WELCOME TO THE BEST Sailing School ON THE Great Lakes!

SAVE UP TO $800! 

Our passion is sailing and our goal is to share the knowledge and feeling of being under sail. Great Lakes Sailing Co. is an  ASA Award Winning Sailing School with a 30 year history of introducing sailing to over 5000 sailors.  We operate from a private marina facility in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan with shore-side amenities for the students to enjoy including a new boaters lounge and bathhouse facilities. And after class, visit the many restaurants within walking distance or downtown area just a mile away. Our roster of instructors speaks for itself. Eleven certified instructors keep the classes fresh and lively. They not only know sailing but they know how to teach it in a relaxed manner.

Our course line up covers everything from Basic Sailing to Cruising to Advanced Sailing, Catamaran Courses, Group Events and more.

We offer classes from mid-May through the first week in October.

We would love to get you out on the water, so please give us a call or complete our application if you would like to reserve your 2024 class.


Ask about private instruction aboard a Jeanneau 349, 380, 410 or 440.

Options available for ASA 101/103, 104, 105 and 106.

Call the Great Lakes Sailing Co. office (231) 941-0535 to confirm availability and book your class.


Basic Sailing
ASA 101
  • 2-Days Private Instruction
Basic Cruising
ASA 103
  • 4-Days
Basic Sailing & Basic Cruising
ASA 101/103 Combo
Limited Time Special!
$150 off per student / $400 off per couple
  • 4-Days
Learning Cruise (immediately following ASA 101/103)
  • 2-Day Charter
Basic to Intermediate Cruising ASA 101/103/104 Combo
Limited Time Special! 
$300 off per student or $800 off per couple
  • 7-Days
Intermediate Cruising
ASA 104
Limited Time Special!
$150 off per student or $400 off per couple
  • 3-Days
Coastal Navigation
ASA 105
  • 7-Day
Advanced Coastal Cruising
ASA 106
  • 6-Day
Coastal Navigation Home-Study
ASA 105
  • Home Study


Spend your time at home brushing up on a few key sailing topics.

By special arrangement, because of the “one fathom social distancing” plan, ASA is offering 4 online options.

All the courses allow students to study at their own pace and include opportunities to interact with instructors. At the end of the course all graduating students earn official ASA certifications.

Online Options:

  • ASA 105 Coastal Navigation
  • ASA 107 Celestial Navigation
  • ASA 119 Marine Weather Endorsement
  • ASA 120 Radar Endorsement

Book Your Sailing School!

Making a Reservation

  • Call the Great Lakes Sailing Co. office (231) 941-0535 to check availability.
  • A confirmation deposit for each student will reserve your spot on board. Deposit amounts are $600 for 7-day courses, $400 for 3-day & 4-day courses, $200 for 2-day courses. We prefer checks and accept most major credit cards. We will hold your spot for 7 days to allow time for a check to arrive in the mail.
  • We’ll send your student packet in the mail after your deposit has been received (text book(s) and other study material).
  • Complete the Student Application and mail, fax or email it to us at your earliest convenience.
  • Download the Arrival Information as its very helpful to plan for your class.
  • The Student Release & Indemnification Form is required before you board the boat for class.
  • All forms can be downloaded or we can mail them to you. After completing the forms, mail, fax or email back to the Great Lakes Sailing office.
  • The balance is due 60 days before you start class.

Cancellation Policy

In our short but very busy sailing season, sailing school spots are in high demand. Please keep in mind that we do not refund deposits or balances for Sailing School courses but will try our best to work with you.

As a company we are doing our best to keep our staff employed and keep the business financially solid. This is why we appreciate if cancellations are for emergencies only. We highly recommend trip insurance. Trip insurance is fairly cheap and comes in very handy when “life happens”.

Cancellations 60 DAYS OR MORE prior to class start date:

 ~ The deposit is not refundable, but we can transfer your payment towards another course this season or the following season. There is a $200 (per student) change fee for rescheduling.

 ~ Not rescheduling this season or the following season will result in the forfeiture of the deposit and/or balance payment.

 ~ A course can only be rescheduled once, otherwise your deposit and/or balance will be forfeited.

 ~ If you cannot reschedule we will try our best to rebook your spot. If we can rebook your spot we will refund your deposit and/or balance payments less a 25% rebooking fee.

Cancellations 60 DAYS OR LESS prior to class start date:

  ~ We will try our best to rebook your spot. If we are successful, we have a 25% rebooking fee (applied to the total for the class). You are responsible for the cost of the course and we will refund 75% if class has been paid in full. 


We do not consider inclement weather a reason for canceling or rescheduling a sailing school course. The courses are comprised of group study, dockside, below decks and on-the-water instruction. The instructors consider the weather forecast and design the class around it. As policy, we will not sail in any conditions we deem to be dangerous such as lightening, thunder, and excessively high winds. But keep in mind that dangerous weather conditions move out of the area as quickly as they came in which is why our classes are rarely affected by them.

We highly recommend purchasing trip insurance in the event you should have to cancel.

Additional Information

Live-Aboards for 101 and 103 Courses

Students are welcome to stay aboard each evening for the 101 and 103 courses. The boat will return dockside each afternoon around 4-5pm and thats when the live-aboard experience starts. We make both cabins available for sleeping which means you may not have the boat privately during the live-aboard experience (unless you’ve booked it privately). You do not have to share a bunk with a stranger! But another student (individual or couple) may occupy the other double bunk on the boat in the other cabin. We will try our best to accommodate students overnight on other empty boats to give students their privacy but cannot guarantee a private live-aboard boat during the class (unless you’ve booked the boat for private lessons).

Live-Aboards for 104, 104/105, 106 and Catamaran Courses

You will be away from the Great Lakes Sailing Co. docks for the duration of your course which is why we recommend packing wisely. The Captain/Instructor has the authority to assign staterooms as he sees best. Couples may get the larger staterooms, etc. Some berths (beds) are not located in private staterooms and are open to the boats layout.

Tipping the Captain / Instructor

It’s also customary, but not required, to tip your Captain/Instructor after a course if you feel he or she did a great job instructing. Just like any service industry job, they make the extra effort to deliver a great service. And if you feel they did, a tip is always greatly appreciated!

The Care and Feeding of your Captain / Instructor

For intermediate and advanced courses where you will be away from our docks during the duration of the course, students are responsible for including the Captain / Instructor into the meal plans. When provisioning the boat with groceries, the Captains should be factored into meals. If the group decides to eat ashore, it is customary that the students split the cost of the Captain’s meal. It’s never a problem if you’d like to go ashore and have a meal on your own but just make sure the Captain has food aboard to prepare a meal for himself (and don’t forget to fill his water dish!)

Lost & Found

Ship Shape – At the end of your charter, check the boat carefully to ensure you have not left any personal belongings behind. It is your responsibility to keep track of your gear and make sure you leave with everything you brought with you. We cannot be responsible for locating or mailing items left behind.

Sailing School FAQs

Why should I attend a sailing school?

It’s the best way to learn. It greatly sharpens the learning curve by exposing you to situations that most sailors avoid. When learning informally from a friend or family member, chances are they only sail when the weather is nice or maybe got lucky when things didn’t go as planned. Informal instruction can require years and years before you might actually learn the proper techniques. If you’ve ever had a bad experience sailing, chances are it could have easily been avoided. Formal training, like the ASA courses, accelerate your learning by teaching you the correct methods the first time. Additionally, bringing the family along is a great idea. You’ll learn the same techniques and learn how to properly handle situations together without the panic or chaos!

What if I already know how to sail?

Most people have been on a sailboat of some kind. Whether a beach cat at your parent’s summer cottage, a sunfish at your friends or a bigger boat you were a guest on. There is more to sailing than just “sailing”. All of your experiences are good to have. But taking it to the next level and learning navigation, rules of the road, sail plan theory, safety at sea are just a few of the skills and information that make you a competent and confident sailor and skipper. Sailing is one thing but when is the last time you “hove to” in heavy weather? Or recovered a man over board under sail in under 4 minutes?

What if the weather is bad during the course?

We will not sail in “dangerous conditions” determined by the Instructor (lightening, thunder, very high winds…). But in Northern Michigan, the weather changes constantly. Ten-day forecasts are pretty much just for entertainment because a forecast for rain is only taken seriously if it’s actually raining! Your class will involve a combination of on-the-water exercises, classroom review and on-board-below-deck review while anchored or dockside. The instructors can pick and choose what to teach on a particular day to maximize the best weather and try to get you out of the elements when the weather isn’t so good. Keep in mind, our goal is to make you a competent sailor. Learning the techniques in windy, rainy conditions will simply make everything else seem like a piece of cake!

What is included with the cost of the class?

The only thing you will be responsible for is your food. Provisioning is easily done at our facility with ample stores and specialty stores very close by. We have shore side facilities for showering and a number of great restaurants very close by for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Can I stay on the boat during my class?

We offer a sleep aboard option for any class taught aboard our boats over 30′ in length. The charge is $150 per student. There is limited availability, so please call our office to reserve your cabin.

Who is ASA and what does the certification mean to me?

Charter companies and Sailing Organizations recognize the ASA. The American Sailing Association (ASA) has been in existence since 1983. We feel ASA offers the best all around learn to sail program available. Here are a few facts regarding ASA. 1. Over 270 professional sailing schools use the ASA system worldwide. 2. ASA has certified over 7,000 professional sailing instructors. 3. ASA has certified over 300,000 students. 4. ASA has had a functioning, nationwide keelboat program since 1983. 5. ASA certification is recognized by major charter boat companies as well as other ASA facilities around the world.

Will I be able to charter in the Caribbean after I take the class?

No charter company is going to give you the key to the fleet unless you have some history with them or another reputable charter company. Taking the ASA classes and progressing through the upper level classes give you and the charter companies you want to charter from, peace of mind, the training and experience they look for. It also depends on the size of the boat you are looking to charter. Do not expect to be given a 45′ vessel if you have experience on a 30′ vessel. All charter operators will look favorably on experience in a sailing school with ASA certification but charter companies all have their own requirements.

What physical requirements are required for the classes?

Mobility and range of motion are two key physical attributes to have. During your classes, you will be moving around, getting on and off of the boat, reaching for and stepping over gear and lines. It’s a sailboat. There is more to it than a powerboat. It’s difficult for us to judge what will and will not be ideal for you to have a good time and learn how to sail at the same time. The physical attributes have in the past made it a challenge for some people. If you have any questions as to your physical capabilities, please call us so we can discuss it with you personally.

Are my children able to attend classes with us?

Yes and we have had many families attend our sailing classes together with their children. A couple of key considerations are to be addressed. Attention span during the class. We’ve found that children under the age of 15 generally do not seem as interested to learn to sail as their parents. There are exceptions to every situation. If you are taking the class with other people you do not know, be considerate to your fellow classmates before you make the decision to enroll your child. If they have a genuine interest in learning to sail with you and they will be able to be a part of the class the entire time, by all means bring them. Sailing is one of the best family activities to get your kids involved with.

What is there to do after the class?

Plenty. Many of the best reasons to attend sailing classes in Traverse City is because of Traverse City. Our facility is far enough away to concentrate but close enough to bike or even walk to the downtown district. Abundant shops, restaurants, art galleries, parks, theaters, night clubs and just the scenery are just a few of the reasons to come to Traverse City to learn to sail. You might even have a chance to see the new Frontier League Traverse City Beach Bums play a ballgame. Of course there is always some studying to do as well.


Captain Paul

Paul Davis

Jenny McCain

John Martin

Dan Spyhalski

John Waechter

Loren Newton

Kip Nickel

Keith Forton

Dave Conrad

Jeff Merideth

Grace Pytell

Mike Sutherland