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Old 07-02-2009, 07:50   #1
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Catamaran Sailing Schools

Seeking recommendations for a Catamaran Sail School East or West coast USA or Caribbean. First hand experience or personal knowlege would be great. Specfics of boat make and model, location, cost, instructors etc or any other details appreciated.
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:24   #2
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ASA and US Sail have a complete set of sailing courses and they include one specific course for cats. They both tend to feel you need the sailing basics down first so they have prerequisites for the Cat class that are usually done on mono hulls then they cover the specifics related to cats. You can at least have confidence that the instructors are certified. They offer classes on both coasts and the Caribbean. You can check the web sites for the current list of course locations. Some schools do have special winter classes they move to the Caribbean. Sailing school vacations can be a lot of fun if you do all the reading and book study before you leave.

No matter what recommendations you get for various schools it's best to actually speak to on the phone or in person to the instructor that will teach your class. Some of the schools have great histories and traditions for being good but you only get 1 instructor. I would be more concerned with the instructor and less about the boat. The bigger the boat the more people in the class. Smaller classes mean more time for you. It is nice watching other people learn to a point. If it gets up to 4 students it becomes clear how much time you'll be watching and not sailing. Beyond 4 and I think you might not be getting your money's worth.
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Old 07-02-2009, 12:01   #3
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All true, unless you want to sail a Manta catamaran. These boats have such a different sail plan, I would strongly recommend Rhumbline Sailing School on the west coast of Florida - www.sailrhumbline.com. They teach on a relatively new Manta, and the Charlotte Harbor area is great for sailing and learning.
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Old 11-02-2009, 21:51   #4
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Seeking recommendations for a Catamaran Sail School East or West coast USA or Caribbean. First hand experience or personal knowlege would be great. Specfics of boat make and model, location, cost, instructors etc or any other details appreciated.
My wife and I took water sailing">Blue Water Sailing School's (BWSS) Course A+ Cat last July out of Fort Lauderdale. The course included ASA certifications 101, 103, 104, and 114 and was taught aboard an extremely abused Lagoon 410 (La Bamba) chartered by the school from Fun in the Sun Yacht Charters. As I recall, BWSS doesn't own any boats. In Fort Lauderdale, they're all chartered from Fun in the Sun Yachts or the course instructor. In the case of the catamaran courses sailing from Fort Lauderdale, they use Fun in the Sun's La Bamba exclusively.

The course cost us $1995 per person (still stings when I think about it.) It includes one cabin (per couple) for the week-long live aboard charter, food, course costs (including materials and instructor), and fuel. We paid 60 days in advance, showed up at the dock, and didn't spend another dime for the course. (Drinking, eating, and docking at Gilbert's is not included.) For our class, there were five aboard - my wife and I, another couple, and the instructor. There was technically room for one more couple, but I'm glad there wasn't one there. It was crowded with the five of us.

For this class, the instructor assumes you have never been aboard a sailboat before. Students are expected to have read all of the course materials and to have answered all of the review questions in the book before arriving for the class. The books are supposedly standard issue for all ASA classes. They are (in my opinion) outdated, boring, dry, and, in some cases, the author's opinion rather than fact. In other words, they are written by old sailors rather than educators. I didn't like the books at all.

The course starts in Fort Lauderdale goes to Key Largo then returns to Fort Lauderdale. At the instructor's discretion, you have the option to dock at Gilbert's Resort in Key Largo. We opted. With the exception of the night at Gilbert's, the boat anchors every night. The course is taught rain or shine. We had all the July south Florida direct and merciless shine we could stand. BWSS offers the same course in the Bahamas, leaving from Marsh Harbour.

Our instructor was EXCELLENT! Her name is Jen Wirth. She knows her stuff and is a great teacher. She really wants you to learn and pass those tests. Her significant other (named Joe, I think) is also an instructor at the school. I would take a class with either. (We drank with both at Gilbert's.) There was a third instructor that we met, but I don't recall his name. I wouldn't take a bus with him, much less a sailing class.

The only complaint I have about the course (other than the books) was the condition of the boat upon which the course was taught. As it's much bigger and has one more hull than my current boat, I guess I can't knock it too much. Let's just say it didn't meet my expectations for what I paid for it.

Other than that, I recommend BWSS - or at least the instructor, as she was really the only person from the school with whom we had contact

Here's the links:
Blue Water Sailing School
Fun In The Sun Yachts (La Bamba, the boat)
Gilbert's Resort - http://www.gilbertsresort.com
Bikini Sailing (Jen Wirth's site)

Kevin
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Old 11-02-2009, 22:37   #5
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We took the BWSS catamaran course in June 2004, also on the Lagoon 410 La Bamba. It wasn't too beat up back then, but that was nearly 5 years ago. The course and instructor were fine, but given the choice of taking the same course in Ft. Lauderdale or the Bahamas, I would definitely choose the Bahamas. They didn't offer that option back then. I also learned that June in Florida is hell on earth. There wasn't much wind, it was over 100 during the day and our berth was 95 at night as we were trying to fall asleep. No screens on any hatches meant we had to choose between the heat and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. We actually got a hotel room at Gilbert's it was so hot on that boat. Most of the anchorages are just off the ICW and you won't want to swim in it. This is not a course to take during the summer. Also, one other complaint was that the first night was spent at their ICW dock 20 feet from a busy street, a bit disappointing. I think this course would be much more enjoyable in the Bahamas.
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:17   #6
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I also learned that June in Florida is hell on earth. There wasn't much wind, it was over 100 during the day and our berth was 95 at night as we were trying to fall asleep. No screens on any hatches meant we had to choose between the heat and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
We live in Florida. We are used to the heat - and it was very hot. Our nights weren't so bad in terms of heat or mosquitos.

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Most of the anchorages are just off the ICW and you won't want to swim in it.
I didn't have a problem swimming in the anchorages (including the swimming pool at Gilbert's). After being in the heat all day, there wasn't much that was going to keep me from that water in the evening. It's now eight months later and I'm still alive.

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Old 12-02-2009, 21:18   #7
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Just to add my two cents in. My wife and I took the same BWSS course out of the Bahamas on a new 42' Fountain with a great instructor (Captain Dick) just last year. We had another couple on board and had a plenty of room and fun. It was in April so the winds were light but the temp and lack of bugs made it one of the best sailing experiences that we have ever had. I highly recommend it if you are thinking of buying a cat.
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Old 16-02-2009, 15:28   #8
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Thanks for all the comments. Looks like BWSS has mixed reviews. Does anyone here on the Forum have knowlege of Seabatical? I have e-mailed with no response as yet.
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Old 18-02-2009, 14:18   #9
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I took the cat class with BWSS last December. I was the only one on the boat with experience except for the instuctor, Captain CJ. We all had a great experience. The Captain was always "on duty". Whether we were sailing, at the dock, mooring or even having a drink at a watering hole on one stopover. He found lessons in everything. This is not to say he wasn't entertaining too. Had lots of stories, anecdotes and knew every joke created by mankind. All in all, I would recommend this school to anyone.
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