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Come Sail Away

Marina Offers Boat Rentals as Well as Sailing Lessons

If taking a leisurely sail along the Potomac River sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon, the Washington Sailing Marina is one nearby place where you can turn that thought into a reality.

Located along the George Washington Memorial Parkway near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the Washington Sailing Marina offers sailboat and bicycle rentals, sailing classes, and sailing and windsurfing camps. If you already own a boat and are just looking for a place to dock, slip rentals also are available.

The buzzing of airplanes overhead, while noticeable at first, quickly fades into the background, allowing those on the water to concentrate on sailing or windsurfing.

The best sailing months are in the spring and fall when temperatures are a bit cooler and there generally is more wind, said marina manager Brian Pavlik. But nice weather, with or without wind, will have people out enjoying time on the Potomac.

Don’t know how to sail? If you’re a willing student, the marina offers an array of sailing classes and camps for both children and adults, ranging in levels from basic to advanced. Sailing Director Amy Zang said the sailing school has a staff of about 30, and the instructor-student ratio for all sailing classes is at least 1-to-6, if not 1-to-4.

Those participating in the classes are “out pretty much all day, we try to keep them on the boat as much as possible,” Pavlik said. He also recommended that anyone interested in signing up for classes should do so a week or two in advance to ensure a spot.

For those who just want to take a rental boat out for an hour or two, on-the-water certification from a recognized sailing school is required. However, passing a written test administered at the marina can be used in lieu of certification.

Three types of day sailors are available for rental, the main difference between them being their size. The Sunfish, the smallest of the boats at 14 feet, rents for $10 an hour and can fit one adult comfortably, “however, as many as two adults may go aboard, though they will get wet,” according to the marina’s Web site. The Island, a 17-foot day sailor, can fit a maximum of four people and rents for $17 an hour. The most popular of the marina’s boat choices is the Flying Scot, a 19-foot day sailor that fits a maximum of five people, rents for $19 an hour. Both the Island and the Flying Scot have a minimum two-hour rental time.

Boat rentals are by reservation only. The rental dock opens at 11 a.m., with the last boats going out on the water at 4 p.m. All rentals must be returned by 5 p.m.

While the marina’s main attraction is without a doubt sailing, bicycles also can be rented for those interested in riding along the Mount Vernon Trail. All-terrain bicycles, featuring 15 speeds, hand brakes and racing seats, are available for $6 an hour or $22 a day. Cruiser bicycles, single-speed bikes with coaster brakes and wider saddle seats, also are available for $4 an hour or $16.50 a day. The marina starts renting bicycles at 9 a.m. each day with the last rentals going out at 4 p.m. As with the boat rentals, all bicycles must be returned by 5 p.m.

The marina, which is home to almost 700 sailboats, has eight floating docks that are new as of last year. If you are interested in docking a sailboat at the marina, check the slip rental rates online or call the marina directly.

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