughtfulness and expert instruction. We never realized how much fun sailing could be – we’re anxious to take the Basic Cruising ASA-103 course and very happy you’ll be our instructor. See you this Saturday. I hope we have some good wind behind our sails.

Don Romanaggi Jr.

ASA 101

I want to thank you for such an incredible experience this past weekend. I have thoroughly enjoyed starting the journey of learning how to sail. You are a phenomenal teacher and the amount of patience you have is quite remarkable.


ASA 101

Thanks so much for leading us in the intensive Small Boat Instructor Training course this summer. It was indeed intense, and in a good way. It was much more than I expected, with a thorough review and expansion of sailing skills communicated in a personal style that is firm and challenging while at the same time builds confidence with warm and friendly encouragement. The amount of experience you have with students of all ages was plainly evident as you reviewed with us the approaches for teaching the range of students we will encounter, from grade school kids to seniors. But most of all, I appreciate how you embody the joy of sailing. Even with the exhausting schedule, each day I began and ended the day with more eagerness to get back out on the water and try more of what we were learning. Even now as the winter weather comes in, I can’t wait for the spring and the opportunity to get out again and to pass on what I have learned, both the skills and the enthusiasm, to new sailors.

Lang Craighill

ASA 201 Instructor Clinic

Our Latest Posts

Safety Details for Safe Trailering

Safety Details for Safe Trailering By Capt. Joan Gilmore   How many times have you seen a broken down boat trailer by the side of the road? Maybe you have experienced a trailer breakdown yourself. Often the problem is not a flat tire but a too-hot wheel bearing....

Teaching Couples to Sail

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Of Windlasses and Kingpins

Of Windlasses and Kingpins - Teaching Couples to Sail by Captain Joan Gilmore   Quite often, I get calls asking if I teach all women's courses. The reason women ask for this, usually, is because they are tired of trying to learn sailing from their husbands, or...

Wet Lab

Sailing as Perfect “Wet Lab” By Captain Joan Gilmore of Sail Away Sailing School, LLC Contact: or 612-871-8101   I believe that sailing is a perfect “wet lab” environment for team building and for self-discovery. It is particularly perfect for...

ASA Featured Instructor: Joan Gilmore

Smooth Sailing

Article Lake Minnetonka magazine July 2018 Smooth Sailing (1)

Blind Ambition: My Adventure Teaching a Sight-Challenged Student

Reprinted from Bearings, American Sailing Association’s Instructor Newsletter,  Spring 2014     Blind Ambition: My Adventure Teaching a Sight-Challenged Student   by Captain Joan Gilmore  of Sail Away Sailing School, LLC Minneapolis, MN   I have rarely had a...

Why Can’t I Rely on GPS Alone on Extended Cruising Trips?

Why Can’t I Rely on GPS Alone on Extended Cruising Trips? Alternate title –  GPS; Siren Song to Unprepared Navigators By Capt. Joan Gilmore   Have you heard the story of the Swedish couple cruising the Mediterranean, who mistakenly typed “Capra” into their GPS,...

Choosing Good Crew

Choosing Good Crew By Captain Joan Gilmore   The time-honored “Request permission to board” is asked for a very good reason. Remember that you are the casting director for creating your own utopia. Be careful whom you bring onboard with you. You will be “locked...

Being on Best Boat Behavior – for Crew and Skippers

Being on Best Boat Behavior  - for Crew and Skippers by Capt. Joan Gilmore   Crew Responsibilities   As a crewmember your main job is to listen. When you are a guest on someone’s sailboat, no matter what your sailing skill level, there are three main things...