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Old 11-18-2010
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Question Sailing School in March: Where?

Instead of skiing, I think I'd like to spend spring break this year on a keelboat course. (I sail a 16' dinghy when the local lakes are not frozen ) Please tell me about possible sailing school destinations for mid-March! I want to go wherever the sailing will be best -- tropical heat not necessarily required. Note: I have never been south of the 39th parallel, so assume I know nothing about weather in places where it does not snow.
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Old 11-18-2010
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I Girl,

I haven't taken any, so I don't have any recommendations. But those who might would be better able to help you if they knew a few things ..... Where ya at, how far ya wunna travel, What ya wunna learn, how much ya wunna spend, etc. Sounds like a fun and productive way to spend a winter vacation to me!
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Oh, right -- just a few details missing. Well, distance is no limit -- but practically speaking, I only have a week, so the Greek Isles is probably not the place to go. I'm in the midwestern US, so anything easily accessible by air from Chicago would be great. How much to spend? Hm. I'd say around $2000 or less? And I've never sailed a boat larger than the one I own, so I need to learn about basic mechanical things that aren't found on smallboats. Like winches. I don't know from winches. Oh, and all of those other things that small-lake sailors don't usually bother with: navigation, tides, anchoring, motoring...so you can see I am in the market for a basic keelboat course. If I could end the week with some kind of ASA or USSailing certification, that would be great too, but the basic idea is to get comfortable taking charge of a bigger boat in a larger body of water than I'm used to.

Last edited by InlandGirl; 11-18-2010 at 07:47 PM.
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I Girl,

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you'll get in your price range. With a little shopping you should be able to get ASA 101, 103 and 104 certifications which takes you though bareboat cruise qualification in about a week program. Like I said, having never done one, I'll leave the recommendations up to others. Google "sailing schools" and you'll get a list of a whole lotta programs to check out. Good luck.
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Old 11-18-2010
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We had a great week long ASA 101/103/104 cert course with Bluewater Sailing School out of Ft Lauderdale back in 2007. Sailed out of Port Everglades, into Biscayne Bay, south to Key Largo and back. I recommend them without hesitation.
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Not quite an answer to your direct question, but since you're apparently local to Chicago....

A few summers ago, I took lessons to learn the basics of keel boats at Hammond Marina. Price was right at $175 for 6 2-hour lessons'. I thought that the instruction was good, wish I could remember the instructor's name so I could give a recommendation. Also, in all the sailing I've done since, (up to most recently a 40' Beneteau in San Diego) I haven't run into anything that wasn't covered in those first lessons I took years ago. I'm still looking to get my ASA certs so I can charter or lease share on my own, but I'd say having those initial lessons under my belt, I'm pretty well prepared to breeze through the ASA classes/tests.

Also, if you're in Chicago over the summer, there's plenty of club race crews that are always looking for help. I'm not into racing, but I hear from sailing friends that it's a good way to learn a lot, and fast.
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Old 11-19-2010
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There is a school here in the Mpls area that I have used but not sure if you can get all you want done in a week. They are ASA affiliated. The ASA 101 is done on a local lake and the 103/104 is up on Superior in the Apostle Islands. Navigation, ASA 105, is done in a classroom. You need to have ASA101 or test out, which you may be able to do with your experience, to take the ASA103/104 course. The school Is Northern Breezes Sailing School. I just use them, I don't work for them.

EDIT: I think they may have an affiliate school in the Chicago area on Lake Michigan IIRC, but I am not sure.

Edit2: Of course in your time frame the ice is still on the lakes so in Mpls, Chicago, or Lake Superior realy doesn't work all that well....
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Thanks for the info so far! What I'd really like though is suggestions for places I can do an ASA101-103-type course in March (not iceboating ). Maybe I should specify that I don't want to go more than two time zones away from Eastern; and it should be somewhere the temps will likely be above freezing, where there will likely be good sailing weather.

Should I be looking at Florida (if so, what part?) or the VI or elsewhere? Should I try to get in on a course run by a northern-based school like Northern Breezes, or should I go with a local place? I have a passport and I'm not afraid to use it.

If you can recommend a specific school/instructor that would be great, but mostly what i'm looking for is help narrowing down my search. It's easier to look for "sailing schools (city or harbor name)" than just "sailing schools" so a little help choosing a destination is what I'm after right now.
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I guess it really depends where and when you want to do this. If you can wait until summer your travel expenses would be less doing a local or mid-west school. These folks are in Florida, link. If you want to do March then you may want to check them out. Northern Breezes does do ASA 103/104 in the BVI's. But, you have travel expenses and the classes are more expensive.
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IG,

I reckon I should have been a little more specific with my first response.

Here's a link to Blue Water Sailing School. If you check out their website, you can find all the info you need for course descriptions, availability, recommended prep study, packing lists, etc.

They have training centers in: Newport, RI; Ft Lauderdale, FL; and St Thomas, US Virgins Isles.

We sailed out of Ft Lauderdale on a DuFour Gibsea 43, so you will certainly get a "bigger boat" experience.

If you'd like to look at other alternatives, most of the reputable sailing schools place ads in the monthly sailing mags. This would be another good place to get ideas.

All the best,
PF


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We had a great week long ASA 101/103/104 cert course with Bluewater Sailing School out of Ft Lauderdale back in 2007. Sailed out of Port Everglades, into Biscayne Bay, south to Key Largo and back. I recommend them without hesitation.
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