Portland Sailing Center

Harbor One Marina
Portland, Oregon
(503) 281-6529

Harbor One Marina • Portland, Oregon • (503) 281-6529


Sailing Courses

Portland Sailing Center offers basic through advanced sailing classes for casual recreationists, ocean-bound cruisers, and everyone in-between, but no short-cuts. There are no substitutes for time on the water under sail, working on basic skills and learning new ones, trying new things and different boats. With time and practice come confidence and grace.

Whether you are simply curious or bound for the high seas you should start with Basic 1. It is great fun and introduces the skills that serve any sailing life. Beyond Basic 1 students progress at their own pace. Some will repeat Basic 1 (at the "Revisited" rate), some will go on to Basic 2, and a few will go to renting on their own.

If cruising or chartering is your aim we recommend, at a minimum, Basic 1, Basic 2, BBC, and one or more of the big boat adventures, Bonneville or Sea Trials. Coastal Navigation is also very useful, sometimes required by bareboat operators.

Click here to link to the schedule/sign-up page. Call 503-281-6529 or email portlandsailing at gmail dot com (use the normal format) with any questions.

PSC Basic 1

  • 15 hours — $369
  • 10% discount for pre-assembled groups of four
  • No prerequisite
  • Includes textbook, logbook, and practice rope

Whatever your sailing goals there are no skills of greater value than basic sail and wind management, basic maneuvering, boat operation and terminology. Virtually everything we do derives from these basic skills. Experienced sailors simply do these things very well.

Basic 1 is taught on ballasted keelboats from 22 to 24 feet in length with one instructor per four students. Instructors emphasize safety and fun which puts casual students at ease while allowing the eager to flourish. Classes meet six times spread over several weeks, so you'll have time to absorb material, and you'll see a variety of conditions. Course is mostly boat time and includes, among other things:

  • Boat preparation
  • Choosing and setting sails
  • Fundamental sailing maneuvers
  • Steering by wind and sails
  • Setting sails for speed and comfort
  • Using wind for power and control
  • Safe practices
  • Introduction to the life and rhythms of the Columbia River
  • A few knots: Cleat hitch, bowline, square knot, figure eight, round turn with two half-hitches

Basic 1 Revisited

  • 15 hours — $289
  • Prerequisite: Basic 1

Repeat Basic 1. It's a great idea! You'll learn more the second time, and your mates will benefit from your experience.

PSC Basic 2

  • 10 hours over three or four class periods — $189
  • Prerequisite: Basic 1

After Basic 1 some students are ready to get out on their own. Basic 2 puts a group of four students on a boat without an instructor aboard. Your instuctor will communicate from our dock or a second boat via marine VHF radio. Students polish basic skills, take responsibility, and build confidence needed for renting or owning a sailboat, or moving on to cruising or race boats. This class is all boat all the time with one exception: Each student will act as classroom instructor one time, and present a sailing topic of his or her choosing.

Basic 1 students should pay attention to every detail of their class to be ready for Basic 2, and practice those knots! You'll need them!

Big Boats and Cruising

  • 12 hours over four class periods, in Portland — $329
  • Prerequisite: Basic 1 and 2, or Basic 1 and Revisited

BBC is designed to prepare students for private cruising and bareboat chartering. Class uses an ocean-ready boat to learn about:

  • Diesel inboard engine and wheel steering
  • Big boat maneuvering theory and practice
  • Handling big sails
  • Roller furling
  • Large and self-tailing winches
  • Anchoring
  • Nautical charts (maps)
  • VHF radio practices for ships, bridges, and locks.
  • Instrumentation: GPS, wind, depth, speed, radar
  • Marine toilets, propane stoves, freshwater systems and other conveniences


  • Overnight round-trip — $269 per person
  • Prerequisite: Current or recent PSC student
  • Minimum three, maximum five students
  • click here for video of a trip to Bonneville.

This is a scenic adventure and introduction to river piloting and sailing aboard Messenger. And we get to sail the famous winds and waters above Bonneville Dam — there is hardly a better place in the world for a sailboat. Like all PSC classes, students run the boat most of the time: driving, navigating, and sailing.

We'll leave PSC's dock on a Saturday morning and watch as the Gorge opens up. We'll make Bonneville Locks in six or seven hours, lock through, pass under Bridge of the Gods, sail around some and tie up at the Port of Cascade Locks. Whew!

Enough of the day remains to eat on the boat or go into town.

Sunday we'll sail for a few hours before locking through again and heading for Portland, now with the current in our favor.

Sea Trials

  • Two nights, three days — $479 per person, plus food (each person brings one or two meals for all).
  • Prerequisite: Basic 1
  • Minimum three, maximum four students
  • Ten percent discount for pre-assembled groups of four

With fair conditions, yes, we'll sail over the famous Columbia River Bar, and it is that experience that draws people to Sea Trials. But this trip is about much, much more. There are 218 miles of river to transit (round trip), and there are challenges at every turn. The action is nearly non-stop, though we do have to stop twice for sleep. You will be amazed by the things you see and do on Sea Trials.

Among other things, course includes:

  • Working with nautical charts and aids to navigation, day and night
  • Identifying ships, day and night
  • Bar crossing, working with tides and currents
  • Practical VHF radio usage
  • Interpretting weather and sea forecasts
  • Fuel and water planning, food provisioning
  • Boat mechanical and life support systems
  • Safety with fuel and cooking
  • Large boat handling

Go to the Sailing Adventures tab for more about Sea Trials.

Coastal Navigation

  • 18 classroom hours over six meetings —$325
  • Includes textbook, training chart, and high quality plotting instruments

Batteries die in your GPS? Better know a cardinal point from a bowsprit! This challenging classroom course covers all the basics of coastwise navigation including charts and plotting, tide and current calculations, terrestrial fixes, running fixes, aids to navigation (buoys, etc.), and more. We run this class whenever there are four or more students interested. Let us know early if you want to be on the list.

Call 503-281-6529 or email to portlandsailingatgmaildotcom (use normal format). Please include your phone number.

Portland Sailing Center
3335 NE Marine Drive
Portland, Oregon 97211
portlandsailingatgmaildotcom (use normal format)

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