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old salts (experienced sailors)

New to J-Town but already an experienced dinghy sailor? If you prefer to skip our Learn to Sail course we offer the option to take our Experienced Sailor Test or, as we like to call it, the Old Salt Test.

old salt TEST

Old salt tests are required for experienced new members who do not wish to enroll in the CANSail 1&2 course.

Tests are conducted in our Albacore dinghies. You will be asked to demonstrate the following:

  • Basic sailboat and sailing knowledge
  • Departing and returning to our docks
  • Tacking and gybing
  • Good sail trim on all points of sail
  • Crew overboard drill
  • Capsize recovery
For the complete list of skills that will be tested, consult the Albacore old salt test checklist.
    If you haven't sailed for many years, have sailed but not in a dinghy, or you're due for a refresher in any of the above skills, we strongly recommend you take a Learn to Sail course.

    On top of the initial old salt test on the albacore, you will need to complete an old salt test on a laser and/or on a catamaran if you wish to helm these boats but do not wish to take the corresponding clinics.

    You can request one or several Old Salt tests while registering as a new member. Contact oldsalttest@sailtoronto.com to schedule tests.

    old salts AND new SAILORS

    Old salts, whether by experience or by completing their CANSail 1&2 level, support new CANSail 1&2 students in a critical way, what we call old salting.

    Old salting refers to the first two sessions during a course, where old salts are taking out new members to help them have their first on water experience in a safe environment under the supervision of an old salt. It is a key task for new members and we need many old salts to volunteer for this task, because ideally we want one old salt on each boat for the first two sessions of each CANSail 1&2 course.

    The purpose of old salting is not to teach the new sailors. It is to ensure a safe first experience on the water (like no uncontrolled gybes). New sailors will not trim their sail properly, helm haphazardly, randomly tack and not manage their position on the boat. As long  as the safety of people and material is not at risk, old salts need to refrain from controlling/explaining/directing everything  on board. Just do the minimum to ensure a positive experience.

    What is required to old salt:

    • Being able to handle an albacore by yourself, possibly with the help of a crew who doesn't even understand the command or the parts of a boat. A new cansail 1&2 graduate can generally do this
    • Being comfortable with some level of chaos on board
    • Being able to stay cool, accepting of the crew's limited understanding and abilities, and convey a sense of safety to them in all situations

    What is NOT required to old salt:

    • A long white beard, a smoky pipe, a wooden leg and 40 years sailing the seven seas
    • An instructor certification, experience or abilities teaching

    If you are ready and able to old salt, consult this spreadsheet to view the dates and to sign up for old salting.

    During old salting or at other times at the club, old salts may want to share their knowledge and experience with new sailors. Learning to sail is a challenging and often overwhelming task at the beginning. Sometimes, it is just better to skip a piece of feedback, and when we do provide it, to ensure that the students receive it in a constructive way. 

    The flow chart below is designed to help old salts determine how to act on the feedback they want to provide.

    Source: Jenny Green & Julien Meyer