At Port Jefferson Yacht Club sailing school, students ages 6 to 17 learn to skipper their own boat. NewsdayTV’s Beth Whitehouse reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

This is how Will Bradshaw, director of the Port Jefferson Yacht Club Sailing School, reassures parents who are starting a 6-year-old off in sailing class, in the smallest sailboats available: “I always tell parents it’s like sailing a bathtub with a pillowcase,” he says.

He should know — he started sailing at the school when he was just 6 himself. Older students, ages 11 and up, start in a bigger boat. “They learn from the ground up,” Bradshaw says of all the young sailors.

Long Island offers dozens of opportunities for children to learn to sail, through sailing schools, yacht clubs and town offerings. Here is a sampling:

The WaterFront Center

1 West End Ave., Oyster Bay

The center offers a Junior Summer Program for beginners ages 8 to 18 through Aug. 16. Sign up for one week or multiple weeks; each week is the same, so repeat participants can practice their knowledge, says Katie Murcott, program coordinator. Options include a course geared toward racing from 9 a.m. to noon with participants separated by ages 8 to 12 and 13 to 18, or a course called Adventure Sailing geared toward leisurely sailing taught on a catamaran, Murcott says. Participants learn the terminology of a sailboat, the points of sail in relation to the wind, and practice sailing the boat.

Cost Racing-style weeks are $445 per person; the Adventure Sailing option is $405. No membership fee is required.

More info 516-922-7245,

Port Jefferson Yacht Club Sailing School

1 Pass Way, Port Jefferson

Learn the sport through classes at Sailing School at Port...

Learn the sport through classes at Sailing School at Port Jefferson Yacht Club in Port Jefferson. Credit: Howard Schnapp

No need to be a member to take sailing lessons at the Port Jefferson Yacht Club — 99%  of the students are not, says Will Bradshaw, director of the sailing school. “We’ve been operating now for over 40 years and our primary programs are summer sailing camps,” Bradshaw says. The school divides students ages 6 to 17 by skill levels into beginner, intermediate and advanced. Students can attend for multiple weeks from July through Aug. 28 and can choose a morning session from 9 a.m. to  noon or an afternoon session from 1 to 4 p.m. Sessions include indoor classroom “Chalk Talks” and Port Jefferson Harbor sails to practice skills in tacking and jibing (two ways to turn the boat), basics of navigation and more.

Cost $395 per week

More info 631-473-9650,

Moriches Island Sailing out of Silly Lily Fishing Station

99 Adelaide Ave., East Moriches

Moriches Island Sailing students and cousins (clockwise from left) Chuck...

Moriches Island Sailing students and cousins (clockwise from left) Chuck Chrisomalis- Sattler, 10, of Manhasset, Charlotte, 11, and Olivia, 8, Chrisomalis of Manhattan, Marc, 7, and Louie, 12, Chrisomalis-Sattler and Abi Chrisomalis-Pangburn, 11, all of Manhasset are learning to sail on Moriches Bay in East Moriches. Credit: Moriches Island Sailing

“We offer kids lessons in private and small-group settings,” says owner Luke Hickling, who has taught people how to sail on Long Island for 15 years. “Most of our students are total beginners who have never sailed before,” Hickling says. They start on a Flying Scot boat with an instructor in the boat with them and can progress to sailing an Opti boat by themselves with an instructor in another boat nearby.

Cost Families can book lessons for their children at $250 for a two-hour lesson and $50 for each additional child up to six children.

More info 631-745-8273,

Sailing Overnight Camp at Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center

99 Shore Rd., Shelter Island Heights

Overnight Sailing Camp participants at Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center...

Overnight Sailing Camp participants at Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center in Shelter Island Heights learn to control their boats on Peconic Bay. Credit: Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center

Campers sign up for Sailing Camp and sail for three hours each day Monday through Friday; sailing is Quinipet’s most popular program. Depending on their sailing ability, campers ages 9 to 16 sail different-sized boats on Peconic Bay, including OPTIs, FJs, Picos and American 18s. “Most of them get to the point where they become very comfortable sailors. They do learn quite a lot,” says Kyle Ferreira, sailing director. Sailors must complete a swim test upon arrival and be able to demonstrate donning a life jacket in deep water. Campers live in air-conditioned cabins; while Quinipet is a Methodist-owned camp, all denominations of campers are welcome.

Cost Camp runs Sunday through Saturday and is $1,210 per week. If a camper returns for another week, he or she must be picked up on Saturday and return Sunday. Quinipet also offers a day-camp sailing program.

More info 631-749-0430,

Town and village offerings

Check with your local municipality

The Village of Amityville, for instance, offers one-hour sailing lessons for children 8 and older on either Monday and Wednesday mornings or Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The children sail sunfishes that they launch from the Village beach in the Great South Bay; each lesson has two children and one instructor in the boat and lasts one hour. Lessons run through Aug. 1. The program is open to Village residents only; other municipalities have similar programs open to their residents.

Cost $175 per child (with a cap of $500 per family)

More info 631-264-6000,


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months