How We Started
I first met Capt Michael Bandera in 1990. We were both teaching in a local high school. During the spring of 1991, Mike had bought his first sailboat. It was a 19’ Compac. He asked me to go out sailing with him on this boat. I had never sailed before, so curiosity won over and off we went. It was amazing! I was hooked! I was able to navigate a boat using a stick (tiller) to travel through these waters using the constant breezes of Barnegat Bay.
Mike and I sailed the Compac for two seasons on Barnegat Bay. We decided it was time to explore bigger waters and buy a bigger boat. We ended up trading in the Compac and buying our 30’ Catalina, Margarita, when we were in Annapolis MD.
We started slowly with our cruising that first summer by traveling the coast of New Jersey, i.e. Cape May, Atlantic City and Atlantic Highlands. Over the next few summers we ventured to Block Island, RI, Nantucket, MA, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, Long Island Sound and the many ports along the Chesapeake Bay. What a great way to visit these areas and to be able to anchor off their coast! It was such a learning experience to travel without street signs!
In 1998, Mike decided that our area of Barnegat Bay, Bayville, NJ, should have offerings of sunset/sailboat cruises for people to experience our beautiful bay. We placed flyers in many local restaurants for Barnegat Bay Sailing Charters. People called, came aboard Margarita and we were in business! Many people asked where they could learn how to sail? That clicked for us, both being high school science teachers and having a passion for sailing…HMMM. Wouldn’t that be great!
In 2000, Mike became a certified ASA (American Sailing Association) sailing instructor. We bought a 22’ Catalina Capri to teach the introduction to sailing course, Basic Keelboat. We felt the Capri is a great boat to learn how to sail on because it is such a responsive tiller boat with a large cockpit. Barnegat Bay Sailing School was open for business at Cedar Creek Sailing Center, Bayville, NJ. We not only used flyers to advertise our business but we launched our website!
I became an ASA instructor in 2001; I couldn’t let Mike have all the fun! Each year the business continued to grow. We added a 23’ ODay and a 23’ Pearson Ensign to make a total of four boats to our fleet.
ASA sailing classes are our specialty. We still do cruises aboard Margarita. We have added a few more options to our repertoire. We have available sailboat rentals, ladies sailing classes, private lessons, refresher courses, etc. Mike and I have been able to do this full time since our departure from teaching in 2004. What a wonderful way to make a living combining your two passions; sailing and teaching! It shows because we have been selected “Outstanding Sailing School” and “Outstanding Instructors” for the past few years from ASA!
It has been a wonderful experience to meet so many people. We have been able to either start them off on their lifelong dream of a sailing adventure or just check it off their bucket list. We have tried to make each class fun and informative no matter what their choice. Our sailing school remains small and personal. It seems to have worked because many of our former customers are now our friends and sailing companions at the marina with their own boats. Many continue to keep in touch via email or on our Barnegat Bay Sailing School Facebook page about their sailing adventures.
We would love for you to have this exhilarating feeling. So what are you waiting for, we’ve had students from ages 13 to 80 years old successfully complete these courses. It’s never too late! Enjoy the calming effect of being on Barnegat Bay and having the feeling of accomplishment of being your own skipper. Contact us to turn your passion into a lifestyle!
Audrey Rosenberg, First mate