Online Cruising Course
No Frames Frames
Daydreaming of Paradise, or
Planning a Cruise. A cruise begins at home on the computer or
notebook. Budgeting, checking out charter boat prices, developing an itinerary
and making provisioning plans are
the essential groundwork to making the cruise a success. Start your cruising course
notebook now (see Sailbag). See an actual
The student will want to buy
Guide to the Virgin Islands, by Nancy & Simon Scott, for about $15 for use in
these lessons. While the book's illustrations are not actual charts, their chart-like
nature will make the lessons realistic.
Traveling to your Destination.
Traveling successfully to the BVI involves saving money and adding convenience as well as
planning for failed connections without undue consequences. Plan the travel portion of a
trip to the BVI, focusing on alternatives and connections between segments. See the Beef Island airport for information. More later.
To Provisioning in the Islands
Becoming Familiar with the Boat
(Checkout). The most important part of a checkout is getting to know an
unfamiliar boat, although the purpose is also to see if a sailor can handle the boat
properly. While all basic cruising sailboats have common equipment,
the specifics are important to know, although you will be trained to figure it out by
useful techniques, such as tracing a line.
Handling the Boat under
Power--Managing a Luxurious Charter Yacht. Sailboats can be notoriously
difficult to handle under power, and some
practical tips, numerous contervailing principles as well as learning to "work"
the situation by planning for failure, continual analysis as captain, and single-handing
exercises so having a crew won't interfere with learning.
Piloting in Paradise
The first piloting task is to analyze the transit out of
Road Harbour, a busy area
with boat and ship traffic as well as the jutting Road Reef at its entrance.
Determine the right of way
pattern applying to this congested area, especially near Road Reef. And
analyze the motor and/or sail selection, if any.
the First Day
Easy Sail to "Treasure Island." Now we're off, and into what
makes it all worthwhile. From the days when the Sir Francis Drake Channel was known by the
buccaneers (see origin of name) as
'Freebooter's Gangway,' the sea and sailing on it has not changed.
The charting lesson is to plot a course from the
flashing buoys marking the Road Harbour entrance across The Channel to the Bight at Treasure Island, our
first easy sail, without going aground. Read the section, Piloting,
Or Not Going Aground.
Finally, this course means the boat will be running with the
wind--a chance to practice gybing with important safety lessons.
Picking up a Mooring for
our First Night at the Bight. First, cruise the anchorage under power. The Bight is such a large anchorage
that we can sail through much of the anchorage, including the Willie T and Billy Bones,
the bar/restaurant on the inside shore. Finally, find a spot with good
searoom to take down the sails. Then, cruise the specific mooring area under
power and select a particular mooring. Practice
picking up (and leaving ) a mooring for
an overnight stay.
Using the Dinghy--Taking
your own Water Taxi to The Caves.
Handling the dinghy is always fun. We
focus on operating the outboard engine. Then,
dinghy over to The Caves for some snorkeling. See Kid's Treasure Hunt for details. And
here's a shot of feeding fish at
To Barbecuing Jerk
Dinner on the Boat Grill
Telling Sailing Tales at the Willie T.
In the evening, it's a tradition to party at the Willie T.
And tell tales about sailing, its history, including
Cooking Breakfast on the Boat.
In the morning, breakfast is often prepared on the boat (sometimes
underway), since the inconvenience or lack of breakfast eating spots is
common. A cup of coffee on deck, sometimes after a swim, is unparalleled as
the tropical sunrise. Hearty breakfasts are the rule for a full day of
Learning to Snorkel (Taught
at the Indians). The Indians has a lot of shallow water for teaching snorkeling. And the "fish
bowl" is a snorkeler's paradise. If divers are aboard, then we would dive at The
Indians as well. Those that want to experience diving can arrange a resort course. To fully learn to
dive, it's best to do the pool and class work at home, and the open water certification
(two hour-long dives on two mornings) on vacation.
and Raising Sails. When getting underway, practice is had in the
various methods of raising
and lowering sails. Of course, we will need to chart our course, taking
a safety bearing to Peter Island's Rock Hole Point.
Tropical Squalls or Avoiding Being Overpowered by Dropping or
Reefing Sails. It's important to practice
quickly dropping and
reefing the mainsail as often as raising and lowering as an approaching squall
or heavy wind requires. Sail selection will be discussed in terms of not
Island Hopping--An Exercise in Sailing and
Anchoring Skills. Taking a Peter-Dead Chest-Salt-Cooper
Island route, we'll explore a succession of bays and harbours with great
opportunities for practicing sailing
skills, such as the circle exercise and taking a fix. Check the cruising
guide for anchoring in sand at Peter Island's Little Harbour
as we discuss
types of anchors.
And if we decide to visit Great Harbour, what's the best approach for
sailing flexibility and advantages such as right of way?
Anchoring in (and Snorkeling over) Seagrass at Manchioneel Bay.
Cooper Island's Manchioneel Bay has patches of seagrass and makes a good
location to practice anchoring
over seagrass, since snorkeling can check the anchor as well as tour the
Taking a "Resort Course" Scuba Dive at the Wreck of
the Rhone. Nothing beats a
dive, or even a snorkel, at the famous Wreck of the Rhone.
Excellent also for night dives.
Examining Boat Parts & Jargon While "Swinging
on a Hook." This is a good time to
review boat parts and jargon.
To Cooking Callaloo
The Pure Grace of Sailing Up the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
On a course directly into the wind, the aim is to sail
a true or "course made good" out of a series of tacks
Boat Balance, Trimming Sails.
Also, it's a good point of sail to teach
boat balance, i.e. how main and jib
pull the boat around its center of effort, and to experience weather or lee
helm from trimming sails and steering with the mainsheet. And how a strong
puff creates weather helm from heeling, possibly resulting in an
tack as well corrective actions.
Landing a Dinghy in the Surf at The Baths.
The reward for success in landing a dinghy in the surf is staying dry.
Practicing Docking at Virgin Gorda
Yacht Harbour. The Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour is a good
location to practice docking.
Exploring Savannah Bay--Reading the Reefs.
This is an excellent lesson in reading the reefs and the need for good light
in this situation. The reward here is lunch at
Charting a Course into the North Sound.
This charting exercise involves the entrance to avoid as well as use of
the GPS to navigate to a way point. Make a
safety bearing around
Bar Hopping by Dinghy to Saba
Rock. Here we make a mid-course evaluation about
what needs to be emphasized.
Discussing Night Lights--Boats & Buoys.
Looking out over the North Sound, identify type, direction and
right of way of boats the boat's
Pure Daysailing in the Sound, if Desired.
If desired, the student sailor can rent a daysailor at the Bitter End Yacht
Club for a sailing adventure following the
"pirate escape route"
behind Eustatia Island.
Practicing Man Overboard Drills in Eustatia Sound.
Eustatia Sound is good location to practice
man overboard drills.
Charting a Course to Marina Cay in Tortola's East End Archipelago.
Marina's Cay's reef is hard to see when approaching from the south. What's the
best route in? Will "rules of thumb"
To East Indies Cooking:
Roti, Goat Water &
12 Boy Curry
Learning Tropical Drinks at the Sunset Bar at Marina
Cay. Time to study
rum and island drinks, needed to
understand the Caribbean (there's no better place for this than Pusser's).
The Art of Beachcombing at Trellis Bay.
Trellis Bay is an excellent
beachcombing location as well as looking at
Aragorn's Studio for island
Navigating the Camanoe/Beef
Island Passage. The most difficult navigation on the cruise,
this difficult passage is a real test of navigating skills, i.e.
plotting a course
through the Little/Great Camanoe/Beef/Guana Island passage. Which bearings,
landmarks and fixes are best to utilize? Shall we try some
Sailing the Ocean Side of Tortola--a Touch of "Blue
Water" Sailing. On the "blue water" ocean side
bad weather emergencies
will be discussed. Also,
use of a safety harness and jack lines, 270°
turns instead of gybing and related responses will be practiced or
Anchoring in Sand at Jost Van Dyke's Sandy
Spit. Reaching the ultimate tropical isle, it's time
to anchor in the sand at
before taking a mini-tour of these tropical isles.
Studying the Anegada Lobster at Little Harbour.
At dinner, the sober sailor will realize that the claws of this lobster are
as imaginary as his tales.
Tying Knots and Telling Stories. This is a good time to go over the six or so
to sailing, and review the knots we've used and any others.
Baking in Banana Leaves and
Poaching French "Blaff"
Charting by "Range" into Cane Garden Bay.
Coming from Jost Van Dyke, we use a
range to find our way into
Cane Garden Bay.
Visiting Callwood's Distillery--How Rum is
Made. Here in Cane Garden Bay we see how
the cane is used to make rum at
Driving on the Left in a Sporty Jeep on Ridge Road.
is a British colony after all. Learning to drive on the left is exciting,
especially when sheer cliffs abound on Ridge Road even in cutbacks, some
Shopping for Island Fashion and Art on Road Town's Main
Street. The best place to look is
Cruising an Anchorage at Soper's Hole.
is a beautiful anchorage to cruise.
A 'Full Moon' Party at Bomba's Beach Shack.
A "Full Moon" is as good as anyplace to get
a bit of "moonlight madness."
Making a Post Mortem at Deadman's Bay.
Deadman's Bay is a perfect place to end a cruise with a post mortem.
Returning the Boat and Final Boat
Check. Re-fuel the boat at Peter Island's Sprat Bay (or
alternatively at Soper's Hole).
All Dreams Must End--Taking the Flight Home.
We better make that last Sunday ferry.