Great Experience at Bluewater Sailing School and a Happy New Year
I have sailed small boat for a good part of my life, but just started racing on a Farr 395. That got my blood going to look into bareboat chartering but first I felt that I needed the basics on running and cruising a large (40 foot plus) sailing vessel. Below is a summary of my experiences with Blue Water Sailing School out of their Fort Lauderdale location.
I just finished up the ASA 101, 103, and 104 course in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Our instructor was Captain Bill and the class met all and exceeded many of my expectations. Bill is definitely a bit of a crusty old salt that didn't just give you the answer but made you work for it. His focus on the feel of the boat and basic charting, were a bit difficult to grasp at first, but as the course unfolded, I grew to really appreciate this approach. Bill was a wealth of knowledge if you really wanted to learn.
I also took the Coastal Navigation (ASA 105) course home study before I arrived and I completed the test for that on my last day on the boat. The flexibility that Bill showed in helping me fit that extra in was thoroughly appreciated.
This was NOT a catered cruise and we cooked our own meals and cleaned up our own dishes. Bill was there to teach and he did so by having us do things for ourselves. I can understand how this could be off putting to someone who showed up for a vacation cruise, but that is not why I was there. I wanted to learn how to cruise a 40 foot boat safely with my family. I feel comfortable that I achieved that goal despite the fact that there was virtually no wind the last 2 days of our class.
Thanks to Dave and the office staff, there was excellent communication throughout the entire process and once on the boat, I found everything working just the way it should be, despite the heavy use I am sure the boat sees. Our boat was the Gibsea 52, Gitana. The only thing that was less than perfect on the boat was some water damage to laminate around the starboard portholes from the last hurricane, and some water staining below the freezer on the the port side of the boat. This in no way effected any aspect of the course.
I can heartily and unconditionally recommend this class to anyone transitioning from small boat sailing who is trying to learn how to cruise a large boat.