Transition to water, live the dream

Hi, my name is Gerald van Wilgen. I grew up in the Netherlands and am a captain teaching people how to sail on the treacherous Delaware River.

I teach the ASA101 “Basic Keelboat” class. People ask me, Captain Gerald, how do we transition to to life on the water? We are about to retire and we want to live the dream.

Since I am Dutch I wil tell you what I think, my initial answer always is : The basic keel boat class is a great first step, if you want go online, buy a boat, and leave–that’s how. Like anything in life, you can learn sailing on the fly.


… you probably will not live to tell.

It require some preparation.

So here is what I offer.

Together we create a comprehensive personal checklist. We will cover parts of the boat, weather, navigation, safety procedures, radio, satellite communication, dealing with Customs, how to plan your trip, sailing in high altitudes, sailing in hot weather, repair sails, how to glass, bring a pet, etc.

This will give you a detailed overview of what it takes to live on the water and will show you what you have to do to transfer.

Based on working together on the checklist I will be able to make an assessment of your sailing skills. Then we will make a plan that will help you get to the right confidence level. This means I will sign you up for more classes, or we charter a boat, anywhere in the world, and go sailing.

Let’s have a conversation.

Check list $500.

Practice: tbd. depends on charter, location etc.

Talktime Interview Questions:

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have an interest in painting but I’m afraid to start.

What can you talk about for hours?

Politics, but don’t get me started. Let’s talk books.

What’s your favorite smell?

When you begin a marinara sauce, the onions and garlic are sizzling in the virgin olive oil and the cans of crushed tomato is ready to go.

What are you proud of, but never have an excuse to talk about?

Raising two boys as a stay-at-home dad in a foreign country.

What’s one super power you would NOT want?


What is the most normal thing about you?

I drink coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

What do you hate?


My teaching style.

This is what I tell my students: 99,999 out of 10,000 times you go sailing things will be all right. But there will be that one day that all shit breaks loose, and that is what I am preparing you for, I am teaching you patiently to always think a few steps ahead.

Pictures were taken by my friend Alex in the Caribbean (Fountaine Pajot 44) and the Long Island Sound (C&C 41).