“On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.” — Rumi.

Step aboard and expand your horizons.

Have you been looking for a way to get out on the Elizabeth River and explore the wonders of our harbor? If so, a First Sail might be perfect for you!

This Sail Nauticus program is part of U.S. Sailing’s First Sail Experience. It is a two-hour introduction to the wonders of sailing. In a casual and safe setting join up to two other students and a Sail Nauticus instructor on one of our Harbor 20 vessels. If you are wondering what it takes to sail, and want to dip your toes in the water, this course is designed for you!

What You'll Experience

Your First Sail Experience will include water safety, parts of the boat, how to sail upwind and downwind, steering, tacking and jibing. This experience is 95% on the water, so each student will spend time learning and demonstrating each of the three main tasks aboard a Harbor 20 sailboat:

  • Trimming the mainsail
  • Trimming the jib
  • Steering with a tiller


First Sails are $125 per person. We strive to have three students aboard, so single and double entries may be joined by others. If you would like a private experience, you can purchase all three spaces to be guaranteed a private First Sail experience one-on-one with the instructor.

Schedule Your First Sail

First Sails are offered seasonally from April-October on select days/time throughout these months. To request an additional date or time, please contact us at 757-823-4242 or info@sailnauticus.org. Requests must be made a minimum of 72 hours in advance for us to accommodate. Please note: We sail rain or shine, but we do not sail in thunderstorms or high winds.

Click on the dates below to register!

Cancellation Policy

Weather Policy

  • If you would like to cancel or reschedule your First Sail, we will need 72 hours’ notice. We do not offer refunds for cancellations made within 72 hours.
  • We have a 15-minute grace period if you are running late, after which we cannot guarantee continuation of service and your reservation will be forfeit.
  • We sail in the rain
  • We do not sail in thunder and lightning
  • We do not sail in high winds