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Learn to sail at Wind and Water Learning Center in Orange Beach, Alabama

Learn to sail at Wind and Water Learning Center in Orange Beach, Alabama

If you had told me that we would learn to sail in one lesson while we were in Orange Beach, I would have chuckled and looked at you like you were extremely optimistic.

But, that’s exactly what we did. Are we going to take on a 7 hour tour on the open ocean, no. Do we have the basics under our belts and speak fondly of our time with Wind and Water Learning Center, absolutely.

What does Wind and Water Learning Center offer?

From the Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism Website:

“We provide on-water educational opportunities for sailing, paddle sports, and experiential outdoor learning. The unique waterfront learning center on Wolf Bay accommodates people of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds. Our offerings include youth sail camp, private sailing and kayak classes taught by certified instructors. Don’t miss our full moon paddle events, held monthly during the season.”

What did our private sailing lesson entail?

The first thing that we did upon arrival was classroom time, where we went over the basics of sailing. I’m going to be honest, when I first found out that this was going to be part of the experience, I wasn’t sure what my two boys would think about “learning” during an outing like that.

They sat with rapt attention and participated in the discussions that we were having and answered questions. I was really pleased that they took it all in.

Next, we headed out to the sunfish (which is a type of small sail boat perfect for beginners.)

We learned how to get the boat ready for the water, and then literally practiced capsizing and what to do if/when that happened. It was a huge relief that we could touch the sandy bottom of the bay at all times while we were sailing, so that eased my mind a bit, in the event that we did go overboard!

Another point of honesty here, this made me borderline terrified. I don’t like not being in control and I especially don’t like being in a situation where I am put into water of any kind without me being in charge of that action.

Then, our fabulous instructor Jackie, said something that I have repeated at least 10 times since our time together. She said “sailing is what she considers type 2 fun” meaning, you know that something like going to the movies or going dancing is going to be fun.

Type 2 fun is fun that you are perhaps a touch apprehensive to experience but are so very glad that you decided to push past the unknown and participate.

That’s exactly how I would describe our time sailing and even our time parasailing. It was 100% type 2 fun. I was nervous but so very glad that I experienced it.

On to the sailing!

Once we faced our fears and learned what to do when the boat capsized, it was time to roll up our sleeves and get sailing.

There were four of us participating, myself, my husband, and two boys so initially each parent took a kid and we went along the course set out, navigating around the buoys and back to the start.

Jackie followed behind those sailing, with a bullhorn, giving instructions and they were spot on, because I am glad to say, that none of the groups sailing ended up capsizing, which was a big relief for me!

Our two boys ended up asking if they could try sailing together, which prompted my husband and I to look at each other and make a bit of a face. As with almost all siblings, when frustrated, arguments can breakout and reactions to each other can be, let’s say, unpredictable.

We asked Jackie what she thought and she said she didn’t see a reason for them not to try.

They did very well together, navigating the buoys, picking up speed and working as a team. As a mama, I had more fun watching them sail together then doing it myself.

My boys still talk about the experience, excited that they “know” how to sail and my oldest came home wanting to get a sunfish for the lake at our family farm.

If you haven’t planned for type 2 fun on your next family vacation, why not plan to learn to sail?