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Hello, I've seen older posts on this topic but am hoping for more recent information; my wife and I are looking for a sailing school in the Virgin Islands to take a live-aboard sailing course in June. Have any of you had recent experience with any of those schools and, if so, would you recommend one? Thanks!

(We'll be flying in and out of St. Thomas for a family event the week prior.)
 

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I have chartered boats with Sunsail out of Road Town, Tortola, in the recent past. Very nice operation, excellent shore-side facilities, and helpful, pleasant people. Have not taken a course from them, but I have to believe they would do it up right. (Though, I can assure you they won't be the very least expensive that you can find.)

The Bitter End, on Virgin Gorda also does sailing lessons, though I'm not sure if they have any liveaboard classes. Anyway, another nice place with great facilities and a very helpful and pleasant staff.

Were I looking for a class I would check into both of these. I hope that someone else with some first-hand experience taking classes down there will also be able to chime in.
 

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Did classes not long ago in the Virgin Islands.. which ones are you going to.. U.S. or British?
 

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I'm heading there in about a month, so I can let you know how it goes in mid-May.
 

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In early January, I did ASA 103, 104, and 114 with Virgin Island Sailing School out of Red Hook on St. Thomas. The website is at sailusvis.com . I wanted to get more experience on a big catamaran. My wife -- who was not taking instruction -- came along.

We had a blast. It was a working vacation in that I wanted to sail as much as possible and so we did not do much snorkeling. We did swim as much as we wanted. And we drank and partied as much as we wanted.

We sailed from St. Thomas, to St. John, cleared into the BVI's at Soper's Hole, and then spent most of the next week in the BVIs. The company is flexible about where you go, so if you want to do a trip in the Spanish VIs, they will work with you.

I really wanted to sail to Anegada, which I got to do. I was there during the Christmas winds, so we got higher than average wind speed and one really good instructive short squall that was not dangerous but a lot of fun to work through.

Our boat was a 12-year-old 48-foot Leopard, (I think), so when we had a few problems, I was able to learn how to troubleshoot some things. Larry Bouffard was our instructor, and he has his own website that you can look up.

When my son is ready for more advanced training, I would not hesitate to use them again.

Good luck -- wish I was down there now!
 

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I did ASA104 with BWSS out of St Thomas in Dec 2012. My experience with them was very good. Excellent instructor and great comfortable boat. A lot will depend on your "classmates" (we heard some stories during the week), unless you are booking a private class.
 

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I did ASA104 with BWSS out of St Thomas in Dec 2012. My experience with them was very good. Excellent instructor and great comfortable boat. A lot will depend on your "classmates" (we heard some stories during the week), unless you are booking a private class.
Yep, I'm a little bit concerned about how that part of it goes, I'm figuring that its 50/50 whether or not we even have another two people on the boat (my wife and I are going), and if there are other people on the boat I'm figuring its 10% chance they are awesome people we stay in contact with and sail with again later, 80% chance they are fine and everything is relatively smooth, and 10% chance they are real stinkers we have to deal with and make the best of. Maybe I'm too optimistic...I dunno, but at this point its better to be hopeful than fearful! Didn't seem like it was worth the extra ~$1500 + tip to pay for the private lessons, we'll see how my dice turn up when they stop rolling.
 

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I think your expectations are quite reasonable and you will be fine. I ended up with two other guys and they were nice people...although I felt they were treating the course more as an adventure and vacation than anything else. So I was a little concerned in the beginning however as the week progressed they did study and made an effort to follow the course so in the end it worked out well for all of us.
 

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Rhys05, I'd guess that your percentages are probably about right. So far, all of the classes that my wife and I have taken (which amounts to four, total), our classmates have been in the 80% (though for one of the classes it was just the two of us).
 

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Yep, I'm a little bit concerned about how that part of it goes, I'm figuring that its 50/50 whether or not we even have another two people on the boat (my wife and I are going), and if there are other people on the boat I'm figuring its 10% chance they are awesome people we stay in contact with and sail with again later, 80% chance they are fine and everything is relatively smooth, and 10% chance they are real stinkers we have to deal with and make the best of. Maybe I'm too optimistic...I dunno, but at this point its better to be hopeful than fearful! Didn't seem like it was worth the extra ~$1500 + tip to pay for the private lessons, we'll see how my dice turn up when they stop rolling.
Just came back to say that we just arrived back from our week of sailing school in the Virgin Islands, and we had an absolute BLAST. We massively lucked out and the one other person on our boat was in the 0.0001% on the awesome side, our boat was nice, the winds were decent, and our captain was pretty awesome. Learned a lot (mostly confidence, we already had/have the basics of sailing down pretty good). Definitely recommended. We went with Blue Water Sailing School.
 

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We were on Prana (a Beneteau Oceanis 440) with Bill Miles. We sailed out of Red Hook, anchored in a couple of bays on St. John (Leinster Bay, Newfound Bay) cleared in to BVI at West End, anchored Mediterranean style at Sydney's on Josh van ****, anchored in Cane Garden, cleared back into USVI at Cruz Bay, took a mooring in Christmas Cove, and left the boat back in Red Hook. It was a most excellent experience!
 

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Amazing Experience! I learned so much and had one of the best weeks of my life!! Our instructor, Molly Winkelman was AMAZING!!! What an exciting experience!! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves sailing.
 

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Danny, sounds like your experience mirrors mine. We spent a good deal of time with Molly too even though we were on Bill's boat. My wife even sailed with her for a day. Glad it went well! :)
 

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In March '95 I did my Intermediate in the BVI's via two schools here in Canada who ran a joint winter program together. (Toronto's Humber School of Sailing and Ottawa Sailing School). Advantage Boating - Boating Vacation Courses - Basic and Intermediate

Many northern schools offer down south courses in the winter and you may find a good deal.

My experience was great in terms of boat. It was an older C&C41, a bit beat up (North South Yacht Vacations had a bad rep for older boats) and it turned on a dime.

My ex took her basic but was not really into it but the other couple were absolute pills.

Find some friends who have the same dream.
 

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Just wanted to post a warning. Do NOT book with Virgin Island Sailing School (not to be confused with Virgin Island Sailing Academy). This school lists Capt. Scott D as the Captain (he is not, he lives in California).

To say that my vacation with this company was a huge disappointment would be an understatement. It was by far one of the worst vacations that I have ever experienced.

First, the descriptions of the boat, the sailing experience and the “school”, as presented on the website is very deceptive. The website states that each cabin has a bathroom with a shower. The “shower” was the sink’s faucet that pulls out. I could live with the fact that it was a faucet if we had hot water. However, not once during the entire trip did we ever have any hot water in which to bathe.

The website also states that the boat has air conditioning. It does not. Since we were living on the water and Mother Nature provided us with a natural tropical breeze, the necessity of air conditioning was minimal. Unfortunately for my crewmates and myself, there were three nights during which we were awaken by a deluge. Because of the necessity of sleeping with our hatches open, we were drenched by this sudden rain. We all had to quickly close our hatches and then sleep in the sweltering heat because there was no air conditioning.

The website states, either directly or through an insinuation, that you have five boats, they have one. The website states, that they have six captains, they have one. The website states that we will start out learning on a smaller boat, we did not do this until day 4, which is completely illogical. The website states that, if the winds are favorable, we will sail to Anegada, yet we were told that it would be impossible to sail there because it was too far. The website states that are the only US Virgin Island ASA certified sailing school, not true, there is another. In addition, such a certification ensures that a uniformed instruction and standard will be applied, yet there was no set curriculum and no requirement that even the basic skills were learned by each of the students.

Notwithstanding the misrepresentations of the amenities of the boat, the condition of the boat was well below any acceptable standard. It was dirty and cluttered. The Captain had her papers, junk and clutter all over the desk area and items were stuffed in a haphazard manner in each of the cabinets. The sink and cleaning sponge were so dirty and moldy smelling that I was constantly pouring soap over everything to try and clean the area. The refrigerator was overwhelmed with old, bad food. The grill looked like it had not been cleaned in months, if ever! The hatches in two of the bathrooms were broken to the extent that they were “sealed” with duct tape and the main window in the galley could be completely pushed out and was not properly sealed. Finally, the cups, plates, towels and linens looked as though they came from Goodwill with nothing matching. We were each given one bath towel and one hand towel and we were never allowed to use any additional towels. In fact, one time when I grabbed an extra towel to use after snorkeling, I was questioned by the Captain (in a very rude tone), “don’t you have your own towel?”

The Captain could only be described as rude. I could not believe it when a fellow crewmate one morning simply asked her a question about schedule for the day and she snapped at him and said, “can’t I finish my breakfast first”! Unacceptable. Especially since she was always the last person to get up and we had to fend for ourselves every morning.

I do not know if the Captain was suppose to adhere to a specific schedule and if she was to ensure that costs are reduced but it was obvious that things were done, or not done, because of expenses. On the first day, she requested that we pay for her meals and drinks whenever we went ashore. I can certainly afford to pay for a few extra meals but this request was not only unexpected, it was improper. Such a requirement should have been addressed by the company prior to our arrival. On the first day of sailing (Sunday) we went directly to St. John and moored at some out of the way location, which was nowhere near any place where we could go ashore for shopping, exploring or eating. We moored at approximately noon and never left for the remainder of the day! The majority of our sailing time that day was wasted. She did not want to go to Tortola that day (although it was listed on the website that we would be going there that day) because it would cost too much money to check into customs on a Sunday rather than a Monday. This type of day was not unusual. There were three afternoon/evenings, where we moored at some out of the way location in which we had no opportunity to go ashore. Perhaps it is not unusual to end the day at some remote location and spend the evening relaxing after a full day of sailing. I could accept this, if we actually put in a full day of sailing!

The lack of sailing experience is my biggest complaint of the entire trip. After six days I was given the opportunity to drive, not sail, the catamaran twice and I worked the rudder of the small boat once for approximately five to ten minutes. I helped with tacking many times but that was the extent of my sailing experience. I would say that during the whole trip, we motored about as much as we actually sailed the boat. After six days aboard the boat, I am still not qualified, at any level, to sail a boat.
 

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Sounds like an awful experience. However, that is a standard shower aboard anything under a 50+ ft boat. No one run air-conditioning at night, when away from the dock either. Most boats don't even have it.

This "school" sounds dubious, so I tend to think it's all on them. However, you painted some expectations that are not reasonable.
 

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Did the ASA 101 - 103 and 104 during a one week live aboard with Sunsail out of Road Town a few years ago. Excellent instructor, clean fully functional boat and must say was a blast. Enjoy
 
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