NIHSA Rating System

The NIH Sailing Association rates its members based on sailing skill, experience with Flying Scots and contributions to the club. There are three levels: Restricted Helmsperson, Unrestricted Helmsperson, and Skipper. Each level has different privileges and responsibilities, outlined below.

If you have never been a member before, you will join the club without a rating. If you are new to sailing, you will be given a rating after you successfully complete the Basic Training Course. If you already have extensive sailing experience, you may request a check-out sail (see details below) by contacting the Check-out Chairperson (nihsa.checkout@gmail.com).

Restricted Helmsperson

A member who has passed the NIHSA Basic Training Course or a check-out sail qualifies as a Restricted Helmsperson. A Helmsperson may charter:

  1. From sunrise to sunset.
  2. Any time a Small Craft Advisory is not posted.
  3. With no more than five other persons and no fewer than one other person (at least 16 years old) aboard. A Restricted Helmsperson must have aboard another NIHSA-rated Helmsperson (Restricted or Unrestricted) or Skipper.
  4. Sailing area: Inside a line from Marshy Point through South River Red “4″ to Saunders Point, and downstream from the Route 2 bridge over the South River (Stay well clear of the bridge).

Unrestricted Helmsperson

An Unrestricted Helmsperson may extend his or her sailing area to within the limits of daylight, while still following the other rules outlined for the Restricted Helmsperson above.

To Change from Restricted to Unrestricted Helmsperson, a member must:

  1. Charter an NIHSA Flying Scot in his or her own name at least three times without damage or accidents, and
  2. Participate in a NIHSA boat-related activity, such as: crewing in an NIHSA regatta; participating in an NIHSA sponsored cruise; helping in a maintenance session; or participating in any other training or sailing event designated by the Basic Training Chairperson.

When a member has met these requirements, he or she should notify the Membership Chairperson, indicating dates of charters, and the Club activities in which he or she participated. The Membership Chairperson will update your rating in NIHSA records.


This is a club-designated title. A Skipper candidate shall:

  1. Have been out on the Flying Scots no less than six times.
  2. Be sponsored by a Skipper who circulates the candidate’s name among other Skippers. The candidate shall have demonstrated to that Skipper increased competence on all items in the Helmsperson Requirements.
  3. Participate in at least one rigging or de-rigging session and help with maintenance, to be familiar with trouble shooting and emergency procedures.
  4. Be familiar with Coast Guard/Marine Police regulations regarding collision reporting and emergency assistance requirements.
  5. Service to the Club, such as serving as an officer or chairperson, boat sponsor, teaching, or running certain events.
  6. Be ratified by an Ad Hoc Committee of NIHSA Skippers appointed by the Skipper Ratification Chairperson.

Check-out Sails

Any new NIHSA member who is an experienced sailor should request a check-out sail with the Check-out Chairperson (nihsa.checkout@gmail.com). The check-out sail will take about three hours at the Selby Bay Sailing Center. There is a $20.00 check-out fee, and the cost of the boat charter (weekend rate: $24; weekday rate: $12); to be paid by check made out to NIHSA.

Members successfully completing the check-out sail will be given a Restricted Helmsperson rating in order that they become more experienced in sailing and maintaining the Flying Scots, and more knowledgeable of the Chesapeake Bay and its weather. If you are an experienced sailor desiring a Check-out, but not specifically acquainted with the Flying Scot or the Chesapeake Bay, we recommend that you first make arrangements to go for a preliminary sail with a qualified member or arrange to go out on one of the monthly NIHSA Fun Sails. This will allow you to become familiar with our sailing area and with the unique characteristics of our boats (e.g., rigging, inventory, halyard winches, etc.).