Our Classes & Clinics

At Sail Away Sailing School, we believe it’s never to late to get on the water and enjoy the amazing experience of sailing. Whether you’ve sailed since you were five years old, or you have no experience on the water, we’re happy to teach you everything you need to know. Our adult classes are designed to take you from “I’ve never even seen a sailboat up close” all the way to “I’m ready to sail from New York Harbor to St. Martin.” Offered both in a group format of up to three students, or as Private Lessons on our sailboat or yours, Capt. Joan Gilmore is one of the most experienced and well-reviewed instructors in the Midwest. Whether you would like the full four session Basic Keelboat certification course, or you just need a refresher and practice session on the water, there’s something for everyone.

Our sailing lessons are offered in multiple convenient locations including Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, St Croix River, and Bayfield, Wisconsin. 

We make our best effort to create classes for working adults, primarily in the afternoons and evening. If you don’t see a class that meets your schedule, don’t fret! Contact Captain Joan to inquire about arranging a private lesson! We’ll meet you anywhere in the world to provide you with your best learning environment.

Course Overviews

We offer Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Courses on location at Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, St. Croix River, and Lake Superior.

Not seeing a class that strikes your fancy? Maybe you found the perfect one, but the times just don’t work. Don’t sweat it! We offer fully customization classes, at times that work for you! Everything from ASA-101 to ASA-218, or even just a class on your new boat teaching you the basics to help build your confidence.

Contact Captain Joan and we’ll set up a private lesson.

sailing discovery

Prerequiste Certification: None!

Experience Level: “I’m interested in trying sailing out for a day”
Location: Lake Minnetonka

A simple, 2-hour introductory adventure to test the waters.

Discover the ease and independence that sailing has to offer. You may take the helm or just relax and enjoy your sailing adventure. This class is not a certification, and is not required prior to taking ASA-101.

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sailing skills

Prerequiste Certification: None!

Experience Level: “It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the water, and I’d like a refresher.
Location: Lake Minnetonka

Sailing Skills is a 3-hour practice session for sailors who need a quick refresher. Take the helm and work on your skills, or just relax and enjoy your sailing adventure. Discounts are available for groups looking for a quick weekend adventure!

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ASA-101: Basic keelboat

Prerequiste Certification: None!

Experience Level: “I’ve never been on a sailboat before”
Location: Lake Minnetonka or White Bear Lake

ASA-101 is a beginner course for adult sailors with no previous experience, taught by certified American Sailing Association instructors, all whom have at least 10 years’ experience sailing. The boats used for ASA-101 are weighted-keel sloop-rigged sailboats, of at least 22′ in length. After your ASA-101 certification, you’ll know what all of that means. For now, just know that they are very stable, safe and perfect for someone with no experience. This is the best course for any adult interested in sailing. By the end of the course you’ll be able to comfortably sail your own vessel or crew on a sailing vessel.

Learn more about ASA-101…

ASA-103: Basic cruising

Prerequiste Certification: ASA-101

Experience Level: “I’ve confidently sailed on my own, and am ready to perfect my skills”
Location: Lake Superior

ASA-103 Basic Cruising teaches prop walk, fueling, aids to navigation, chart symbols and Rules of the Road. This course is a must-have for sailors looking to take their skills to the next level, and prepare to host friends and family on their own boat for extended periods of time. During the course you will continue to improve your man overboard, docking under power and anchoring skills. ASA-103 includes Coastal Cruising Made Easy, the ASA-103 textbook. This course is offered as a Sleep aboard course and includes breakfasts & lunches.

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ASA-104: bareboat chartering

Prerequiste Certification: ASA-101, ASA-103

Experience Level: “I’m am an experience sailor, looking to get ready for long overnight trips.”
Location: Lake Superior

ASA 104 – Bareboat Chartering prepares sailors to get the most out of their sailing experience, by allowing them to confidently charter and crew yachts themselves all around the world. This course teaches navigation, boat systems, diesel engine checks, advanced crew overboard techniques, emergency procedures under sail, reefing, double anchoring, finer points of sail trim, cooking meals onboard, general liveaboard skills as well as docking practice. ASA-104 includes the text Bareboat Cruising Made Easy. The Live aboard course includes all meals. ASA-104 serves as a European License for sailing, allowing certificate holders to sail their own boat or charter a sailboat in most foreign countries.

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ASA-105: coastal navigation

Prerequiste Certification: None!

Experience Level:“I’m want to improve my navigation, map-reading, and trip planning skills!”
Location: Lake Superior

This challenging 20-hour classroom course is certified by the American Sailing Association and taught by ASA Instructor Evaluator Captain Joan Gilmore. You will learn how to navigate using a chart and nautical instruments. You will also learn advanced skills such as line of position, running fix, calculating danger bearings, distance off, tides and currents and 3 ways to calculate set and drift. This is an on-shore course for sailors and motor-boaters alike!

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ASA-106: Advanced coastal cruising

Prerequiste Certification: ASA-101, ASA-103, ASA-104, ASA-105

Experience Level: “I’m an experienced Sailor, ready to tackle long-range, no land in sight, sailboat cruisings!”
Location: Lake Superior

On 60-mile overnight sail to Grand Marais you will learn watchkeeping, night-time man overboard, fire safety, engine troubleshooting, sailing without electronics, towing. You will use advanced navigation techniques learned in ASA 105. Includes text, Annapolis Book of Seamanship and all onboard meals. This voyage is not for the faint of heart, and is the perfect challenge for someone considering long-term cruising or a sail around the world.

Learn more about ASA-106…

ASA-118: docking endorsement

Prerequiste Certification: ASA-101

Experience Level: “I need to learn tips and tricks for successful docking”
Location: Lake Superior

ASA-118 Docking Endorsement includes two days of docking practice into straight docks and slips. Learn about the four forces at work during docking. Practice single-handed docking, Med mooring, springing off the bow and stern, backing a 30’ auxiliary keelboat. Includes text, Docking Techniques. You’ll be a master of docking your boat on your own at the end of this 2 day course.

Learn more about ASA-118…