Get Your Certification

While on the water, safety should always be your highest priority. The best way to ensure maximum safety is to obtain the proper certification/licensure and subsequent education. In Massachusetts, all sailors must carry a MA boating license, card, or endorsement. For fast reference, we suggest taking a look at the Massachusetts Boater Safety Handbook.

For younger sailors, Massachusetts requires a Boater Education Card; the regulatory authority for all cards and licenses is the Massachusetts Environmental Police Boat and Vehicle Safety Bureau. The card is mandatory for boat operators between the ages of 12 and 17 years. Though there is no age restriction for boat operators, sailors under 12 years of age must operate a boat under the direct, onboard supervision of an adult. In Massachusetts, you must be at least 16 to operate a personal vessel.

To obtain a Boater Education Card or small craft license, boaters must complete an educate course and exam approved by the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Similar to a driving class and exam, the course shows students how to operate and maintain boats, explains the legal requirements for boating, and provides protocol for handling emergencies.

The classroom education offered by the Massachusetts Environmental Police is between 10-12 spread over a few days or across several weekends. To pass the course, students bust obtain a score of 80% or higher. Once you have obtained this necessary certification and licensure, you are ready to launch.

For those who want to race, teach, or gain further accreditation, becoming an ASA Certified sailor is an important step toward pursuing the sport. Having this knowledge and certification will help sailors to be confident and safe on the ocean—whether you are planning to buy your own sailboat or charter a vessel while on vacation. The American Sailing Association provides certification programs for Keelboat Sailing, Small Boat Sailing, and Multihull Sailing. For more information about how to get ASA Certified, see the organization’s website.


Important Terminology

Learning to sail is more than getting your sea legs. In order to truly understand the nuances of sailing and racing, you must learn important terminology. All our aspiring club members must pass a simple vocabulary test to gain entry—here are a few necessary terms to start your studying.


Bow—The front of the ship. This is a very important term, as all other sailing directions relate to the bow.


Port—The left side of the ship when facing the bow.


Starboard—The right side of the ship when facing the bow.


Aft/Stern—The back of the sailboat when facing the bow.


Windward—The direction in which the wind is currently blowing. Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making this a very important term.


Leeward—The direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing.


Rudder—A flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal used to steer the ship. Located beneath the boat, the rudder can be controlled via a wheel or steering mechanism at the stern.


Mast—­The upright post at the center of the sailboat used to secure the main sail.


Boom—The horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. This secures the bottom of the main sail; adjusting the boom allows the sail to capture wind, thus creating momentum and speed.


Jibing—A basic sailing maneuver referring to the turning the stern through the wind so that the wind changes from one side to the other. The boom of the sailboat will shift from one side to the other. This maneuver involves the boat turning directly into the wind.


Tacking—The opposite of jibing. This basic maneuver refer to turning the bow of the boat through the wind, resulting in a turn.



Upcoming Regattas

This is a list of upcoming Massachusetts regattas. It will be updated as races are announced, but if we have left out any important events, please let us know.


4/29/18—Women’s Sprints; Worcester, MA

5/5/18—New England Rowing Championships (NERC); Worcester, MA

5/11/18—NIRC; Worcester, MA

5/12/18—The Amber Zapatka Memorial Regatta FKA Lowell Invite; Lowell, MA

5/13/18—Men’s Sprints (EARC); Worcester, MA

5/19/18—USRowing Northeast Youth Championships; Worcester, MA

5/27/18—MPSRA Spring Championship; Lowell, MA

6/9/18—Provincetown Coastal Rowing Regatta & Mini Triathlon; Provincetown, MA

7/7/18—USRowing NE/Mid-Atlantic Masters Championships; Lowell, MA

7/28/18—Methuen City Sprints; Methuen, MA

9/8/18—Springfield Rockrimmon Regatta; Springfield, MA

9/15/18—CRI Fall Classic Regatta; Boston, MA

9/30/18—Textile River Regatta; Lowell, MA

10/7/18—9th Annual New England Junior & High School Regional Championship Regatta; Worcester, MA


Know Your Environment

Though the ocean may be our playground, it is the home for millions of species worldwide. Unfortunately, our recreational habits often collide with important habitat conservation and marine wildlife behavior. Gaining control of pollution (fueling spills), blackwater, graywater, and waste disposal is necessary for the health of local marine life but finding small ways to reduce your impact are just as essential.

Massachusetts is home to several marine ecosystems, but some are more temperamental and fragile than others. The coastal salt marshes and tide pools are among some of the most easily impacted in New England. Though motorboat activity and pollution are their primary threats, sailboats can easily harm the habitats of dozens of species with a simple mistake.

When maneuvering through these delicate ecosystems, be aware of your boat’s size and your personal noise; creatures, such as the endangered piping plover, will abandon an area (including a potential nest) if they sense danger. Additionally, do what you can to avoid grounding your boat in shallow salt marsh waters—the critically endangered Horseshoe Crab, considered to be a living fossil, enjoys basking in a shallow layer of mud along these waterways.

In addition to checking your behavior on the water, boaters can invest in eco-friendly and sustainable materials and engines—from utilizing biodiesel and reducing fuel usage to finding the most sustainable outboard engine, small choices can significantly reduce your overall impact on the surrounding environment. The Green Boating Guide is an excellent reference. For those wanting to increase their sustainability output, we recommend checking out the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management’s Clean Marina Guide, which includes strategies to reduce your personal and community environmental impact.