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Ever wondered what it’s like to learn to sail in Antigua? An Instructor’s viewpoint…

We offer different ASA sailing courses that will take you from beginner, to being qualified to helm a sailing yacht with your own crew. Come and complete ASA courses 101, 103 and 104 in the warmth of the Caribbean. 

Many of you are keen to learn to sail but are anxious as to what actually happens on a sail boat. Do you actually ‘live’ on board for a week?! Do we even set foot on land again for the entire week?! What do we eat, is there a cooker!? In this blog I’ll be interviewing one of our instructors to ask some of your questions..

Learn to sail on our beautiful fleet of monohulls

Captain Paul is a keen sailor and has been sailing for as long as he can remember, he puts his heart and soul into teaching and is a very patient instructor. As well as teaching you the ASA courses he will give you an insight into what sailing is really like through his broad amount of sailing knowledge and experience. I asked Paul the following questions..

How did you get into sailing?
– My Father was a sailor. I had my first dinghy when I was 12. It had cottons sails! I sailed it around in the Foyer canals in Cornwall. I loved it!

What do you love about teaching sailing?
– The satisfaction. There’s nothing better than than seeing someone learn and achieve something new, that I taught them.

Through experience what is your favorite place to sail?
– Antigua definitely. Although, I loved sailing the canals and river estuary’s in Cornwall.

What would the students need to bring with them on their ‘learn to sail’ course?
– Sunblock!, sunglasses, a hat, possibly deck shoes if they don’t like being barefoot. Seasickness pills, sometimes people don’t know they get seasick until they spend more than a day on board. A hand bearing compass! These are great to have and fun to use. If we can all use them at the same time it’s great to see who finds a bearing first! 

How would you explain live aboard?
– Living aboard is cozy. Everything is smaller, there’s less storage and you are in everyone’s personal space. It’s important to allocate the right cabins so people are comfortable with where they sleep and have their own space.  It really is like sharing a tiny house, there’s still a kitchen (galley) and a bathroom (heads) but you just have to learn decent etiquette because you are sharing with other people. You need to be able to live with people whilst ensuring everyone’s safety at all times. Make sure you bring a soft bag! The hard suitcases really don’t store well!

What are the preferably conditions to learn to sail?
Calm winds and flat seas!

Tell me about the weather conditions here in Antigua..
– We get the trade winds between December and April, these normally blow about 15-20 knots but we are lucky out here because we normally always have wind and the sun is always shining! We never seem to have days of full on rain either. There’s sometimes showers which cool you off, but it never really rains ALL day.

What are the differences between here and the UK, for example?
–  It’s warmer. You don’t get a cold shock when the waves come over the bow and splash you in the face as you do in the UK and parts of the States and Canada!

What ideal experiences should the students have before coming on a learn to sail course?
– Any experience is good, it gives them a little bit of a head start, if they know some of the vocabulary then that could benefit them too! ASA 101 is technically a beginners course however, there is an online sailing course which is fun and interactive and will teach you the sailboat basics!

Are the students likely to come across some rough seas here in Antigua?
– Not really, sometimes the South coast of Antigua can get a little bumpy because it becomes the Atlantic, but this just allows the students to experience the different sea conditions! The west coast of Antigua is always pretty calm. 

Tell me about some of the hazards the students could expect to find…
Let’s talk about the boom and being ‘boat aware’ at all times. Sometimes whilst learning to sail the boom can suddenly come across the cockpit and it’s dangerous if it hits someone.   Otherwise, as long as everyone is careful all you could expect is a stubbed toe or sunburn!

Apart from actual sailing what other skills are the students taught?
– Rope work. They will have to learn how to tie different nautical knots. Living and working with others as a team. How to work a dinghy outboard and learn how to drive the dinghy, possibly even rowing! How yacht systems work, such as the heads and the galley stove. How to cook on board whilst underway. Navigation, collision regulations. There’s lots to learn on a boat! 

Will the students learn any first aid/medical?
– Yes! But only what is applicable if you were to charter a boat really. Such as a possible burn, a minor cut or what to do if someone has an allergic reaction.

Are there any written exams?
– Yes there are. They are multiple choice exams. There’s some daily testing and a little exam at the end but they aren’t ‘sit in silence until you have completed it’ exams. They are informal.

Tell me about your ‘typical’ day. Is it 9-5 or are the hours flexible?
– It can be 9-5, but it really depends on the students! It is flexible and relaxed. We still want them to have fun! Go snorkeling and see some of what Antigua has to offer but at the same time it is a sailing course they want to complete so as long as we can structure it so they complete the course then we can be as flexible as we like.

Would the students be able to experience some of Antigua’s best places?
– Yes, they definitely can! I’ll never say no to a lunch time swim or snorkel. Just as long as we can still complete the course. We can still go for lunch and dinners ashore too and I love to fish!

Will they students need to know how an engine works?
– They will be shown the basics of how an engine works but of course if they have a slight clue before hand it does always help! But otherwise they will learn on board.

What makes a good sailor?
– In my opinion, personality. Anyone can be a good sailor. It’s not always down to experience or qualifications. There are so many different aspects of sailing to match many different aspects of personality. It really is just a sailors perception of their environment which makes them a good sailor.

These are our most frequently asked questions, but if you have any other questions you would like to ask us, or you are interested in taking an ASA course and certification with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected]