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Old 09-22-2000
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Sailing School versus Captain

Our family, who has virtually no sailing experience, is contemplating a sailing sabbatical in the Caribbean. Would you recommend a sailing school or hiring a captain that would serve as an instructor?

Debra Freyer


Mark Matthews responds:

Sailing, and cruising especially, is heavily dependent on the power of the will. Can lack of experience be overcome? Sure. Everyone has to start somewhere—whether it's through a sailing school or elsewhere. I'd recommend you get as much experience as you can before you set off over the horizon. A sailing school ensures certain skill standards and that everyone is at the same level. Although cost could be a factor, consider the expenditure involved in crashing a sailboat into someone else's boat. Sailing with a captain could be instructional, but what if something happens to the captain if he or she isn't a good teacher, or you don't get along? There is no shortage of variables to consider.

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