Cruisers University Courses

This is a sample of courses offered in past programs.  Check back in early June 2021 for the complete fall schedule and registration details.

Advanced Diesel Diagnostics 

Many students who completed the Diesel Maintenance Master Class in the past, have requested a continuation of the course with Jim Zima to go into more detail for troubleshooting engine issues.  Well, this class is for you!  Jim Zima will use the knowledge he has taught in the Master Class and will work with each student on trying to determine where the malfunction is occurring with the engine.  The prerequisite for this class is having completed Jim’s Diesel Maintenance Master class anytime in the past 2 years.  Class Size will be restricted to 15.

  • This course is rated as an advanced (301) course

Presented by:  Jim Zima of Great Lakes Diesel

Anchoring for a Good Night’s Sleep 

Many stories, and even a few songs, have been written about the “entertainment” a couple can provide when docking and anchoring. With large doses of humor and humility, learn some tricks for working together on these maneuvers.   

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of TwoCanSail

Beyond the Bowline:  Essential Knots & Knot Theory 

Knots and ropework can be used to fix just about everything! We’ll cover an introduction to key terminology and knot theory. We will discuss when to add an extra turn, hitch, or slippery hitch and the appropriate applications for different knots. We’ll get an intro to bends, knots, tensioning knots, purchase, slip knots and hitches, knots for lines of differing thickness, bends, and more. We will even talk about when not to use the bowline! Then, we will dive into hands-on practice. Time permitting, we will cover some essential knots and bends like: rolling hitch, figure eight, sheep shank, zeppelin bend, fisherman’s bend, round turn and two half hitches, constrictor knot, trucker’s hitch, lashing and frapping, and…yes, the bowline. We can cover more if there is time. If we run out of time, we’ll send you some helpful resources to continue learning the essentials. 

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Teresa & Ben Carey of MorseAlpha Expeditions

Boating Life with Lithium

Thinking about replacing your boat battery bank?  There is a relatively new battery technology on the market that is ideal for marine applications.  Because it is over 20% more efficient at storing electrical energy it is an ideal companion for solar and wind generation systems.  What is this battery technology all about and how do I determine if it is the best alternative for my boat?  This seminar will introduce you to LiFePO4 battery technology and lead you through a process for designing a battery bank to meet your power needs and for evaluating products on the market.  You will also learn how to integrate LiFePO4 battery technology with solar systems to achieve the most efficient electrical generation and storage capability.  LiFePO4 battery systems will change the way you think about batteries for your boat.  

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Thomas Trimmer of Custom Marine Products

Cruising around the Bahamas

Are you preparing to cruise to the Bahamas for the first time?  Have you been there before but are curious about islands deeper in the chain or changes in the entry fees?  Do you know what to expect from grocery stores on the out islands?  How to see a doctor or find a veterinarian?  Do you know how a cruiser net works or how to find the best internet or weather forecast?  John will walk you through these questions and so many more in this fun and photo-intense course.  Get more out of your trip to the Bahamas; learn how the seasoned traveler does it!

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  John Herlig

Cruising Couples: an Egalitarian Approach to Cruising

Take it from two USCG licensed captains with many years as professional mariners, and solo sailors who joined forces on one boat – it can be hard to be egalitarian! Its especially difficult in the maritime world where the term “blue and pink jobs” still has meaning. But, dividing the work along gender lines doesn’t always bring out the greatest potential in an individual, or the best synergy in a partnership. This seminar discusses blending the masculine and feminine roles on a boat so that both partners feel empowered to take the helm, manage the vessel, and find fulfillment in ways they never thought about.  

Topics include; confidence – too much, and too little, choosing a captain and the captain’s role, increasing trust in your partner, supporting your partner’s growth, and how to pass control to your partner. 

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Teresa & Ben Carey of Morse Alpha Expeditions

Cruising the Eastern Caribbean

Dreaming of cruising the Eastern Caribbean, but not quite sure how to go about it?  How and when do you get there – direct offshore or a combination of ICW and island-hopping?  Should you join a Rally, buddy-boat or go it alone?  Are you and your boat ready for the passage?  If not, how do you prepare?  How and where can you provision and maintain your boat?  How can you stay in touch with friends and family? What charts and weather sources should you explore?  What are realistic itineraries to cruise the Virgin, Leeward and Windward Islands?  Lisa & Andy Batchelor have been cruising the Eastern Caribbean for the past 12 years and share their knowledge and experience to help you make your cruising dreams a reality.

  • This course is rated as intermediate (201) course

 Presented by:  Lisa & Andy Batchelor of Kinetic Sailing

Cruising Women

The Cruising Women program provides two unique days of education for, and by women.  Pam Wall and Behan Gifford have each traveled tens of thousands of nautical miles in many areas of the world and garnered a wealth of information about the cruising life.

Are you prepared to cruise? Pam and Behan will help answer that and many other questions as they fill in the gaps of your knowledge with understanding, patience and enthusiasm.  One half-day is spent aboard a docked boat to facilitate discussion of equipment, layout, and safety.

The topics include:

  • An introduction to cruising:  with a partner, alone, or with family
  • Typical tasks and experience for a day on passage, a day coastal cruising, and a day in port
  • Skill sets – learn what you still need to acquire
  • Equipment overview     
  • Understanding the jargon
  • What works, what doesn’t work

The Cruising Women program is part of the Master Series Package at Cruisers University.  In addition to two fabulous days in this program you get to choose from a wide variety of elective classes.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Comments from women attending previous Cruising Women seminars:

  • I took a two-day class for women that changed my perspective on sailing. It all became do-able after that. Beforehand, it was like learning a new language. The class showed me that I can do everything needed on a boat. The class was so supportive on every level, and I came away with experience and knowledge that has been invaluable since.
  • There is no way to express my gratitude for how gracious you are! You truly made me feel like there is no stupid question.  
  • 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! 
  • The wide range of topics covered answered many questions I didn’t know I had.

Presented by:  Pam Wall & Behan Gifford

Diesel Engine Essentials

Amanda will guide you through the six essential components of diesel engines with detailed PowerPoint and an actual engine, giving you a good understanding of how engines work including troubleshooting and maintenance, based on her 43 years of ocean sailing.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Amanda Swan Neal of Mahina Expeditions

Diesel Maintenance 

                A Master Class with Jim Zima

This two-day, hands-on class will provide a preliminary and in-depth review of how a diesel engine works. All aspects of general and yearly maintenance will be covered, to include:

  • Oil changing
  • Impeller replacement
  • Cooling system service
  • Fuel filter replacement and general fuel system servicing
  • Basic transmission service
  • Trouble shooting electrical systems
  • Motor mounts and shaft alignment

Various engine parts, tools, and running engine models of Yanmar 1GM10 and Universal M-25XP will be available to demonstrate parts and procedures.  

Day two of Diesel Engine Maintenance will include topics such as:

  • Valve adjustment
  • Compression testing
  • Cooler/heat exchanger repairs

The Diesel Maintenance program is part of the Master Cruisers Series, a 4-day Tuition Package. Students will choose electives for the additional two days. Take-aways include an information booklet for note taking and outlines. 

Comments from a recent student:

“After completing the Diesel Maintenance course, I now feel like I can do all my annual maintenance on my Yanmar diesel engine.  The yard savings this fall should pay for the tuition!”

  • This course is rated as an intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Jim Zima of Great Lakes Diesel

DIY Electrical Survey

A marine electrical system is at the heart of every boat, and, simple or complicated, it is  based on industry standards that are designed to keep you and your family and crew safe. This presentation is full of real-life photos, diagrams and “gotchas” that will help you understand the most common electrical deficiencies found on a boat. 

Jeff Cote, and the techs at Pacific Yacht Systems, have worked on thousands of boats and it is this repetition that has made them experts in the field of marine electrical.  Jeff will share his experience and knowledge to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.  Are your batteries installed and secured properly?  Why is a battery monitor one of the most important pieces of gear on your boat?  Is your inverter/charger installed to ABYC code?  Most are not.  Is your charger sized correctly and is it set for the proper battery chemistry?  Is your alternator(s) sized and wired properly?  Is your solar array charging to maximum capacity?

Give yourself the confidence that your boat is wired safely and your electrical system is reliable.

  • This course will start as a beginner / introductory (101) course and continue to intermediate level (201) throughout the class

Presented by: Jeff Cote of Pacific Yacht Systems

Docking and Line Handling for Couples 

This class addresses docking techniques and skills that can benefit every mariner but puts a special emphasis on common problems encountered by couples during the docking and line handling process.  This focus on processes required when getting underway and when docking their vessels, making the next time you prepare to leave or come back to the dock less stressful. 

Topics Include:

Situational Awareness
Spring Lines
Line Handling

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of TwoCanSail

Doppler Radar & Satellite Imagery 

Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery are great resources for the weather-savvy mariner. This presentation will introduce common types of Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery and provide instruction in their interpretation and use. You’ll learn how Doppler 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 land-based Doppler radar, and therefore must rely on satellite imagery to monitor approaching weather systems. We’ll investigate how to use visible and infrared satellite imagery to enhance marine weather observations and forecasts.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course, you may wish to take Weather 000 first if you are completely new to weather forecasting

Presented by:  Mark Thornton of LakeErieWX

Fishing from a Slow Boat – A Cruiser’s Guide to Feeding the Crew

Everyone sees the pictures of the amazing catches of Mahi from boats traveling offshore, but how do Cruisers catch the same fish going 6 knots or slower while under sail?  Lenny will help make sense of the best fishing tackle & procedures you need to set it and forget it while cruising.  Some of the areas he will address are:  What type of fish and size is good to eat? What to do about a fishing license? How to set up simple trolling lines on the boat?  Can you fish along the ICW? How do you handle the fish once it is caught? And what tools & supplies should be in your tackle box?

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Lenny Rudow of Fishtalk Magazine

Great Products You Need to Know About

Pam Wall worked for West Marine for over 20 years.  During that time, she was able to cruise thousands of miles on her own 39-foot sloop.  She came to know, and use, many products that very few would ever know existed.  In this seminar Pam provides a list of products that she thinks are unusual yet so important to your cruising.  Pam will take you down the list, product by product, explain what it is, tell you what it is good for, and let you know how she uses it on her own boat KANDARIK!  This is a very informative seminar that will help you find incredibly useful products that you otherwise would never know were available.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Pam Wall

Healthcare While Cruising

Learn about (and prepare for) everyday health concerns while cruising. This course is not taught by a doctor and doesn’t address emergencies – instead, it addresses those issues you are MOST likely to encounter! Raising a family while sailing around the world gives Behan Gifford a broad perspective on the most common health concerns on board, how to prepare for them, and what to do when they occur. She’ll discuss what it’s like seeking out medical care in foreign countries, managing your prescriptions from home, and how most cruisers handle health insurance.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Behan Gifford of SailingTotem

Heavy Weather Sailing 

Severe weather appears, and your destination is still miles away.  Big waves and high winds make it challenging to keep your boat balanced and your crew safe.  You need a plan, you need the right equipment and you need practice to bring your boat and crew through heavy weather with everyone’s confidence intact.  This class will help you create a plan and overcome the fear of strong winds.  You will be shown Cape Horn tested methods to keep any type of boat, classic or modern, ride out extreme weather.  Even if you think running or lying-ahull are effective storm tactics for you & your crew, there are reasons you still must learn to heave-to.  Storm sail and gear selection will be discussed along with hints, so you can create a sea-anchor using gear you already have on board.

  • This course is rated as an intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  David Flynn of Quantum Sails

Highlights of Chesapeake Bay Cruising

Come aboard for a trip to what very well may be the finest cruising grounds in the world. Featuring protected waters and soft bottoms, and a notable diversity of town and country, the Chesapeake has so many creeks, coves, rivers and ports to discover that one could possibly spend their whole life boating them and never visit the same place twice! Learn sample cruises of both long and short duration, and find out how the history and culture of the Bay influences what you’ll see along the way.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  John Stefancik of Chesapeake Bay Magazine

How to Budget for the Dream

This session addresses practical aspects of cruising with a focus on cost-conscious cruising whether you are frugal or a high roller. Behan Gifford draws from real-life experiences sailing around the world to address common concerns and realistic aspects of cruising, to quell worries and help you spend less… so you can get out there, and cruise more more!

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Behan Gifford of SailingTotem

Lessons Learned from Covid-19

The 2020 cruising season has been shaken up like none prior. What are the takeaways that those planning their own departure can learn from? This session will discuss how regions and countries responded to the threat, case studies of different crews and outcomes to inform your planning process, and discussion about how to find a way forward in an environment of uncertainty.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Behan Gifford  & Jamie Gifford of Sailing Totem

Let the Sun Shine In

Living aboard with Solar and Wind Energy

The class will cover:

  • History of Solar Power (short review)
  • Current State of the Art
  • Common Installation Mistakes
  • Common Misconceptions
  • Best Practices
  • Augmenting Solar with Wind
  • This course is rated as an advanced beginner to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Scott Berg of Chardonnay Boatworks

Line Handling 

The biggest misconception is that all you need to know is a few knots like the bowline and square knot. Too often knots are taught but line handling is neglected, resulting in hockled lines, figure-8 coils, jammed lines on cleats, rope burns, and a spaghetti mess when you need the line to run free. This course will cover the essentials in line handling, which is one of the most important and overlooked seamanship skills. We will also go over our list of essential knots, splices, and bends and when to use them.  
Topics Include: rope care, parts of a knots, bends, line handling, what makes a good knot, heaving a line, surging a line, understanding load, the fair lead, the proper direction to coil, when to trust a slippery hitch, types of rope, line care, “to flemish or not to flemish!” etc. Guaranteed even an experienced sailor will be surprised to learn something in this seminar! 

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Teresa & Ben Carey of Morse Alpha Expeditions

Make Your Escape – Turn the Dream to a Reality

How do you lay out a plan to go cruising? What are the key markers among those who make a successful departure? Behan Gifford outlines considerations for cutting the dock lines for a smooth departure, whether you are coastal cruising the US or making plans to sail to the South Pacific and beyond. Skills to hone, tasks to accomplish, prep to have in place, tools to motivate, and more.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by: Behan Gifford of SailingTotem

Marine Communications in the 21st Century – VHF, AIS, SSB, Cell, WiFi & Satellite

This three session class covers the range of marine communication from Hand Held VHF Radios  to installed Satellite Systems.  

Session 1 focuses on VHF Systems including Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) for short distance ship to ship and ship to shore communications less than 50 miles.  The focus will be on proper installation, licensing, and use of this critical safety equipment.

Session 2 covers Long Range High Frequency (HF) Radio communications using HF/SSB Radios for voice, email, and weather information using both Marine and Amateur Radio services. The relative advantages of Marine Session and Amateur licensing and equipment will be covered as well as email and weather downloads around the world.

Session 3 covers emerging Cellular and Satellite Systems including from consumer systems such as Iridium Go and Garmin InReach to commercial installed systems.   We will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and how they fit in to the Global Marine Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

  • This course is rated as an advanced beginner to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Scott Berg of Chardonnay Boatworks

Marine Weather Forecasting 

             A Master Class with Mark Thornton

Coastal and off-shore cruising requires many skills. Regardless of where your adventures may take you, no aspect of cruising is more important than an understanding of marine weather forecasting. During the 2-day Marine Weather Forecasting Masters Class, you will gain an understanding of basic weather principles and learn how to use a wide variety of forecasting resources. These skills will improve your cruise planning and reduce the likelihood that you will be exposed to uncomfortable or hazardous weather conditions.

What you can expect to learn at the 2-day seminar:

  • A few basic meteorological principles.
  • How to decode the confusing symbols and meteorological shorthand on forecast graphics, regardless of your cruising grounds
  • How to prepare a detailed wave height forecast and recognize the conditions that promote dangerously high waves.
  • Why the wind behaves the way it does and how to prepare a detailed wind forecast.
  • How to predict the development and movement of low pressure systems and their accompanying frontal boundaries.
  • How to forecast the potential of thunderstorms, including when, where, and what type of storms may develop.
  • Identify the ingredients required for the formation of tropical cyclones and how to interpret the products published by the National Hurricane Center.
  • The terminology used by the National Weather Service during hazardous and severe weather events.
  • How to use Doppler weather radar and satellite imagery to help you avoid an encounter with severe or hazardous weather.
  • Where to find forecast graphics and a strategy for preparing a multi-day marine forecast.
  • The pros and cons of several of the most popular weather forecasting apps.
  • But most of all, the seminar will provide you with the skills to be self-reliant. The seminar combines classroom instruction, case studies, hands-on forecasting exercises, and live product demonstrations to create an engaging learning experience. For additional information on this class or to contact the instructor, please click here.

Comments from a recent student:  “Don’t miss the 2-day weather class.  You’ll be safer and a more confident cruiser”

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

  Presented by: Mark Thornton of Lake Erie WX

‘Miss’Perceptions – how to become or support an amazing sailor

There is no doubt that there are more male sailors, both recreational and professional, than there are female sailors. But many women wonder how they can break free from the “Miss”-perceptions that cause them to shy away from the helm. In this motivating talk, for men and women, Teresa breaks down the most common thoughts on a woman’s place in the sailing world and opens it up for men and women to enjoy side by side. 

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Teresa & Ben Carey of Morse Alpha Expeditions

Moving Your Business Aboard

Are you itching to go cruising but not ready to give up the business you’ve invested your time and money into?  You don’t have to wait until retirement to go cruising – all you need to do is take your business with you. In this course, we’ll cover everything from managing the harsh reality of mobile internet to time management, handling postal mail and voice communications, as well as customer support, retail fulfillment, bookkeeping, shipping, and more. Whatever your business – or whatever skills you have to build into a business – chances are, you can turn it into a cruising-friendly business with the right planning and management.  This course will also touch on the specific challenges of several types of businesses including retail, professional consulting, and software development.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Devon & Richard Anderson of Sea-Tech Systems

Navigating the ICW – North to South

For legions of boaters, a trip down the ICW is the cruise of a lifetime. For others, it’s the first big step in a grand tour of the Islands. Whichever it is for you, “Navigating the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)” will help you do it in style. We’ll talk about how to follow the famous magenta line south without getting lost. We’ll discuss some of the route’s hidden treasures, like Marineland, Fla., and McClellenville, S.C. And we’ll discuss the best ways to negotiate the ICW’s infamous shallow areas, like Hell Gate and Lockwood’s Folly. Join lifelong cruiser Jody Argo Schroath—cruising editor at Chesapeake Bay Magazine and author of the new Atlantic Coast ICW Planning Guide—for a discussion of all facets of negotiating the ICW, from cruise planning and the best navigation apps to finding the tastiest ghost shrimp in the Carolinas.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jody Schroath of Chesapeake Bay Magazine

Navigation by Tablet

Navigating today you are likely to see more handheld devices in use than hardwired chartplotters.  Chartplotters maintain an important place in your suite of navigational  tools, handheld devices are  ubiquitous.  In this program we’ll cover some basic understanding of coastal piloting, how to use various devices to find a Line of Position, how to convert between magnetic north and true north, and the use of your depth finder in  finding position.  It is important to be able to read and understand a chart and access information on the tide and the currents.

Tablets bring all of this together in powerful and convenient navigation apps which will travel with you everywhere you go. We will compare several apps and look at how they can be used as a planning tool and as a navigation device. It is my  view that there is no one perfect app and you will be best served to have multiple apps. Navionics Boating Marine and Lakes  and Aqua Map Marine and Lakes with its companion Aqua Map Master  will be the primary apps discussed in detail.  It is recommended that attendees bring with them their tablets with both apps downloaded.  We can answer questions about navigating the East Coast between the Keys and Canada, however understanding the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay and the inlets on the New Jersey shore will present some of the best examples of how to use your  tablet navigation apps to plan a coastal cruise. Note: the program content is primarily built on the IOS apps, although Android apps are functionally the same.  

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Tom Hale

Night Cruising Demystified 

Cruising at night saves time and money on coastal passages and is a necessity when offshore. Yet for many cruisers, the prospect of sailing at night can be daunting.  This seminar gives tips and techniques for preparation, situational awareness, orientation, watch-standing, navigation, collision avoidance and training – to make night sailing a pleasure!  Covers inshore, coastal and offshore cruising.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

 Presented by: Lisa & Andy Batchelor of Kinetic Sailing

Now You’re Cooking with Gas – Propane Safety

Eat better boat meals while using less propane with tips and tricks from restauranteur-turned-cruiser, John Herlig.  Do you know the safe, proper way to manage your propane system?  Learn all of the do’s and dont’s along the way to check your propane system for leaks – before it is too late. Learn a variety of fuel-saving cooking techniques that won’t just extend time between propane refills, but will keep your boat cooler during the warmer months.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  John Herlig

Offshore Rigging & Sails – When things go wrong out there

It’s very important to do your homework before heading offshore. A critical aspect of this preparation is monitoring the condition of your rigging and sails. This session starts by covering strengths and weaknesses of rigging and sail materials, such as the many shortcomings of stainless steel. Then we’ll discuss what to look for in rig and sail inspection, improving sail handling setup, and maintenance. Finally, how to safely manage a rig or sail problem when away from professional resources, including recommended maintenance and repair kit contents to prepare before you go.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jamie Gifford of SailingTotem

OMG I Bought a Boat! Now What? 

You may know how to sail, and perhaps you have chartered boats . . . but now that you own a boat you are finding that you didn’t know as much as you thought about systems and boat maintenance. Jeff & Jean explain how you can get familiar with your boat and her systems so that you can have Drama- free cruising. It’s likely that your To Do list is overwhelming. We will help you understand how to prioritize what needs to be addressed immediately and how to choose a vendor to do the work properly and cost effectively.  With tips to create a budget so you don’t run out of money before the work is finished!

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of TwoCanSail

Optimize your Cruising Efficiency 

Cruising efficiently involves a balance of factors including time, cost, energy consumption, comfort and safety – a unique combination for every mariner.  Learn the techniques to create the optimal balance for your vessel. You’ll save time and money, improve your quality of life, and benefit the environment too.  This seminar focuses on:

  • Efficiency of systems – power cycle, conventional and alternate energy
  • Efficiency under sail & power – reducing drag, sailing technique, voyage planning
  • Efficiency of Onboard Space & Resources


  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

 Presented by: Lisa & Andy Batchelor of Kinetic Sailing

Outfitting the Bluewater Cruiser

What can you do to make your boat a blue water sailing yacht?  Pam Wall’s expert knowledge after years of circling the globe will help you learn about and understand the essentials of blue water cruising equipment. There will be the “why and because” answers with many products, ground tackle, sails and rigging set-ups, safety equipment, below deck comfort ideas, and plain old common-sense ideas that you never would have known and will become so obvious in this presentation.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

 Presented by:  Pam Wall

Plugged In – Power Cord Safety

It seems like such a simple thing when on the dock to plug the power cords in and enjoy the use of unlimited electricity, but there are many safety and systems concerns involved. How do you determine your power cord is not a fire waiting to happen, are you using the correct battery charger while on dock, should you equalize your batteries while plugged in, are the batteries receiving a flood or a trickle charge, and what is a smart charger?  Tom Hale will help you understand the safe practices of plugging while on the dock with an in-depth photo study of shore power systems.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to an intermediate (201) course

 Presented by:  Tom Hale

Preparing for Your First Cruise 

You’ve bought the boat and set the date for casting off the dock lines. Now what? 

Don’t panic! In this class, we’ll talk about 

  • The importance of flexibility
  • The importance of communication
  • Staying on the learning curve
  • The “Oh shoot” factor and how to get past it
  • Money and the first year shocks: why a monthly budget isn’t the whole story
  • The trap of a schedule
  • Boat preparation
  • Practical skills for day to day life afloat (how to plan routes/passages)
  • Safety equipment/training
  • Leaving land behind (tips on paperwork, housing, communications)
  • (last but definitely NOT least!) What to look forward to
  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Nica Waters of Fit2Sail

Provisioning – From List to Last Bite 

Provisioning can seem daunting. What should I get? How do I store it? Am I destined to eat Spam forever? Regardless of whether you’re planning a one-week Bay cruise or are headed across the Atlantic, food will take center stage for more of your cruise than you can imagine. To provision properly, you must account for budgetary concerns, refrigeration availability, storage space, and more. This class will teach you how to relax and provision like you’ve been doing it for years! We’ll cover:

What to provision:  What goes on the list? How much? How does meal planning fit in?

Unique challenges around provisioning for a cruise (and cooking aboard!): Storage, garbage, weather and more. 

Where and when to provision – pros and cons of farmer’s markets, your neighborhood grocery store, big box stores, and even ship chandleries, and the differences between when you might purchase non-perishable items and fresh food.

You will leave this class with a start of your own personalized provisioning list and a thorough understanding of what questions you need to answer to make the next provisioning run your best ever.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Nica Watersof Fit2Sail

Route Planning

Telling friends about the dream destinations you’ll sail to is easy. Stepping up to the edge of departure is often stressful and loaded with difficult decisions. Poor route planning can lead to uncomfortable, slower than expected, and riskier passages. There is a surprising number of recent examples of boats beat-up or lost due to poor routing. Learn how to route plan for an upcoming passage, upcoming season, and to deal with conditional changes underway. In this class you’ll learn the techniques, tools and process for a safer and more efficient trip down the coast or across an ocean.

  • This course is rated as an advanced beginner to intermediate (201) course

Presented by: Jamie Gifford of Sailing Totem

Rules of the Road

We are all legally bound to the COLREGS, but very few recreational boaters have actually looked at the rules or even carry a copy aboard. And there’s good reason for that! The Navigation Rules are confusing, long and cumbersome. In this seminar, we will simplify some of the most important and common rules by drawing upon real world experience. We’ve developed many tools to help you understand and remember these complex regulations. We’ll look at meeting, crossing and overtaking situations, vessel responsibilities (aka, who’s got the right-of-way), navigation lights, sound signals, and discuss in depth some techniques to help you make informed and safe decisions to avoid collisions in a variety of situations. Bring your notebooks!

Topics Include: Collision avoidance, COLREGS, Lights, shapes, sound signals

  • This course is rated as an advanced beginner to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Teresa & Ben Carey of Morse Alpha Expeditions

Safety at Sea

Safety at sea is like good background music, it delivers a subliminal theme that continues to resonate. In this 2-part class we’ll spotlight real examples showing how easily unsafety at sea creeps aboard. Then delve into specific risks and how to develop skills to respond to these safety challenges. Spotting problems before they happen, thoughtful decision making, and managing small issues before they spiral into crisis are paramount points of safety. And when a situation does go bad, your response can remedy or really complicate the issue. We’ll cover methods and procedures to managing situations of elevated risk through to crisis management. From first hand stories and lessons in groundings, dismastings, medical emergencies, etc., you will leave this class with a to-do list for preparation and roles for safety and crisis management aboard.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Jamie Gifford of SailingTotem

Safety is Seamanship 

This is a sailor’s look at the reasons why boat handling underpins safety afloat.  We will explore heavy weather decision making and how things like heaving to, setting storm sails and rigging up emergency steering alternatives can become a part of every cruiser’s skill set. This is a class for inshore and offshore sailors and covers handling summer thunderstorms as well as a gale in the Gulf Stream. It’s more about what to do when things turn bad and less about the gear to purchase. Both are of value, but being able to avoid calamity trumps preparing only for its inevitability.    

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Ralph Naranjo

Sailing with a Cruiser’s Attitude – an all day seminar

Ever wonder what it takes to cut the lines and sail off into the sunset?  Well, Bob & Jody will be presenting a full day seminar that covers everything from planning to completion of a successful cruise. Everyone knows there are a lot of things that go into a successful cruise. This seminar will cover the initial planning of a voyage, provisioning tricks, what the best type of boat is for the different types of cruising; Coastal, world, lake, river or around-the-world. Also, what type of budgets you need for the different styles of cruising. Bob lived aboard and cruised for over 35 years, and Jody cruised the world as well.  Between them they have over 150,000 miles of cruising, and over 35 years of living the cruising lifestyle. This seminar will be divided into 4 parts, with plenty of question & answer time, and a group discussion at the end.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Bob & Jody Lipkin of Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine

Sail Theory

If you ever tried to learn the concepts of points of sail or sail theory from a textbook and got confused, you’re not alone. It is a lot to take in. but Teresa breaks it down into just three rules of thumb. Master those, and you’ve got it in the bag. The classroom theory will complement on the water experience, even if you’ve been sailing for years. It will also establish a way for partners to communicate with each other. This is a foundational course, but most experienced sailors also learn new ways to think about sail trim, communication, and wind over sail!

Topics Include: Points of sail, Bernoulli’s principle, steering with the sails aka rudderless sailing, actual and apparent wind, leeway, heave to, sailing backward, wind aloft, setting and striking, reefing.

  • This course is rated as a beginner (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Teresa & Ben Carey of Morse Alpha Expeditions

Sail Trim for Performance & Safety

This presentation provides instruction on best practice sail trim for cruisers. The goal is to present the sailor with ways to deal with common cruising concerns of heel, over-powered situations, when to reef or use a Cunningham control on the main, best upwind performance and easy downwind 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.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  David Flynn of Quantum Sails

Short & Singlehanded Techniques & Tactics 

John and Amanda will share valuable tips for setting up your boat plus procedures and checklists addressing the following: safety, overboard prevention, watch standing, electronics for safety, sail handling, weather resources, dealing with sleep deprivation, docking, communications and storm tactics. A handout featuring key points and resources is included.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by: Amanda & John Neal of Mahina Expeditions

Spinnakers for Cruisers & Beginners 

This course is aimed at families, cruisers, singlehanded sailors or folks thinking about buying a spinnaker or who have bought a boat that has a spinnaker but do not know how to use it.  The course will guide you through the following areas:  

  • Why fly a spinnaker?
  • Different types of spinnakers (pros & cons of each)
  • How to set up the boat for spinnaker use (equipment needed & how to run lines)
  • Basic operation (hoisting, jibing, take down for both types of spinnakers
  • Spinnaker trim – Close, running and broad reach
  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Gary Shaw of Chutescoop


Traditional splicing and rigging know-how, paired with modern material knowledge, is a must have for every cruiser. This course will focus on the fundamental applications of each type of line including the most important splices to know.

We will cover:

  • 3-strand rope which is great for dock and anchor lines
  • Double braid line which is a go to for halyards and sheets
  • Dyneema/Spectra, which can be used for soft shackles, continuous loops, low stretch halyards and even as a lightweight, emergency standing rigging repair/alternative

We will cover all the basic and, time permitting, more advanced splicing techniques for all these lines. We will also go over the do’s and do-nots of ropework and splicing, and give a bunch of great tips you won’t find in a splicing book.

All lines used in the Splicing course have been donated by Latell Sails out of Deltaville, VA

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Jerry Latell & Jake Pender of Evolution Sails Chesapeake

Staying Ship Shape – When Your Boat Becomes Your Gym

Start in shape, stay in shape – the joys and pitfalls of exercise on board. Cruising is not always the most physical of lifestyles, and staying in shape can mean the difference between a successful cruise and one that ends too soon. At the same time, working out on a boat comes with its own set of challenges, among them space and weight for equipment, the lack of a nearby gym with fitness classes, and the worry about what others might think if you’re choosing to exercise on deck or on the beach. We’ll talk about overcoming these challenges (and why working out is important) as we learn about basic body exercises, good equipment (and substitutes) for use on board. By the time class is over you will have created your own personalized exercise routine for use on board – and you’ll feel confident you can do it!

We will be physically active in this class, so wear comfortable clothing you can move in.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Nica Waters of Fit2Sail

Storm Survival Techniques 

Survival becomes critical when storm avoidance is no longer an option. John & Amanda Neal show you the safest survival tactics including some radical new techniques based on their combined 680,000 miles and decades of Southern Ocean experience plus surviving the Queen’s Birthday Storm. A concise 25-page text is available illustrating and detailing this seminar.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Amanda & John Neal of Mahina Expeditions

Take the Stress out of Docking

Improve your maneuvering skills and docking technique.  This seminar explains how a boat’s individual characteristics affect maneuverability under power, and how you can use those features to your advantage.  Learn to assess the local conditions, decide upon and communicate a plan of action. Learn how to use to use spring-lines and transits to counter the effects of wind and current.  We’ll explore a number of techniques to overcome the most common docking challenges.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Lisa & Andy Batchelor of Kinetic Sailing

The Art of Anchoring 

Part 1- PowerPoint presentation giving specifics about: sizing anchors and rodes; anchoring in mud and weeds; “surprises” about scope calculations and ratios, such as using the six, not three factors to calculate scope; why 5:1, 7:1, and 10:1 scope ratios aren’t always appropriate; shackles for High Test chain; and, hand signals, plus more. Questions are encouraged.

Part 2- PowerPoint presentation giving specifics about: The seven steps for anchoring & their associated idiosyncrasies; cautions and considerations before you drop an anchor; how hard to back down on your anchor; how not to break your windlass; marking your rode; sizing cleats; COLREGs applicable to anchoring; how to size swivels to be reliable; and deploying multiple anchors, plus more. Questions are encouraged.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Rudy & Jill Sechez

The Cruising Boat – The 5 Step Plan to Purchasing It

The 5 Step Plan is a guide to becoming happy cruisers by maximizing your Dream and minimizing the Drama. Jeff & Jean will guide you through the 5 Step Plan, from what you should learn ahead of time, to creating a budget, the boat selection, a detailed look at the buying process, and then how to learn your boat after purchase.  The buying process can sometimes be complex and has several opportunities for expensive pitfalls. Jeff & Jean show you where the “stepping stones” are that allow you to navigate from Landlubber to Cruiser without making potential six figure mistakes.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of TwoCanSail

The Gulf Stream – Structure & Strategy

An introduction for cruisers and racers to the structure and dynamics of the Gulf Stream system including consideration of the factors governing this major, North Atlantic, warm water current and its variability. Particular emphasis will be placed on the determination of Stream location, the extent to which it influences and is influenced by local weather, the presence and evolution of meanders and eddies, and the flow speeds associated with each of these features. Sources of  information detailing these features their availability afloat and ashore and utility in optimum routing efforts will be discussed and used as a basis for in-class hands-on exercises. Selected read-ahead materials will be provided to all students.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: W. Frank Bohlen

Thunderstorm Primer – Weather in Motion 

Thunderstorms can quickly spoil an outing in many ways—strong winds, large waves, dangerous lightning or visibility-limiting rain. This presentation, presented by Mark Thornton of LakeErieWX, 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 resources.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course, you may wish to take Weather 000 first if you are completely new to weather forecasting

Presented by:  Mark Thornton of Lake Erie WX

Tool Time

It is time to drop the dock lines and set off on your cruising dream, but is your tool box ready to face the continuous maintenance on your boat and all of the systems?  Tom will address what tools you should have aboard (and ones most likely not necessary), what tools you should have duplicates of and what specialty tools may be needed.  Also, how do you decide the number of spare parts you should leave port with and where should it all be stored?  Tom Hale will give you an overview of what is and isn’t necessary based on his travels and his years in the marine business.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Tom Hale

Traditional Navigation – A Full Day Class

Join world cruisers Ralph and Lenore Naranjo for “A Navigator’s Look down Long Island Sound and beyond”. The Naranjos will share basic coastal piloting and traditional navigation techniques in the morning and fill the afternoon with a blend of paper plotting skills and the most current electronic navigation alternatives. By the end of the day you’ll be shaping routes toward new landfalls near and far, and ready to plot on a paper chart just in case the lights go out. 

Morning Session:

  • Using a compass, chart and few simple plotting tools
  • Location by latitude and longitude
  • Anatomy of the Nautical Chart
  • Chart scale and symbology
  • Position plotting on a Mercator chart
  • Speed time and distance—a DR tradition
  • Working with a hand bearing compass
  • Planning and plotting a Long Island Sound summer cruise

Afternoon Session:

  • GPS and digital cartography
  • Three levels of commitment to electronic navigation
  • The role of piloting and DR in a satellite signal world
  • Interfacing the human mind and a digital solution to navigation
  • Developing a no-electrons navigator’s backup plan
  • Blending the best of both worlds
  • Plot your cruising plans for destinations near and far
  • This course will start as a beginner / introductory (101) course and continue to intermediate level (201) throughout the day

Presented by: Ralph Naranjo

Tropical Weather Forecasting 

Cruisers are naturally drawn to the tropics by the promise of shimmering blue water, warm sandy beaches, and predictable trade winds. However, the tropics are also the breeding ground for nature’s most destructive storms – tropical cyclones. The weather in the tropics can be far from relaxing.

Weather forecasting in the tropics is very different than forecasting in the mid-latitudes. Tropical Weather Forecasting begins with a review of the prevailing weather patterns in the tropics. From there, we’ll discuss where to find weather forecasting products covering the region and learn how to interpret them. We’ll also delve into resources that cover the formation, movement, and evolution of tropical cyclones (tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes). If your cruising plans include the tropics, don’t miss this introduction to tropical weather forecasting.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course, you may wish to take Weather 000 first if you are completely new to weather forecasting

Presented by:  Mark Thornton of LakeErieWX

Troubleshooting Basic Electrical Problems

This seminar is meant to assist the boat-owner identify the most common sources of onboard electrical problems found on cruising vessels.  Expedient diagnostic procedure and possible solutions will be discussed, with a focus on the use of a digital multi-meter and test leads.  Other areas to be covered are Battery Charging Systems, Charging Devices, Electrical Circuit Testing, and Ground Faults.  While DC circuits are the highest priority and will be given most focus, AC circuits will be discussed with common faults and troubleshooting techniques.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course, you may wish to take Watt’s Up  first if you are completely new to understanding electricity

Presented by:  Scott Berg of Chardonnay Boatworks

Watt’s Up – Electricity Simplified

The concept of electricity is both familiar and mysterious. We all know what electricity is, or at least have a rough idea, based on practical experience. Consider these points: 
We are very familiar with the electricity that flows through wires. That electricity comes from power plants, harnessing solar energy, or catching the wind.
It travels from the power plants to our houses in big cables hung high in the air or buried in the ground. Once it gets to our houses, it travels through wires through the walls until it gets to electrical outlets. From there, we plug in power cords to get the electricity into the electrical devices we depend on every day. But how do we achieve the right source of electricity on our boat.
This class will offer a broad overview of the components of electricity such as:  Amps, volts, watts, the difference between AC/DC, charge and circuits.  It will also give you an understanding of how cruisers live on DC power.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of TwoCanSail

Weather Apps to Follow

There are plenty of apps devoted to marine weather observations and forecasting. Apps are a convenient and popular way to access wind & wave forecasts, marine observations, Doppler Weather Radar, and prepare the most favorable route for your passage. However not all apps are created equal. Several popular weather-related apps such as Squid Sailing, Predict Wind, Sail Flow, Windy, GR Level 3, and Radarscope will be introduced. We’ll examine the underlying data sources and discuss the positives and negatives associated with relying on apps for your cruising forecasts.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Mark Thornton of LakeErieWX

Weather 000 for Cruisers 

If you do not know the difference between High & Low Pressure, how to read a barometer, what causes wind flow, how to read the basic symbols used on weather maps, then you are not ready to take even the most basic 101 weather class.  Without this foundation of knowledge, you will be lost. This class will help you understand how weather works in lay language anyone can understand and will give you the basics needed to take classes on weather forecasting for sailing.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of TwoCanSail

Weather Routing with GRib’s

GRibs (an abbreviation for gridded binary) are small, readily-available data files that contain a wealth of weather forecasting information. Using GRibs is a great way for coastal and long-distance cruisers to forecast the weather and plan the fastest and most comfortable route anywhere in the world. Gribs are particularly useful when your connection to the Internet is very slow or you are limited to a satellite data connection. This presentation will cover the following topics:

• Choosing the right GRib file for your location and type of cruising

• Selecting a GRib viewing software (there are several free options)

• Options for downloading GRib files • Configuring your GRib software

• Preparing a marine forecast based on the data in your GRib file

• Weather routing using GRib data and your boat’s sailing characteristics

• A few of the limitations associated with forecasting using GRib file

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) to intermediate (201) course

Presented by:  Mark Thornton of LakeErieWX

Website, Blogging, & Podcasts – Getting started to share your cruising journey

Used to be you could entertain your neighbors with a slide show of your vacation after you got back. These days, family and friends expect more consistent updates as you sail from spot to spot. There are no shortage of ways to share the cruising adventure! 

This course will help you decide what medium to use (Blog? Podcast? Video?), an overview of some platforms that exist currently and the pros and cons of each, and some advice on creating a well-crafted story. The focus is not on becoming the next social influencer or even on funding your cruising (though we will touch on that briefly) but on the practicalities and basics of keeping others up to date in an internet age. 

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Nica Waters of Fit2Sail

What Me Worry!  Putting Cruising Fears to Rest

Every soon to be cruiser hears the horror stories of being out there from others about piracy, big winds, and big seas or they watch a movie with very scary scenarios creating a fear of leaving the dock.   Are these fears really situations a cruiser faces and are there strategies you can work on to minimize the fear of the unknown.  Let Behan Gifford give some hints from their circumnavigation with their family to put everyone’s worst fears to rest.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by: Behan Gifford of SailingTotem

What’s in Your Med Kit?

Whether you are cruising along the ICW or heading to the Caribbean, one of the most important items on the boat is your medical kit.  Most of us can figure out the basic contents but what are the extras boaters need in the kit when you are not in your familiar home waters?  Steve Rakkar, MD has combined 35 years in medicine and his 25 years on the water, helping lay people put together an extensive medical kit to ensure all crew members can be cared for until professional help arrives.

  • This course is rated as a beginner / introductory (101) course

Presented by:  Steve Rakkar, MD of




Annapolis, Maryland

"The knowledge of the presenters was outstanding, and the information gathered from attending was incredibly valuable!"

"I had high expectations for Cruisers University, and every single course far exceeded my expectations!"

"Reassured me I'm not crazy to be pursuing this dream of the cruising lifestyle."