Ardenna Flagship Program

World-Class Skills for a World-Class Yacht on the World’s Greatest Cruising Grounds

Students come to Shearwater University with the goal of cruising the Salish Sea and beyond under sail.  The San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, and Inside Passage are simply among the most spectacular cruising grounds in the the world.

While spectacular, the Salish Sea is also one of the most challenging cruising grounds in the world, and our training takes that into consideration.  Classes are thorough, founded & developed by Captain Wooly, with over 49 years of experience sailing & cruising these waters - from Olympia to Juneau and beyond.  

Our instruction is based on professional education standards.  This means we specialize in adapting learning content, teaching strategies, and pace to all types of learners.  In other words, "no mariner left behind" 

No matter your background, you can train to the high standards of the Ardenna Flagship Program, then enjoy cruising her on your own and with our Community on the Salish Sea.

Ardenna is our Flagship
A coveted Sabre 402 - built in Maine with seaworthiness, performance and comfort in mind - Ardenna is easy to sail with two, and she comfortably accommodates up to 6.  On Ardenna you can:

  • Develop top-tier skills for whatever your sailing goals.
  • Bareboat Charter her after achieving any Level.
  • Join our Community Sailing & Cruising events for relaxed, playful experiences with a Captain-Instructor on board to support your growing skills.  No prerequisites - anyone can join in.

Three Levels • Solid Skills • Expanding Horizons

In a culture that favors instant gratification and easy access, the natural world is uncompromizing.  The Salish Sea and the Inside Passage are some of the most challenging cruising grounds in the world.  Skilled cruisers are rewarded by spectacular wilderness, wildlife, and safe cruising.

The Ardenna Flagship Program is designed to provide the skill development needed for anyone to meet these challenges and access these experiences safely and with confidence. There is a higher level of cruising joy that comes with real abilities to operate in the highly dynamic geographical, weather, tide and current environment of the Northwest.

Level-1: Sailing Essentials with Basic Keelboat Certification
Your foundation of skills for any sailing goals, PLUS our signature top-tier maneuvering & docking skills, PLUS learning the systems anatomy, function, and operation for the cruising sailboat.

Level-2: San Juan Cruising with Basic Cruising Certification
Five days of cruising under sail, immersed in the San Juan Islands and learning safe sailing, navigation, piloting, anchoring, etc for competent multi-day cruising.

Level-3: Advanced Cruising in the Canadian Islands, with Bareboat Cruising Certification
For this 7-day class we cross the border and, unlike most BBC classes, you learn advanced sailing & cruising skills in advanced waters.

Ardenna Flagship Program Classes

Level 1:  Sailing Essentials - Learn to Sail a Cruising Sailboat

With cruising as the goal, our students learn to sail on a cruising sailboat.  On our Flagship Ardenna, your learning will be supported by the seaworthiness, comfort, and supreme sailing performance of this marvelous and easy to handle boat.
  • Basic Keelboat Certification:  4 days learning core sailing skills, adapted for the cruising sailboat.
  • Cruising Sailboat Foundations:  3 days learning to manage the boat safely.  Cruising sailboat Systems, Close Quarters Maneuvering & Docking.

Basic Keelboat Certification - Learn to Sail a Cruising Sailboat

Your complete skill set to get started with the joy sailing safely and skillfully

Raising & lowering the sails • Sailing efficiently in orientation to the wind • Safe tacking and jibing • Crew coordination • Heavy weather tactics • Sailing Knots and their applications • Crew overboard rescue under sail

Cruising Sailboat Foundations Includes:

  • A full day learning the functions and operations of cruising sailboat systems, including engine, electrical, galley & head systems.
  • Close-quarters maneuvering skills for tight spaces under power, and under varying conditions.
  • Powerful line-handling techniques for launching & landing safely with full control, using just 2 people and one line.
  • Approaches for getting in and out of the slip without damage or embarrassment.

Level 2:  Basic Cruising Certification and
Cruising the Salish Sea Under Sail

Five days of cruising and training in one of the world's most spectacular, yet challenging, cruising grounds.  We will be immersed, island-to-island in the San Juan Islands while you enjoy rigorous training in:

  • Navigation & piloting through the islands under sail and power
  • Adapting cruise plans for tides & currents
  • Docking in an unfamiliar marina
  • Selecting, evaluating, and anchoring overnight safely in a bay
  • Picking up and over-nighting on a mooring ball
  • Deepen your understanding and application of sail theory and sail trim for safe and efficient sailing while cruising
  • Heavy weather sailing tactics
  • VHF communications training
  • Emergency preparedness & procedures
  • Crew overboard recovery training
  • Earn the US Sailing Basic Cruising Certification

Level 2 Prerequisites:

Level 2 Completion Permissions:

  • Cruise Ardenna independently in the San Juan Islands.
  • At least two Level 2 graduates, and bring up to two guests.
  • Cruise with up to 6 Shearwater University Graduates from any class.

Level 3:  Bareboat Cruising - Salish Sea & Beyond

One continuous week immersed in advanced cruising skill development in the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands.  Once you have completed this final level, your horizons truly expand.

  • Seven full days of cruising and training on both the US and Canadian Salish Sea.
  • Apply your Coastal Navigation skills skills to the very real challenges of the Salish Sea.
  • Advanced sailing, piloting and mooring skills to prepare you for extended cruising in the Salish Sea and the Inside Passage
  • Earn the internationally recognized US Sailing Bareboat Cruising Certificate, qualifying you for charter cruising throughout the world.

Level 3 Prerequisites:

  • Ardenna Level 2 Program completion
  • Cruising experience aboard Ardenna sufficient to prepare you for the advanced level of extended cruising
  • Coastal Navigation Certificate or equivalent training

    Custom Instruction on Ardenna

    Your goals, your group, your pace, amazing boat to learn on in sailing/cruising paradise - the San Juan Islands.

    Unlimited Options:

    • Sailing skills
    • Cruising the islands
    • Navigation & Piloting
    • US Sailing Certification options
    • Play & learn options
    • Families and Corona-Pods

    Call or Email to Schedule