NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — If you love life on the water, Lake Pontchartrain is waiting for you even if you don’t own a boat and don’t know the difference between starboard and port.

Community Sailing New Orleans has a variety of programs to help everyone enjoy the serenity of sailing.

Before you can sail on your own, you need to earn your sea legs. That’s easy to do thanks to a variety of lessons available at the West End marina. There are special sessions for women, adults and family programs, and adaptive sailing experiences. The Oscar J. Tolmas Veteran Sailing Program provides free lessons to anyone who served in the military.

Director of Operations, Khari Parrish, explained to WGNO’s Stephanie Oswald, “For adults, we have a beginner keelboat class, where 8-10 individuals come to our center and learn how to sail these sailboats behind me called the Independence 20.”

He also gave Oswald and Photojournalist Jeff Kent a mini-lesson on the lake. Check it out on the link above.

Once the sails are up, it’s tonic for the soul.

Khari recalled, “We had one Veteran who said, ‘It feels like when I go out on the water, all of my troubles and issues are left back at shore.”

Classes run year-round and in just six lessons you can go from landlubber to feeling comfortable and confident on the water. Instructors teach everything from the basics to a bit of advanced technique when it comes to dealing with changing and challenging conditions on the water.

Tuition for the adult keelboat class is just under $400 and that money helps pay for other community sailing programs that help the less fortunate get on the water.

Students who fall in love with the lake can opt to purchase an annual pass. Those start at $350 and allow access to boats throughout the year.

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