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Old 24-08-2015, 21:47   #1
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Liveaboard Sailing Schools

I am considering taking a series of live aboard courses over the next couple of years to prepare for a cruising retirement. The two that appear to be the most well known are water sailing">Blue Water Sailing School and Colgate's Offshore Sailing School.
Does anyone have firsthand knowledge or experience with these schools?
I've done a search of the forum and didn't find too much. Any info or recommendations would be appreciated. Also, what about location (BVI, Florida, Rhode Island, PNW)? Anything else I should be considering in selecting a school/course?
Thanks!
Mark
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Old 24-08-2015, 21:54   #2
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

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Originally Posted by Mark0808 View Post
I am considering taking a series of live aboard courses over the next couple of years to prepare for a cruising retirement. The two that appear to be the most well known are Blue Water Sailing School and Colgate's Offshore Sailing School.
Does anyone have firsthand knowledge or experience with these schools?
I've done a search of the forum and didn't find too much. Any info or recommendations would be appreciated. Also, what about location (BVI, Florida, Rhode Island, PNW)? Anything else I should be considering in selecting a school/course?
Thanks!
Mark
Howdy Mark!

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Old 27-08-2015, 16:56   #3
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

We would be honored if you would consider LTD Sailing for your sail training needs. We are located in Grenada and run our 7 and 10 day live aboard courses sailing through the islands of the Grenadines.

This area offers easy access and amazing sailing conditions and exquisite anchorages. Check out our reviews on Trip Advisor.

Beam winds,

Chris



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Old 27-08-2015, 18:30   #4
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

Check out the Maryland school of sailing and seamanship. Basic to offshore they have classes in Rockhall Maryland and the Caribbean. Great folks me just a happy student.

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Old 27-08-2015, 19:01   #5
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

My wife and I took ASA training from San Diego Sailing Academy a few years ago; we had a good experience. It's a fun place to sail, too.

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Old 28-08-2015, 07:49   #6
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

Very bad experience with and instructor at Blue water Sailing School out of St. Thomas. Shouldn't go into detail or say more publicly, but let's just say it almost made my husband decide to buy a condo instead of a boat. Convinced him it was being trapped on the boat with a person you would not want to be on a boat with that was the cause. After chartering with just the two of us, he's back on track.
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Old 28-08-2015, 08:32   #7
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

The particular instructor that you get can make all the difference. A lot of sailing schools have a large, rotating cast of teachers that come and go. If you are getting a recommendation for a school, you want to find one that has a very small cast of teachers that they have been using for some time. Otherwise you want to get recommendations for specific teachers, and then find whatever school they are working at currently.

Unfortunately, I have no recommendations for the OP. I've only been to two classes. The first one the teacher was excellent, but he has quit teaching (at least for now) and has sailed off over the horizon (last I heard he was in the Med). The second one... well, I can't recommend that teacher.
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Old 30-08-2015, 00:48   #8
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. They've given me more to consider and think about. I can especially appreciate the fact that one's experience is more dependent on the instructor than the actual school. I would expect that high turnover is the norm.
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Old 31-08-2015, 13:46   #9
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

I completed 101/103/104 with Blue Water Sailing School out of Ft Lauderdale earlier this year.
While I was satisfied with the course for my needs, the overall experience, training and drills and the success of my course relied on a few things: 1) The instructor, 2) the classmates, 3) the boat, and 4) the weather. Perhaps even in that order of importance. The instructor being 100x more important than the rest.

I do know from speaking with others and Offshore's instructors that the Offshore program (Sanibel Island) provides a more fundamentally focused training, which is much better for less experienced or new sailors.

These are my opinions.
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Old 31-08-2015, 14:41   #10
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

OK, while we are engaging in shameless self promotion, I'll throw in a plug too (not directly for myself though). ;-)

I started the original ASA affiliated school in Belize, but it became too successful and interfered with my cruising, so I transitioned it to a friend of mine and took off cruising again.

Belize Sailing Vacations now operates the one and only ASA affiliated school in Belize and does a great job. Excellent ratings from surveys submitted by students to ASA (which unfortunately is not public info, but I think should be) and excellent ratings on Trip Advisor.

See REDACTED BY STAFF...... PM OP FOR ADDRESS
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Old 31-08-2015, 14:48   #11
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

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Very bad experience with and instructor at Blue water Sailing School out of St. Thomas. Shouldn't go into detail or say more publicly, but let's just say it almost made my husband decide to buy a condo instead of a boat. Convinced him it was being trapped on the boat with a person you would not want to be on a boat with that was the cause. After chartering with just the two of us, he's back on track.
I strongly encourage anyone who has a bad experience with an instructor to report it to the school and to ASA (or appropriate entity). The instructor's name and ASA number should have been written in your logbook in the certification block for the class you completed...use that information.

You should receive a survey from ASA after your class. At the very least fill this out honestly.

Poor quality instructors/schools are bad for everyone so please report them.
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Old 31-08-2015, 15:04   #12
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

My wife and I completed ASA 106 (Advanced Coastal) and ASA 114 (Cruising Catamaran) with Blue Water Ft. Lauderdale earlier this year. It was a good experience. As noted earlier, the school is more of a broker than is obvious, putting you in touch with an instructor and providing a boat. That said, the instructor they set up for our class of four was very good. She was probably the most competent captain I have met sailing, and a wealth of practical stories and advice. We lived aboard for the better part of a week, sailing south to Miami, crossing and sailing around Bimini, and recrossing to Ft. Lauderdale. The class was responsible for boat maintenance, navigation, sailing, watch keeping, and basically acting like a bareboat charter group. Weather did not cooperate (low winds), but you can't plan for that and we had enough to complete our tasks. The class size was very small, so we had individual attention and coaching.

One reminder, this is a class not a vacation. Even though you're on a boat in South Florida and the Bahamas, we worked. We did hourly ded reconning and formal log entries, as opposed to checking the GPS every so often as you would on a holiday charter. We did man overboards at all hours, and various anchoring drills. The work aside, I recommend the course because it gave us a good simulation of chartering a large catamaran. The 104 course for three days covered the basics, but didn't give you the same feeling as a week anchored out.
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Old 01-09-2015, 10:37   #13
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

I would avoid taking all of the classes at the same place, try to break it up. You will get to sail in different waters, get a variety of sound sailing experience from instructors, and get much more out of each class.

For example: my wife and I did ASA 101 at Windward Sailing School in Fernadina Beach, FL, ASA 103 at Erie Islands Sailing School in Sandusky, OH, ASA 104/105/114 at West Coast Multihulls in San Diego, CA, and ASA 106 at Windward but at their Jacksonville location. So in the end we have experience with Pacific, Atlantic, Lake, and Intracoastal waters.


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Old 01-09-2015, 15:48   #14
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

Hi Mark, I would seriously consider taking a course in the PNW, our navigation, winds, and sea conditions cannot be duplicated elsewhere and it is the BEST place to learn. ISPA schools are top knotch, having left some of the other programs in search of better ones to teach Its worth a look. let me know if you want more info
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Old 23-09-2015, 08:04   #15
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Re: Liveaboard Sailing Schools

This is the exact question I have!

We are still 12 years from retirement but want to begin our spin up for our move to Florida and catamaran cruising in the Caribbean. Once we get our certs we can also begin chartering and building up some hours rather than throwing our money away on Beaches vacations. ;-) The live aboard 7-10 day classes seem like they would be the best fit for us and we would like to combine our vacation with a 101,103,104 certification. One complicating factor is the 11 and 14 year old we would need to bring with us - understanding that this isnít a real vacation and that they will need to "shut up and color" until we are done for the day. Some charge full price for the kids, others donít.

Is there a better part of Florida to take courses? We were thinking Miami area as it gets us closer to the Bahamas and that could be part of the trip - but if the winds are better elsewhere or another school is just better then we are open to it. June or July 2016 is our target timeframe.

Looked at some of schools like Blue Water, Off Shore and Island-Dreamer but aside from a few Google reviews there isnít much information from anyone other than the proprietors. ANY help, words of wisdom, personal recommendations etc would be greatly appreciated.
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