While many charter yacht companies offer special sailing school packages, if you want to gain sailing certification while you’re on vacation, serious students should go directly to a sailing school. These schools offer a variety of courses, from land-based courses for beginners to weeklong charters designed to teach intermediate or advanced skills. Expect to pay $800 for a short learn-to-sail land-based course, and $1,800 and up for longer boat-based courses.
One of the best sailing schools is Sistership Sailing School (tel./fax 284/495-1002, www.sailsistership.com), which specializes in courses for women, couples, and families. Captain Pat Nolan earns high marks for her patience and knowledge.
Rob Swain Sailing School (284/495-9376, U.S. toll-free 800/948-7245, www.swainsailing.com) offers U.S. sailing certificates and courses from basic keelboat sailing to advanced cruising. Upper Bay Sailing School (www.upperbaysailing.com) offers weeklong instructional cruises aboard a 2002 Bavaria 44-footer, sailing from Nanny Cay Resort.
If you are interesting in swimming, sailing, kayaking, and powerboat handling, contact the BVI Watersports Centre (Manual Reef Marina, 284/494-0669, www.bviwatersportscentres.com), which specializes in courses for young people and residents.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition