Cruisers Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 25-07-2016, 20:32   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 3
Help!! Is this realistic?


I am looking toward my 20th wedding anniversary this February. As I have tried to decide on a special trip, I started thinking about sailing. As the thoughts started swirling, I started thinking it would be amazing if I could learn to sail and charter a small 34-36' sailboat in the BVI or West Indies for a week to celebrate our first 20 years of marriage.

So, I have only been on a sailboat a few times and did enjoy it, but I currently have no real sailing experience to speak of. I am an advanced hang glider pilot and actively compete in cross country racing, with 50 to 100 mile tasks being common. While that isn't sailing, I have to believe my experience with understanding weather will be a little bit of a leg up.

So, my question is, is this a realistic idea? What certifications/experience will be required to rent/charter a boat and can I reasonably fulfill those requirements in the time I have? Lastly, I live in Northern Virginia, what is the most cost effective way for me to move forward, if this is feasible?

If anyone among you can point me in the right direction or explain why this is a silly idea, I would be greatly appreciative!



Also, my wife is very capable and I assume would get some experience as well, but may not be able to commit the time to getting the certifications prior to this trip.
Lostgriz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 04:59   #2
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Grenada, West Indies
Posts: 260
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?


Your ideas are not far fetched at all. We run seven and ten day learn to sail trips in the islands of the Grenadines and have people sailing with us all the time in your exact situation. We are an American Sailing Association affiliate sailing school. Our Basic Cruise and Learn courses cover Basic Keelboat (ASA 101), Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103) and Bareboat Cruising (ASA 104). By the end of this course you will have had the opportunity to earn all three certifications. These are the certifications that most charter companies are looking for to qualify you to charter a 35 - 45' boat on your own.

Whether you are ready or not is largely up to you. The learning curve is nearly vertical and the most important thing for you to do after a course like this is to get out on the water and practice the skills you have learned. It is important to build you confidence and experience sailing on your own - but the class is a great way to start. It will also give you a good taste of what cruising through the islands is all about.

Take a look at our website and let me know if you have any questions. You can either contact me through CF, our website or email me directly at

Beam winds,

LTDsailing is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 06:25   #3
Senior Cruiser
skipmac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: 29° 49.16’ N 82° 25.82’ W
Boat: Pearson 422
Posts: 16,306
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

Excellent advise and comments from Chris but I will add my two cents.

My experience regarding certifications to charter, the charter company is way more interested in your abilities than the certificates you have. I've never taken a class but the couple of times I've chartered the companies seemed completely satisfied with my qualifications based on the interviews and the questions I asked them about the boat, equipment, etc.

Yes there is a very steep learning curve and how quickly one gets there varies a lot from person to person. A lot will also depend on your dedication to the process and how much time and energy you put into it. I have seen a lot of pilots that took up sailing and most picked up at least the navigation and technical end of it very quickly. There is still the hands on one needs to figure out all the lines, sail handling, boat handling (like docking) that books just can't teach.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
Sometimes it's necessary to state the obvious for the benefit of the oblivious.
Rust is the poor man's Loctite.
skipmac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 06:58   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ohio, USA
Boat: Fastback 43
Posts: 80
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

Chris and Skipmac both have good information. I never took classes, and I was able to baseboard, but I started with extensive dingy sailing experience. My lack of large boat experience was a concern to the first two charter companies, so I had them provide a captain for the first day on each charter. This worked well. Before I even started the charter search, I read most of Chapman's (browsing much of it, but concentrating on anchoring, docking, navigating, and the "rules of the road".
Classes will probably make the overall effort less (you won't need to figure out what to learn), but will cost more.
The only way to do this before Feb without classes is to find a boat, or boats that will let you help out. A good place to start is crewing on a boat in a regatta. Wednesday seems to be a common day for weekly races (look online for races), and you can just show up and offer to crew in many places.

Sent from my 2PQ93 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
bix85 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 07:03   #5
Registered User
SSgtPitt's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Thhe boat is in Titusville, FL and we're back in CO for a few months resupplying the cruising kitty and raising money for our childrens dental charity
Boat: 1982 Cape Dory 36 Hull #78
Posts: 656
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

Your 20th should definately be memorable, but for the right reasons. Learning to sail, going sailing and actually handling a boat plus all the million things that can and will go wrong is quite different. Pilots take to sailing quickly, their spouses may not enjoy the adrenaline rush when the toilet backs up, the boat leaks a little, the sails flog, the engine won't start, the boat won't stop moving, a breaker or fuse goes, the anchor gets stuck ( up or down ) etc etc. Not all charter boats are in pristine condition. They make their money turning the boat around and getting it back out. ( not being mean, just honest )

How does your spouse feel about sailing and being on a small boat for a week?

Chartering a boat with a crew might make it much more enjoyable and they can anchor / moor the boat in the evenings and leave you and your wife alone on it in the evenings while the crew goes ashore to be with their own families.

For our 25th, we spent a week with Aggressor / Dancer fleet diving the Red Sea. Full crew, 100' boat, seperate suites w heads and showers.......the wife liked it so much she said, "you know, if we had our own boat we could dive wherever we wanted." And here we are.
Just sayin' , if you make it fun and enjoyable the first time, then you can get into the tougher stuff later.
SSgtPitt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 07:11   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 20,421
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

Ask someone you do like and who is a keen sailor to join you on your BVI charter.

You will get as much tuition as the fella can bear between drinks.

The plan is good but take 'a sailing instructor' with you. Or hire one locally.

barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 07:56   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Today here, tomorrow over there
Boat: Malö 40H
Posts: 345
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

ya it is doable.. you sound like a healthy normal not mentally retarded person so you will probably be fine. Since I didn't have any sailing friends or otherwise access to sailing at all I had to go the "training" route.. which means I booked myself an RYA course and really set my head to learn as much as I could and here I am six months later living on my own boat as I write this and so far haven't hit anything ... too hard :big grin:

The first couple of times alone in a Marina WILL be stressful.. mine was plane embarrassing but on my defense I got myself a Contessa which is.. how should I put this?.. a "challenge" going astern. Anyway.. I still didn't hit anything or anybody and a couple of weeks later I am coming into unfamiliar ports like Captain Ron.. so.. yes.. you can learn this and no.. you don't have to have a sailing pedigree or anything.. at least unless the wind picks up... then everything becomes more critical...

So.. put your head down to it.. take a course with a good instructor.. learn learn.. play it safe, charter yourself a smallish boat (definitely under 32ft) and you will be fine
crankysailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 08:38   #8
Long Range Cruiser
MarkJ's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Australian living on "Sea Life" currently in England.
Boat: Beneteau 393 "Sea Life"
Posts: 12,823
Images: 25
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?


The idea of an aniversary vacation is to do something nice for your spouse.
I.e what would SHE like as a vacation. Not you.

I think learning to sail on a charter could be the worst romantic vacation in the world.

If sailing is her idea then fine.

But she may just want a week in a resort where she can be pampered all day in a spa and gaze into your eyes all night.

Find out before railroading the poor girl.

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
MarkJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2016, 08:48   #9
Registered User
sailpower's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Posts: 923
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

MarkJ is right but even if she likes the idea of being on a boat, she might not like the reality of a bareboat once on board. That would make for a long week and you will be constantly stressed anyway due to your own lack of experience.

In this situation a crewed charter on a larger boat (catamaran?) that pampers you both seems like a better choice.

Let someone else cook, clean, make the drinks and deploy/recover the toys.
sailpower is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2016, 19:44   #10
Registered User
meatservo's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: DFW
Boat: wanting a cat
Posts: 509
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

Good answer....
meatservo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-08-2016, 21:43   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 3
Re: Help!! Is this realistic?

Thank you all for the great feedback and things to consider. I will be looking into your suggestions further. I have been looking at schools locally and will be looking into LTD as well.

True to form, I am jumping right in. been doing lots of reading and actually some boat shopping. After researching some first boat options, I am looking at Catalina MKIII 30's and 310's from the early 2000s. Seems like a pretty good fit for a first boat for our crew.

I will keep you posted.
Lostgriz is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Realistic Liveaboard Boat troymclure Liveaboard's Forum 27 22-11-2019 16:44
Realistic Autopilot Power Usage on 45' Cat ? shipofools Multihull Sailboats 1 07-09-2010 06:43
Is this Realistic, and How Much $$$ ? OandD4ever Engines and Propulsion Systems 30 06-10-2009 06:25
Buy a sailboat and vacation the caribbean. Realistic? WannaBeTraveln Atlantic & the Caribbean 8 22-06-2008 08:10
Is a modern day "Dove" realistic? mitch_connor General Sailing Forum 40 15-03-2008 16:55

Advertise Here

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 15:40.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.