Informative courses are designed to complement your boating skills and fill in your knowledge gaps!
Please scroll down to read class descriptions from 2014.
The 2015 curriculum will be published soon.
Please sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know.
Anchoring is one of the most underestimated seamanship skills of all. It only takes a middle of the night squall and an anchor-dragging episode to drive home the full implication of ground tackle choice, anchorage selection and the art of staying put.
Ralph Naranjo, Practical Sailor’s Technical Editor and instructor for Annapolis School of Seamanship, will share the secrets behind anchor choice, rode selection and the hardware and techniques involved in handling the gear on a cruising boat.
Presented by: Ralph Naranjo on Friday at 10 am, and on Saturday at 1 pm
Preparation is everything for an easy arrival regarding the Port of Entry, the officialdom requirements, documents and fees along with researching local knowledge of the culture, language, food, finances, communications and inland travel.
Dangers, security and leaving the boat will be addressed along with medical facilities, common medical issues and requirements. The many tips will turn a possible frustrating negative arrival into a stimulating new adventure.
Presented by: Liza Copeland on Sunday at 1 pm
Captain John Martino, from the Annapolis School of Seamanship, will run through the basics of marine diesel engines and troubleshooting some common problems.
Presented by: John Martino on Sunday at 10 am
Learn a little meteorology and reduce some of the uncertainty of coastal and offshore cruising. Whether you are cruising the Chesapeake, the Caribbean, or the coastal waters of the Atlantic, an enhanced understanding of basic weather principles and a few simple forecasting skills can improve cruise planning and reduce the likelihood of being exposed to uncomfortable or hazardous weather conditions.
The Basic Marine Weather Seminar provides attendees with an understanding of basic meteorological principles and explores the conditions favoring the development of severe weather. Animated graphics and analyses of past weather events are used to delve into the interesting and unique weather forecasting challenges associated with coastal and offshore cruising. Attendees will develop a basic forecasting resource kit based upon readily available government and university websites.
Section 1: Introduction
Presenter's background and a discussion of the seminar’s structure and goals. The various NOAA government agencies responsible for producing marine weather forecasts and their areas of responsibility will be introduced.
Section 2: A Solid Foundation
An understanding of the weather requires a familiarity with basic physical and meteorological principles. This section addresses concepts such as barometric pressure, air masses, atmospheric instability and other meteorological terminology in order to build a foundation for the remainder of the seminar.
Section 3: Interpreting Weather Graphics
Weather forecast graphics use a confusing array of symbols, meteorological shorthand, and color schemes to display current weather conditions and portray future weather patterns. The symbols identifying high and low pressure systems, frontal boundaries, troughs, ridges, tropical cyclones and other meteorological features will be explained.
Section 4: The Invisible Forces Controlling the Wind
Mariners have attempted to explain the capricious nature of the wind for thousands of years. This section looks at the forces that control the wind and reviews a variety of online resources that will improve your ability to predict its speed and direction. Small-scale and short-lived features such as sea and land breezes will also be presented.
Section 5: Waves
Wave heights and direction can make all the difference between a pleasant trip and a wet, uncomfortable one. This section explains the dynamics of wave formation and the forces that sustain them. We will review a variety of forecasting resources to help you predict the size of the waves you will be encountering. Resources for determining the location and conditions associated with the Gulf Stream will also be examined.
Sections 6 and 7: Understanding Low Pressure Systems
Cruising the Chesapeake, the Caribbean, or the Atlantic will place you in the path of low pressure systems, known as “cyclones” in the meteorological community. Cyclones come in two basic varieties – extratropical (mid-latitude low pressures systems) and tropical (tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes) – which form in very different environments from fundamentally different atmospheric dynamics. Both types of cyclones are associated with bad weather. Their arrival often presents a significant risk to boaters in the form of strong, gusty, shifty winds, steep waves, dangerous lightning, damaging thunderstorms, and, in the case of land-falling tropical cyclones, storm surge and tornadoes. Sections 6 and 7 will investigate both types of cyclones in detail, and review a variety of resources for predicting the development, strength, and movement of these weather-makers.
Section 8: Observational Tools – Radar and Satellite Imagery
Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery have a lot to offer the weather-savvy mariner. This section will introduce common types of Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery and provide instruction in their interpretation and use. You’ll learn how weather radar works (along with a few of its quirks) and how it can be used to monitor the development, intensity, and speed of approaching thunderstorms. Offshore cruisers venture beyond the reach of Doppler radar, and therefore must rely on satellite imagery to monitor approaching weather systems. We’ll investigate how to use visible, infrared, and water vapor satellite imagery to enhance marine weather observations and forecasts.
Section 9: Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms can quickly spoil a cruise in many ways—strong winds, large waves, dangerous lightning or visibility-limiting rain. This section will examine the various types of thunderstorms and the atmospheric ingredients that lead to their formation. Learn why thunderstorms often ‘pop-up’ late on summer afternoons and why some storms have short life-spans while others persist for hours. Discover why thunderstorms remain independent on some days and form into damaging long-lived squall lines on others. Reduce your chances of a hair-raising or wind-swept encounter with a thunderstorm by learning to assess the potential for their development using readily available Internet resources and the sky.
Section 10: Conclusion
This section will present a daily forecasting routine and strategy for managing weather forecast information. The section also includes a hands-on forecasting exercise to reinforce the seminar’s meteorological concepts and increase your familiarity with a variety of forecasting resources.
Presented by: Mark Thornton on Friday, 8:15 am – 4:15 pm
You have decided to go cruising. Live the dream. You are ready to cast off, sail the South Seas,
live in tiki bars, sleep in a hammock and sip pina coladas in the rain. Great. Good for you!
Which boat are you going to take? What equipment do you really need on board? Are you going to upgrade your current “learning,” or “weekend get away” boat or find a new, “perfect for cruising” boat? There are a number of issues to consider when making these decisions. Thinking through these issues, and reaching consensus with your intended partner, before making a decision will give you a better chance of having a pleasant cruising experience and realizing your dream.
We will discuss a number of boats with cruising potential to discuss how various features may, or may not enhance your cruising experience.
Presented by: Doug Hansen on Saturday at 10 am.
This program is directed to women who:
- are introduced to the dream of cruising by a husband, or boyfriend or partner, and want to know: What is cruising like? Do I want to do it?
- who like the idea of cruising with their partner or even alone, but don’t know if they are skilled enough, smart enough, young enough, rich enough, or brave enough to pull it off….
- who they want to go cruising, and now want to acquire the skills and knowledge to get out there and make it safe and fun.
For all these women, we have organized a unique program to answer your questions and give you the skills and knowledge you will need.
We introduce you to cruising, help you learn what it is like, in all its variations – aboard sailboat and powerboat, cruising close to home, or to the Caribbean, or around the world – sailing with your partner,
or family, or by yourself.
We cover the skills that you need to acquire and help you figure out what you know already and what you
still need. We assist you in putting together your personal plan to go cruising.
We spend time aboard several different boats, in small groups, learning the jargon, the equipment that
we live with, discussing daily routines and safety, what works and what doesn’t.
- And most importantly, you will have LOTS of time to ask your questions and to raise yourconcerns about cruising.
- This is a very personal, and fun course. We will talk, laugh, tie knots, heave lines, poke around with equipment, discuss ALL your questions and practical issues. You will come out of this weekend with an understanding of the cruising life and ready to make your dream come true.
The Cruising Women program is part of the Master Cruisers Series, a 4-day Tuition Package.
Comments from women attending the 2013 Cruising Women seminar:
There is no way to express my gratitude for how gracious you all are! You truly made me feel like there is no stupid question. Your range of experiences
and expertise was amazing and very
much a blessing!
- It takes the fear factor out of cruising.
- It reassured me that I am not foolish or crazy for pursuing this dream, this lifestyle. It also helped me believe that I can learn the skills needed to do this, even be good at it!
- Thanks so much for all the sharing, information, humor, and encouragement. And so non-intimidating! It was great! We appreciate all of you. Terrific job!
- This seminar assured me even more that this is what I want to do and took some of my fears and worries away.
- The dynamic of the three instructions was phenomenal!
- Even though cruising seems scary sometimes, you have all made it seem very possible!! Thank you so much!
- The wide range of topics covered answered many questions I didn’t know I had.
- I found that other women have the same fears and concerns that I had.
- Hearing the instructors’ first hand experiences was invaluable.
- Great, enthusiastic instructors who clearly love cruising.
Choosing the right boat and equipment for your voyage within budget limitations can be a challenge. Topics covered in this class include:
- Size, design and outfitting (re-fitting) for blue water
- Rigs and sails
- Anchors, rodes and anchoring techniques
- Dinghies and life rafts
- Electrical systems and power management
- Engines and fuels
- Weather and routing considerations
- Charts & guide books
- Accessing weather and communication options
- Cruising costs and money management: insurance: boat and medical
- Safety equipment and strategies to practice
- Comfort on deck and below
- Provisioning and stowage
- Spares and tools
- Pets and kids.
- Setting the date to leave the dock
Presented by: Liza Copeland on Friday at 1 pm, and on Saturday at 10 am
Offshore and inshore
Even if you have an unlimited budget, deciding to go cruising means unplugging from the modern communications network to some extent. How much connectivity you have to give up depends upon how much money you have and how important it is for you to stay in touch with friends, family and/or business associates. It also depends on whether you are offshore or inshore, with most cruisers using different solutions sailing coastally than they do on passage.
This class will give you the information you need to decide how to outfit your boat so that you can get the most connectivity for your communications dollars.
Presented by: John Martino on Saturday at 1 pm
The waters of Long Island Sound and Cape Cod offer a wide variety of anchorages, both quiet and bustling. Charm and history abound. Take your pick from hidden pastoral anchorages to charming historic towns or the hustle of the big city. The Trogdons will share their best picks of these well-known cruising waters.
Presented by: Peter and Cathie Trogdon on Saturday at 8:15 am
Crossing the Gulf Stream or even going with the flow requires some knowledge and preparation. Ralph Naranjo, experienced blue water sailor and instructor for Annapolis School of Seamanship, shares his expertise in the physical characteristics of this spectacular boundary current and how to use the information for voyage planning.
Presented by: Ralph Naranjo on Sunday at 10 am
Pam and Kathy will discuss the many aspects of cruising in the Abacos, Bahamas. Learn about weather patterns, protocol, what to take with you, suggested routes and places of interest. The Abacos are the Bahama Islands closest to the US and have many protected harbors and anchorages.
The Caribbean provides a myriad of cruising destinations and cultures. All sectors will be discussed including alternate cruising routes across the middle.
Suggestions on boats, equipment, weather forecasting, security and communications will also be included. Liza met her husband Andy met in the Caribbean, was married aboard the classic yacht Ticonderoga and has spent many years there running charter boats, leading charters, completing deliveries and extensively cruising on their own boat both on and away from the typical Caribbean cruising routes.
Presented by: Liza Copeland on Friday at 10 am, and on Saturday at 1 pm
"You can cruise the Chesapeake your whole life and almost never have to visit the same place twice.” This is how John Stefancik begins his seminar about cruising the Bay. The Chesapeake has so much cruising area, and so many towns to visit, with such a diversity of scenery packed into a mid-sized region that boaters can literally get lost in between skyscrapers and rolling farmland in the very same day aboard.
Whether you are cruising in sail or power, for a week or a whole season, this seminar will take you on a tour of much of the Bay and give you the details needed for a successful cruise.
Presented by: John Stefancik on Friday at 2:45 pm
Peter Trogdon, President/Owner of Weems and Plath, and his wife, Cathie, with tens of thousands of cruising miles taking them from the Bahamas to Alaska share tips and stories of how to stay happily married in close quarters for months at a time. They discuss the various roles onboard that require a different communication strategy to help keep couples happy and make the adventure enjoyable.
Presented by: Peter and Cathie Trogdon on Friday at 8:15 am
Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery have a lot to offer the weather-savvy mariner. This section will introduce common types of Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery and provide instruction in their interpretation and use. You’ll learn how weather radar works (along with a few of its quirks) and how it can be used to monitor the development, intensity, and speed of approaching thunderstorms.
Offshore cruisers venture beyond the reach of Doppler radar, and therefore must rely on satellite imagery to monitor approaching weather systems. We’ll investigate how to use visible, infrared, and water vapor satellite imagery to enhance marine weather observations and forecasts.
Presented by: Mark Thornton on Saturday at 10 am
A thorough review of the different solar PV technologies will be presented with a focus on variations in efficiencies, cost and durability. Installation examples will be shown with discussion of pros and cons of each. This will include shading, mounting, maintenance, articulation and wiring arrays. Wind generators (turbines) will be considered as an alternative or compliment to PV, with considerations to efficiency, noise, durability and cost of various choices in the industry. Installation examples are shown to highlight some of the important consideration to performance, maintenance and safety. Proper charge regulation for both PV and wind will also be covered.
Current technology available to the cruiser for generating AC power offshore, from supporting smaller appliance loads to significant loads, such as air conditioning and AC water makers will be discussed. System variations will be demonstrated from the basic application and proper sizing of a diesel generator to more innovative pairing of alternators and inverters. Discussion of the benefits of the more sophisticated DC generators using inverters to produce AC will also be covered. Most importantly, examples of system investments made to fail and dangerous compromises to safety that should be avoided will be discussed.
Presented by: Bob Williams on Friday at 2:45 pm, and Sunday at 8:15 am
Ashore meal preparation can be just one more chore to fit into a busy schedule, and the results compete with the convenience of restaurants and fast food. Yet meals prepared aboard in the confines of a small galley without ready access to well-stocked supermarkets can be much more satisfying both to cook and eat.
In this seminar, we will look at the ways that we can work magic in our galleys, creating good food. We will cover such topics as: outfitting the galley, choosing cookware and cooking utensils and appliances, cookbooks and references, making the most of a pressure cooker, baking aboard with or without an oven, cooking from scratch, preparing the seafood we catch, happy hours and potlucks, substitutions, and cooking with local ingredients.
Presented by: Kathy Parsons on Saturday 8:15 am
This seminar will cover proper sail care, routine maintenance requirements and introduce the sailor to inspections he/she can perform themselves to prevent a major sail disaster at sea. The attendee will also learn basic emergency repairs they can make on a sail such as corner ring replacement, replacing a broken luff slide, replacing a broken batten receptacle and repairing a broken battens.
Presented by: John Balano on Friday at 2:45 pm
Modern integrated navigation calls for the navigator to blend traditional navigation skills with the use and knowledge of sophisticated, networked electronic aids. This two-day (12-hour) class is focused on marrying paper chart navigation with electronic navigation systems, tablets and smart phones. Students will receive lecture, demonstration and hands-on training that utilizes Annapolis School of Seamanship’s bridge simulator. The simulator allows students to engage in a virtual voyage in all weather and can simulate tablet-based navigation systems such as iNavx®.
Students for this class must have a solid foundation in traditional navigation and plotting.
- Electronic Navigation Basics
- Relative Motion, Collision Avoidance
Presented by Paul Truelove and Matt Benhoff on Thursday and Friday, all day.
The iNavigation© program is part of the Master Cruisers Series, a 4-day Tuition Package.©Annapolis School of Seamanship January 2014
The unthinkable happens and you find yourself abandoning ship due to an emergency on board. You’re in your life raft; now what do you do? We will cover what you will need to do from the time you abandon ship to the time you get rescued. Following the seminar, we will deploy a life raft to give you an idea as to what to expect.
Presented by: Charles Daneko on Sunday at 8:15 am
What's it like to step off the 'deep end' and sail out of site of land? Bluewater sailing is as much about mental preparation as it is about preparing your boat. Knowing what to expect offshore is a key to good seamanship. In this popular lecture, Andy walks students through a tropical offshore passage, from the preparation stage to the day of departure, the first few days offshore, the spiritual 'middle section' and finally landfall. He touches on the most common anxieties at each stage and the tricks he's learned to overcome them.
Importantly, he puts into perspective what you SHOULD worry about – the strength of your rigging and sails, for example – and what's trivial, like if you packed enough toothpaste. 'Mental Preparation' will enable new and veteran sailors alike to approach a long passage with the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed.
Presented by: Andy Schell on Saturday at 8:15 am
Captain Matt Benhoff of the Annapolis School of Seamanship will discuss the world of modern navigation and how to combine GPS chart plotters with traditional paper chart navigation techniques to help keep you on the right course.
Presented by: Matt Benhoff on Saturday at 2:45 pm
Whether you're heading for Key West or want to do the Great Loop, the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), is an interesting, exciting and challenging leg of your journey. In this class, professional captain and ICW cruiser Paul Truelove will share his expert insights and knowledge, gained over ten ICW passages, of the joys and pitfalls of cruising a route that has been an active passage since colonial times. Through lecture and discussion, get answers to your questions such as; "Do I have the right of way over a shrimp boat? And "Where would I find this information?". Prepare yourself for an unforgettable journey and ensure a safe voyage.
Presented by: Paul Truelove on Friday at 8:15 am, and on Sunday at 1 pm
With the aid of numerous installation and product photos, system configuration diagrams, and
related graphics, Bob Williams will explore the critical issue of power management aboard recreational vessels. This seminar focus is on three principal considerations in balancing energy needs: energy production, energy storage, and efficient energy consumption.
Bob will examine various electrical system designs, as well as an overview of various types of batteries, alternators, photovoltaic systems, wind turbines and appropriate regulation. Examples of buying for efficiency will be addressed, as well as examples of effective system design and common system design flaws often found in production boats. Whether your goal is fully sustainable cruising or making the best use of your existing electrical system, you won’t want to miss this valuable session.
Presented by: Bob Williams on Saturday at 8:15 am
Planning is the key to any successful voyage, whether you are heading to Bermuda or across an ocean. The further offshore you venture, the more planning is involved. Let our experts help guide you through the decision-making process and help you prepare for an enjoyable passage.
Presented by: Ralph Naranjo on Sunday at 2:45 pm
What does it take to make your boat a blue water sailing yacht? Learn from Pam and her families’ experiences while they sailed across the oceans. Her expert knowledge will help anyone learn the essentials of blue water cruising equipment, along with the obvious little products that are so important. Pam gives knowledgeable and practical ideas on how to make your boat easier to handle, safer, and more fun to sail.
On Deck: Start at the bow with ground tackle and work aft to downwind sailing gear, awnings, reefing, solar panels, ventilation, and much more. Lots of information is provided on how to make your on deck systems work for you.
Below Deck: Come below deck and get ideas on:
- chart tables
Presented by: Pam Wall on Saturday at 1 pm
Everyone can learn some practical knowledge of what to do when medical situations arise while on the water. Hypothermia, allergic reactions, seasickness, fractures, wounds, etc. – it's prudent to be as prepared as possible when help is miles away. Find out what items should always be in your medical kit.
Presented by: Bill Richards on Sat at 8 am
Provisioning – trivial when ashore – becomes a key skill for successful cruising. We will discuss provisioning from start to finish, beginning with factors that affect what you will (and won’t) want to take: where you plan to cruise, how you cruise, your eating and entertaining style, your boat, storage space and equipment (eg. refrigeration and freezer space or lack of). Avoiding LOB (lost on board) – strategies and systems for organizing, stowing, and inventorying (manual, computerized, and app-based). Preserving what you have aboard (vacuum sealing, drying, storage containers and systems). Reprovisioning in foreign countries: making use of local products, major reprovisioning areas, duty-free areas, shipping parts and supplies in, what you can get where. Plus lots of useful handouts and downloads to help you get started including provisioning lists of food, supplies and spares, multilingual reprovisioning lists, etc.
Presented by: Kathy Parsons on Saturday at 2:45 pm
Bob Williams will examine the refrigeration design and technologies available to today’s cruising boater. Refrigeration typically represents the single biggest onboard power consumer, in many cases more than all other loads combined. For this reason the presentation will look at refrigeration as it pertains to energy management in addition to managing food storage temperatures.
Examples of efficient box design and types of construction material will be covered, as well as possible improvements that could be made to existing boxes. AC, DC and engine driven condensers will be discussed, including the latest variable speed control compressors. A general explanation will be given of a typical refrigeration circuit as it pertains to troubleshooting and diagnostics.
If you have a refrigeration system on your boat, or want to install one, this course should provide you with the understanding to design, buy and service your refrigeration intelligently.
Presented by: Bob Williams on Friday at 1 pm
Safety is paramount to an enjoyable time on the water. While good boat maintenance is essential, being prepared for the unexpected will give you confidence when situations arise. Learn what skills the experts recommend you incorporate into your knowledge base.
Presented by: Ralph Naranjo on Friday at 1 pm and by John Martino on Sunday 2:45 pm
This presentation provides instruction on best practice sail trim for cruisers. The goal is to present the sailor with ways deal with common cruising concerns of heel, over-powered situations, best upwind performance and easy down-wind sailing. We examine all the components of sail shape and trim and how to use the controls on your boat to overcome these common concerns.
Presented by: David Flynn on Friday at 8:15 am
Severe weather appears and your destination is far away. "Batten down the hatches" has become part of everyone's vernacular, but there is plenty more to do. Big waves and high winds make it challenging to keep your boat balanced and your crew safe. Learn essential storm tactics to give you the control you'll need.
Presented by: Ralph Naranjo on Saturday at 2:45 pm
Security for cruisers comes down to a lot of common sense and awareness of your surroundings. From petty theft to piracy, learn how to stay safe and avoid being a target.
- Research area for security concerns
- Local laws and law enforcement resources
- Make a security plan
- Practice your plan
- Street smarts
- Common sense
Presented by: John Martino on Friday at 10 am
Let's face it – one of these days something is going to go wrong on your boat. By learning how to recognize risk and manage problems aboard, you can avoid the downward spiral of events that too often turns a minor problem into a major emergency.
From your boat's rigging to the engine room, we'll cover the most common problems encountered onboard, how to prevent them in the first place, and how to handle them when the time comes.
Presented by: Andy Schell on Saturday at 10 am
In a variety of ways, thunderstorms can quickly ruin an outing. This presentation will examine the types of thunderstorms and the ingredients that lead to their formation. Reduce your chances of a hair-raising encounter by learning how to predict and monitor thunderstorms using readily available Internet resources.
Presented by: Mark Thornton on Sunday at 8:15 am
Cruising the Chesapeake, the Caribbean, or the Atlantic will place you in the path of low pressure systems, known as “cyclones” in the meteorological community. Cyclones come in two basic varieties – extratropical (mid-latitude low pressures systems) and tropical (tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes) – which form in very different environments from fundamentally different atmospheric dynamics.
Both types of cyclones are associated with bad weather. Their arrival often presents a significant risk to boaters in the form of strong, gusty, shifty winds, steep waves, dangerous lightning, damaging thunderstorms, and, in the case of land-falling tropical cyclones, storm surge and tornadoes. This presentation will investigate both types of cyclones in detail, and review a variety of resources for predicting the development, strength, and movement of these weather-makers.
Presented by: Mark Thornton on Sunday at 1 pm
What is it really like to be at sea? The many tips in this seminar on routing and weather, storm avoidance, sails and storm strategies, on board safety rules, watch-keeping routines, chafe, radio nets, cooking, cleaning, fishing, seasickness, guests and crew will turn a possible nightmare into positive memorable experience.
Presented by: Liza Copeland on Sunday at 10 am
This class concerns the technological differences between types of Reverse Osmosis water making units with graphs, photos and system schematics for reference. Particular attention will be given to DC desalination that can be supported with wind and solar energy sources, not requiring engine or generator support. Comparisons between Watts per gallon, PPM of salt rejection between models, and noise level will be made. Installation considerations that may affect performance, maintenance and life expectancy of the membranes will also be discussed. Maintenance and system diagnostics will be discussed with systems diagrams to aid in the understanding of the relationship between system components.
Presented by: Bob Williams on Saturday at 1 pm
What Works: Tips and Techniques for Long-Distance Cruising
Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference. With decades of cruising and tens of thousands of miles under their keels, cruisers Pam Wall and Kathy Parsons have learned lots of
little things that make cruising safer, more comfortable, more successful.
In Part 1 of this two-part seminar, they will share some of their favourite tips, techniques and
gear for Anchoring, Docking, Mooring, Line handling, and Downwind Sailing. You are
bound to learn new ideas to improve your cruising.
In Part 2 of this two-part seminar, they will share some of their favourite tips, techniques and gear for Night Watches, Leveraging our Strength, Water Collection and Hauling, Deck Organization: Mast rails, Mast steps, Ratlines, Whisker poles, Preventers, Lazy jacks and Cradles, Mounting ideas for Solar Panels and Wind Generators, Tender and Outboard, Ventilation, Lighting and Shade.