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Betsy waves me over as I jump off the stern of La Mouette, our chartered Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 453, into the warm waters of Cooper Island’s Manchioneel Bay. My mask and fins are already on. Betsy has found an octopus hiding against a rock shelf; it pulls an empty conch shell over itself when I get too close. I follow a couple of stingrays over to a reef where I spy a school of sergeant majors, Christmas tree worms of every color, and a variety of sea fans. The snorkeling is excellent, but I’m not here for the scenery. It’s the second day of Sea Sense’s week-long sailing course for women, and the British Virgin Islands, with its guaranteed February sunshine, steady 15-knot trade winds, and blissful 80-degree temperatures, is the perfect classroom.

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