Online Cruising Course
Lesson Plans
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Daydreaming of Paradise, or Planning a Cruise. A cruise begins at home on the computer or notebook. Budgeting, developing an itinerary, making provisioning plans, etc. are the essential groundwork to making the cruise a success. Start your cruising course notebook now. See Sailbag. Print out this page by clicking ‘No Frames’ here, or at the top of any page, and slip into your notebook. See an actual BVI Itinerary.

Traveling to your Destination. Traveling successfully to the BVI involves saving money and adding convenience as well as planning for failed connections without undue consequences. Plan the travel portion of a trip to the BVI, focusing on alternatives and connections between segments. See the Beef Island airport for information. More later.

To Provisioning in the Islands

Becoming Familiar with the Boat (Checkout). The most important part of a checkout is getting to know an unfamiliar boat, although the purpose is also to see if a sailor can handle the boat properly. While all basic cruising sailboats have common equipment, the specifics are important to know, although you will be trained to figure it out by useful techniques as tracing the line.

Handling the Boat under Power–Managing a Luxurious Charter Yacht. Sailboats can be notoriously difficult to handle under power, and some practical tips, numerous contervailing principles as well as learning to "work" the situation by planning for failure, continual analysis as captain, and single-handing exercises so having a crew won’t interfere with learning.

Piloting in Paradise, or First Day Easy Sail to "Treasure Island." Now we’re off, and into what makes it all worthwhile. From the days when the Sir Francis Drake Channel was known by the buccaneers (see origin of name) as ‘Freebooter’s Gangway,’ the sea and sailing on it has not changed.

To go anywhere requires learning to use a marine chart, even in the BVI where you can often see your destination.

So the charting lesson is to plot a course across The Channel to the Bight at Treasure Island, our first easy sail, without going aground. This is a nearly failsafe lesson, since going between Pelican Island and The Indians would be the only problem.

Read the section, Piloting, Or Not Going Aground. Note that the buoyage systems are the same for both the BVI and the U.S.

Basically draw a course line that avoids obstacles on the chart to your destination. Use a parallel ruler to convert that line to a heading read off the compass rose. Then steer the boat to that destination using the boat’s compass.

The student will want to buy Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands, by Nancy & Simon Scott, for about $15 for use in these lessons. While the book’s illustrations are not actual charts, their chart-like nature will make the lessons realistic.

Picking up a Mooring for our First Night at the Bight. First, cruise the anchorage under power. The Bight is such a large anchorage that we can sail through much of the anchorage, including the Willie T and Billy Bones, the bar/restaurant on the inside shore. Finally, find a spot with good searoom to take down the sails. Then, cruise the specific mooring area under power and select a particular mooring. Practice picking up a mooring for an overnight stay. See Anchoring & Mooring.

Using the Dinghy–Taking your own Water Taxi to The Caves.
Handling the dinghy is always fun. We focus on operating the outboard engine. Then, dinghy over to The Caves for some snorkeling. See Kid’s Treasure Hunt for details. And here’s a shot of feeding fish at The Caves.

To Barbecuing Jerk
Dinner on the Boat Grill

Telling Sailing Tales at the Willie T. In the evening, it’s a tradition to party and re-tell outrageous sailing stories at the Willie T (no demure fish tales allowed).

Cooking Breakfast on the Boat. In the morning, breakfast is often prepared on the boat (sometimes underway), since the inconvenience or lack of breakfast eating spots is common. A cup of coffee on deck, sometimes after a swim, is unparalleled as the tropical sunrise. Hearty breakfasts are the rule for a full day of activities.

Learning to Snorkel (Taught at the Indians). The Indians has a lot of shallow water for teaching snorkeling. And the "fish bowl" is a snorkeler’s paradise. If divers are aboard, then we would dive at The Indians as well. Those that want to experience diving can arrange a resort course. To fully learn to dive, it’s best to do the pool and class work at home, and the open water certification (two hour-long dives on two mornings) on vacation.

Leaving a Mooring at the From the Bight.

Getting Underway From the Bight–Raising and Lowering Sails.

Tropical Squalls or Avoiding Being Overpowered by Dropping or Reefing Sails.

Taking a "Resort Course" Scuba Diving the Wreck of the Rhone.

Anchoring in (and Snorkeling over) Seagrass at Manchioneel Bay.

Examining Boat Parts & Jargon While "Swinging on a Hook."

To Cooking Callaloo

Landing a Dinghy in the Surf at The Baths.

Practicing Docking at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour.

Exploring Savannah Bay–Reading the Reefs.

The Pure Grace of Sailing Up the Sir Francis Drake Channel.

Using the Marine Radio in Historic North Sound.

Pure Daysailing in the Sound, if Needed.

Practicing Man Overboard Drills in Eustatia Sound.

Exporing Eustatia Sound by SeaKayak and Snorkel (Optional).

Bar Hopping by Dinghy and Learning Tropical Drinks at Saba Rock and the Sand Box.

Hiking the "Trail of Palms" at Mosquito Island.

Discussing Sailing Emergencies on the way to Tortola’s East End Archipelago.

To East Indies Cooking:
Roti, Goat Water &
12 Boy Curry

Tying Knots and Telling Stories at the Sunset Bar at Marina Cay.

The Art of Beachcombing at Trellis Bay.

Sailing the Ocean Side of Tortola–a Touch of "Blue Water" Sailing.

Analyzing Anchoring at Jost Van Dyke’s Great Harbour.

Swimming Ashore at the Soggy Dollar Bar and Sampling the Painkiller.

Cooking Caribbean Seafood at Little Harbour.

To Island Fish:
Baking in Banana Leaves and
Poaching French "Blaff"

Exploring Sandy Cay and Fighting Off "No See Ums."

Charting into Cane Garden Bay.

Visiting Callwood’s Distillery–Rum in Drinks and Food.

Driving on the Left in a Sporty Jeep on Ridge Road.

Shopping for Island Fashion and Art on Road Town’s Main Street.

Cruising an Anchorage at Soper’s Hole.

A ‘Full Moon’ Party at Bomba’s Beach Shack.

Touring Tortola for Sights, Shops and Beaches.

Making a Post Mortem in Deadman’s Bay.

Returning the Boat and Final Boat Check. Re-fuel the boat at Peter Island’s Sprat Bay (or alternatively at Sopher’s Hole).

All Dreams Must End–Taking the Flight Home.

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