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Old 02-06-2010, 14:42   #1
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Sailing Schools / Virgin Islands

I've been looking at various cruising schools in St Thomas and Tortola, including Blue Water, Fair Wind, Swain, and Offshore. They all seem to offer about the same thing - credits for 3 ASA classes on a week long cruising school on 42 to 44 footers. However, the prices are all over the map - from $1800 all-in at two schools, to $4300 at one school. I am acutely aware of the phrase you get what you pay for, and I am also well acquainted with the concept of overpaying.

Anyone know why the prices are so widely spread? Anyone care to recommend any of these schools? I'll be in Tortola the first week of January, 2011.


Aldous Snow
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Old 02-06-2010, 19:50   #2
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Location: landlocked, but boat in Hampton Roads area
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I took Fair Wind course about a year ago in the Chesapeake Bay and found it well-suited to my needs (coming from dinghy sailing wanting to move up to bigger boats). The instructor was excellent and everything went smoothly from the moment we set foot on the boat.

Some reasons I suspect that Fair Wind is cheaper are that they use older boats and have a fairly small office operation. The "customer support" was a bit on the sketchy side due to the small support office (example: they sent me the wrong "directions to boat" instruction sheet). However, everything worked out great in the end. I can vouch that Fair Wind is an excellent value.
All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by....
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Old 02-06-2010, 20:18   #3
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Swain Sailing was great for us...we did basic keelboat on their IC 24 the first three days and then basic/bareboat cruising certs on a 42' cat with another couple, all during Feb 2008. Rob is a great guy and they offer either ASA or US Sailing certs (we chose Us Sailing), I think they are one of the few schools that do both. I would recommend them highly. I think teaching captain rates are fairly competitive and consistent per day, as well as the course/cert costs. The bigger variable is how many people on the boat and how big a boat, as well as what season you go in.

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