On a day when the wind is perfect,
The sail just needs to open
And the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.
Like flying, sailing is a universal human dream of being able to float away into serenity. The Lanier Sailing Academy in Pensacola, FL helps make this dream come true for hundreds of people. Capt. Kathy Struchen feels that "One of the best parts of sailing is that it offers so many different experiences. One day can bring gentle breezes, dolphins off the bow, and a peaceful time on the water.
The next day can bring stronger winds and a sense of exhilaration as you focus on harnessing the power of nature. Many people have a life-long dream of 'sailing off into the sunset'. Other folks are new to the area and want to find a way to get out and enjoy the water. Once they start sailing, people get hooked and want to learn more and more."
While sailing isn't all fun and games, it's also not as difficult as many people believe, says Struchen, "There is sometimes a misconception that sailing is hard work. While there is certainly a lot to learn, with proper instruction it is a relatively easy process." Over the past 46 years, the Lanier Sailing Academy has perfected its teaching methods, which give beginners a sound grasp of the essentials while having fun. The original school is located on Lake Lanier in Georgia, and the Pensacola branch was opened in 2001, by Captains John and Kathy Struchen.
Classes begin with the Basic Keelboat, which is a three-days certification to captain a 20-26 ft boat. Students are mailed study materials before the course starts. With this certification, students can move on to larger boats for a 6 day, live-aboard class.
Beyond these classes, says Struchen, there are plenty of fun ways to gain more sailing experience: "The other thing that sets us apart is the Buccaneer Sailing Club. We want to make sailing accessible, so this Club allows people to sail our boats for only $115 per month. This way, students can immediately get out and start sailing. They can bring family and friends along, so it's like having a fleet of boats to sail, without the expense or worries of owning a boat! We also include clinics and social activities year-round."
The Academy's goal is to make sailing accessible to all who want learn, she adds: "You can count on there always being a friendly face at the dock to answer questions and assist you in furthering your sailing goals." Advanced training for large cruising sailboats at Pensacola - Basic Cruising 103 & Bareboat Cruising 104 - gives students the capability to start cruising or charter a boat in the islands. The Academy and its instructors have won numerous awards including the American Sailing Association's "Outstanding School of the Year" and the"Outstanding Instructor of the Year".