Originally Posted by BIRDDOG
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 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
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
, 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 They are (in my opinion) outdated, boring, dry, and, in some cases, the author's opinion rather than fact.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
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
Bamba, the boat)
Gilbert's Resort - http://www.gilbertsresort.com
(Jen Wirth's site)