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Online Cruising Course
Basics of Sailboat Cruising
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I. Sailing a sloop opens up the magnificent British Virgin Islands and the Caribbean world of cruising to you. Sailboat cruising is a lifestyle in the direct sense that you take your living quarters with you. And these elegant seagoing homes are designed by the finest talent in the world to incorporate fabrics, features and convenience.

A. Types of Cruising Boats

A sloop is contrasted with a day sailor by the presence of a cabin and its rounded hull and keel instead of a "hard chine" bottom and a centerboard.

A sloop is also defined by its single mast rigged with fore-&-aft Bermudan, Marconi or jib-headed triangular sails, known for the speed and handling characteristics they give the modern sloop.

A sloop is distinguished from a cutter (popular for offshore cruising), which carries a forward staysail as well as a forward jib.

A sloop is further distinguished from the Ketch and Yawl, themselves defined by the rudder placement to a second mast, but whose real significance relates to maintaining manageable sail area on a relatively large boat by adding a second mast. Today, a small two-masted boat is likely to be a Ketch.

B. BVI as Favorable Place to Cruise re Boat Size and Expected Conditions.

The BVI is an inland sea. Its special topography–a volcanic ocean plateau, formed in an archipageleo to surround an inland sea called the Sir Francis Drake Channel, results in an abundance of scenic, sheltered anchorages and a variety of out-island destinations rich in culture and interest.

A coastal-cruising sloop around 30` may safely sail the BVI in normal tradewind conditions with a skipper of ordinary inland skills provided that good judgment and safety considerations are utilized.

Offshore ocean sailing requires a bluewater boat built to withstand waves in the cockpit and over the boat in severe storms as well as a much higher level of experience and skill on the part of the captain.

C. The Sailbag.

The Sailbag is both a useful entity and a metaphor for the sailor`s relationship to the cruise. Pack the following:

Sunscreen and other lotions, sunglasses, hat, and other clothing for protection from the sun and insect repellent, especially against "no see ums."

Useful items: clips to hold on hat and glasses, flashlight, foul weather gear (not needed in tropics), boat knife.

Boat shoes with gripping, non-marking tread. Tennis shoes can suffice.

Essential clothing for a Caribbean trip includes shorts and lots of tops in general. Resort restaurants may require simple evening wear for the ladies and a collared shirt and long pants for the men.

Repository for useful information, sailor’s notebook and required travel documents.

Can serve as travel bag as well with essential clothing in case an unplanned overnight stop occurs on a airline trip.

In addition to checked luggage, airlines allow one carry-on not exceeding 43 linear inches (length + width + height) and 40 lbs. and one personal item not exceeding 36 linear inches, such as small backpack, purse, tote or shoulder bag.

Customs in and out of the Caribbean from the US require travel documents such as a passport or a certified copy of a birth certificate together with an official photo ID such as a driver’s license. See BVI Customs/Immigration information.

D. The Anatomy of a Cruise

Budgeting, developing an itinerary, making provisioning and traveling plans, etc. are the essential groundwork at home to making the cruise a success.

A cruise involves becoming familiar with the sailboat, its operation, preparing for emergencies, as well as the cruise itself

Cruising in the BVI involves good judgment and awareness of safety more than advanced sailing skills.