Learning to Sail While Chartering

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A charter—bareboat or crewed—can be a great learning experience and allow sailors to test their skills.

A charter—bareboat or crewed—can be a great learning experience and allow sailors to test their skills.

So you want to go sailing, but you don’t know where to start? A learning vacation combines fun, sun and sailing know-how in a four- to 10-day outing, and you’ll get a tan to boot. Whether you’re seeking certification to charter your own bareboat in the future, need hands-on experience to build confidence with larger or more complex vessels, or simply want a safety net so you can focus on family and friends aboard, there’s a way to do it all and still feel like you’re on vacation.

Whether you’re seeking certification to charter your own bareboat in the future, need hands-on experience to build confidence with larger or more complex vessels, or simply want a safety net so you can focus on family and friends aboard, there’s a way to do it all and still feel like you’re on vacation.Even if you’re an old salt with a decade of sailing under your belt, managing a bareboat is another story, and a few tips from a pro can help. Docking, anchoring, navigation, power management, water conversation, diesel troubleshooting, advanced knot tying and radio etiquette are skills that few day sailors really worry about when navigating their home waters. Add to that running a dinghy, grounding situations (oh yes, they happen), understanding safety gear and even provisioning and meal preparation (because a week of ramen noodles could incite a mutiny), and there’s more than enough subject matter for a weeklong curriculum, though several companies can offer trips as short as four days.

Even if you’re an old salt with a decade of sailing under your belt, managing a bareboat is another story, and a few tips from a pro can help. Docking, anchoring, navigation, power management, water conversation, diesel troubleshooting, advanced knot tying and radio etiquette are skills that few day sailors really worry about when navigating their home waters. Add to that running a dinghy, grounding situations (oh yes, they happen), understanding safety gear and even provisioning and meal preparation (because a week of ramen noodles could incite a mutiny), and there’s more than enough subject matter for a weeklong curriculum, though several companies can offer trips as short as four days.Clearly, bareboating is more than knowing how to hoist sails. So if you need practice on bigger boats, want to understand more systems-intensive platforms to prepare for distance cruising on your own, or want to try cruising in more remote or blustery locations safely, you should consider a “working” vacation. It won’t be anything like a day at the office, unless you snorkel, enjoy sunsets and laugh a lot—at the office.

Clearly, bareboating is more than knowing how to hoist sails. So if you need practice on bigger boats, want to understand more systems-intensive platforms to prepare for distance cruising on your own, or want to try cruising in more remote or blustery locations safely, you should consider a “working” vacation. It won’t be anything like a day at the office, unless you snorkel, enjoy sunsets and laugh a lot—at the office.There are also different sizes and kinds of boats you may want to test out. Catamarans, for example, have infiltrated the most remote destinations these days, and they’re my preferred platform for taking out larger groups that may be new to boating and don’t want to be piled on top of each other for a week. However, it takes some specialized skills to manage a cat under power and then sail one so it doesn’t handle like a dog. You don’t need certification to charter one, but hands-on experience does help.

There are also different sizes and kinds of boats you may want to test out. Catamarans, for example, have infiltrated the most remote destinations these days, and they’re my preferred platform for taking out larger groups that may be new to boating and don’t want to be piled on top of each other for a week. However, it takes some specialized skills to manage a cat under power and then sail one so it doesn’t handle like a dog. You don’t need certification to charter one, but hands-on experience does help.
Some major charter companies, like The Moorings (moorings.com) and Horizon Yacht Charters (horizonyachtcharters.com), offer American Sailing Association certified staff and facilities as well as high-end yachts. Upon completion of any course, your logbook is signed and stamped as proof of your competency for when you’re ready to charter on your own. Make sure to understand what’s included such as the size of boat, days of instruction, how many cabins, afternoon relaxation activities, curriculum, itineraries, food, fuel and tips. Another way is to go

Another way is to go with a school that offers occasional charters in newbie-friendly territory, like the British Virgin Islands where the winds are mostly steady, waves are generally benign, and just about everything is well-marked line-of-sight navigation. Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School (offshoresailing.com) organizes trips here and offers U.S. Sailing accreditation.Now, if you already have your certification but want to work on practical skills, there are other options. LTD Sailing (ltdsailing.com) based in Grenada also serves St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and they provide certification or just skippered experiences to build confidence in Windward Isle waters that are a bit

Now, if you already have your certification but want to work on practical skills, there are other options. LTD Sailing (ltdsailing.com) based in Grenada also serves St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and they provide certification or just skippered experiences to build confidence in Windward Isle waters that are a bit more blowy and challenging. Or you can participate in a flotilla with Zescapes that puts a captain on each vessel to make final decisions, but lets the guests run the boat and all shipboard duties for one or two weeks anywhere in the world so you can have an exotic adventure while learning.Finally, you can opt to go with your own group and book a whole boat or go alone and be paired up with other students. Any way you approach this, you’ll leave with good experience, new

Finally, you can opt to go with your own group and book a whole boat or go alone and be paired up with other students. Any way you approach this, you’ll leave with good experience, new friends and that great tan.

Charter Chat

Footloose Sailing Charters is offering 15 percent discount this Fall on charters out of the British Virgin Islands by using the code: FALL6. footloosecharters.com.

TMM Charters offers the offseason special of 10 days for the price of 7, running August 1 through October 30, 2016. sailtmm.com

Zuzana Prochazka holds a 100-ton Coast Guard license and cruises Southern California aboard Indigo, a Celestial 48

Photo courtesy of The Moorings

June 2016

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