Getting Started

For ALL New or Prospective Members

New or prospective members should stop by the boathouse for a brief orientation. We’ll tour our dock and introduce our programs, classes, ratings, and fleets. Orientations* are offered almost every day; membership not required.


After Orientation, novice members should take Rigging and Shore School, a pair of on-land classes lasting about two hours each. These classes are offered rain or shine several days a week. They teach sailing basics and theory, and prepare you for the rigging and verbal tests respectively.

Passing those tests confers a Mercury Green Rating, signifying you’re ready to sail a Mercury sailboat in light wind. You should plan on sailing at least three times before progressing to intermediate classes. You can gain your sea legs with a seasoned volunteer by signing up for an hour long First Sail session. You may also sail on your own or with other green-rated sailors, or get “informal instruction” with experienced members.

Experienced Sailors

After Orientation, new members with prior sailing experience can skip introductory classes and fast track to verbal and on-water testing. At the boathouse, ask to speak with the dockmaster on duty; we can discuss your sailing background and usually arrange for a test immediately.

Need a refresher? Experienced members are welcome to take any of our classes.

Sailing On Your Own

When you’re ready to go sailing, bring your membership card and a Mercury mainsail to the dockhouse, and our dockstaff will sign you out. If the wind is too strong, or if you want some additional practice with a more experienced sailor, we can help pair you with a volunteer for informal instruction. We are open for sailing seven days a week, except in extreme conditions. Boats are available on a first-come basis, though running out is almost unheard-of. 

Next Steps

After getting your feet wet, hone your skills with intermediate and advanced classes. Experience our dinghy, keel, and windsurf fleets, explore the lagoon on a kayak or paddleboard, try your hand at friendly, competitive sailing, or join our volunteer faculty. Join Women’s Sailing and Racing, a volunteer organzied group, that is open to all levels of experience. You can stay up to date on meet up days by joining their Google Group here and checking our calendar. These communal activities bring members back to CBI every season for years or decades on end.