BY MATT HARRISON
“Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”
— Mark Twain
While Twain’s sentiments are romantic and ambitious, those who have longingly eyed the annual array of brightly coloured triangles on the Ottawa River might consider a more prudent approach. Most of the city’s yacht clubs offer sailing lessons. But how to choose? Though the summer’s half-way over, there’s still time to sail away. Here, a look at the options for casting off into the world of sailing.
New Edinburgh Sailing Club
504 Rockcliffe Pky., 613-746-8540
Formed in 1883, it’s one of the oldest volunteer-run clubs in Ottawa. It pegs itself as “laid-back and friendly” and offers a typical yacht-club experience, including a variety of sailing programs for youth and adults.
Youth Courses (Age 9-16): 1-to-4-week programs in July and August
Vessels: Picos (1- or 2-person), RS Fevas (2), CL16s (3- or 4-person)
Cost: $200 per week for half-days, $300 per week for full days, $500 for two weeks, full days. 15 percent discount for members, 10 percent discount for siblings.
Adult Courses: One evening per week or Saturdays mornings in May and June
Vessels: CL16s (3- or 4-person) and Lasers (1)
Cost: $525, membership required
Nepean Sailing Club
3259 Carling Ave., 613-829-6462
The Nepean Sailing Club is located in the west end and offers the most diverse range of courses. In addition to the options below, the club teaches Able sailing courses for those with physical disabilities and special lessons using specially designed vessels for adaptive sailing (cost is $100 for members or $150 for non-members for six three-hour lessons). The club also offers a women’s-only course and lessons en francaise.
Youth Courses (Age 7-10): Week-long, full-day lessons in July and August
Vessels: O’Pen Bic sailboats (1-person)
Cost: Intro, $216 members ($240 non-members); CANSail 1, $427 members ($475 non-members)
Adult Courses: Four evenings per week for four weeks. Classes in June, July, and August
Vessels: 420s (2-person)
Rockcliffe Yacht Club
1505 Rockcliffe Pky., 613-748-3005
One word: exclusive. Originally part of the old CFB Rockcliffe base, the non-profit co-op has been privately owned and operated since 1984. The club does not offer courses to the public, and membership is limited to 100 members — but people are encouraged to apply. After the initial $1,000 initiation fee, members pay $125 annually and commit to 70 hours of volunteer hours per season.
Britannia Yacht Club
2777 Cassels St., 613-828-5167, byc.ca
The Britannia Yacht Club bills itself as “your cottage in the city,” and to that end, they focus on the family experience: children’s play area, and swimming area, plus picnics, and barbecues — and, of course, sailing.
Youth Courses (Age 8-10): Weekday, full-day courses run from late June through August
Vessels: Keelboats 22-24 ft. (5-person)
Cost: Prices vary throughout the summer. From $350 members ($400 non-members). One-week course available in late August for $225.
Adult Courses: Four evenings per week for two weeks; classes in June, July, and August
Vessels: 420s (2-person)
Kanata Sailing Club
1620 Sixth Line Rd., 613-832-2762
Along with typical club offerings, the Kanata Sailing Club provides subsidized sailing lessons for youth as part of the YMCA and Girl Guides of Canada summer camp programs.
Youth Courses (Age 10-13): One-week sessions in July and August
Vessels: Optimist dinghies (1-person)
Cost: $349 members, $388 non-members
Adult Courses: Full-day courses held Monday to Sunday the week of June 30 to July 6
Vessels: Albacores (2-person), Lasers (1), and Tasars (2)
Cost: $400 members, $525 non-members
Lac Deschenes Sailing Club
10 Rangeview Ave.., 613-828-4697
Lac Deschenes Sailing Club has been the place for small-boat sailing since 1966. Tucked into Shirley’s Bay, the small volunteer-run club prides itself on personal instruction and boasts one of the easiest launches on the Ottawa River.
Youth Courses (Age 8-14): Week-long, full-day sessions in late June, July and, depending upon interest, August
Vessels: O’Pen Bic sailboats (1-person), Lasers (1-2)
Cost: $235 members, $285 non-members
Adult Courses: Two weekday evenings per week in June (Tuesdays and Thursdays or Mondays and Fridays)
Vessels: Lasers (1-person), Hobie Waves (1- or 2-person), Wayfarers (2)
Cost: $225 members, $275 non-members