We have been back in the UK for a short while now; I saw the boys last night and I just wanted to write to you (and Mike) and thank you on all our behalves for such a great week sailing in San Diego. We had a fabulous time enhanced with the quality of the sailing instruction and all the help that you gave us. Your style of tuition was brilliant and both you and Mike were welcoming and a pleasure to meet.

Thank you again, may your business continue successfully as it deserves; there is a good chance that we may be back to rent the 42 foot boat.

With best wishes,
John Cameron


Sheree and I just want to say thanks, again, for the perfect week we had with you in San Diego.  From the weather to the bay & ocean sailing to the formal learning and your practical advice, we could not have asked for more.  We accomplished the certification, but more than that you helped with tips and advice that we will keep with us as we sail the Great Lakes.

We are excited about sailing this summer, and eventually moving up from our 21 foot Precision to something more appropriate for some cruising.  Our confidence is much higher, thanks to you, that we can do it.

Our best to you and Nick,
Pete & Sheree Rogers

Just a short note to thank you for saving my dream.  My wife had all but given up on sailing until we took your class.  Now she cannot wait to charter our dream boat and wants to set a date soon after the first of the year to get aboard a center cockpit.  You were more than patient with us and we learned so much from you, thanks again, you will always have friends in Utah.

Frank & Janet


Just a quick thank you for such a wonderful experience. We learned so much and are anxious to get out in the waters. (Sailing your boat made us realize we need to make a few changes on ours). I learned more, and acquired more confidence than I expected to from our lessons, and "high" traffic areas won't be nearly as intimidating as they have in the past.

Thank you for teaching me docking, heaving, anchoring, navigation, and understanding the importance of 'watching the sails' and keeping them trimmed correctly.

You probably thought we were crazy people! Your patience and diplomacy were very much appreciated.

I thought I would send you a couple of pictures of our typical destination sail here in the northwest. As you can see, the traffic is almost unbearable. wink.

(Don't let the photos fool you, the sun does actually shine!)Sailing in the Pacific Northwest
A view from the water in the Pacific NorthwestA couple on a sailboat

We'll be sending you the information we talked about later.

Take care,

Click here to read it on Yelp!


My wife and I were recently students at San Diego Sailing Academy and wanted to comment on our great experience.  Not having sailed in years we were concerned that our time away might be a problem  That was not the case.  Our instructor Capt. Mike Monastra made us feel welcomed and at ease from the beginning.  During our week of training our focus was the successful completion of ASA basic coastal cruising and ASA bareboat cruising courses.  We checked in Sunday afternoon with Mike and got settled into our Catalina 30.  We would be liveaboards for the week on the boat we would train on.  The boat was immaculate and fully equipped with everything needed for a comfortable and productive week.

While the boat and equipment were first rate, the most important element of our experience was our instructor.  Mike Monastra's boating and sailing knowledge are the product of a lifetime on the water.  I'm convinced there is little about sailing he hasn't experienced firsthand.  He led us through all the activities and sailing maneuvers required by our ASA courses in a way that was both instructional and enjoyable.  Each day built on the previous days experience and as the week progressed so did our confidence and ability.  We came away from our week with SDSA and Mike knowing we had found our "home" for sailing in San Diego .  We are planning our first charter for early next year and look forward to maintaining and expanding our relationship with SDSA.  As you can tell, we heartily recommend this company to anyone looking for competent, knowledgeable and supportive sailing instruction and charter services.

Mike G. / Phoenix

Dear Nick and Mike,

After 50 years of lake and small boat sailing, I thought it would be fun to work with ocean cruisers and coastal navigation. My goal was to gain enough experience to be able to bareboat charter in the Caribbean . I was surprised by both the intensity and thoroughness of your course. Winter sailing in San Diego provided plenty of real world challenges. I enjoyed living on board Swell Bound and truly being immersed in sailing issues from waking up to falling asleep.

After a week of work, I developed a much healthier respect for the preparation needed to be successful in bareboat land. I also believe that taking an untrained crew member along invites headaches if a problem comes along before I have a chance to get that person up to speed. Thank you for your hospitality and competent teaching. It was a fully rewarding investment for me.

My best,

Mac H.

Two of our students were featured in the journal of the American Sailing Association. In fact the way he signed his email was the inspiration behind the column called “Living the Dream.”  In 2007 Kyle and Kathy Harris were the first “Living the Dream” subjects in the American Sailing Associations journal. It started with this email:

Dear Mike,

My wife and I completed the five day course (101/103/104/105) back in April 2004.  In May of that year we purchased our first boat, a 1972 Tartan 30. It took about six months to complete the refit but by November of 2004 everything was ready.  We splashed the boat in the Mississippi River in Iowa and headed south.  After waiting out the 2005 hurricane season in Mobile AL (lousy choice of locations) we sailed across the Gulf and through the Caribbean to Panama.  After transiting the canal it was off across the Pacific.

What an amazing six months.  Seeing the Galapagos, Marquesas and Tuamotus, Society Islands, Samoa and Tuvalu was an experience of a lifetime.  We are now anchored Papua New Guinea where we work among several people groups located along the north coast of the Island.

Anyway we wanted to write to thank you for helping get us started on this adventure.  It has been a dream come true and we look forward some day to heading west to continue the trip around.

Kyle and Kathy Harris
s/v Stap Isi
Madang, Papua New Guinea 

Livin' the Dream

Dear Nick:
I wish to express my appreciation for your professionalism, interest and dedication to a job well done.

Cousin Michael and I came to San Diego with the anticipation of learning to sail. We left San Diego well on the way to the beginning of a journey to become a sailor. Much more than teaching us to sail, you taught to a greater goal.

You know the mechanics of sailing are usually fairly well assimilated. From the mechanics of sailing you took Michael and I through the goal of being a safe skipper for our family and friends. You taught us how to charter a boat and plan a safe trip for these loved ones by knowing the systems of a sailboat and how to safely trouble-shoot these systems before and during a sail. Further, you taught us how to work with a charter boat company to safely plan our trip.

You taught us to be skippers, not sailors. I wish to express my gratitude for your professional job well done.

Daniel L. Stephenson

Hey Mike!

 Kathleen and I took an ASA104 class from you back in November 2009. The ASA104 class was part of our plan to sail the San Juan Islands for the Summer of 2010.

After we took your class, we chartered a boat in through Marina Sailing in Long Beach and sailed to Catalina for a couple of nights. Next we were going to San Francisco for a friends wedding and decided to chartered a boat rather than stay in a hotel. The weather in San Francisco was cold, rainy, and miserable. We loved it!

So this summer we chartered a boat for 6 weeks in the San Juans through San Juan Sailing. Here's a pic of the boat hanging out while we checked out the waterfall in Teakerne Arm.

We loved the class. Staying on the boat was without a doubt the way to do it.


A harbor view form the hills of the San Juan Islands

Hey Mike!

Hope this e-mail finds you and Nick happy & healthy.

Nancy did not want to go & a friend of mine could not get away from work so I ended up going to an ASA school in Florida to pick up the ASA106 Advanced Coastal Cruising course.  The training was adequate in most respects but nothing outstanding.  There were five students on the boat.  We went from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back.  The boat was fine but when compared to the Swellbound, it was a pig boat.  Several pieces of equipment (such as the wind instruments) did not work.  The upholstery was very worn & torn in places.  The boat was not Bristol in any fashion.  

The instructor was a nice enough guy & he knows his business.  He worked us hard on coastal navigation, which was fine, but he was a disappointment on the sailing end of the training.  On the two occasions that we were coming into a marina dock, he took over and maneuvered the boat. One night we were making an approach through a channel to an anchorage and he again took over the boat.  I was somewhat surprised/disappointed as all of us were suppose to be advanced students. 

Anyway, to date I have obtained ASA certificates from four ASA schools.  The training with you on the Swellbound has been by far the most useful, practical and enjoyable.

Best regards,


Hi Mike,
Daryl and Mary here. Your students from around memorial day.
We have just finished a bareboat charter in the Western Isles of Scotland. had a great time and put all that info you gave us to good use. The boat...A Dehler 39 foot....pretty fast boat as far as I can tell from my small experience and avg 9 knots in a stiff wind.

One day of glassy sea doldrums and san diego style beater down sun.

One incident of a dragging anchor while seeking shelter from a storm in small crowded anchorage...and once in place leaving no room for 360° pivot except to rocks....decided to head back out into the storm for 2 hours to get to better anchorage. Worked out great.

Thanks again for your tutorage Mike...best thing I have done in a long while.
Daryl Moistner

Hello Nick and Mike

Thanks again for the fun week aboard the Catalina. I've attached our story that is going into the Northern Lights Sailing Club publication. Also included some pictures of our adventure. Hope all is well and that the gloom is gone. I'll send along the publication when it comes out in print. You guys were fun and we've been enjoying our Prindle 16 plus going with others on Charters to Apostle Islands - WI and hopefully the Caribbean this winter. Thanks again from Joe Oster and Ann Carlon

Ann Carlon, APR

Sailboats in the San Diego Harbor

Click here for Anne’s Personal Sailing Story

Hey there Nick!
It's paul and munce here in minnesota....remember us?

Well, we promised to send pictures so here are some...from our most recent trip, which was to BVI:


BVI was great, 9 or 10 days around tortola. wonderful.

As for our Mexico trip at christmas time, that was fun too. We were able to moore to a ball in the yelapa bay and enjoy both beach fun and boat adventures for 4 or 5 days. This was my most challenging adventure sailing as I was really the only experienced sailor --------aside from Munce, of course :)-------and we visited some very rocky shallow islands 20 miles out, as well as some whales that....which deserves a short story....imagine that you are cruising at hull speed in 20-25 knots of wind, both sails all reefed in nicely, all four people on board are enjoying beers, hooting, and taking in the view, autohelm is engaged so nobody is in the cockpit (or at least nobody is at the wheel) or paying much attention to that, we're 20 miles off shore----and a mature 50 foot humpback whale, probably 60 tons, rose vertically completely out of the water airborn, slowly crashing back down into the water.........about 400 feet ahead directly in our path!!!..........we have no pictures because we were all basically awestruck and couldn't move for a couple of moments, until munce turned to me and offered "I think we are close enough" at which time I agreed and swiftly diverted.


All is well here in minnesota. I did finally buy a boat---it's a brand new catalina 350. I have your rust/corrosion prevention spray for the bilge. it is for the bilge, right? let me know...

Well, munce says hi, and we're signing off!

Paul White (& Munce)

Mike and Nick,
Thanks for the outstanding experience. It was even better than we anticipated. We really enjoyed each day of training and the information you provided us. We can't wait to get back on the water. We will be back in town 12/30-1/01. We will try to look you and say hi.

Bill and Lisa Nance (Las Vegas)

Thank you for your trust and expertise in helping us reach a goal that will further our experience on the open water. Well enough of that - Amy and I had a great time on the boat with and without you. All of your advice on the BVI will really come in handy as we are planning a trip this year and then talking about a trip with the kiddos some time next year.

Please make sure that you take Jaquie out for a cocktail or two.
Additionally Amy has had many inquiries from co-workers and friends. I have talked your service up quite a bit to several that I know will follow through 100%.

I hope that at some point we may meet out on the open ocean or on an Island that at the very least we can buy you dinner.

David and Amy

Here are pictures of Les and Helen. They took our course back in 2004. We remember it well because Helen called us about a week prior to the course. She wanted to be sure that she got an instructor that was not sick. She went on to explain that her husband had just had a double lung transplant and could easily catch cold and die.  In the Spring of 2010 Helen and Les were featured in the American Sailing Association journal. “Living the Dream” Les has gone on to earn his instructor certification and truly is living the dream. Congratulations Helen and Les!

A woman at the helmAboard the boat and ready to go

Hi Mike,
We got back from the BVI on Sunday and had an awesome time!

The staff at Horizon were really great, helpful and courteous. The checkout was nothing more than a walk through the boat.

We left Nanny Cay at about 11:30 Sunday, E wind - 20 knot blowing, set sailing and averaged about 6.8 - 7.2 knots over to Norman (The Byte).
Moored, hopped in the dinghy and went snorkeling at the Caves.

Next day wind about the same, sailed up around Salt to the wreck of the HMS Rhone, caught a day mooring, snorkeled and then motored up to Cooper, moored.

Next day winds still blowing, sailed up by Spanish Town, between the Dogs and Virgin Gorda, kept heading east out to open ocean to get the right angle on Virgin Gorda Sound - 8 to 10 ground swells - lots of fun. Sailing with 5 other boats all doing the same thing - different tacks - really cool timing tacks between passing in front and making the tack before obstructing following boat (gave us a sense of what you must experience when racing) - moored at Bitter End, no spots left at Saba Rock.

Next day sailed down to the Baths - ground swells down to 3 - 4 feet so we could snorkel at the Baths, took the trail around to the other side - then motored up to Spanish Town. Missed getting the last ball, radioed Spanish Town Virgin Gorda Marina and picked up a slip for the night.

Next day went sailing down to baths then up passed the Dogs, about 1 mile out from the Dogs, heaved to and had lunch - really enjoyed that. The powered up and sailed over to Marina Cay - lovely spot.

Next day very little wind, motored between Scrub and Great Camanoe then cut back between Great Camanoe and Guana Island, picked up a day mooring at Monkey Point - snorkeled.

Then motored down the north shore, cut between Great Thatch and West Point of Tortola. Caught some wind once back in the channel and sailed up to Nanny Cay and into the marina.

Really a great time, we had Helen's sister and brother-in-law with us - they had never sailed before so they couldn't believe how much fun sailing is.
Now planning our next trip.

So a big thanks to you Mike - all of your coaching and instruction made it all possible. When we hit the channel we felt confident that our sailing skills would keep us out of harms way. We were the only ones that flemished and flaked our lines - we were happy to know and use some of the finer points of sailing - it just makes you and the boat look good. There were obviously better sailors than us docked but we at least looked and did know what we were doing.

The navigation really came in handy - everyone says, everything is LOS navigation. Yeah, but when you have never been to the BVI before and you pull out into the channel and see 10 or more different islands and you can't tell one from the other, it's like picking a tree out of the forest. I had pre-plotted a course so I knew what bearing to take off the boat and so forth.

Sorry for the long email - again thanks for everything. We will be back to San Diego some day, likely chartering from you so we will see you again.

Helen and Les

Hi Nick!

Kathy Ehrhardt and I took your sailing course in June of 2009. I can't tell you how much our lives have changed since. We took our first bareboat charter to the BVI in January of 2010 and loved it so much we took another two week charter in November...I can't tell you how many times Kathy and I refer back to your training of us and with that knowledge were able to over come any adversity we may have faced. I have very fond memories of our time there in San Diego. My hopes are to come and sail there again soon.

Jason A. Elson


I wanted to let you know Bruce and I had an incredible Christmas with family and friends thanks to your instruction! The trip was all I hoped it would be with the beauty, challenge, fun, and friendship. BareCat Charters did a great job and I'd charter with them again.

Our sons had a fantastic time and want to go again. With us.(!) They both made the sailing easier for us and I think they enjoyed picking up some new skills along with their free rum drinks and beers.

I also learned the sailing community and the BVI is full of wonderful people. Thanks for preparing us so well for a safe and (mostly!) uneventful trip!

Lisa Kirchenheiter