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Learning to sail in Antigua with Horizon – things you need to know

Our American Sailing Association affiliated sailing school is located in the heart of Jolly Harbour Marina on the beautiful west coast of Antigua.  This is the perfect spot to begin your sailing adventure as you sail gently out into the leeward side of the island.  What this means is incredibly flat water and less breeze – perfect for those ‘new to sailing’ charterers who would like a gentle start to their sailing.

Antigua sailing school

Bavaria 33 monohull yacht sailing in Antigua

We get asked many questions about how our learn to sail programme works, so I thought I’d do a little Q & A so that you know exactly what to expect when you get here:

When do I meet my Instructor?

When you arrive, you’ll be met by our team and introduced to your friendly ASA Instructor.  He/She will sit down with you and tell you how your course will be structured and what you need to plan for before you set sail.

Do I stay in a hotel?

No, you actually step on board your boat when you arrive and spend your entire charter on board.  You sleep and cook on board – or head to shore for the odd meal – it’s up to you!  We call this a LIVEABOARD COURSE.

Is the theory taught before the charter trip?

No, your entire course work is undertaken on board.  Each of our boats has plenty of space below with a saloon and saloon table.  Here you can spread your charts out and work through the course work.

Will I be joining a group?

No, we only offer private courses.  This means that you have the boat to yourselves – whether you decide to bring a friend or a partner – that is entirely up to you.

Where does the Instructor sleep?

The Instructor sleeps in his/her own cabin.  This typically leaves 1 or 2 double cabins for you and your friends and family.

Do I need previous sailing experience?

It definitely helps.  Also, please do take as much time as you can beforehand to read the text books.  This will be hugely valuable in just understanding the terms of the boat – such as Port and Starboard.  Many of our guests arrive with us having had some experience in smaller boats – so they are familiar with boats and have spent some time on the water.

Should I pre-order the text books?

Absolutely, yes.  They are available to purchase online from  This means that you will have some idea of the course content and can get familiar with new sailing terms.  Some of our guests will download onto their tablet but remember that it’s always best to have the actual books when you are here – simply for practical reasons.  You can also make notes on your books which will jog your memory in weeks and months to come.

How long should I schedule for the courses?

This really does depend on how much, if any, sailing experience you have under your belt.  We advise on a case by case basis.   Do remember that this is a Learn to Sail vacation – so you will definitely want to enjoy the beauty of the island and the Caribbean sea.  So do plan for extra time and days when you can swim and snorkel and generally explore.

What do I need to bring?

Sunscreen and/or sunblock is important as you will certainly be exposed to the sun’s strong rays as they reflect off the water also!  Some of our students like to bring sailing gloves.  A good hat that you can tie on is a huge help.  A cap is fine but a gust of wind and you may lose it.  Also bring loose T Shirts (long sleeved T Shirts are good to stop you getting sunburn) and comfortable shorts.  Most of the restaurants here are Caribbean casual so long pants are not required.  Perhaps a scarf that you can make into a bandanna to tie around your neck.  Ultimately, you want to feel comfortable.  Remember to pack light and not to bring hard suitcases.  You just need a soft sailbag that will store easily in your cabin.