You don't have to be rich to sail here. You just have to find the Downtown Sailing Center, tucked away on the waterfront behind the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
There, a fleet of yachts, ranging from day-sailers to cruisers, awaits you on three floating peers. You can learn on them, borrow them, even sleep overnight on them.
"We're the best-kept secret in the Inner Harbor," says Steve Gross, president of the 427-member center, a non-profit educational charity.
Qavone Grant, 14, has discovered the secret and has a smile all over his face. With three 12-year-old friends from the Fort Eustace Development Center - Sean McMillian, Dearius Robertson and Anthony Walker - he has just docked a Kittywake 23.
At the tiller, he inched the boat smoothly into its dock under sail, and you can now see the sense of achievement, if not triumph, on his young face.
"I brought it in myself," he says. "I'm good enough to take the boat out by myself. If our instructor falls over board, I can tack back and pick him up, or I have to jibe back if the wind is behind us."
This from a youngster from an inner-city community not normally associated with sailing, a lad, who, until two weeks ago, had never been on a sailboat.
"It's a whole different experience," says Bill North, who, when not teaching sailing here, is an Outward Bound instructor in Baltimore. "It's something they may never get, coming from where they do - housing developments.
"Sailing used to be reserved for the middle and upper classes. These kids may never have got the chance to sail, if it wasn't for the summer camp. It involves experience, fun and team-working cooperation."
Qavone is attending a two-week sailing camp, funded by the city's housing authority. It is one of two camps for inner-city kids at the center. The other is run by Parks and People, a private foundation created by Sally Michel to encourage reading among third-graders.
But the main business of the center is to introduce adults to sailing. It runs courses at three levels - beginner, intermediate and J-22 skipper. They cost $175, $125 and $550, respectively.
The fee covers instruction, a year's membership of the center, and unlimited use of its boats. Only the 125 qualified skippers can take the boats out, but any member can crew on them in the evening, during the day and weekends.
"What we find is that most people who want to sail don't want to sail every day, or even every week," says Kirk Culbertson, the center's executive director and only full-time employee.
"People's busy and hectic lives lend themselves to lot of small periods of leisure time, so owning a boat doesn't have much point. Here, from the moment they park, they can be sailing in 10 minutes."
Members are not even expected to wash down the boats after docking. The boats are maintained by volunteer work crews.
Gross, a printing executive who started sailing at the center three years ago after learning about it from a booth at a fair in Towson, adds: "Most of our members try to view these boats as if they are their own boats. That is our greatest success. We are affordable and accessible."
This evening, Ben Nathan, an education policy researcher with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, and his wife, Nancy McClear, a dentist, who live in nearby Federal Hill, are taking their first course.
"I always thought it was kind of pathetic that we have been in Baltimore for five years and don't know how to sail, not being able to take advantage of one of the area's great natural wonders" Nathan says. "We thought it would be a great way to spend some time together.
"We are true novices. I once tried a little Sunfish thing, and we got it stuck in some small lake for hours. That tested our relationship more than anything else in 13 years."
Tonight Nathan and McClear are handed copies of U.S. Sailing's "Basic Keelboat" instruction book. In the museum's picnic pavilion, with the city's skyline as a backdrop, they learn how to judge the strength of the wind, the various points of sail, and to tie basic knots.
As the students grapple with the arcane terminology of sailing - reaches, runs, sheets and halyards - the skies darken.
"Smell the wind shift," Gross says. "Smell the bread."
The scent of the dough from H & S Bakery, wafting across the water from Fell's Point, indicates to the knowing nostril that the wind is north easterly. A fragrant whiff from Pfefferkorn's Coffee, and it has shifted to the south east. A certain sweetness means it is blowing over the Domino sugar plant from the south.
This is very definitely industrial city sailing.
Thunder and lightning arrives just as the novitiates are about to board the J-22s, light, fast, performance boats, perfect for harbor sailing. The center prohibits going out in dangerous conditions - thunder, lightning or winds above 20 mph.
You've probably seen the fleet of small, white J-22s sailing the Inner Harbor, adding their own nautical touch to the downtown scene.