by Kris Ankarlo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW) — Sailing is fundamentally Annapolis. After all, there’s a reason it’s called the sailing capital of America.

From Ego Alley to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, you can practically hop from boat deck to boat deck on a beautiful day. This is the place where sailors in the greatest Navy that’s ever navigated the seven seas learn to sail.

“It’s such a pleasurable experience once you get out there and you don’t have the roar of the motors, and you just have the wind in your face and the water,” says Lorie Stout, executive director of Annapolis Community Boating.

Although making an investment in a sailboat, big or small, may not be in the cards for you, no worries … there are a number of opportunities to get on a boat in Annapolis — and among the most affordable is Annapolis Community Boating.

“Our mission is to make boating accessible to the public. We want to make sure that people that don’t have access to the water can get out, they can try boating and it’s not going to bust the bank,” says Stout. “And if they decide that they really like it they can then we can send them along to charter a boat or buy a boat.”

While Annapolis Community Boating offers a more affordable option, what you save in dollars you might sacrifice in availability — although Stout says they’ve expanded in a big way this year.

“We have just opened up our offerings about 300 percent from last year, so we have a lot more availability of time,” Stout says. “We have weekends open that weren’t open last year. We were only open for sailing Monday nights; we’re [now] open four nights a week.”

And if sailing doesn’t interest you, they also offer paddling classes and excursions. For example, they offer full moon paddles once a month.

But if learning to sail is what you’re after, Stout says their staff will help you get your bearings.

“Our instructors are competent sailors and competent racers. Some of them are national sailors some of them are world-level sailors,” says Stout. “Primarily, we focus on introductory sailing, but we have lots of knowledge to share.”

If you’re looking to sail with Annapolis Community Boating it’ll take a little planning. Reserve a spot in one of the offered lessons on their website ahead of time. An introductory two-hour lesson will cost $180.

Sailing certainly has some intimidating connotations as a sport for the wealthy. Stout says that notion isn’t necessarily true anymore.

“I would say 15 years ago that was true. You had to belong to a yacht club, you had to live on the water, you had to own a boat or you had to have rich friends who owned a boat, belonged to a yacht club and lived on the water,” says Stout. “In the last 15 years community boating programs have started to increase quite a bit in a lot of cities in our country.”

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