Student comments

Bosun on a night sail
Dennis – the Bosun – has gone from a rank beginner to instructing in advanced coastal cruising.


I took my first sailing lesson from Captain Dan and through his expert instruction quickly gained the confidence to skipper local sails in the Santa Barbara Channel. As my confidence grew so did my desire to increase my abilities.  Captain Dan encouraged me to expand my knowledge and skills.  He shepherded me through the full range of ASA courses – always with an emphasis on safety and ensuring that I gained a complete grasp of the principles being taught. Plus it was always fun and an adventure.

Once I had completed ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising), the real fun began. With each advanced certification, new possibilities opened up and and a desire  for even more. 

Taking ASA 104 (Bareboat chartering) and ASA 105 (Coastal Navigation) opened up new worlds for me. With ASA 104 Captain Dan brought his wealth of sailing knowledge and his personal experiences to teach me everything necessary to  skipper a yacht in foreign waters . This included not only all the requisite technical sailing and anchoring instruction, but just as important, a wealth of practical experience about ships systems, provisioning and a host of common sense items that are often overlooked. This along with a comprehensive navigation course (ASA 105) gave me the confidence to charter boats in the Mediterranean, where we sailed the south of France, the British Virgin Islands and to Spain to sail Mallorca.  

With all of that behind me, I was ready ASA 106 (Advanced Coastal Cruising aka Heavy weather and night operations).  And heavy weather we had with winds gusting over 50 knots and  a swell that built to 10 or 12 feet.

Captain Dan’s instruction brought it all together for me. I have the confidence and the skills to truly enjoy my life at sea and experience the joy of sailing. 

Student comments may not mean much from beginners, but I’ve experienced some trying conditions and can tell you that doing ASA 104 and 106 in the Channel Islands is world-class training.


learn to sail in heavy weather
Heavy weather training aboard Wiley

Captain Dan took me from a guy who had never stepped foot onto a sailboat before to a guy who sailed his own 35 foot Bluewater boat from Ventura, Ca to La Paz, BCS and then around  the Sea of Cortez – often solo!  The lessons learned from Captain Dan while sailing with him in the beautiful Channel Islands gave me the skills and confidence to navigate the Pacific Coast to Mexico and explore that wonderful country by sea.  If you want to learn skills to sail through a raging 40 knot storm on your own, Captain Dan is the man to show you the way.  I wholeheartedly endorse Captain Dan’s teaching techniques – in fact I staked my life on them and he did not let me down.  Best of all, he made the entire process fun.

Larry and Karla

Larry at the helm
Larry already had a great deal of experience under sail, but he decided to ask Capt. Dan to teach his wife.

Our adventures at sea started with Karla’s ASA-101 Basic Keel Boat class.  Dan quickly became her new friend and his calm, laid-back approach to boat handling bestowed upon her the skipper’s confidence she had been missing.  Sporting her ‘dork’ hat and sailing gloves Karla returned from her third day at sea with the ‘King of Salt’ declaring ‘Larry, I need to be on the water everyday!’


Regina and Luke
Regina and son Luke get a taste of sailing a small keel boat in the Pacific.

My father taught me to sail when I was 10 years old, and we went on several family vacations over the years having great experiences on the Chesapeake Bay.  They were wonderful times.  I wanted to be able to share those skills and time with my son but I clearly had not kept up with my sailing expertise, and the lack of a sailboat poised a difficult challenge!

Enter Captain Dan Ryder!  From the moment my son (age 11 at the time) and I met Capt. Dan he conveyed his passion for sailing through patient teaching and simple hands on direction.  On one of our first tacks through the harbor we were escorted by a pair of dolphins.  Capt. Dan was as overjoyed as we were!  While emphasizing the seriousness and responsibility involved in ocean sailing, Capt. Dan never lost his enthusiasm and commitment to the fun involved.  My son and I completed the ASA 101 and 103 courses, and spent many fun times sailing with Capt. Dan.

Although my son’s interests changed through his teenage years, I am sure that his experience with Capt. Dan made a lasting impression on him…as he is now an Ensign in the United States Navy! 

I cannot recommend Capt. Dan highly enough – both as a person and a sailing instructor!  Thanks, Captain!


Dean and his sailing buddy Richard on 3-day  ASA 104 cruise
Dean and his sailing buddy Richard on 3-day ASA 104 cruise

Welcome back to ASA teaching Capt. Dan and Sail Channel Islands. You have been away way too long and I am glad that you are back into teaching and you have my strongest recommendation!! Your instruction took me from never sailing before to certification on a 36 foot Hunter, and I enjoyed the learning experience every step of the way. From Basic Keelboat Sailing (101) thru Basic Coastal Cruising, (103) to Bareboat Charting (104) and Coastal Navigation (105), it was a learning experience that I will never forget. Your attention to the technical requirements of sailing, combined with practical experience made the learning process one that was both educational and fun!! It was a great experience and one that I would recommend to anyone!! My employment has keep me from active sailing as of late, but when I return, you will be the first that I call to hone my skills and get back out on the seas. Welcome back to ASA teaching!! Fair Winds, my friend! (see this five-star review at Google+)


Randy Bush
Randy Bush completed ASA 101 and 103 aboard Wiley

I took ASA 101 and 103 back to back with Capt. Dan.  On day 1, I didn’t know the difference between a jib and a jibe, but on day 6, I was commanding Wiley, a Catalina 36, around platform Gina miles out in the Pacific.

Captain Dan is an amicable guy, whom you can’t help but like from the get-go. But he is also demanding, which is  a good thing.  We’ve all had warm, fuzzy, coddling instructors with whom the learning is minimal.  Not so with Dan.  You WILL learn to sail, and you’ll learn the right way and the safe way.

After a week’s instruction, I was still a neophyte, but if you were to place me aboard a 30 foot sailboat offshore, I’d get her home.  Not with an abundance of aplomb or finesse, but I’d damn sure get her back to the dock. 

So if you really want to learn to sail, Capt. Dan is the man.


Ken and Judy
Ken and Judy have done everything, including getting married aboard Sancerre.

I have been an avid sailor my entire life and owned a 36 foot Hunter with a slip in Oxnard, CA.  This is where I had the opportunity to meet Captain Dan.  I had completed the initial ASA Certifications and enlisted Capt. Dan for instruction for ASA 104 Certification.  I knew the importance of preparation (good tip) and looked forward to the on water three day circumnavigation of Santa Cruz Island under the watchful eyes of Capt Dan.  It was the month of October and we experienced a variety of wind and weather including the need for full foul weather gear as well as anchoring challenges.  Capt. Dan’s calm and pragmatic instruction to reinforce all that I learned prior to the sail was about as good as it gets.  Add his enjoyable sense of humor, especially when we encountered several pods of grey whales and could not get to our cameras, and no criticism of my galley cooking, a down-right wonderful experience.  Even better, Capt. Dan married my wife and I on board Sancerre last July 2014 in the beautiful Channel Islands. You will truly enjoy him and his wisdom as an instructor.

Topher and Gail

Chris and Gail on training for vacation
Chris and Gail on training for vacation

My wife and I started from the beginning with Captain Dan. He made learning and sailing fun, interesting and totally enjoyable. My wife really enjoyed how safe he made her feel. After many classes, we ended up doing a week sailing in the Brittish Virgin Islands on our own, a chartered boat, which my wife still swears to this day was the best vacation she’s ever been on (and we’ve enjoyed our fair share of adventures!). We owe this to Capt’n Dan. Thanks! (See the 5-Star Google+ review)

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