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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone;

I would call myself a newbie, I am not sure what the appropriate term would be in sailing. I have been doing a lot of research over the last couple months and I think I have finally decided on where I will take my first steps onto the ocean. I decided on going with Fairwind Sailing school out of the virgin islands. Most schools offered similar courses and costs but there were a couple things that pushed me towards my chosen school. First was that they were the only school I could find that offered actual sailing into a port of another country to learn clearing customs in a foreign country, sailing from the American virgin islands to the British virgin islands. The other thing is probably more personal but I found their website a lot easier to navigate and user friendly. I couldn't find any people that had negative experiences but I think that people doing this enjoy what they do and having a bad experience is pretty limited when the teacher enjoys what they are doing. Honestly I couldn't find too much negative about any sailing school.

SO I am scared out of my mind right now but just as excited. I am looking at going on May 16th and this will not only be my first time on a sail boat but my first flight and the farthest south I have ever been... Can anyone give me a heads up on what I am in for? The Fairwind site gives me a pretty extensive view of what I should and should not take.

6 weeks to go, about 20 things to get ready. Wish me luck.
 

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I went a few years ago and the only thing I really messed up was to use the pay phones. I figured a dollar or two a minute. I was way low.
 

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*starboard*
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What a blast, so many firsts :)! Have a great time and let us know how it goes.

If I had any advice to give, it would be to READ, READ, READ for the next 6 weeks on anything you can get your hands on relating to sailing. Familiarize (memorize?) yourself with the basic terminology, basics of wind direction/boat heading, and basic knots. I think that will help you get the most out of your trip!
 

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The Virgin's will be a great place to learn: easy navigation and constant winds. And warm.

Some suggestions

1) Do some reading. There are many good intro sailing books.

2) Learn the ropes (knots):
bowline clove hitch figure eight
sheet bend reef knot Round turn & two half hitches

A good site: 42nd Brighton (Saltdean) Scout Group, UK

3) Your gear: some good sailing shoes (break them in around the house - do not wear them outside) and some sailing gloves.

4) Relax and have a good time. And while you are in the BVI's have a Painkiller for me.

If you have any other questions or concerns, let me know. I also responded to your other post.

Jack
 

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Please report back with your experience of Fairwinds, I am interested in taking their course on Lake Erie probably next year.

The flight will be a piece of cake.

Have fun.
 

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*starboard*
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Please report back with your experience of Fairwinds, I am interested in taking their course on Lake Erie probably next year.

The flight will be a piece of cake.

Have fun.
I don't believe the major airlines are serving cake any longer :D
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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I am not sure where you are located but one thing to be careful of is the strong sunlight down there. Your best bet is to bring appropriate clothing that will protect you as sun screens can be oily and get on the rigging and lines which can annoy the instructors. A bad sunburn will not add to your enjoyment of this. I would also suggest getting a pair of sailing gloves so you can handle the lines without getting blisters.
Candied ginger is also a decent motion sickness deterrent.
Enjoy!
 

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Your best bet is to bring appropriate clothing that will protect you as sun screens can be oily and get on the rigging and lines which can annoy the instructors. A bad sunburn will not add to your enjoyment of this.

Candied ginger is also a decent motion sickness deterrent.
Enjoy!
As a Canadian you have access to Ombrelle - great sun screen that oaks right into the skin. It is waterproof as well.

A good hat, perhaps a Tilley (another great Canadian product), and sunglasses are also recommended

Disclaimer - no shares in Ombrelle or Tilley.

Motion sickness is seldom an issue in the BVIs - at least on my crews.

Jack
 

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The suggestions for a hat and sailing gloves are excellent. Sunburn on the scalp is a real pain. Buying a small series of sessions in a tanning salon will make a significant improvement in your tolerance to the Virgin Island sun. Twice a week for three weeks before you go is time well spent. Remember to pack in a duffle bag, not a hard sided suitcase. croakies for your sunglasses. A disposable underwater camera. Do NOT check baggage if at all possible. It will get lost. If you pack more than will fit in a carry on, you have brought along too much.
 

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You've been given really good advice. All I can add is -- you're going to have a blast! I learned close to home (NYC), then got some experience with friends before heading out to the BVIs to do what you're about to. It was one of the best weeks of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Be sure to come back here when you return and let us know how it went.

Good luck and enjoy yourself.
 

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I took lessons from Fairwind last year. The lure was all courses in one week so I could bareboat a cat. I had crewed for several years so picked it up fast and passed the test and have now chartered a couple of times so all in all successful. The customs thing was good training.

However, The owner Dave is an ass. I would not recommend them. He is slow to respond after he has your money, did not send credentials after completion of the course, and refered me to his attorney when I had a complaint.

If you have already sent money there is little you can do. Just make sure Dave is not your instructor. All of his captains think he is a jerk as well. PM me if you need additional information.
 

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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter #13
Well I was looking so forward to this trip, I got home today and found this from Amazon

Sorry for the crappy cell phone image...

But now I am a little tepid due to the negative feedback... No I have not paid yet, I was planning on finalizing everything around the 10th of April. How would I find out who the captain for a certain trip was?
 

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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks everyone for the information, just a couple follow up questions if you don't mind :

Sunday I will be out shopping for my adventure.

Jackdale - I have a Tilley outlet close by and will head in on Sunday. Any advice? I am thinking the T3 is probably the best one to go with. I can get the sunscreen at walmart. I have borrowed 2 books from the library and I bought 2 from Amazon, I have my nose in them every night before sleep. I bought a pack of 50' braided nylon rope to practice knot tying as well. Getting pretty quick at the basic's. I also bought a good pair of deck shoes and am breaking them in around the house. Where would I get a pain killer? better yet where would I get sailing gloves in Canada in the winter... eBay?

Dongreerps - Thanks for the idea of a tanning salon, I will setup a few appointments. I usually burn in the summer in Canada if I don't use protection so I can only assume I will be susceptible to the strong sun in the Caribbean. I don't know the first thing about tanning, I'll just explain where I am going to the person at the salon and see what they say. I am keeping the packing to a bare minimum.

ggrisham - I thank you for your feedback and as much as I want to find another school (I havn't paid yet) I have already been searching for months. The real draw for me is the clearing customs experience. Most other schools in the Caribbean offer solid bareboat sailing courses on the ocean but none of them offer that aspect. I already communicated with Dave, well I assume it was Dave as the email was to CaptainDave. He has responded quickly and answered all my questions without me spending a penny.

So the questions :

I was planning on taking my Canon EOS 40D and one of my L lenses, probably a 17-40 4.0L as I have taken some amazing photos with this lens. I have a pair of 16GB CF cards for it so I can take well over a thousand images if need be. Will there be an issue with me bringing my camera? Would it be better to just take a little pocket camera? I am a photography junkie and always have a camera with me. i just want to capture some great shots of my vacation.

I don't know where else to ask this question so if no one can give me feedback perhaps someone could point me in the right direction? I will have my passport sometime next week and am looking at flying from Toronto to St Thomas. The flight I have picked is with US Airways as I can fly out at 6:25am, land in Charlotte North Carolina at 8:30am. I then have three options, fly out at 9:35am, 10:05 am or 11:50am to St Thomas. I have no idea what I am in store for with US immigration and customs. I am thinking I will take the 11:50am flight to give myself the biggest window to get through customs. They all get to St. Thomas by 3:15 so it doesn't matter that much as I was told that class starts around 4pm. Is there anyway to clear customs in Canada before leaving so I can just switch planes without worrying? I assume that US Airways factors that in when they setup the flight. I drive into the US on a fairly consistent basis, I drove to California in January with no issue.

Thanks for any feedback;

Robert
 

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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Oh, I have a waterproof camera bag for the camera.

I did a search on eBay for sailing gloves, there are only really two choices on there. Douglas Gill gloves and Victory gloves. Any feedback on these two brands?

And as much as it pains me I will be leaving my Laptop at home. :)
 

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Thanks everyone for the information, just a couple follow up questions if you don't mind :

Sunday I will be out shopping for my adventure.

Jackdale - I have a Tilley outlet close by and will head in on Sunday. Any advice? I am thinking the T3 is probably the best one to go with. I can get the sunscreen at walmart. I have borrowed 2 books from the library and I bought 2 from Amazon, I have my nose in them every night before sleep. I bought a pack of 50' braided nylon rope to practice knot tying as well. Getting pretty quick at the basic's. I also bought a good pair of deck shoes and am breaking them in around the house. Where would I get a pain killer? better yet where would I get sailing gloves in Canada in the winter... eBay?


I was planning on taking my Canon EOS 40D and one of my L lenses, probably a 17-40 4.0L as I have taken some amazing photos with this lens. I have a pair of 16GB CF cards for it so I can take well over a thousand images if need be. Will there be an issue with me bringing my camera? Would it be better to just take a little pocket camera? I am a photography junkie and always have a camera with me. i just want to capture some great shots of my vacation.

I don't know where else to ask this question so if no one can give me feedback perhaps someone could point me in the right direction? I will have my passport sometime next week and am looking at flying from Toronto to St Thomas. The flight I have picked is with US Airways as I can fly out at 6:25am, land in Charlotte North Carolina at 8:30am. I then have three options, fly out at 9:35am, 10:05 am or 11:50am to St Thomas. I have no idea what I am in store for with US immigration and customs. I am thinking I will take the 11:50am flight to give myself the biggest window to get through customs. They all get to St. Thomas by 3:15 so it doesn't matter that much as I was told that class starts around 4pm. Is there anyway to clear customs in Canada before leaving so I can just switch planes without worrying? I assume that US Airways factors that in when they setup the flight. I drive into the US on a fairly consistent basis, I drove to California in January with no issue.

Thanks for any feedback;

Robert
A T3 is what I have. I am bad and leave the sides clipped up, resulting in burned ears.

A painkiller is the drink of the BVI's. Pusser's is most famous for them ,but they are available many places.

Sailing gloves are available in any chandlery. In Toronto try Fogh Marine. They also have an online store.

I take my Nikon D200 or D70s (when travelling light). You might look at a smaller compact for convenience and space considerations. You really do not need a long lens. I take one for whales on the West Coast.

You will clear US customs and immigration Pearson International.

Jack
 

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Oh, I have a waterproof camera bag for the camera.

I did a search on eBay for sailing gloves, there are only really two choices on there. Douglas Gill gloves and Victory gloves. Any feedback on these two brands?

And as much as it pains me I will be leaving my Laptop at home. :)
I would go with the Gills. Victory gloves are less expensive - for a reason.

You are getting away from it all. Do not take the laptop with you. I use one for weatherfax as well as other weather into and navigation.

Jack
 

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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
A T3 is what I have. I am bad and leave the sides clipped up, resulting in burned ears.
Jack
Excellent, now I just have to measure my head.

A painkiller is the drink of the BVI's. Pusser's is most famous for them ,but they are available many places.
Jack
I will defiantly have one, maybe two. :)

I take my Nikon D200 or D70s (when travelling light). You might look at a smaller compact for convenience and space considerations. You really do not need a long lens. I take one for whales on the West Coast.
Jack
The 17-40 is an internal zooming lens, I prefer it for landscape shots and being an L series lens is it built for anything. Best part is that it is is water resistant. I will find a way to take it. :) And I will be sure to post some of the pictures when I get back.

You will clear US customs and immigration Pearson International.
Jack
That one sentence just releaved so much worry about the flight you have no idea!

How about another question, bathing? I figure you get up and jump in the ocean with a bar of biodegradable soap? As long as there are no
around...
 

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You'll have a great time

Krozet, first I'm envious. The most important thing to take when traveling is an open mind. With the right attitude you will always have a good time!

Check out the long sleeved Columbia shirts if you get a chance before leaving. They're breathable and have an SPF rating so they'll protect you from the sun. If you can't find a Tilly hat, Columbia has a lighter one that sells for around $19US. I have no connection to Columbia, I bought some of their stuff at West and like it. You can find them at just about any outdoor chain store.

As for sailing gloves you can always go the cheapie route and pick up a pair of form fitting work gloves at Home Depot. $10 with leather palms and stretchy backs but they won't have a fancy sailing logo ;)

Remember to take a couple of microfiber cloths for your camera and lens. You WILL get salt spray on the camera. Wipe it down at the end of each day and use a little spit on the lens to wipe away the salt spray. If you don't already have one pick up a 1A skylight filter for the front of the lens. It will protect your lens from bumps, scratches and dirt.

If the boat has an open transom be careful where you put your camera.

Most of all enjoy yourself, it will be a great trip ! :D
 
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