Sail Away to Newport Beach
When visiting coastal Newport Beach, going for a sail is a must. One way to do this is a through a luxury boat tour, but more adventurous spirits will prefer to take things into their own hands. Whether you’re a novice or have been at the helm a time or two, some of the area’s sailing schools offer private classes that cater to your level and personal needs.
Not having sailed since I was a teenager at summer camp (note: accompanying friends who sail while sipping the skipper’s wine and drinking in the view does not count), I signed up for a beginner class with a friend at Newport Beach Sailing School. One course grants you three days on the water under the direction of an ASA Sailing Instructor.
Docked in Newport Harbor, Captain Dave — a Coast Guard and member of the school’s family of skilled instructors — gives us a preliminary refresher course on the parts of our 20-foot sailboat (the bow versus the stern, the main sail and the jib, starboard versus port side, et cetera) as well as what do with those parts in various situations on the sea (we’ll be quizzed on these terms and sailing knowledge later in our journey). In the harbor, we also learn how to undress the sails, tie a proper knot, and what do if one of one of us wound up overboard.
Now cruising through the harbor — we’ve been fortunate to head out in ideal wind, sea and weather conditions — things speed up a bit. Captain Dave explains the points of sail (beating, reaching, running) and how the wind affects the sails. He teaches us how tacking works (changing the direction of the boat from one side to the other) and how to turn the boat to change course by “coming about” or “jibing.” With these basic skills, we’re ready to explore the Pacific Ocean, where fiercer winds and bigger waves make for a more exciting — and educational — sailing experience. After three days, the Captain says many of his students are feeling confident and ready to buy their own boat (I was not one of these students, and while I did enjoy the adventure, I remain one of those passengers who prefers to sit back with a beverage).
One of the most magnificent things about sailing off the coast of Newport Beach, second to sunshine and the refreshing ocean breeze, is soaking in the beauty that abounds. Drifting across the waters, we came in contact with many forms of wildlife, from sea lions sunbathing atop the water tower (and a few that had pirated boats in the harbor) to brown pelicans and seagulls soaring and plunging for fish to dolphins spy-hopping and bow-riding alongside our boat. Exploring the area by sailboat is also a fantastic way to take in the expansive coastline and all that it encompasses, as well as admire some of Newport Beach’s spectacular ocean– and cliff–side homes.
To sign up for a course, visit newportbeachsail.com or call 949-209-9931.