Serious training for cruising sailors, and those who want to be

Sailing Instructors and Staff

The most important part of any sailing school is the staff. We feel very fortunate to have some of the finest instructors in Southeast Florida.

Bill Miles, Instructor

Bill Miles, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Captain Bill Miles learned to sail from his father, who taught Bill and a childhood friend in the late 1950s. He worked aboard yachts and sailboats for much of his young adult life. He became a Red Cross sailing instructor in 1968, the first step in a teaching career that would span the next forty years and beyond.

Bill has passed along his extensive experience to students at yacht clubs, church camps, and sailing schools. He’s also been a certified windsurfing instructor, and trained volunteers for the Virginia Beach Mental Health Department while working there as a crisis councilor. When he isn’t busy teaching, Bill is a serial entrepreneur — over the years, he’s successfully owned and operated several seasonal watersports businesses. He continues his volunteer mental health work today as a board member and trainer for the Outer Banks Hotline Crisis Intervention and Prevention Center.

Captain Miles is certified to teach ASA course levels 101-105, and all catamaran courses. He’s been teaching seasonally for Blue Water Sailing School since 1999. He now spends the winter in the Virgin Islands teaching for Blue Water and heads to Colorado in the summer for R&R.

Bill Mount, Instructor

Bill Mount, a Blue Water Sailing School instructor

Captain Bill Mount was born and raised in landlocked Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in history, and spent a year touring Europe by bicycle. He started sailing small boats on Oklahoma’s Lake Thunderbird in the mid-1980s.

In 1994, Bill moved to Florida and got his captain’s license. He drove a dive boat in the Florida Keys for a year, then taught sailing and navigation at the Chapman School of Seamanship. He’s been teaching at Blue Water Sailing School since 1995. Captain Bill received the American Sailing Association’s ASA Instructor of the Year in 2000 and 2005.

Besides sailing in local Floridian and Bahamian waters, Bill’s many ocean passages include: a transatlantic crossing; Grenada to Saint Thomas, USVI; from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands; from Sausalito, CA to Baja, Mexico; from Newport, RI to Fort Lauderdale, FL; and from Saint Thomas to Newport.

Dick Dawson, Instructor · Gail Dawson, Chef

Dick and Gail Dawson, a Blue Water Sailing School instructor

Captain Dick Dawson grew up in Chicago and started sailing on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where he spent his summers. He was very active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved their highest rank of Eagle Scout. Along the way he participated in every water sport you can imagine, including white water canoeing, water skiing, scuba diving and under water basket weaving to mention a few! But sailing has always been his love and he just enjoys hanging around boats and docks. He believes there must be some salt water in his blood.

Captain Dick met his wife, Gail, in Iowa while working on his B.S. degree in biology. After college, the Navy took them to California and Captain Dick, who was a Commissioned Naval Officer, spent two tours of duty in Vietnam, one as the skipper of a Patrol Craft Fast patrol boat commonly know as a “Swift Boat”.

After his active duty service he went to work in the petroleum industry in San Francisco, selling bunker fuel to ships all over the world. It was here that he first started teaching sailing for boy’s camps and bought his first yacht, a 30 foot Coronado which he sailed on San Francisco Bay and the California coast.

After raising three great kids, Gail and Dick quit the corporate rat race, sold their house, cars and most of their worldly possessions, bought a 51 foot Jeanneau in St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles and commenced cruising throughout the Caribbean and eventually buying a home on the island of St. Maarten. It was here that Captain Dick became a certified ASA Instructor and also started doing yacht delivery work.

Gail, who also loves to sail, is a first class chef and enjoys passing on cooking tips for food preparation and storage, unique to cruising yachts, to students.

Captain Dick is certified to teach ASA course levels 101 – 106, plus 114 catamaran courses. He has taught seasonally with Blue Water Sailing School since 2008 and has earned the USCG 100 ton Master Captain’s License with close to 60,000 NM in his log book. In his spare time he enjoys tinkering with antique autos.

Jaye Melanson, Instructor

Jaye Melanson, a Blue Water Sailing School instructor

Captain Jaye Melanson’s boating experience began early, with several voyages from the pristine shores of her native Vermont to Cuba and the Bahamas. Her most recent sailing sabbatical was a challenging yet glorious eighteen-month, single-hand excursion. The journey took her down the Eastern Seaboard and throughout much of the Caribbean aboard her beloved Absolutely, a Tartan 37 cruising/racing yacht.

At the culmination of this adventure, Jaye found herself working in Florida. She has since turned her passion for sailing into a career by working as Director of a sailing school, a charter captain, charter agent, an ASA-certified instructor, delivery captain, Director of SailTime Miami, a dive boat captain and dive master.

“I’d have to say I’m happiest while teaching and sharing my love of sailing with our students. Blue Water Sailing School is the best thing that has happened to me, and you’ll say the same if you sail with us.”

Having cruised, dived, moored, fished and explored extensively throughout the East Coast and Caribbean, Captain Jaye is proud to offer her unique perspective and acumen to the yachting world. Her return to port is always filled with smiling faces and fantastic memories.

Jennifer Wirth, Instructor

Jennifer Wirth, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Captain Jennifer Wirth grew up in Milwaukee, WI. Sailing dinghies on Lake Michigan taught her a love of the sport, and she’s been pursuing it ever since as both a career and a lifestyle. She began her sail-teaching career in college, where she made room in her heavy course load of physics classes to be an instructor for the student sailing club.

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Jennifer turned her attention to sailing full-time. Following a short stint working aboard a 60-foot ferroconcrete ketch, she downsized to something a little closer to the ocean and more to her taste — a 23-foot Herreschoff cutter. She spent the next six years sailing the Caribbean, living on self-caught seafood and fresh island fruit, enjoying the self-reliance and empowerment of “cruising simple.”

Captain Wirth earned her USCG 100 ton Master Captain’s License in 1995. She runs regular sailing charters out of Miami to the Keys and Bahamas aboard monohulls and catamarans, and fishing trips in the Keys. She’s been an active ASA sailing instructor since 1999, teaching courses up to the Advanced Coastal Cruising level (ASA 106). When she isn’t sailing or teaching, Jennifer indulges her passion for fishing.

José Miranda, Instructor

Jose Miranda, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Captain Jose Miranda was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, starting his sailing adventures at age 16. After college and degrees in chemistry and math he travelled in Europe as a fashion photographer, a career which he continues part-time to this day.

Returning to the Caribbean he started sailing as “rail meat” on racing boats, eventually moving up to handling the running backstays on Maxi class yachts.

He has sailed in the Med, Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean Seas, but the all-time favorite place he has sailed is Antarctica. His favorite time in sailing is when the land dips below the horizon and all that is left is the boat and the sea.

He's style of teaching is very energetic and practical. He loves teaching and he's very patient with students of all levels. When not teaching, he's delivering boats worldwide. He is bi-lingual, English and Spanish. Capt. Miranda is a USCG licensed 100T Master and has American Sailing Association instructor certifications through Advanced Coastal Cruising (ASA 206).

When not on the water, Jose lives in Fort Lauderdale with his wife and two sons.

Molly Winkelman, Instructor

Molly Winkelman, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Captain Molly Winkelman grew up in Milwaukee, WI and first learned how to sail on Lake Michigan when she was a teenager. Molly gained valuable experience racing and sailing, and soon realized her passion was for a life on the water. Since then, Molly has amassed thousands of hours on the water, having sailed and taught all over the world, forever in search of the perfect wind.

After graduating with a BFA from Art School in Milwaukee, Molly taught racing and sailing on Jboats on the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean for the Manhattan Yacht Club. Back in Chicago and on the familiar waters of Lake Michigan, Molly worked and raced boats like her small laser all the way up to 70 foot boats in major races like the Chicago-Mackinac race – the largest fresh water race in the world.

Since then, Molly’s career on the water has afforded her the opportunity to travel the world. She taught sailing and sailed boats in places like Marathon,Galveston, Lake Tahoe, Newport, San Francisco, Boston, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, much of the eastern Caribbean, Bermuda as well as the Balearics in the Mediterranean. Molly had the opportunity to move to France where she taught racing and sailing on multihulls and monohulls. She speaks French and especially loves French people, culture, food and art.

Today, Molly calls the Virgin Islands home half the year and considers Tobago Cays, SVG, one of her favorite sailing spot in the world. She has her 100-ton masters license with both sailing and towing endorsements and for the past 30 years has helped students become better sailors, regardless of their experience level. In addition to her career in sailing, Molly is a professional photographer and owns a commercial photography business. She loves animals and enjoys swimming, diving and art. When she’s not on the water, you can often find Molly on the many hiking trails around the islands.

Shel Miller, Instructor

Shel Miller, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Captain Shel Miller grew up in Vermont on the shores of Lake Champlain, where he first learned to sail on small catamarans. Shel went on to crew several sailboats in local racing events whenever he wasn’t busy running his home construction company.

After fifteen years in chilly Vermont, Shel moved to the warm weather of the Florida peninsula in the late 1980s. In ’87 he got his first ASA certifications and a U.S. Coast Guard license to carry passengers. By 1989 he’d purchased a 46-foot yacht and started captaining charters to the Bahamas.

Captain Shel became an ASA-certified sailing instructor in 1993, and is a firm believer in learning by doing. “Words really don’t teach,” he says, “experience teaches. However, words can offer guidance and different viewpoints. My objective is to help students become more knowledgeable, proficient, and comfortable in the ways of the sea.”

Tracy Spinney, Instructor

Tracy Spinney, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Growing up in the Oklahoma oil fields didn’t offer Tracy Spinney many sailing opportunities. But a family sailing vacation around the Chesapeake in the early 80s conjured a love affair with the wind and waves that’s lasted ever since.

After a successful career on Madison Avenue as a creative director, producer and voice actor, Tracy turned his hobby as a racer/cruiser into a profession, teaching sailing and racing at Manhattan Sailing School, Vineyard Sound and with Blue Water Sailing School. He has delivered yachts from New York to the Caribbean and back again, logging thousands of miles of blue water sailing. Tracy is a USCG Master and ASA Instructor up to ASA 106: Advanced Costal Cruising and looks forward to becoming certified in ASA 108: Offshore Passagemaking.

Tracy refuses to be drawn into the monohull versus catamaran debate by aspiring to have one of each: a mono for racing; a cat for his wife Suzanne, daughters Kristen and Laurel and the family dog, Tiller.

Ted Wheeler, Instructor Emeritus

Ted Wheeler, lead instructor for Blue Water Sailing School

Captain Ted Wheeler started sailing more than 30 years ago. A professionally trained classical musician and educator, Ted’s previous life included stints in the US Air Force, a Bachelors and Masters in Music, orchestra and choir conductor, and a career as a music educator.

Ted fell in love with sailing in his early 30s. He and his wife cruised the Bahamas, Florida Keys and both Florida coasts on his three- to four-month breaks from teaching. It wasn’t long before Ted started sailing professionally and working part-time as an instructor for the International School of Sailing in Fort Lauderdale. Being a professional educator as well as a professional sailor, Ted soon earned a promotion to Head of Instructional Programs. After ISS went out of business in 1989, Ted came to work for Blue Water Sailing School as Lead Instructor. He now sails and teaches full-time.

Ted is certified by the American Sailing Association to teach all levels of the ASA program, including being one of the few instructors in the US certified to teach ASA 108, Offshore Passagemaking. During his career Ted has made more than a dozen trips to or from the Caribbean, the US Gulf Coast, the Chesapeake and New York; three trips to Bermuda; one Transatlantic passage; and over 200 weeks to the Florida Keys and Bahamas.

Ted has been named ASA Instructor of the Year by the ASA — an award based on student surveys — four times in his career.

Tony Wall, Instructor

Tony Wall, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

While recovering from a soccer injury in the early 1980s, Captain Tony Wall discovered the pleasures of one-design racing and weekend sailing on Long Island Sound and off the coast of Newport, RI.

“By the mid 80s I was hugely exaggerating my big boat experience, so I could charter large Beneteau and Jeanneau yachts in the Caribbean,” admits Tony. “I soon learned the importance of good training and proper education to add to my pure sailing abilities.”

Now an ASA-certified advanced sailing instructor, Tony has amassed over fifty thousand miles in blue water. A Pacific crossing in 1992 and a transatlantic voyage in 2006 took Captain Tony to many exotic and historically interesting destinations, as well as teaching him the value of self-sufficiency and perseverance. He also has years of racing experience under his belt, and is a three time winner of the Newport–Bermuda race (twice as tactician).

When he’s not busy training a new generation of sailors, Tony is a yacht broker licensed and insured in the state of Florida.

Wayne Falb, Instructor

Wayne Falb, a Blue Water Sailing School Instructor

Captain Wayne Falb was born and raised on the south shore of Long Island, where his family owned a 32’ Chris Craft vintage 1936. It was there that he found his love of the sea.

Wayne graduated from the University of Vermont in 1971 with a BA in American history. He received his USCG license in 1983 while living in the Virgin Islands. In 1984 Wayne moved with his wife and two children to Florida, where he began teaching sailing and seamanship. In 1996 he became captain of a Little Harbor 62. He spent the next few summers in Maine and Nova Scotia, cruising the Caribbean during the winter.

After an Atlantic crossing in 1999, Wayne cruised the Mediterranean Sea for six years. The family settled in Barcelona, where he delivered yachts from Turkey to Ireland and all points in between. The Falbs returned to Florida in 2006, and Wayne is once again teaching sailing and delivering yachts.

Captain Falb has logged over 120,000 blue water miles including three Atlantic crossings, a passage to Hawaii, uncountable trips to the Caribbean, and up and down the Eastern seaboard. His passions, outside of sailing and teaching, include snow skiing, scuba diving, reading and cooking.

David Pyle, Owner

David Pyle, owner of Blue Water Sailing School

David Pyle was born and raised far from the sea, in northeast Ohio. He discovered yachting during a college sailing trip in the Bahamas. It was love at first sail, and a new direction in his life was set. After graduating with a degree in math, Dave moved to the San Francisco Bay area and started sailing recreationally.

He eventually got a job as a first mate for a charter company operating in Florida and the Bahamas. With the experience and sea time he gained working for the charter business, Dave attained a US Coast Guard captain’s license and went into business as a delivery and charter captain.

After five years of almost full-time sailing — four transatlantic crossings, numerous trips from the Caribbean to the US, and throughout Florida and the Bahamas — Dave swallowed the anchor and acquired a charter company. A few years, a business partner, and one marriage later, Dave and his wife Monica became the sole owners of Blue Water Sailing School.

Although now he usually sails a desk, Dave is a USCG Master (100 ton), and certified by the ASA to teach courses up to ASA 106: Advanced Coastal Cruising. Besides sailing, Dave enjoys skiing, mountaineering and long-distance cycling.

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