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Old 02-10-2011, 06:25   #1
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Choosing a Bareboat Instructor / School


Next spring I will be taking my first training for my bareboat captain certification in a Cat. I plan to sail something in the 40 to 50 foot length.

For the next few years I will be a chartering bareboat captain as I live in the middle of the US and my son is headed into 8 years of high school and college tuition next fall.

Thanks in advance for your help with the following questions:

1) Is there a "preferred" choice of catamaran for training and subsequent sailing in the future?

2) Who is known as the best charter school and captain? Im sure that is a politically charged question, but I have to ask.

3) If I can reach the BVI as easily as South Florida, is one any better for training that the other for training? My preference is South Florida as logistics would be alot easier (more flight options/no passports/etc).


Paul Murphy
St. Louis.
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Old 02-10-2011, 17:17   #2
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Re: Choosing a Bareboat Instructor / School

Paul, here is my highly biased answer. Full disclosure: I am the owner/operator of Jet Stream, a Leopard 45 catamaran, based in the BVI. We do "fully crewed" and "captain only" charters, and also offer ASA instruction up through Advanced Coastal Cruising and Catamaran Chartering. Our website is

That said, there are others offering instruction in the BVI. Among those would be Rob Swain Sailing School, which certifies to the ASA standard, and Steve Colgate's Offshore Sailing, associated with the Moorings, that uses the USSailing standard. Aboard Jet Stream, we are able to offer a more personalized approach, since the instruction is part of a charter, rather than a school with a group of other students. So, we go into greater depth on a number of things and the things that are most relevant to you. We have the time to address subjects that may be of great interest to persons who think that they might like to own a cat or actually cruise it. But, we teach future bareboaters, too. End of naked self promotion!

Your questions:

With regard to preferred boat, I would say that it is mostly personal preference. There are many models, new and not so new, and you will probably find all comfortable. My biased but well based choice tends to Leopards and Voyages, but part of that is that I place a high premium on boats that perform well. On the other hand, you may have other priorities. If you are planning on owning a cat someday, you will have the chance to find out what is important. If you are planning to limit yourself to charters, I would think that it would be fun to try different models on each charter. Sooner a later, you will click with a make and/or model. More important might be the charter company. They have somewhat different approaches, and certainly different price points.

It is hard for me to answer #2 objectively, but I can certainly say that the Schools I mentioned above are both well recognized for their quality. As for ourselves, I will be glad to send you references. What I would stay away from are schools that are obviously trying to cover too much in one week. It may make for good sales technique, but if you are only going to dock or anchor once per student, it is not the best learning experience.

With regard to #3, I think that you will get consistently better and more challenging winds in the BVI, which is why it is the sailing charter capital of the world, or at least the western hemisphere. You will also get a good variety of anchoring experiences, which is important, and certainly the widest variety of schools and charter companies. Plus, it is a very beautiful place.

If you happen to be at the Annapolis Show next week, drop by the BVI Tourist Board booth for a chat; I'll be there, as will be reps from most of the bigger charter companies based here.

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Old 02-10-2011, 18:26   #3
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Re: Choosing a Bareboat Instructor / School

I can't speak to first hand experience, but on our last Charter in the BVI, we met a couple who was doing the sailing school with the Moorings. They loved it, learned a lot and took the boat out on their own on their last day. I don't recall what course they took specifically, but I believe they can go back and charter themselves now.

While at the moorings base (especially in the low season) you should be able to go take a look at the other boats as well as there should be a number on the docks.
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