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RSW Living Magazine

Offshore Sailing School - America’s #1 Sailing School with a location in Fort Myers

Nov 05, 2021 02:14PM ● By Jessica Wagner

Offshore Sailing School is America’s #1 Sailing School and has a convenient location in Fort Myers. 

It offers all levels of US Sailing and Powerboating certification and has taught over 160,000 adults and families over its lifetime of 58 years.

Steve Colgate founded Offshore Sailing School and is still the owner and manager, while his wife, Doris is the President and CEO.

According to Offshore Sailing School’s marketing director, Beth, “The business was started in 1964 on City Island, New York. Steve began sailing in his youth and wanted to find a way to make a living doing what he loved, sailing and yacht racing himself, and teaching others. Doris joined the company a few years later, after taking an Offshore Sailing School Course while working for Yachting magazine in Manhattan. She met Steve, and says she married him, and the school!”

Not only does Offshore Sailing have a convenient resort location right here in Fort Myers, but there are three other locations on Florida’s Gulf Coast, as well as two locations in the British Virgin Islands.

Photo Courtesy of Offshore Sailing's Marketing Director

Offshore Sailing was the first to offer flotilla sailing vacations all over the world, including Tonga, Spain, and the British Virgin Islands.

Although sailing does take hard work, there are tools aboard the boat to assist you; one of the many things you learn in sailing school.

One of Beth’s favorite things about Offshore Sailing? “We help people make their dreams come true, every day. That’s the number one thing we hear from our students, especially while working in our floating dock display at the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis. “You changed my life, and I’m grateful” is a frequent comment and that is so rewarding for us to hear.”

A common question Offshore Sailing School gets is the difference between US Sailing and the American Sailing Association. Beth states, “We are one of 75 schools across the country selected by US Sailing to teach its curriculum and maintain very high standards in instruction, instructor training, and certification, as well as keeping a well-maintained fleet of boats, including keelboats which are required as the type of sailboats used to teach the basic Learn to Sail Course. Steve Colgate designed the Colgate 26 keelboat with training and instruction in mind. It is a very fun, fast, and safe sailboat.”

Beth explains, “US Sailing is the national governing body of the sport of sailing in the United States, and is the non-profit organization funding and managing the US Sailing Team for the Olympics. By comparison, the American Sailing Association (aka ASA) is a network of more than 370 schools owned and operated at a local level. Some students begin their education with ASA because there are more of them across the country. We accept graduates of ASA-affiliated schools into our instructional programs and special events. We host the most students for US Sailing and Powerboating certification at our year-round schools, while other schools operate only seasonally. We package our courses with resort stay since more than 95% of our students travel to our destinations specifically for their boating education.”

Another huge compliment for Offshore Sailing is the fact that they are the Official Sailing School of The Moorings, the number one yacht charter company in the world.

Beth adds, “They refer would-be vacation charterers to us for training and certification, and our graduates receive an exclusive 15% savings on their first charter with The Moorings. Steve and Doris Colgate befriended Charlie and Ginny Cary early on when Charlie and Ginny started building their charter boat fleet and company, The Moorings. That relationship led to what we now call, Colgate Sailing Adventures® flotillas, hosted sailing vacations for our graduates, guests, and other experienced sailors. Steve and Doris Colgate have hosted more than 100 flotillas in exotic destinations all around the world. Today, these trips are hosted by Nate & Heather Atwater. Nate used to work for Offshore Sailing School in New York some time ago, while Heather worked for her family’s sail-repair business.”

Offshore Sailing School is also a big community supporter, “including American Heart AssociationAmerican Cancer SocietyGolisano Children’s HospitalPACE Center for Girls (of which Doris Colgate was named a Grande Dame in 2019), The Heights FoundationSouthwest Florida Symphony, and others. We are a national sponsor of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and have donated more than $170,000 to help LLS find the cures for blood cancers. We also support more than 40 Leukemia Cup Regattas across the U.S.”

Upcoming events and specials at Offshore Sailing include a special Fast Track® to Sailing Course, 21st Offshore Sailing School Performance Race Week, and six Colgate Sailing Adventures® sailing vacations in 2022: St. Martin, Croatia, Seychelles, Thailand, and two in the British Virgin Islands from Tortola and Scrub Island.

For more information on Offshore Sailing School and all that it has to offer, visit their website at, call their office at 239-464-1700, or email at [email protected].