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Paros05 01-01-2008 10:25 PM

ASA 104 Live Aboard Courses, Virgin Islands - Feedback?
My wife and I are considering taking a week long live aboard cruising course in the Virgin Islands this spring. I've narrowed school choices down to 1) Blue Water Sailing School 2) Rob Swain Sailing and 3) Fairwind Sailing School. I've read Sailnet forums on BWSS, and comments seem positive overall. However, I have not found much information on Rob Swain or Fairwind. Does anyone have any experience with these schools? Any other recommendations for choosing schools are also welcome.

Thanks, and happy new year!

Fritzburkey 03-09-2008 08:59 AM

104 in the Virgins
Have you received any feedback. Please respond to the list. I've been looking at Swain as well.

Zanshin 03-09-2008 09:32 AM

I took some Rob Swain courses and was quite happy. I think that their 104 course is the one that goes to St. Maarten -- so you get a trip from a great location to another beautiful one and even get to do some duty-free shopping as well.

JSMehlin 03-26-2008 03:37 PM

I'd like to hear some feedback about schools like this also - anybody know or hear anything about them?

XTR 03-27-2008 04:10 PM

I did my ASA courses with Rob Swain. They go to St. Maarten on their offshore course (108), not the 104.

I had fun, I learned some things, and I got my 104 sticker for my ASA book. No complaints here. I'm sure that your experience will depend on the captain that you get.

johndotson 03-28-2008 08:05 PM

I went through Blue Water Sailing School out of Fort Lauderdale. I got my ASA 101, ASA 103, and ASA 104 from them. I didn’t sail to the USVI, I stayed in the Keys. By the way all the islands are called keys. Joe Logan was my instructor he was great, however towards the end he got a little short with the crew but I don’t think he was ill with us. Joe was a great instructor, I had a really great time and learned a little as well and boy did we eat, no chances of scurvy on Joe’s boats. ;) I there realized that I was more comfortable on the water than on land. I went in scared that I would be a nameless sailor swallowed up by the sea but when I came back I was more worried about being swallowed up by society than the sea. I was very please with BWSS they teach you what you need to know and work with you if you need extra help. When I left I felt that I could perform any crew duty asked of me, perhaps not the best but safely enough to not endanger the crew or myself in the least. If you have any specific questions please feel free to ask.

fastfilm 03-28-2008 09:15 PM

I also went through BlueWater like 8 years ago, sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. For my wife and I, it was preparation for our first sail on cruising boats- in the BVI's as a matter of fact. I learned tons from a great captain, the facts as in the books and the attitude and need to pay attention from an experienced sailor. When we finished, our instructor said we were ready for anything we were likely to encounter in the BVI's. He was right. Sailing south Florida with the traffic, the tides, the anchor dragging storms at night, and the more complicated piloting required was a big part of the education. Have fun and, unlike me, read the books before you go.

ps21 03-29-2008 11:11 AM

I'm new to these forums, but I'll toss in my two cents.

As another suggestion for a school, my wife and I did the 104 course with Sistership Sailing School in the BVI. Small school run by a woman named Pat Nolan (in addition to her courses that are only for women, she also does programs for couples). We had a great trip and learned a lot on a nice boat (Beneteau 43). She was a very thorough, dedicated instructor (and a lot of fun to be around too).

Having taken a number of classes (and gotten several certifications) over the last few years at several different schools, it seems that what matters most is the individual instructor. In my first (and last) experience with a larger school some time back, the on-the-water instruction was with someone who was great and we learned a lot, but the classroom was with someone who just wasn't a very good teacher, and it was a waste of time. That experience has given me a preference for smaller operations ever since.

That was why I sought out Sistership. I knew who the instructor would be, and she came well-recommended. Having no experience with the other schools that have been mentioned, I have no way to make a comparison, but you might want to at least check out Sistership.

Good luck and have a great time.

slokaj 05-29-2008 11:58 PM

My husband and I took ASA104 with Rob Swain last summer and would strongly recommend his school. We had limited sailing experience (ASA101 on a small inland lake on a 17' keelboat the previous summer and ASA103 on Lake Michigan early last summer, other than that our only experience was on a Hunter 170 in SW Michigan), but were extremely comfortable sailing the 43' Jeanneau. His typical class size is 4 people, we ended up as a class of 2 as the other people cancelled at the last minute. It was the best vacation we ever had -- great experience (from the moment we left the dock at Nanny Cay with my husband at the wheel to our final docking with me at the helm, one of us was at the helm at all times), great companionship, learned a ton and had fun doing so. My husband's favorite memory is watching me maneuver the boat under power in reverse throughout Cane Garden Bay -- after that I'll never be nervous backing out of a dock again. While we didn't go to the Baths or to Jost, we did sail to Anegada and back. While we have no experience with the other schools, we had such a good experience we're planning on going back to take the offshore class through Swain as well.

Melrna 06-08-2008 10:50 AM

I took mine from Blue Water about 3 years ago in the BVI. Had a great time and the course was great. Highly recommend them.
Rhapsody in Blue

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