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Dinghy Sailing vs. Yacht SailingDinghy Sailing vs. Yacht Sailing The kind of boat you choose to sail will define your relationship with the sport as a whole. Like wind and weather conditions, the boat is one part of the entire sailing experience....

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ASA members unite for a special week in the BVIsASA members unite for a special week in the BVIs Lots of people sail the British Virgin Islands every year, but not many get to do it in quite the same style as the 2014 ASA Member's Event, which took place March 1-8. For...

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Dinghy Sailing vs. Yacht Sailing

Category : Sailboats

The kind of boat you choose to sail will define your relationship with the sport as a whole. Like wind and weather conditions, the boat is one part of the entire sailing experience. So what kind of boats are there, and which type is right for you? Many sailors transition from boat to boat depending on where they are and what sailboats they have access to, but many also stick to the same kind of boat for their entire lives! Here’s a quick overview of the two most common types of sailboats: dinghies and yachts.

Alternative Energy in the Sailing World

Category : American Sailing Association, Sailboats

Guest post from Sailors for the Sea.
By:Hilary Wiech, Communications Manager and Annie Brett, Program Director


Renewable energy is a hot and sometimes controversial topic on land, but within the sailing world wind generators can sometimes be seen as old news.

aoki yacht asa solar panelsIt may seem silly to talk about renewable energy in the sailing world – aren’t sailboats powered by the wind after all? But look a little more closely, and for each sailboat on the water, there are a slew of energy consuming generators, outboards and batteries making sure we can get from point A to B. With climate change an increasingly pressing concern for the oceans and the environment, reducing our use of fossil fuels is critical. That being said, some of the best arguments for alternative energy sources are purely practical.

The cruising community, for instance, has long embraced renewable energy as a way to reduce costs and help make long passages possible on small amounts of diesel fuel. Solar panels and wind generators are almost ubiquitous on live-aboards, allowing cruisers to maintain battery banks while far away from traditional energy sources. Pictured at left is ASA instructor Yoh Aoki’s Zen 24 yacht, which makes us of a variety of renewable power sources.

Here at Sailors for the Sea we have noticed a big increase in the use of renewable energy with racing sailors as well. More efficient and cost-effective technologies mean that many of the same benefits the cruising community has long understood are now workable for racers. Whether switching a race committee boat to biodiesel or sailing around the world without a drop of diesel, race organizers are looking towards alternative energy sources. The America’s Cup, The Atlantic Cup, and the Vendee Globe are three regattas that are each taking a different approach to reducing their environmental footprint with the use of alternative energy.

America’s Cup – Alternative Energy supporting a large regatta venue

Race organizers at the America’s Cup have taken a strong stance on sustainability with a commitment to running every event in accordance to our Clean Regattas certification criteria and helping us create a stringent Platinum Level certification. The on-shore footprint of the America’s Cup is very large, with multiple venues scattered throughout the city of San Francisco and an anticipated hundreds of thousands of visitors during the three months of racing. Race organizers have committed to holding a carbon neutral event, and to achieve this they will utilize renewable energy in different ways:

  • Solar Panels: Past America’s Cup World Series events have seen organizers turn to solar power for some of their energy needs. Security lights powered by solar panels will reduce electrical use for a light that needs to be very bright and on 12 hours a day. Solar panels will cover the top of the sound stage and will generate enough power to boom the announcer’s voices over the large crowds.
  • Biodiesel: When The America’s Cup is unable to use shore power, and the use of generators are necessary using biodiesel will help reduce their fossil fuel usage and emissions.

Atlantic Cup – Renewable technologies for short distance and inshore racing

The Atlantic Cup, a regatta currently being run for its third year, has always received Gold level Clean Regattas certification. Race organizers require that every team use a form of alternative energy and through their sponsors assist teams with making the switch.

  • Hydro-generators: Many boats in the Class 40 circuit use hydro-generators to charge their batteries. Much like an upside-down wind generator, they have become popular in recent years as their increasing efficiency and reduced drag means they barely affect a boat’s speed. (Watch video below)
  • Solar Panels: Many boats are equipped with solar panels to charge their batteries.
    Bio-diesel: When the engines must be run (hopefully only to and from dock) race organizers supply biodiesel for each boat.

Want to see more about renewable energy in the Atlantic Cup? Click here to view on Youtube.

Vendee Globe – Around the world with no fossil fuel
acciona vendee globe
The Vendee Globe is a grueling solo round the world race from west to east via the three major capes -Good Hope, Leeuwin, and the Horn. In years past, about half the fleet does not make it across the finish line. For many years, racers have relied on some form of renewable energy to make it all the way around the world, typically a combination of solar panels and diesel fuel used to keep their batteries charged. However, this year one sailor set out with the goal of completing the race without using a single drop of diesel. Javier Sanso onTeam ACCIONA created a 100 percent ecopowered boat built to compete with the best in class.

  • A combination of solar panels, wind generators, and hydro generators were used onboard to charge batteries.
  • An electrical engine, a first in the history of the race, was used in place of a standard diesel engine. Team ACCIONA has to ask for the race rules to be changed to allow for the electrical engine, opening possibilities for the future.

If Sanso had completed the race, he would have been the first to do so without using fossil fuels. Unfortunately his keel broke and the boat flipped with approximately ¼ of the race left. For more information on Javier Sanso’s eco-friendly campaign watch the video below and read The New York Times article “In Race Around World, Boat Relies on the Power of Wind, Water and Sun.”

See more about renewable energy use in the Vendee Globe Race. Click here to view on Youtube.

Catamaran Sailing – What’s the Difference?

Category : Sailboats

catamaran sailing tahitiOver the last 20 years, catamarans have seen a massive rise in popularity among charterers, cruisers, and even the casual daysailor. Curious about catamaran sailing? Here’s some basic information you need to know:

What is a Catamaran?

A traditional sailboat is a monohull–in other words, it has only one hull centered around a heavy keel. A catamaran is balanced on two hulls, with the sails in the middle. It’s as simple as that. Depending on the size of the boat, the space separating the two hulls might be filled by a cockpit, a main cabin, and usually some netting (which can be a great place for relaxing in the sun).

Why are Catamarans Popular?

Size and stability are the main factors. With two hulls and the space in between, there tends to be more room on a catamaran, both above and below decks. Vacationers chartering a boat love cats for this reason. There’s space for a lot of people and a lot of stuff. Additionally, the stability offered by having two hulls means that the boat doesn’t heel over like a monohull–it stays pretty much level. This means the sailing experience is less tiring, as you aren’t battling gravity. Catamarans don’t need as much water underneath them, so you can sail in shallower places than a monohull, and in your anchorage at night you won’t roll around. There’s also a bit more privacy for those onboard, as the two hulls are completely separate from one another. Lastly, they tend to be faster!

Sailing Terms Everyone Should Know

Category : Sailboats

Knowing the right sailing terms to use on board a boat is not JUST a way of sounding super cool and impressing your friends. (Though it works for that, too.) It’s actually very useful, and sometimes crucial in communicating while you’re sailing. Some of the vocabulary used on board boats can sound arcane, which it is! That’s part of what’s fun about it; we’re still using terms that have been used by sailors for hundreds of years. So when you know your terminology, you’re participating in the grand sailing tradition, and you don’t have to say, “Can you hand me that…thing?”

main sheet

photo by b. cohen

Here are the key sailing terms you’ll want to know as you begin learning to sail!

  • Port: Facing forward, this is anything to the left of the boat. When you’re onboard, you can use this term pretty much any time you would normally say “left.”

    Starboard:
    Facing forward, this is anything to the right of the boat. Same deal as “port”–only the opposite.
  • Bow/Stern: The bow is the front of the boat, the stern is the back. Anything near the front of the boat is referred to as being “forward,” and anything toward the back is “aft” or “astern.”
  • Point of Sail: The boat’s direction relative to the wind. For example, if you’re going straight into the wind, your point of sail is called “in irons.” (Note: This isn’t a good place to be!) If the wind is blowing straight over the side of the boat, that’s called a “beam reach.” There are 8 commonly used points of sail, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them before going out.
  • Helm: Where you steer the boat. Usually this is a big wheel, but on smaller boats it can be a tiller, which is basically a long wooden stick. Either of these can be used to control the boat’s rudder.
  • Keel: The keel is a long, heavy fin on the bottom of the boat that sticks down into the water. It provides stability and is the reason why modern sailboats are nearly impossible to capsize.
  • Heeling: This is the term for when a sailboat leans over in the water, pushed by the wind. There’s nothing else like the thrill of heeling over as your sails fill and your speed picks up!
  • Tack: This term has two distinct meanings, both of them very important. As a verb, to tack is to change direction by turning the bow of the boat through the wind. As a noun, your tack is the course you are on relative to the wind. For example, if the wind is blowing over the port side, you are on a port tack. If it’s blowing over the starboard side, you’re on a…you guessed it…starboard tack.
  • Jibe: A jibe is another way of changing direction, in which you bring the stern of the boat through the wind. Whether you choose to tack or jibe entirely depends on the situation–what’s around you, and the direction of the wind.
  • Windward: The side of the boat closest to the wind. When heeling over, this will always be the high side.
  • Leeward:The side of the boat furthest from the wind. When heeling over, this will always be the low side.
  • Lines: On board a boat, this is what you say instead of “ropes.”
  • Mainsail: The big triangular sail just aft of the sailboat’s mast. As the name suggests, this is the boat’s largest and most important sail. Running along its bottom edge, the mainsail has a thick pole called the boom.
  • Jib: The next most common sail on any boat. The jib can always be found forward of the mast, and unlike the mainsail, does not have a boom.

 

sailboat under main and jib

A sailboat cruising the Caribbean under mainsail and jib.


Getting familiar with these sailing terms is an important step. Not only will you sound like you know what you’re doing, you’ll quickly begin to realize that with the right practice and training, you really DO know what you’re doing!

Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes America’s Cup Comeback Story on ESPN Classic

Category : Sailboats

19874 stars and stripes victory sailWatch on ESPN Classic Saturday, February 4th, 2012

ASA co-founder Peter Isler was the navigator aboard Stars & Stripes when it famously won back the America’s Cup in 1987. This Saturday you’ll have the chance to relive that victory, or see it for the first time. Here’s the press release from North Sails with the details:

North Sails is proud to present Stars & Stripes 25th Anniversary America’s Cup Special which will air on ESPN Classic this Saturday, February 4th at 2am, 12pm & 7pm ET. Featuring new interview footage with Dennis Conner, Tom Whidden, Jon Wright, and Malin Burnham, you will relive an amazing comeback story in this one-hour special.

American skipper Dennis Conner famously lost the America’s Cup in 1983 in the waters off Newport, RI. The New York Yacht Club had held the Cup for 132 years but Conner and his crew aboard Liberty faced a technologically superior boat named Australia II, that featured an innovative winged keel. In a best of seven race series it came down to one final race. Liberty led for most of the race, but lost near the end in a heartbreaking defeat.

Six months later, Conner mounted a comeback. But first, he had to defeat 12 other teams to earn the right to be the challenger. After a grueling elimination series, Conner prevailed and faced the Australians in the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. Conner won in four straight, and became a national hero. ESPN covered the races live. This program relives this amazing comeback story. Dennis Conner talks about his experience on the 25th year Anniversary of his victory with Stars & Stripes.

The program is sponsored by North Sails and Rolex. It is hosted by Gary Jobson and Jim Kelly. Airs on ESPN Classic:
February 4 at 2:00am et (11:00pm pt February 3)
February 4 at 12:00pm et (noon) (9:00am pt)
February 4 at 7:00pm et (4:00pm pt)

The text of this article has been provided by North Sails.

Video Highlights from the America’s Cup World Series San Diego

Category : American Sailing Association, Sailboats

cindy shabes asaWhether you love racing, or prefer the relaxed lifestyle of the cruiser, there’s no denying the excitement and glamor that accompanies sailing’s biggest competition, the America’s Cup. The actual cup finals will take place in San Francisco in 2013, but this is preceded by several match racing events around the world. Following events earlier this year in Cascais, Portugal and Plymouth, UK, this past week San Diego, CA played host to the spectacular AC45 “super-catamarans.”

ASA was represented in San Diego by founder Lenny Shabes, President Cindy Shabes, and former America’s Cup winner, ASA Board Member, and sailing commentator Peter Isler. (That’s Cindy on the left, posing in front of the entry from Spain.) Oh, and let’s not forget all of the ASA instructors who came to watch!

If you missed the action, or just want to relive it, this video highlight package will have you covered. It features very classy camerawork and all the best action. It’s good for newcomers too, as they explain the rules and everyone’s job on the boats. Enjoy!

The AC World Series will continue next year with racing in Naples and Venice, Italy, followed by another trip stateside to Newport, Rhode Island. All the dates can be found here.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

Bareboat Charter Essentials: Book It Right!

Category : American Sailing Association, Charter, Sailboats

sailboat in beautiful settingThis feature originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of ‘Sailing with Style,’ the e-newsletter of the American Sailing Association. To subscribe for free, click here.

By Lisa Batchelor Frailey

Your bareboat charter should be the vacation of a lifetime – even if you take one every year! Booking a charter isn’t always straightforward, and if done incorrectly, the stakes (financial and relationships) can be high. Presented here is a professional insight into the charter booking process. The more you know and prepare before talking with a charter broker, the smoother your booking process will be. Booking the right charter is the critical first step to a fabulous sailing vacation!

Location, Location, Location. As in real estate, location drives everything. When you choose your chartering location, consider these aspects:

  1. Sailing skill and experience level required. Mother Nature makes some chartering destinations more challenging than others. Are the legs between sheltered bays short or long? Will you berth at marinas, moorings, anchorages? Will you be sailing open-ocean, or in the lee of islands? How does your skill level compare?
  2. Features for the crew. Sailing occupies only part of your chartering day; is your crew interested in secluded anchorages, beach-bars, restaurants, snorkeling, shopping, castles, cathedrals, or cricket matches?
  3. Travel logistics. Your vacation time is precious; factor in the ease and expense of getting to your charter destination – flights, ferries, ground transportation. You may want to sleep aboard the night before your charter to be acclimated and fresh for your first charter day.

Make a Date. Are you escaping mid-winter blues or working around the kids’ school vacations? The timing of your charter can have a big impact. Rates generally vary throughout the season – for good reason! A holiday charter can be magical, but realize that rates peak at holidays, and so do the crowds in the anchorages. Rates plummet off-season, but the tradeoff may be hurricane season, or unfavorable temperatures or winds. If you have lots of flexibility, you can secure great last-minute deals.
charter boat in croatia
The Boat. So many options! Your first decision is typically between a monohull and a multihull. There are many advantages to each – enough for another entire article! Next, decide the number of cabins and heads you’ll need to comfortably accommodate your crew while maintaining friendships. Choose an appropriate size boat for the number onboard, your experience level, and your budget. In more challenging sailing conditions, you may need a larger (or heavier) boat for stability. The age of the boat matters, but not so much as how well it’s been maintained. Without prior experience with a particular charter company, you may have no way of determining the latter. List non-standard features that you may consider requirements – dodger and bimini for protection from the elements, air-conditioning, generator, TV? Some sailors enjoy the familiar and charter the same type boat each time – perhaps in a new location. Others like to try the latest model, a different layout, or new technology. Maybe you’re considering a future yacht purchase – chartering for a week can really help refine your choices.

Cost Matters. If you have unlimited resources, you can skip this paragraph. But for most of us the cost of a bareboat charter is a significant factor. The basic charter price may well dictate the size and/or age of the boat you choose. As in most purchases “You get what you pay for.” If you find a bargain boat during the normal charter season, you should ask why… there IS a reason why the company has discounted that boat. When you’re working out your charter budget, be sure to include the extra essential costs: insurance, security deposit, sales tax, cruising tax, park permits, fuel. These are fairly standard within a cruising location, but may vary with size of boat and number of crew onboard. Then consider these expenses: provisions, beverages, transportation to/from your charter base, mooring fees, meals ashore, excursions, and souvenirs.

A Word about Brokers. Virtually all bareboat charters are sold by charter brokers working on commission. Some work directly for a specific charter company; others are independent and access many companies. Broker commissions are paid by the charter company as a percentage of the basic charter fee; so whether you call an independent broker or call the charter company directly, you’ll still work with a broker and still pay a commission. Many brokers are based at a company headquarters or even at home, and are not located at the actual charter base. Nonetheless, a good broker knows the companies, boats, and the basic cruising area, and can save you a lot of time and effort researching to find the right match.

Choosing the Charter Company. Charter companies range from global mega-companies to mom and pop operators; there are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you’ve already chartered with a particular company and you’re happy with the boats and services, you may want to stay with that company and take advantage of common “return client” discounts. Otherwise, consider these factors, and work with your broker accordingly:

  1. Learn a company’s reputation by talking with other experienced charterers or independent brokers. Meet with company representatives – onsite or at boat shows. If it feels right, great. If you’re not comfortable, find another.
  2. Very large companies give you lots of options – bases worldwide, large fleets, service networks. If the boat you chartered becomes unavailable, a large company is likely to have a comparable replacement. Because of their volume, service is often less personal. Smaller companies may not have the vast selection of boats, but may have exactly what you want. You’re likely to get more personal attention and more flexibility.
  3. Check the composition of the charter fleet. Larger companies are generally aligned with one or two yacht manufacturers (e.g. Beneteau, Jeanneau, Leopard, etc.) and are exclusive to those lines. You can see the fleet online or pick up a company catalog.
  4. Consider the fleet age. Some large charter companies deal exclusively with new boats sold by that company; after 5 years, the boat moves on to the next echelon fleet where it spends another 5 years. Unlike fine wine, charter boats do not improve with age. They take a lot of wear and tear, even with the best maintenance plans. You’ll find some boats in their fourth charter fleet at rock-bottom prices. Value? Maybe not… consider these fleets the “Rent-a-Wrecks” of the sea.
  5. That said, beware the budget charter company! You may be better off to economize by choosing an off-peak time, last-minute special, or a smaller boat. If you have limited opportunities to charter, be sure to choose a reliable company and boat.

What to Expect When Booking. Once you’ve selected your charter boat and verified your dates, you’ll be sent a contract for your review. Read it carefully to be sure you understand the parameters – ask questions if you’re unclear. Be sure required fees and payment schedules are detailed in writing. To confirm your reservation, expect to put down a 50% deposit, with the balance due 30 to 60 days prior to the charter. The company will want a Skipper’s Resume; you may have your own, or you can complete their form. Include your qualifications, including a copy of your ASA logbook seals. If you have no skippering experience beyond your courses, expect the company to require a captain for a day or so. Don’t take this as a slight; instead, take full advantage of the skipper’s knowledge of the boat and the local area. You’ll be far more comfortable and confident after the skipper departs. Upon booking, you may receive a list of company policies and/or client responsibilities, emphasizing aspects of your charter contract. As the time for charter approaches, you’ll need to submit a crew list and flight information, as well as any requests for ground transportation. Many companies have these forms available online, so you can browse before you book.
red and purple sunset
Extras. There are a number of optional extras and special amenities you may want to arrange for your charter. Most charter companies offer a provisioning service, with varying degrees of meal flexibility. This service can save you lots of valuable time, but you pay extra for the service. Ask what about options you have, and the location of local groceries. Most charter boats come with a dinghy and outboard, but you may want to add a kayak or windsurfer – be sure to reserve these well in advance. Snorkeling gear may be gratis or available to rent locally. The charter company may offer (or require) a locally-operable cell phone for your use onboard. Verify the yacht’s electrical system (110V, 220V, 12V?) and order any inverters or adapters you may need to play your favorite music or charge your phone or camera. You won’t want to miss the photo opportunities!

Countdown. As your charter date approaches, stay in touch with your charter broker. Verify that all your “extras” have been ordered, and that ground transportation is arranged. Determine what cash payments you may need at the charter base (many bases charge a fee for credit card use onsite). Make a copy of your charter contract to bring, along with the base phone number, in the event you are delayed and need to arrive after-hours. Make a list and check it twice. Then pack for your adventure!

Bareboat chartering opens up oceans of opportunities, allowing you to literally sail around the world, one destination at a time! You spent a lot of time and effort to achieve your Bareboat Charter qualifications and build your sailing expertise. Now, go the extra mile – follow these tips to ensure you book your charter right!

About the Author: Capt Lisa Batchelor Frailey is an ASA Instructor and co-owner of Sail Solomons Sailing School & Yacht Charters. Lisa is also an independent charter broker with extensive sailing experience in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Chesapeake Bay. lisa@sailsi.com

Copyright Lisa Batchelor Frailey, 2011

Featured Charter Destination: British Virgin Islands

Category : American Sailing Association, Charter, Sailboats

bviThis article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of ASA’s Sailing With Style.

by Captain Valerie Weingrad, ASA Certified Instructor

(For a list of ASA affiliated sailing schools and charter companies in the BVIs, click here.)

The British Virgin Islands (or BVIs) are located at the high point of the curving archipelago that swings from Florida to Trinidad. With their steady trade winds and numerous sheltered harbors they are a center for sea routes to every point of the compass, providing a great stopping off point in the trade lines between Europe and the riches of South America. They have been described as “the place on the way to everywhere.”

With their location providing a trade and military advantage, the Virgin Islands have been visited and occupied by various seafaring countries, privateers and indigenous populations throughout history. Spaniards sailed through regularly back in the day, hauling their Aztec loot to Spain. The US paid $25 million to Denmark to buy what is now known as the USVI in order to protect our southern doorstep. The island chain was once inhabited by the Ciboney Indians back in the stone ages, later in 100 B.C. the peaceful Arawaks arrived only to be wiped out or eaten by the aggressive and cannibalistic Carib Indians in the 1300’s. Columbus showed up in 1493, driven by an unfavorable wind to Virgin Gorda. Upon arriving and seeing the many islands he named them “the Virgins” in honor of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins who sacrificed their lives rather than submit to a fate worse than death at the hands of the Huns in 4th century Germany. But I digress!

The BVI is a sailor’s paradise and a great place for trying out your hand at bareboat chartering. Within the protection of the Sir Francis Drake channel the sailing is relatively easy and the navigation is line of sight. The trade winds blow from the northeast at 15-20 knots, except for the Christmas winds in December and January which can blow 25-35 knots for several days. By February they start to move around to the east and by June they drop down to 10-15k and move southeast. There is a nominal tidal range of about 12 inches. Mooring balls are installed in most harbors so you don’t have to worry about anchoring, just make sure you’re in the harbor early enough in the afternoon to snag one.

A Google search will reveal a myriad of boats available from numerous charter companies and brokers. Do your homework, or work with a reputable broker to make sure you aren’t disappointed when you walk down the dock and see your “home” for the week! Many ASA schools also charter boats, so try checking with them!

Planning your Sail in Paradise:

You can reach the BVI directly by flight into Beef Island, Tortola or by ferry from St Thomas. All of the charter companies’ boats are located on Tortola. Taxis, provisioning, restaurants and bars abound on this island so you are sure to find everything you need for your trip. Most charter companies will take care of pre-provisioning the boat for you as well as making arrangements for all of the various paperwork, cruising taxes and permits you will need to start your sail. The dollar is the standard currency and most, but not all, places accept credit cards, so have some cash on hand for when “the machine is not working.” Prices in the BVI have crept up over the years so be prepared for that when you visit. Most mooring balls are still $25 to $30 per night, but on a recent sail to Anegada, the drowned island, I found the lobster dinner is up to $50+, although still worth it in my opinion!

Let’s Go Sailing!
When you plan your route keep in mind that when you are heading northeast up the Sir Francis Drake Channel you will be against the wind, so allow time for tacking up the channel. I typically like to start my sail on a downwind run; it gives the crew time to learn the boat and makes for a pleasant first day as everyone is adjusting to island time.

From the south side of Tortola you can head west around West End and cut across to Jost Van Dyke, named for another privateer. Once at Jost you have several options of where to moor or anchor for the night. Great Harbor has added mooring balls as of this year. This is the location of the famous Foxy’s bar and others, such as Corsair’s owned by my friends Vinny and Alibabas. You can also choose White Bay, home of the Soggy Dollar. It gets very shallow in there so watch your depths! Little Harbor is nice as well. Check out Sidney’s Peace and Love while you are there. From Jost you can do a short sail to Cane Garden Bay and tour the Callwood Distillery where they still make rum the old fashioned way, in copper kettles. Next it’s on to Guano Island and Monkey Point for snorkeling. From there you can continue to Marina Cay for the night. If you anchor close to the island you may have a late afternoon visit from “Barry Cuda.” He is huge old barracuda that lives under the dock. Never fear, he’s relatively tame. One of the (crazy) guys on my last sail had him eating smoked turkey right out of his hand! Better him than me!

An early morning start will take you to Virgin Gorda and the opportunity to anchor in front of the “Baths.” This is a must-see, a spectacular formation of huge granite boulders precariously teetering on each other since the ice age. The sea washes in between create pools; you’ll be climbing ladders and walking through water so wear your water shoes. The snorkeling at Devil’s cave on the other side is great, but be aware of the current that can be strong at times. After lunch, set sail and tack north to Gorda Sound. Choose the Bitter End Yacht club, Saba Rock or Leverick Bay for your overnight. You can also pick up additional provisions and water for the boat here. Michael Bean’s one-man band plays nightly at Leverick for happy arrrr. Brush up on your pirate trivia and conch shell blowing and join the fun!

Weather (and charter company) permitting you can leave early for Anegada, the island for lobster! This will be the day you need to pay attention to your navigation, set your DR and hold your compass course. Anegada, though only 13 miles away, is a flat coral atoll and not visible until you are a few miles out. It’s surrounded by reef and over 400 shipwrecks. When I was there last month we watched a yacht under full sail come to an abrupt stop. Once you make it through the channel that marks the entrance through the reef pick up a mooring ball or anchor in the shallow sandy bottom. Dinghy ashore and take a taxi to Loblolly Bay for amazing beaches and good snorkeling. The best place to watch the sunset is Cow Wreck beach which also offers great food, a bar and the occasional band. The Anegada Reef Hotel is also an old stand-by for dinner. Make sure to try the rum infused Anegada Smoothy! The next day, leave if you must or spend a second day. This is a great two-day island!

Set sail and make your way down the channel, time permitting make a stop at the Dogs for snorkeling and lunch. Choose Cooper Island for your over night anchorage, it’s a nice stop as long as there is not a north swell. They recently reopened the resort there and it’s getting rave reviews. Alternatively choose Peter Island or Norman as your last stop and visit the world famous Willy T, a re-commissioned lumber boat, now a restaurant and bar. You never know what you’ll see there; better leave the kids on board your boat! The next morning do some snorkeling at the Caves (of Treasure Island fame) and make your way back to Tortola where you will end your week in paradise.

The week has passed. You’re relaxed and just getting into the rhythm of life on board. It’s bittersweet, but don’t worry…you can always come back!

About the Author: Valerie Weingrad is an ASA instructor, charter broker and owner of Custom Sailing Worldwide, Inc. Contact her at Valerie@customsailing.net or www.customsailing.net for information on sailing vacations both bareboat and crewed in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

How Not to Dock Your Boat

Category : American Sailing Association, Safety, Sailboats, Social Media, Standards

If only these people had taken the American Sailing Association’s Docking Endorsement. We’ll teach you everything from the physics of docking to how to step on and off the boat without falling in the water. (Hint #1: Don’t try to jump over the lifelines.)

Most of all, we’ll give you a lot of practice and make sure you feel SAFE and CONFIDENT when leaving the dock and coming back.

Ask your local sailing school about the ASA Docking Endorsement (118). It sure beats the alternative. A few years ago I was on a boat setting sail on a major ocean passage. Our journey had an inauspicious start, however, because as we left the dock we pulled a huge chunk of it off with us! Of course, that was partly the dock’s fault, being old and crumbly, but still… (Oh, and this was way before I ever worked for ASA!)

broken dock

This is a different broken concrete dock, but it gives you the idea.

Notable Numbers: Magellan’s 492nd, Minoru’s 8th, and Dekker’s 16th

Category : American Sailing Association, Sailboats

On this day in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan set sail on the first ever circumnavigation of Earth. Magellan sailed in the service of King Charles I of Spain, and was charged with finding a westward route to the “Spice Islands,” which are today a part of Indonesia. His ship completed the voyage, but Magellan did not. He was killed in a conflict with natives in the Philippines. Nevertheless, Magellan is one of the most famous seafarers in history. To get an idea of his influence, consider that Magellan actually named the Pacific Ocean.

Fast forward 492 years: A couple of modern sailors have followed in Magellan’s footsteps. They’re not going into the complete unknown, as he was, but nature and the sea remain as full of surprises as ever.
laura dekker
Today, September 20th, Laura Dekker turns 16. Dekker departed her native Holland at the ripe old age of 14, has crossed two oceans and now finds herself in Australia and on track for a successful solo circumnavigation. Unlike other teen sailors, such as Zac & Abby Sunderland, Dekker is not attempting a nonstop solo circumnavigation. Instead, she’s taking her time, enjoying stops in the Azores, St. Martin, the Galapagos, and other locales along the way. She expects to finish her trip around May 2012.

And at the other end of the spectrum, a few days ago accomplished Japanese sailor Minoru Saito completed his EIGHTH solo circumnavigation, this time sailing the “wrong way,” east to west. The kicker? Saito is 77 years old. He described this as his most difficult circumnavigation, and was beset by a near-Biblical string of difficulties, from severe damage to his boat at Cape Horn, to a hernia operation in Chile, to being hit by a car in Hawaii, to delays related to the 2011 Japanese tsunami. All told it took him 4 times as long as anticipated. He says he missed “cherry blossoms” more than anything else while at sea, and is already thinking about his next trip. He mentions Alaska and Greenland as destinations, which makes you wonder if he’s not contemplating taking on the Northwest Passage! I wouldn’t put anything past him now.