A Total Class Package
It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to learn to sail so when I found Simple Sailing Charters and Sales on Florida’s West Coast in St. Petersburg, I found an organization that offered me everything I was looking for in one learn-to-sail package. I could learn to sail and live aboard the “classroom” sailboat while I completed the on-the-water lessons sailing on Tampa Bay, arguably one of the finest sailboat cruising areas in the U.S.
Simple Sailing is the St. Petersburg-based certified American Sailing Association (ASA) school with a fleet of newer boats ranging from 28 to 39 feet, including their flagship Leopard 39 catamaran “Simplicity.”
Adding diversity to their charter fleet are the three new Duffy Electric Boats which can accommodate up to a dozen passengers for a leisurely cruise of the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront including the Vinoy Basin, Bayboro Harbor, and Snell Isle.
After contacting Deborah at Simple Sailing I booked my introduction to sailing class, ASA 101. The fleet is based at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina in downtown St. Petersburg and the location is ideal as there are hundreds of hotels, restaurants, museums, and other attractions within walking distance of the marina, including the Dali Museum, Chihuly Museum, the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort, and dozens of sidewalk cafes and restaurants to satisfy every taste. For those wanting to expand their vacation of a Tampa Bay sailing experience, the beach cities including St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, and Pass-A-Grille are just a short 20-minute ride to the Gulf of Mexico beach resorts.
As a part of my class package I arranged to live aboard my “classroom,” the Hunter 36 “Bella.” This lovely yacht, with twin cabins and a lovely salon area, also has a full galley, a head (bathroom) with shower, and ample space for four to six guests. I awoke each morning to the gentle rocking of the boat while the sea birds flew overhead in search of their next meal. The large cockpit area allowed me to enjoy a morning coffee surrounded by the quiet ambiance of the city marina and nearby parks and adjacent Vinoy Basin.
Ending with a Celebration
The highlight of the two-day live-aboard lessons program was an evening cruise aboard “Bella” on July 4, just outside the marina. While savoring the spectacular views of the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront I was able to witness the city’s magnificent fireworks display to celebrate the Fourth from the deck of “Bella” as we glided over the waters while sailing Tampa Bay.
My instructor Norm was personable as well as professional and the Fourth of July celebration was the perfect ending to simply the best sailing lessons from Simple Sailing Charters and Sales in downtown St. Petersburg, FL.