5 Reasons to Join a Sailing Club

Whether you are a seasoned sailor with decades of experience or a novice just starting your sailing journey, the same hurdles seem to stand in the way when it comes to desired sea time. In the wake of busy personal and professional lives, finding the time, resources and necessary crew sometimes seems like an impossible feat. You could Join a premier sailing club. This strategy helps you sail around those hurdles with ease and gets you on the water as much as you desire! Here’s why:

  1. Relevant Training – Finding a club with training tailored to your specific skill level will open up a world of possibilities by eliminating the “But I don’t know how!” and the “But I’m not certified!” It is important as a sailor to have a strong combination of both certifications and experience. By joining a sailing club with a structured sailing curriculum like ASA, you can check both structured training and time on the water off your list!
  2. Sailing on Demand – A club that provides individualized training is important, but a club that offers both training and a wide variety of well-maintained yachts is essential. Premier sailing clubs offer year-round access to sailboats and give you, the member, more opportunities to get out on the water in your own time. A sailing club gives you the flexibility to book a sail months in advance or just a few minutes before hitting the water
  3. Affordability – Probably the most logical reason for joining a premier sailing club is to enjoy the perks of sailing brand new yachts for pennies on the dollar compared to buying and owning yourself. You can charter a new Beneteau a couple times a month for less money than the slip rent and maintenance would cost a boat owner. This brings up an important aspect of choosing a club; shop around! Tour all the fleets, meet staff members and instructors, and check out the products being offered first hand to really get a good grasp on what you are paying for. Remember, you get what you pay for so do your homework and ask questions. Ask to talk to current members too.
  4. Connection! Connection! Connection! – Being a member of a club gets you exclusive access to what that club offers, including other members! For instance at Harbor Sailboats, we have a “Members Only” forum that can be used for crew sharing opportunities, meet and greets, and much more and is only available to our members. Not to mention, club staff is always willing and ready to assist with a simple phone call or email. Not being able to find crew is a problem of the past!
  5. Tailored plans for Future Endeavors – What are your ultimate sailing goals? Do you dream of chartering in the British Virgin Islands? Do you see yourself owning a yacht one day? As a member of a sailing club, staff can work with you achieve your desired sailing goals. Harbor Sailboats for example holds club sponsored flotillas and in-house ownership opportunities in order to foster and support our members’ sailing dreams.


So what are you waiting for? Join a sailing club!


How To Get Started Sailing

Many Americans have a dream of one day sailing off on their boat, but how do you get started with that dream?

The first step is to take a basic sailing lesson; here at Harbor Sailboats we offer ASA 101 Basic Keelboat. ASA 101 is a two day course where we spend 80% of the time on the water aboard a Capri 22 learning the basics of sailing. Topics include terminology, points of sail, rules of the road, sail trim, docking under sail, man overboard and many others.

After completion of this basic sailing class you’ll have both the skill and the confidence to safely skipper a 22 foot sailboat with friends and family and a certification from the American Sailing Association. From that point, you simply build on those skills by chartering the smaller keelboats until you have enough sea time to enroll into the next level class. At Harbor Sailboats that class is ASA 103 coastal cruising and after completing the 103 class you will now be certified to skipper boats up to 37 feet. At this point you continue to build your resume by chartering the larger 30 to 37 foot sailboats for a day, weekend, or even a week at a time. Take your certifications as far as you desire by enrolling in the next three levels of classes that will certify you to a maximum of 51 feet including catamaran certifications.

If you plan to make San Diego your home base for sailing, a Harbor Sailboats club membership will prove to be a valuable option for you. Members of the sailing club receive substantial discounts on ASA classes, charters, and access to member only charter specials including an annual sailing trip in the Caribbean.

After a year or two of chartering and training you might be ready to buy the sailboat of your dreams and sail off into the sunset!

The Difference Between Renting a Sailboat and Being A Sailing Club Member

The concept of a sailing club membership may be foreign to some people, but what are some of the differences between being a club member and just renting a sailboat for the day?

The direct benefit of a sailing club membership is the discounted rates you receive on both sailing classes and sailboat charters. As a member of the Harbor Sailboats sailing club you can expect to save anywhere from 30% to 50% off the public rental rate. These cost savings really add up even if you only sail a handful of times annually.  Another great benefit of our club membership are the member only specials offered to you. Here, our club members can take advantage of flex time sailing, weekend specials, extended trip specials, and standby specials just to name a few . In addition, new sailors who join the club also receive the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat, complementary, so you can hit the ground running.

The familiarization with the boats and the clubs process is also a big difference between being a member and a public renter. As a member you are more familiar with how the whole process operates in respect to the reservation and boat checkout process. This allows you more time on the water and less time dealing with formalities. As a member of a club like Harbor Sailboats you are also more familiar with the sailing area allowing you to have a more enjoyable time on the water.

The social aspect of a club membership is also a very important consideration. A public renter may not get an invitation to join some of the group activities like opening day, boat shows, group sails, holiday parties, and annual flotillas, just to name a few. The social activities help give your club membership more value and also serve as an environment to meet other like-minded sailors. A very unique feature of Harbor Sailboats is our “members only” forum that serves as a great platform for members to connect and sail together.

These are just a few examples of the difference between being a public renter and having a sailing club membership. If you plan on sailing in San Diego a couple times per year, even if you live out of town, our club membership is the best option for you. We encourage you to learn more, ask us questions and talk to current members to help you decide if it is right for you.

Creating A More Enjoyable Time For Your Crew

Being the skipper comes with a lot of responsibility; you’re responsible for the boat and most importantly responsible for the safety of the crew. Here are a couple tips on how to create a more enjoyable time for your crew while still maintaining safe keeping of the boat and passengers. For the purposes of this blog we will write from the perspective of chartering boats from a club like Harbor Sailboats.

Stay within your skill. It’s very exciting to be certified with ASA 103 and boats up the 37′ but chances are high that you’re not ready for a 37′ boat right out of a 103 class. Stay within your skill level by chartering a boat you feel comfortable on and work your way up in size in small increments. For sailors fresh out of the 103 class this is probably the Catalina 28 or Beneteau 31. Boat handling will become more stressful once you add 4-5 friend/family and being outside your skill level can create and not so enjoyable experience for your crew.

Get to the boat early. Getting to the boat 30-45 minutes before your crew is extremely important and even more so for new sailors. By getting to the boat early you can really get your feet under you and create a better atmosphere for your check out with the dock staff. This allows for a more detailed review of the boat and even a practice docking if you would like. By getting to the boat early your crew will able to step on and go sailing without having to sit through your check out and practice docking.

Prep your crew at the dock. Most likely you and maybe one other crew member are sailors and the rest of the group are friends and family along for a ride. Spending a few extra minutes at the dock explaining how the boat works will go a long way towards making the sail more enjoyable. Show how a winch works, how the boom will swing, how to walk forward in a safe way, and of course demonstrating how the head works are just a few examples.

Keep the boat flat. Getting the boat powered up and heeled over may be fun for a group of sailors (even though its not fast and not good for the boat) but it’s not always fun for a group that is new to boating. New sailors may not understand how the keel will prevent the boat from flipping or know how to properly brace themselves on the high side so it’s extremely important to keep the boat calm and flat. Don’t be afraid to take in a reef or just sail with the main if its a windy day.

These are just a couple example on how to create a more enjoyable time for you crew and improve your skills as a skipper.

Owning a Charter Boat

If you’re a regular charterer at your sailing club or if you rent in exotic destinations like the British Virgin Islands, chances are you’ve been pitched on buying and owning a boat in a rental program. For some, this is the absolute best way of owning a boat and for others this is not the best idea.

Let us explain a little bit of how it works from the perspective of a Sailing Club that’s been doing it since 1969.

The first thing one must understand is what type of charter program are you entering into? Are you doing full time charter, limited charter, owner operated charter, etc? For the purposes of this blog we will speak of limited charter like we do here at Harbor Sailboats. Limited charter is defined by most insurance companies and lenders as chartering less than 90 days per year.

Will I make money owning a boat in the charter fleet? Absolutely not. Limited charter boat ownership is not designed to make its owners money, it is designed to save you money. The goal for our owners at Harbor Sailboats is to cover roughly 50% of their annual cost of ownership while still allowing them to sail their new Beneteau on a regular basis.

How do the financials work? Every club is a little different but here at Harbor Sailboats revenue is split 50/50 between the boat owner and the club. An owner is responsible for the payment of all operating cost like slip rent, insurance, maintenance, loan (just like private ownership) but their portion of the charter revenue goes a long way towards covering those cost. At the end of each month an owner will receive a statement showing expenses (slip rent and maintenance) along with a statement of revenue. Most months an owner will have more revenue than expenses and a nice check from the club will accompany the statement, if this is not the case an owner will bring the balance to zero by writing a check to the club.

How often can I use my boat? It is mutually understood that the boat is part of the club for the main purpose of renting, that being said we want the owners to use their boats! Most of our agreements do not place a limit on owner usage but some owners try to be more active mid-week and off season as to take advantage of the peak rental periods. Use your boat!

What happens with damage? First, all reputable charter companies will have a fleet policy that covers the owner, renters, and the charter company in the event of major damage. For small mistakes, the person who causes the damage pays for the repair up to the boats insurance deductible amount. For example, if a charterer looses a winch handle or chips the bow with the anchor they will be financially responsible for the damage. Harbor Sailboats staff does detailed pre and post sail check outs to ensure all discrepancies are tracked. Normal wear and tear of sails and rigging is considered maintenance and the good charter companies will replace those items before they become a problem for the renter or owner.

How long can I keep a boat in the fleet? New boats enter the Harbor Sailboats fleet with a 5 year term, after 5 years we will look at the shape of the overall fleet a decide if its time to trade the boat in for a new boat, sell, enjoy privately, or keep in the fleet under another 1 year term.

What boats are eligible for charter fleets? Again every club is a little different but here at Harbor Sailboats we bring in new Beneteau sail and powerboats. We’re extremely proud to be a sub-dealer of the Beneteau brand as this gives our customers to best pre and post sale experience. Some clubs across the US will take in late model used boat so if new is not in the budget don’t worry as there is always an option.

Who Performs the Maintenance? The best run clubs across the US will have an in-house maintenance crew that will manage and maintain your boat to the highest standard. Preventative maintenance is key to any boats maintenance schedule but with an in house team these projects get done quicker and get worked around the charter schedule as not to interfere with owner revenue. Having your boat in a managed maintenance program through the charter club saves the owners hours of management and gives a piece of mind that your boat is maintained in top condition.

These are just a few topics on charter boat ownership, if your interested more details please contact Keenan Hirsh.


Team Building Events

What does your company do for team building?

If your next corporate meeting or convention happens to be in San Diego, or if you’re a local company, we have an exciting team building option for your organization- a San Diego Sailing Regatta!

The sailing regatta is designed for all types of people and no prior sailing experience is required.  With capacity for up to 150 people, each team of 6 sailors will be led by a professionally licensed Coast Guard Captain. Immediately following an introduction and safety briefing, each group will have an opportunity to learn the terminology and crew positions before practicing together as a newly formed sailing team. Positions aboard the yacht include the navigator, time-keeper, mainsail trimmer, port jib trimmer, starboard jib trimmer, and the driver. After practice, all boats will line up for the most exhilarating part of the race, the start!

Sailing takes preparation, communication, and execution to achieve a common goal. On a sailboat, the only constant is change so adjusting to varying conditions is the only way to succeed (sound familiar?). Fine-tuning the sails, correcting for the current, and anticipating the next wind shift are vital and necessary skills for victory. Racing is fun and provides valuable lessons that can be applied to everyday professional and personal development. Let’s break down the office structure for an afternoon and show you how sailing is one of the best business analogies there is.

Yachts from Beneteau and Catalina are very comfortable and stable. The flat, protected waters of San Diego Bay keep all passengers dry and seasickness is never an issue with our team building events. All the crew will enjoy views of Harbor Island, Shelter Island, Coronado Bridge, Seaport Village, Downtown skyline, Aircraft Carriers, sea lions, and the occasional dolphins. Sailing in San Diego is a year around venture so call or email us today for to schedule your group for a San Diego sailing team building event. Harbor Sailboats has hosted over 1,000 companies big and small from all parts of the globe.

“We had such a wonderful time!  It was a truly unique experience for our group since we are restricted to our office almost every day.  I know that all thirteen of our teams were very impressed with out captains and the quality of the boats…my team had Aaron who was funny yet did an amazing job explaining how things worked and why.  And he was incredibly patient.  Overall, it was well put together and everyone was really pleased with the outcome.We cant wait to do it again next time we are in San Diego.”


Setting Anchor (overnight)

There are many factors to consider when planning to anchor overnight…How much rode should I let out? What is the tide doing? How about the wind? Is that boat too close to me? Am I even allowed to anchor here?  These, among others, are very important concerns when planning to spend the night at anchor aboard your sailboat.

First; decide where you want to anchor. There are only a few “designated anchorages” here, while sailing in San Diego Bay, suitable for us weekend (or weekday) warriors. Suggested spots include La Playa Cove, Glorietta Bay, and up to Mission Bay. See our Boaters Guide page for more information and what permits (if any) you may need.

When you arrive to the spot, try and scope out a nice open space (this may be tough on a summer weekend). Keep in mind that wherever you drop the hook, you are going to end up much further downwind depending on the depth of the anchorage. By the way, how deep is it here? You should always know this fact and the easiest, most reliable way is to look at the chart. The depth sounder is a great source of information but the instruments can vary from boat to boat (some may measure from the waterline, some from the keel). If the chart says that the mean low water sounding is 18′, and the high tide is 6′, plan for the max depth of 24′. Okay, we’re planning to anchor in approximately 25′ of water- this means at a minimum 5:1 ratio for calm conditions, we will be letting out 125′ of rode.

Prepare to drop the anchor! The key here is to make sure that the boat is at a complete stop (or even moving slightly astern) and into the wind before lowering the anchor. When instructed by the helmsman, the bow person will lower the anchor. The trick here is not too fast as you don’t want chain piling on top of the anchor but also not too slow (you want the anchor to hit the bottom before drifting out of place). As the boat drifts downwind the bow person will continue to let out rode until the desired length is laid out on the bottom (the helmsmen may need to give the boat slight reverse on the throttle). When the correct amount of rode is payed out, the bow person can tie off to the cleat or secure a snubber if the boat is equipped with one. Are we done? No, not quite yet, especially if you plan to stay overnight…

The next step is to set the anchor. With the boat settled in (pointing towards the anchor upwind) the helmsman should now back the boat in reverse. The idea is to literally “dig” the anchor down into the mud and stretch out the chain. As you back down in reverse you can expect to see the boat moving aft compared to a landmark perpendicular to your boat, this is because you are stretching the chain and line until the anchor digs into the mud. Once the boat comes to a stop you will stay on the throttle for a few more moments until you’re certain the anchor has set and is holding the boat. If you are not dragging at 1/2- 3/4 throttle, your chances of dragging later on are minimal.

Look around- do we have enough swing room? Expect to swing 360 degrees as the wind shifts and current changes effect your position. Is that boat too close? If there is concern, simply pick-up and try again. If you’re close enough, ask your neighbor how much rode they have out.  If your numbers are somewhat similar, you can expect to swing in harmony as the wind shifts.

The key to anchoring is to always have a plan. Think out the process beforehand and always have an exit strategy. These steps are only the basics so Practice! Practice! Practice! Of course, we encourage you to get additional sailing instruction if you are unsure of your skills.

Power Cord Safety

The boats shore power cord is vital to keeping the batteries charged and enjoying some of the electrical features that are not available while away from the dock. For example, most recreational sailboats don’t have a generator so the ships outlets, microwave, electric water heater, etc. will not function unless the boat is plugged into the docks 110v shore power system.

When you charter a sailboat with Harbor Sailboats, you may find that the AC shore power cord has already been disconnected prior to your arrival, but there may also be instances where the cord may still be connected. Let’s go through the proper steps in connecting, checking, and re-connecting the boat’s power cord properly and safely…


First, turn off the boat’s AC breaker, the light on the panel should turn off. Next, turn off the breaker at the dock, the switch should be in the down position at Harbor Island West Marina. Now unplug the cord from the dock box and coil the cord as you walk back to the boat. The last step is to unplug the other end of the cord from the boat and place it in the cockpit locker. Go Sailing!

When chartering with Harbor Sailboats, there is no need to plug the boat back in upon arrival, only plug in if you desire the extra power mentioned above.


ALWAYS plug the power cord into the boat first. Walk the cord to the dock box and make absolutely sure the breaker is in the off position. Plug in the power cord to the dock box receptacle and walk back to the boat and turn on the AC breaker (the light should illuminate). When turning on the battery charger it’s a good idea to see that the voltage increases to verify its functionality (~13-14 volts).

All sounds pretty easy right? The main idea is to never handle the cord while it’s hot (ie. power running through it). Avoid setting up unnecessary tripping hazards, keep the cord out of the water, and always inspect the cord for damage. Follow these simple steps and everyone is happy!

Fairlead Placement, Go Faster!

In this post we’ll talk about using the headsail (jib, genoa, etc.) fair-lead to get the most performance while also extending the sail’s usable life.

Moving the “lead” or “car” forward and aft will adjust the shape (aka twist) of the headsail. Essentially, when the lead is moved aft, the bottom and middle of the sail will flatten and the top will open. This will de-power the sail and allow the boat to sail flatter and faster in strong wind.

Opposite is moving the jib car forward, this should be done when the breeze is on the lighter side to create more power. By moving the lead forward, the sail will have more shape because the leech is being “pulled down” by the sheet resulting in a full foot and mid-section with a closed-off top.

To recap… Move the fair lead forward in lighter breeze (more shape) and aft in the stronger breeze (flatter sail).

When you think you have your cars in the correct position, test it by bringing the boat up into a close-hauled course. Next, slowly bring the boat higher up into the wind and watch as the inside telltales all start to “break”. If all the telltales break at the same time, the entire sail is working efficiently and you are all set! However, if the top tell-tails break first you need to adjust the car forward. If the bottom breaks first, bring the car aft.

Test your lead position next time you’re on the water or ask us on the dock for more tips! Here at Harbor Sailboats you can get beginning to advanced ASA sailing lessons to increase your knowledge and skills on the water, sailing.

Do ASA Certifications Expire?

The simple answer is no, your American Sailing Association (ASA) certification does not expire. Certifications issued through the American Sailing Association come with lifetime designation, but this does not necessarily mean an individual is qualified to operate a desired sailboat. Alongside certification the most important thing one can have on their sailing resume is experience skippering sailboats at the certification level they desire.

ASA-Certification-101-220x300 Read More

San Diego Sunroad Marina Boat Show – January 26 – 29

Join us Thursday – Sunday, January 26-29, 2017 for the San Diego Big Bay Sunroad Marina Boat Show! Visit the booths of brands and companies you’ve come to know and love. The show also features new marine services and products, free boating seminars, boat rides, libations and more. See you there!


Show Hours

Thursday, Jan 26, 12pm – 6pm

Friday, Jan 27, 12pm – 6pm

Saturday, Jan 28, 10am – 6pm

Sunday, Jan 29, 10am – 6pm



$13 for Adults. Children 12 & under, FREE.

Active Military, EMTs, Police and Fire personnel are FREE on Thursday, January 26 and Friday, January 27 with ID. Purchase your Boat Show Tickets online now!


For more information, visit: http://bigbayboatshow.com/

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Charter a Boat and Join the Parade!

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community. Continuing its long-standing San Diego tradition, the 45th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights promises to dazzle and entertain bayfront crowds during the evenings of December 11 and 18, 2016. Participants in this year’s highly anticipated holiday boat parade will decorate their boats to fit this year’s theme, “It Began with a Roar – San Diego Zoo Celebrates 100 Years.”

Presented by the Port of San Diego, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights brings more than 100,000 San Diego residents and visitors to the shores and water of San Diego Bay each year. The procession of approximately 80 lavishly decorated boats has become one of the most iconic events in the region.

This year, for the first time, the parade will proceed to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park before making the turn to Coronado, giving spectators another area to view the parade.


More Info Here

Beneteau Ownership – No Cost For 3 Years

2017 Beneteau Oceanis 31 “Open”

Oceanis 31

Harbor Sailboats is offering an extremely attractive ownership program that will pay 100% of the owners operating expenses for the first three years of ownership. The sailing club will pay the slip rent, insurance, maintenance, and pay the boats mortgage for the first three years. Owners simply make a down payment (or pay in full) and Harbor Sailboats will cover the rest!

The owner of this yacht will save thousands of dollars a month while still retaining 42 days of reserved usage per year and unlimited “stand-by” usage. The participating boat owner will have the luxury of stepping onto a fully prepared and maintained yacht and stepping off after enjoying a day on the water. Harbor Sailboats will manage all aspect of yacht ownership leaving more time for you to enjoy the boat and less time dealing with the logistics of ownership.

For some, the biggest advantage of fleet ownership is the tax benefits it may create. We strongly encourage you speak with a tax professional, but many of our boat owners have used Section 179 of the federal tax code to qualify for accelerated depreciation. This is the same tax benefits that farmers use to purchase tractors and construction companies use to purchase trucks. Your yacht will become the capital in your newly formed or existing charter business. Again, we strongly recommend you contact a tax professional for specifics on this program and how it may apply to you.

The Oceanis 31 “Open” is a fantastic family cruiser that blends easy sailing with luxury accommodations. At 31 feet, she is the entry level cruiser but can easily support the family for a weekend in Mission Bay or that week long trip to Catalina. A boat that is easy to control and a blast to sail, the Beneteau Oceanis 31 is a standout in this range.

Sail Away Charter Ready- 175,085

Contact Keenan for complete details- Keenan@harborsailboats.com or 619-417-3303 (cell)

BVI Flotilla Group Boat

We are now holding a brand new Beneteau Oceanis 48 and are making it available on a per-cabin basis with a Harbor Sailboats skipper aboard. Enjoy some of the best cruising in the world without the major cost or responsibility!

Each group will have a private double cabin with A/C and separate head/shower. The yacht will be skippered by a Harbor Sailboats captain who will be sleeping in the main salon and will be responsible for the safe keeping of the yacht. All members can participate in sailing as much or as little as they wish and house-hold responsibilities will be divided up by the crew. Your charter fee will include the yacht, an early board start, “Split-Provisions”, all anchoring/moorings fees, taxes, captain, misc. water toys, linens, and an unforgettable vacation! Not included is any activities/meals ashore, hotel accommodations on the final night of our trip, and flights.

Flotilla dates are May 5th (arrive) – May 14th (Depart). We will be sailing to a different island every day where you can enjoy some of the world’s most famous sailing destinations. Social events will be planned almost every day with things like Hobie Cat racing, a beach BBQ, group dinners/happy hours, and much more!

The all-inclusive cost per cabin (2 people) is $3,332.13 for the brand new Beneteau Oceanis 48. A 50% deposit is required to secure your cabin with the remaining 50% becoming due on February 1st.

Helpful Links

The Boat- http://www.moorings.com/charter-fleet/moorings-484-4-cabin-monohull

The Charter Base- http://www.moorings.com/base-guide/tortola


Space is limited to only 4 couples so please don’t hesitate to ask any questions or secure your cabin today!


2017 Flotilla Dates Announced

May 6th-13th, 2017

The dates are set for the 2017 Harbor Sailboats Flotilla in the British Virgin Islands!

Last year the club put together 10 boats with over 50 people in total. 15 knot tropical winds, 75-80 degree crystal blue water, a different island every day, and line of sight navigation make the BVI’s a must do!

Harbor Sailboats will coordinate the entire trip including flight suggestions, booking of the yacht, provisions, and provide a daily itinerary while in the islands. With group activities like Hobie Cat racing and dinners, this will be a vacation you and the family will never forget.

Please join us on October 14th at 6pm for a mixer and informative presentation at Harbor Sailboats. Flotilla leaders will speak on the logistics of the trip and provide example pricing for various boat sizes.

Please send RSVP to isail@harborsailboats.com

Quotes are now available!


…Can’t make the May 6-13th trip? Join club member/seasoned BVI skipper Tony Lipka aboard his reserved 39’catamaran June 27th-July 2nd, 2017. Contact Tony directly at 619.890.8113 or tonylipka@twc.com for more information.