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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the three, five and seven-day programs?

If you have some significant powerboating experience that you would like to document such as boat ownership experience or cruising crew, the three-day course is for you. If you have been a guest/crew on a bareboat charter, or have some boating in your past, the five-day course is for you. The seven-day course is designed for those who are preparing for chartering in the Caribbean. This class allows for two days of solo time, to build confidence and experience in trip planning and spending the night at anchor.

Other schools offer a similar lesson. Why should I choose San Diego Powerboating  Academy?

Our program is private. We do not try to put other students in your course. This is why we can offer 101/103/104 in one course. By concentrating on you, and your goals and dreams, we can be very successful.

We specialize in this liveaboard program. Other companies try to arrange a part time instructor and one of their rental boats and you. This is very different than what we do.

Our course is longer. Take our five day course for example, you may and should board your yacht on Sunday at around 2 pm. You and your partner can check in get acquainted with the boat and relax, read and get ready for boat handling on Monday.

Our boats are awesome. We own all of our boats. We specifically purchased and outfitted these boats for this program. Make an appointment and see for yourself.

Our location is awesome. San Diego, California is open for boating year round. Some of the industry's best people live and work here. There is every type of boating related business. Have a question on watermakers? There are 3 businesses on Shelter Island that service and install watermakers.

You will have the same instructor every day. At other schools you might have a different part time instructor every day.

In short, we care. We want you to succeed in your boating goals. Nothing beats the feeling you get as a professional instructor when you get emails letters and pictures like these.

Are there other students in our course?

No, we offer only private liveaboard  instruction. Our student to instructor ratio is 2 to 1.

What should I bring?

It's not about how much you bring, it's about bringing the right gear. If you own gear you should bring it, if you don't, get it in
San Diego where it is plentiful. If you own a GPS or a similar devise, you should bring it. The boating is cool, so a wind breaker and medium weight fleece is always a good idea. Hats and sunglasses are a must. It's warm in the summer 70-80's and cool in the winter 60-70's. If you have foul weather gear, you should bring it. If you don't and you need it, you can get a great deal here. Most of our students wish they had brought less clothes and more technical gear. One medium sized bag per person plus toiletries should do it.

Where are you located?

Our base is at the Kona Kai Resort B Dock on Shelter Island, San Diego Bay, California.
Our physical address is 1551 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, California 92106.
          - We do not accept mail at this address. Meetings by appointment only.
Our mailing address is 2907 Shelter Island Drive #256, San Diego, California 92106.

What is the weather like?

Nice. Seriously.

Do you offer courses all year? Which is the best month?

Yes, of course, classes are offered 12 months a year in San Diego. We are called "Americas Finest City". The best month depends on where you are from. May-November is when we get students from States where it is hot. (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah etc.) November-May, we get students from Europe, the East Coast, Mid West and Alaska. We operate in a thermal sea breeze here. You'll see pretty much the same conditions year round. It's cooler in the winter, warmer in the summer. There really is no bad month.

What about Hurricanes?

We are lucky and don't have them.

Do we take Wednesday off as a free day to go to the zoo?

No, we get underway every day.

What type of boats do you use?

We offer professional powerboating instruction aboard our Bayliner 3388 command bridge motor yachts.

What are your instructor's qualifications?

All our instructors are licensed yachtmasters, and certified powerboating instructors. Our tenured instructors have over twenty years of year round teaching experience with SDSA.com.  Our newest instructor has worked here nine years.

How do I make a reservation?

Please call 619-299-9247 or 800-441-8672 select an available week and provide us with a 50% deposit.

How far in advance do I need to make a reservation?

We typically book about 45-60 days in advance. However, if you need a reservation sooner than that, please check with us for availability. If you have specific dates in mind, it is never too early to reserve exactly what you want. We do accept reservations up to a year in advance.

What are the payment terms?

To make a reservation a 50% deposit is required. Your balance is due upon your arrival. We accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express and your personal check is welcome.

What is your refund policy?

Your deposit is non refundable. If you need to reschedule your course, you may do so for a fee:
90 days out      $150
60 days out      $250
30 days out      $350

Are there any other fees associated with our course?

No, your books, tests and certification are included in your tuition. The yacht will be supplied with a full tank of fuel.

If I am a current member of a yacht club, do I have reciprocal privileges with SDPBA?

Yes, we welcome current yacht club members and we will gladly extend reciprocal privileges.

What types of accommodations are there?

Typically, our students will either stay aboard one of our powerboats or make an independent reservation at the Kona Kai Resort & Spa.  If you choose to stay at the Kona Kai, you will be afforded a special discount as a client of the San Diego Powerboating Academy.

Whichever accommodations you chose, as a client of San Diego Powerboating Academy, all of the Kona Kai Resort amenities are available to you! 

If you will be staying aboard, our powerboats are fully equipped for you to live aboard including fresh linens, towels, and pillows. The galleys are fully equipped for cooking including BBQ's. There is hot water on board each yacht. The Marina and Yacht Clubs have shower rooms, and laundry rooms. 

If you prefer staying at the resort, the Kona Kai Resort & Spa offers casual island luxury accommodations including health club, spa, pool and Tiki bar.  The Vessel Restaurant & Lounge serve SoCal cuisine, steaks and seafood and the bar offers a daily happy hour and free live entertainment Thursday thru Sunday.  Take note: The
Kona Kai Resort offers the only privately owned beach in San Diego, complete with gas fire pits and private cabanas.

Are provisions included?

No, provisions are not included in your tuition.

Is there a market nearby where we can purchase groceries and other provisions?

Yes, there is a Ralph’s grocery store 2 miles from our marina as well as a Vons, Jensons, and a Trader Joe’s, and smaller quick stops in between.  If you do not have a car, no problem!  UBER and most other transportation companies provide service in our area.

Are there restaurants or nightclubs in walking distance of the marina?

Yes, Shelter Island has several bars and restaurants within walking distance. In fact, the Kona Kai has an excellent Happy Hour from 2-6 pm and delicious nightly meal specials right here at the marina.

Is there a place to park my car?

Yes, there is one parking space provided per group.

What about a car rental while we are in San Diego?

All of the major car rental companies operate in San Diego.  Most are located at the airport but several have locations in local downtown areas as well.  Contact your preferred rental agency for exact locations.  Uber, Lyft, taxi cabs, and most other forms of transportation operate and service the San Diego area. 

Can we add a person to our course?

Yes, however the larger the group the less individualized the instruction. There is a flat $750 additional person fee added to any course tuition.

Can we bring a ride along person who will not take lessons?


Is there somewhere I can check my email?

Yes, the Marina has free, secure Wi-Fi.

Can I bring my pet?

No. Sorry.

When can I start my live-aboard course?

All classes start on Monday at 9:30. Plan to arrive as early as 2:00pm on the Sunday prior to your class to check in and relax.

Are there other desirable locations in the area to anchor overnight?

Glorietta Bay and LaPlaya Cove are two highly desirable locations for overnight anchorage. Glorietta Bay laps at the shores of Coronado Island, one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in California. In fact, Coronado's beach has been designated a "Best Beach" by the Travel Channel. La Playa is adjacent to both the San Diego Yacht Club and the Southwestern Yacht Club and affords boaters a classic San Diego vacation with views of historic Point Loma and downtown San Diego.

What about hotel and marina guest slips for overnight anchorage?

There are several private and public slips available around San Diego. Here are a few we recommend:

Downtown San Diego Marriott - Near the bustling Gaslamp Quarter. Easy walk to food and entertainment.

Glorietta Bay Marina - across from the historic Hotel Del Coronado.

Also, if you belong to a yacht club you may have reciprocal privileges at many of the San Diego yacht clubs.

Do I need a passport?

No, you do not need your passport to take 101/103/104/105. However, if your yacht goes to Los Coronado's Islands in Mexico or crosses the US/Mexico border you will need to report to the customs dock and clear customs. It is recommended that you bring your passport. If you are taking Advanced Coastal Cruising 106 or higher your passport is required.

Can you do this course on my boat?

Yes, although we don't prefer to.  This service is only available Monday thru Friday and a travel charge may apply.

I have already taken 101 but I haven't done much boating since. I want to have a refresher course, which course should I sign up for?

Sign up for a five day.

My son/daughter is only 14. Can he/she get certified too?

The age for minimum certification is 16.  If your child meets this criteria you and your child may complete the course together.


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To learn more e-mail us at: power@sdpba.com

U.S. and Canada 800-441-8672, 619-299-9247 or 619-223-6253