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 jetstreamsailing.com.
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!
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
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
once per student, it is not the best learning
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.