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July 2004

Wet your appetite

Get a taste of sailing and scuba diving this summer

Watching white sails tacking across the rippling, blue-green water of a Bavarian lake, it must become obvious to all but the most die-hard hydraphobics why sailing is considered such a consummately elegant, even romantic sport. How many of us residents of Munich have not stood on the crowded shores of Lake Starnberg or the Chiemsee on a hot summer day and looked on enviously as lithe, suntanned figures wielded their gleaming craft across the water?

Sailing, like many other activities in Germany, is governed by a tsunami of laws, rules and regulations. Licenses are required to operate both sail and motorboats in almost all German waters, which is not a bad thing—there is nothing as dangerous, either to themselves or to others, as an unskilled sailor.

There are two very reputable sailing schools in Munich where one can learn not only the nautical and radio skills necessary for navigating inland waterways and coastal stretches, but also those needed for sailing on the high seas. The sailing school Weiss-Blau, Aidenbachstr. 208 (Tel. [089] 74 87 99 47,, has 30 years’ experience in teaching sailing courses, and advertises itself as a family-friendly sailing and motorboat school. ABC (Ausbildungscenter für Segler und Motorbootfahrer GmbH), located at Pettenkoferstr. 17 (Tel. [089] 53 30 11,, offers a great variety of courses and organized sailing holidays on the Mediterranean.

Both schools teach theory and practice. At Weiss-Blau, a combined theory course and test for motor and sailboats (known as S+M) on inland waters costs approximately € 200, while the practical part of the course costs an additional € 550. Theory courses run for two days or six evenings. Practice courses are held on Lake Starnberg and, according to the school, ten days’ experience is required to pass the final test. A complete package, including unlimited use of the sailboats for a year (Tues.–Sun. from May 1 until Oct. 2), as well as a motorboat course, costs about € 750. At ABC a two-day theory course plus ten days of sailing practice costs roughly. € 700.

Lessons at both schools are intensive, offering in-depth study of everything from knots to basic motor repair, as well as instruction in sailing theory, maneuvering and all the relevant rules and regulations. If you fail the theory course at Weiss-Blau, you can repeat it without any additional cost. ABC offers a specialized course in windsurfing. Consisting of five half-days, the course costs € 150. Herr Haas of Weiss-Blau says no theory courses are offered in English, so an ability to read and write German is required to complete them. “Of course no one will mark down for incorrect spelling or sentence structures, but the test questions are in German and you need to convey the sense of the correct answer in your answer.” He added that, “as the tests are immediately marked,” the examiner will always query an answer if there is doubt about what was meant.

It’s said that scuba diving is the closest way to experience the weightlessness of outer space without actually leaving the earth’s atmosphere. It’s also a way to glimpse an entirely new and diverse world. After all 71 percent of our planet’s surface is covered with water.

Although Munich is landlocked, the city offers many opportunities to learn the sport in professional, well-organized courses. Once you have the necessary expertise, however, you will have to make do either with the cold waters of Upper Bavaria’s lakes or be prepared to travel further afield. The Red Sea, the Maldives or the Caribbean are all popular destinations. Before investing in a course, it is advisable to try an introductory dive. Tauchsport Wagner (Tel. [089] 89 22 09 10) and ABC Divers in Eching (Tel. [089] 37 00 09 69) offer supervised dives in a swimming pool. The lesson consists of a theory and dive module for € 59. Alternatively, the Phoenixbad in Ottobrunn (Tel. [089] 66 07 87-0) offers an introductory dive every Friday evening at 6 pm and 8:30 pm for € 14.50 (adults) and € 9.50 (children from the age of 10) plus an admission fee (children € 3.30, adults € 4.30). Divesport Tauchschule ( is another option, charging € 29.

A more advanced course, such as a PADI Open Water Course (, which teaches skills to allow diving up to 18 meters in depth, will cost approximately € 300. Students are introduced to the theory of diving and take part in practice dives in a course that last about 30 hours. PADI is a recognized recreational diving organization and accreditation body and you will find PADI-associated schools in Germany on the Website. Prices include all equipment apart from masks, snorkels and flippers and a basic knowledge of German is required to pass the theory test.

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