Offshore Sailing School – Official Site America's #1 Sailing School® Wed, 25 Sep 2019 19:26:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2019 Croatia Flotilla Cruise from Agana to Dubrovnik /2019-croatia-flotilla-cruise-from-agana-to-dubrovnik/ Thu, 12 Sep 2019 19:45:24 +0000 /?p=84609 The Meet and Greet dinner at La Barca restaurant at Marina Agana kicked Leg 1 of our Colgate Sailing Adventures Croatia Flotilla off to a fun start. The food that Robert, the owner, prepared for our crew was exceptionally fresh and delicious. We started off with plates of cheese and fig with honey, caprese salad, and beef carpaccio among other appetizers. Next came platters of fresh Mediterranean seafood, crispy chicken with sauce, tender filet of beef . . . and the water and wine were plentiful, too. Okay, we are getting spoiled day one!

by Heather Hild Atwater – cruise leader partner with Nate Atwater

Getting Ready to Set Sail

Day 1 – Saturday, August 24, 2019
Before dinner, the Skippers and Navigators attended the navigation session at the Sunsail Base run by Ivonka, who did a nice job. Nate and I met with Mirna, a local Croatian and an employee off the Moorings base in Agana, days before who helped us plan our Leg 1 itinerary in detail, including day stops and restaurants. So, the navigation meeting was tailored to our plans and we were the only group attending, which is always nice. In advance, Nate and I reserved all the moorings, dockage and made restaurant reservations, with help from Mirna, whose Croatian is better than mine.  While that was going on, everyone moved aboard their home for the next week and helped to stow the plentiful provisions.

After the meet and greet dinner, we waited to hear that Skipper Craig and Bonnie, our late arrivals, had made it safely to their boats, as we arranged transfers for them from Split airport. Then the first day was complete and sleep was welcome.

“Leaving the Dock is Half the Work”

Day 2 – Sunday August 25, 2019
After Yoga, showers, and navigation, we head off the dock about 11 am with our fleet of four Sunsail 47s: Aita Pea Pea II which I renamed Seize the Day since that is what it means in Tahitian. Wouldn’t you?  Aboard our crew was Skipper Nate, myself, Diana and Wayne. Carnot,which is named after a French Physicist, was skippered by Mike Mahan and trusty crew Barbara, Laura Kay, Eric and Kelly Buth and Sally Faulkner. Natalija I was skippered by Craig Davis with John and Stephanie Giegerich, Sara Turner and Don Stone and Kelly Kalleen as crew. And finally Mon Lochy Bay named after the bay in Scotland with Skipper John Hodgson, his wife Blythe, Mike and Cathy Gelinas, and Bonnie Urbanski as crew.

After last minute shopping, running about checking to be sure we have all the necessary equipment, we had a smooth departure. On the way out of the bay we steered clear of some swimmers. At first we thought they were large birds because they were so far away from shore in the middle of the bay . . . they waved to us as we passed them.  It was a hint of what was to come – lots of swimming!

As soon as the wind cooperated, we set sail, testing the monohull’s sail handling with some light air upwind work and generally learning the rigging and systems. We dropped the hook at our planned lunch stop for a swim. The water was delightful – clean, refreshing, and a deep Mediterranean blue. After we had our fill, we picked up anchor and rolled our genoas out to sail to Trogir, an ancient seaside town complete with castle and cathedrals.  We used our med mooring skills, which were very good BTW. Then we all headed in to the charming town of Trogir navigating a cobble maze of walkways through old, old architecture. We met up for a really good group meal at restaurant Alta. We had a young duo of local waiters who served our group well and we enjoyed a really fine meal.  We retired to our boats around 11 pm.

Light Air Sailing Tactics Come in Handy

Day 3 – Monday August 26, 2019
After early Yoga and the 8 am navigation meeting aboard Seize the Day, we all shoved off the docks and had a nice little sail to Krknjasi Bay on the east side of Drvenik Island.  After anchoring, we all swam and snorkeled. I thought the underwater terrain was so interesting. There were large formations of limestone that had been naturally formed into what appeared to me to be giant sculptures. Again, the Mediterranean waters were a welcome cool down. After lunch we picked up our anchors and continued sailing on to our night stop in Milna town. There was a little confusion, because the dock boy left his VHF at home that day and was nowhere to been seen. So, the next Med Moor practice ensued. Takeaway lesson when assisting a boat that needs help to dock, first establish ONE person, who knows what they are doing, to direct the skipper and crew. We all ended up ducks in a row stern to the dock in beautiful Milna town. We had a free night, so most walked into town to explore the sights, some stayed for pizza and gelato.  Our crew elected to cook aboard.

Submarine Tunnel for Lunch and “Don’t give up the Mooring” for Dinner

Day 4 – Tuesday August 27, 2019
Yoga this morning was under an ancient Aleppo Pine, Pinus Halepensis. We were told that the original trees were brought to Croatia by the Romans. Since I am trained as a Landscape Architect and Designer, I find that history really amazing!  After our navigation meeting, we are underway around 9 am, and since there is no wind we power toward our lunch stop in Smrka Bay. We all anchor and we explore the small bay by dinghy which has a WWII submarine tunnel cut into the face of the rock cliff.  It is a very picturesque little spot, great for  swimming and snorkeling. 

After lunch we pick up anchor and proceed to Soline Bay, arriving before 3 pm to find a very busy mooring area. After securing the boats on what we were told were 100 Kuna moorings, we are told to move by the owner of the restaurant, who we affectionately dubbed Mr. Speedo. We held steady as we negotiated with him to let us all stay. After much negotiating and thanks to John Hodgson having gone ashore to make reservations in person and getting to know the owners Dog , BY NAME, that won us some favor and we all managed to secure a mooring for the night.

Mon Lochy Bay had kindly invited us all for cocktails aboard their boat. So, after relaxing a bit, we all dinghied over and enjoyed each others company before the water taxi arrived to take 16 of us to Hvar town. It was a speedy and enjoyable trip from Soline Bay to Hvar town. We landed and made plans to meet back at the green light on the quay at 8 pm. We all explored Hvar: Mike hiked to the castle on the top of the hill, others shopped, enjoyed adult beverages and explored the beautiful ancient cobble walkways between stone buildings, with arches supporting flowering bougainvillea, and potted plants. It was well worth the trip!  Back to the boats, some ate at Paridissimo the island restaurant, whose moorings we were on.


Day 5 – Wednesday August 28, 2019
After making the navigation rounds by dinghy, we drop moorings and head toward Peljeski Kanal, past stunning scenery, then past Korchula town. We see all manor of water craft from small wooden fishing dories, mega power yachts, sleek catamarans,  racing sloops with carbon sails, small sailing sloops with Dacron sails, classic wooden sailing yachts and more!  Our lunch hook was an interesting place, an island with a chain of smaller islands, great for snorkeling. There was a restaurant that stated, “We don’t tell you what to drink, don’t tell us what music to play.” It turned out to be pop dance music, not terrible, in my opinion. There was a swing at waters edge and lots of visitors from boats nearby, an an interesting place.

After lunch we sail to Loviste. It was a nice light air sail. We arrive early enough to secure the three other moorings with our floating pineapple and beverage center, which I procured at Agana, as previous charters pass on their swim toys to the next charter.  They came in very handy not only as float toys but also as the seat for our dinghy, lol.  We had group reservations that night at Restaurant Gradina. I swam to shore we were so close. The owner served us with his bandaged hand as he had cut it earlier chopping wood for the open fire. It was a really nice waterside open air meal and I think a very good time was had by all, Lots of laughter!

Ro Mlijetski Kanal on a Light Air Day

Day 6 – Thursday August 29, 2019
Navigation rounds as usual, and then we head off to Mljet in light winds, sailing on and off, arriving at Luka Polace around 4:30 pm.  After identifying Stella Maris, our docking arrangements and dinner spot, one by one we med moored and explored a bit before dinner. We had a nice group dinner not far from our boats on a terrace overlooking a stunning bay, Lucky us!

Beautiful Mljet

Day 7 – Friday August 30, 2019
The day before I arranged for an early bus to the ferry in the National Park to see St. Mary’s Monastery. We could have spent a lot more time here for sure. It was stunning and the chapel with its simple architectural design and beautiful stained glass, paintings and carvings made for a memorable visit. The gardens were also well done. We got back on the ferry, to the bus, to the boats, to leave by 11 am and hoof it to the base and the ACI marina in Dubrovnik. Let’s talk about squeezing a lot into a day, not to mention a week!! That is why it is called a Colgate Offshore Sailing Adventure Vacation.

The approach to Dubrovnik was visually stunning as frankly the entire trip has been. We line up to dock at the very busy ACI marina in Dubrovnik.  We all med moored one last time, which was a bit tricky weaving in and out of lines of boats in reverse.

Last Night:  Our final Dinner at Vimbula Restaurant

After a slight mix up on the restaurant’s part (he doesn’t do email and his wife mistakenly told him it was the following night), we made the best of it and took our group photo with our orange cruise shirts while the restaurant owner and staff hurried to get set up for us. The sun was setting behind us and the picturesque chapel’s bells chimed from a nearby hilltop. I don’t think it gets better than this, I thought. We were all treated to a fabulous riverside dining experience, where we concluded, thanks to John and Stephanie, that raising our hands for our chosen meal was totally smart and way cool.

Nicely done everyone! Hats off to the Skippers especially who through teamwork made this a very special flotilla for all!

For more information on Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruises, check out our Flotilla Holidays page on this website.



]]> Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Sailors Head to Mallorca /colgate-sailing-adventures-flotilla-sailors-head-to-mallorca/ Thu, 01 Aug 2019 18:35:06 +0000 /?p=83379 On June 29, 2019, Mallorca leaders Heather and Nate Atwater greeted 23 sailors for the start of our first ever flotilla cruise in Spain. Andrea Berndt, a multi-time Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruise participant with her husband Mike, sent this account of a joyful cruise in the waters of Mallorca, Spain. Andrea is in this photo with Mike at the first night group dinner ashore.

Getting Accustomed to Local Time

After much anticipation, our long awaited trip to Mallorca is here. On June 27, an overnight flight took us to Madrid. You know you are in Spain when the airport gift shops are packed with hindquarters of Iberian ham dangling in the breeze. Try getting that back into the US!  We caught a puddle-hopper flight to Mallorca and collapsed in our hotel room for a much needed snooze. After dinner and a stroll about town, we retired for the night in an effort to get accustomed to local time.

Like Pages from a History Book

It’s June 28, can’t believe we slept in past 10 am. We still managed to make the breakfast buffet, a bountiful repast of Spanish breads and pastries, meat pies, ham, sausages and cold cuts, eggs fixed a variety of ways, and all sorts of fruits and juices.  On full stomachs we set out to explore. A heat wave is scorching the area, so trying hard to stick to the shade and hydrate. Mallorca is very picturesque, with ancient city walls, alleyways and court yards, and hidden gardens. The plumbago, oleander and bougainvillea are covered in so many blossoms that they make the ones back home look anemic. Amazing cathedrals share the skyline with minarets, evidence of the Spanish and Moorish history. Remnants of windmills evoke thoughts of Don Quixote, ever searching for his Dulcinea. Sidewalk cafes abound and the marinas are packed with boats… no shortage of mega yachts here!

To the Boats!

It’s June 29th and today’s the day! We spent the morning schlepping luggage to the marina, then headed to the market for supplies. Searched all over and finally found the post office to send off a quick postcard. The search for a phone SIM card was a bit more complicated. We’d finally been directed to the other side of creation when we decided to stop for lunch. Mike happened to look up and by golly the elusive phone store was right up the street. Yay!  It was hotter than blazes 100+ so we worked on hydrating and trying to stay cool.  We met up with our cruising flotilla at 5 p.m.on the dock, pleased to see multiple familiar faces from previous flotillas. Our boat is Anegada, a 47 foot Jenneau. Crew consists of Skipper Scott, Mike the designated Naviguesser, and crew of John, Vicky and Andrea. We all know each other from the Belize flotilla last year. We had a flotilla team meeting followed by a paella dinner on the dock. We spend tonight on the boat and take off in the morning. Should be a good time.

Anegada Under Way at Last

Last minute boat preparations complete, we pulled away from the dock around 11 a.m. on June 30, heading for Sa Rapita, reputed to be one of the prettiest beaches on the island. Wind was out of the east, varying from 5-20 knots. Motoring out of the harbor, we hoisted sails and had a rather pleasant sail. Scott claims he doesn’t care about racing, poo-pooing the notion that 2 boats on the water heading in the same direction constitutes a race. Ha ha. We’ll make a convert out of him yet. In the afternoon when the breeze picked up, we heeled over at a delightful angle and scooted along at 7.6 kts.  Not too shabby and he definitely has the beginnings of a gleam in his eyes. Vicky was the helm, rather laid back sailing the telltales. You go girl! We took turns at the helm and dropped anchor at Sa Rapita at 3:30 p.m. The snarky crew celebrated with arrival beverages around, debating the merits of 4th of July celebrations in Edmond versus Mustang, Oklahoma. For those of us non-Oakies, we just might have to check this out. Every boat and every crew has its unique personality. We are no different in that regard, expressing ourselves by giving the boat a new nickname every day, building on the basic given name. We started with the official Anegada, and with each subsequent day our creativity was in full force.

A Beau-ti-ful Day for Sailing

After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs we weighed anchor at 9:30 a.m. and headed for Portocolom. It’s July 1 and we’ve settled into a comfortable routine of one hour rotations at the helm as a precaution to stifle any “helm hog” tendencies … now who could that possibly be? Vicky piloted as we motored out of the anchorage so that Scott could maximize sailing time on his watch. And maximize sailing time we did, with a gorgeous day of sailing with steady winds. Ask Scott what kind of day it is and the response is “It’s a beau-ti-ful day!” It’s a long way to our destination, so the consensus was to forgo the lunch stop and eat underway. Tough life when you have to settle for Brie, pate, fruit and baguettes on the fly for lunch. Skirting the coast, we delighted in the rocky cliffs that seem to have caves and bunker looking windows carved into them. Oh, if we only could stop and explore, who knows what hidden treasures might await.

Overnight in a Quaint Little Fishing Village

We dropped sails and motored into Portocolom, a former trading post and quaint little fishing village. We have a reservation for a mooring as there’s no anchoring in the harbor. Here the marina staff met us in a rib and escorted us to our mooring. So civilized and a far cry from the mooring scramble free-for-all in the Caribbean! The first dinghy ashore at 4:30 p.m. was a provisioning run to fill in the gaps.The market was closed for siesta, opening again at 5. The fruteria down the street was open, with all sorts of beautiful produce, but we already have enough aboard to feed an army. Will resist temptation and stick to the list. When the market opened, we made a beeline for the deli counter. The ham ranged from the reasonable at 30 euro per kg to over 90 euro per kg for the premium jamon iberico. Wow! We managed to get the job done and still get away with our shirts intact. Back on the boat we’re eating dinner aboard to use some of our provisions. Vicky and Scott prepared a delicious dinner of pasta with a rich tomato sauce. After dinner we made a run ashore for gelato before settling in for the night.

Med Mooring in Porto Cristo

On July 2nd, we slipped mooring lines about 9:30 a.m. and headed for Porto Cristo. Wind was light and on the nose so we motored to our destination. Today’s challenge is med mooring European style. Fenders in the ready position, crew at their stations, bring it on! Scott’s at the helm with Mike riding shotgun and handling the windward stern line. John’s on the bow, Vicky’s roving with a fender and Andrea is below manning commo with the marina and flotilla, then moved to leeward stern line. We are third in line, circling outside the channel until our turn. We slowly made our way in, ducking the junior dinghy fleet and an errant paddle boarder. We backed into our slip, tossed our stern lines to the marina staff who handed us the bow lines once the stern was secure. Pleased with the results of the communication and teamwork, we celebrated with arrival beverages around.

Spelunking Cruising Style

This afternoon’s entertainment is a visit to the caves of Drach, a 5 minute walk up the stairs from the marina. The caves are dark and cool, a welcome respite from the heat. Following the dimly lit path, stalagmites and stalactites of all shapes and sizes adorn the ceilings and floors. Our farthest point into the caves is an auditorium with benches overlooking a small lake. At the appointed time, the lights dimmed and a mini boat parade of three lighted boats glided by, making graceful passes as musicians on the one boat played soothing classical selections. Once the concert concluded, the audience was ferried by boat across the water to the path out of the caves. Very pleasant experience. Back in the heat of the day, the guys headed back to the boat while the women opted for some girl time as shops beckoned.

A Little Shopping and a Quaint Dining Experience

A big Majorica pearl edifice begged to be explored, as Mallorca’s claim to fame for years was quality simulated pearls. We watched a mini video presentation explaining the process before entering the showroom to check out what they had to offer. Our saleslady Carmen was a former sailor who lived on a Jeanneau similar to what we are sailing. Talking with us made her long for those days. She was very helpful as we tried on and posed for pictures with various pieces before making our selections. Onto the rest of town and more shops. On the way back to the boat we spied a quaint little restaurant and made reservations for dinner. By the time dinner time rolled around, our party of seven had doubled and we showed up on their doorstep with 14. After an initial double-take, and multiple explanations, we managed to charm the owner by telling him how the others had wanted to come along after hearing us talk of his place. They graciously scrambled to rearrange tables and accommodated us. Another delightful dinner ashore, we stumbled back to the boat with bellies full of food.

Help Wanted, Muscles a Plus

Our destination July 3rd is Portopetro with a stop off at Cala Mondrago along the way. We started off sailing, but the wind died and we had to fire up the iron Jenny. Cala Mondrago is a nature reserve with grassy seabeds providing a habitat teaming with marine life in addition to beautiful beaches and rocky cliffs with hiking trails. We lingered here several hours, snorkeling off the back of the boat. The seagrass meadow was frosted with light colored crystals and little growths resembling small inverted cockle shells dotted the bottom. Fish of all shapes and sizes darted among the grasses. All was well until we tried to weigh anchor. The windlass began taking up the chain rode and after about 30 seconds it gave up the ghost. Capstan locked up solid as well. Troubleshooting to no avail, no amount of coaxing could change its mind. Time for elbow grease as the guys took turns manually hauling in the anchor. Whew! On to Portopetro where fortunately we have a mooring. When all the flotilla was secure on their moorings, Chipper Skipper Nate, our fearless flotilla leader, paid us a visit to try out his powers of persuasion on our recalcitrant windlass. He confirmed the sad news, that bad boy is seized up and out of commission for the remainder of the cruise. Bummer. Time to cleanup and dinghy into town for dinner. It’s an early start in the morning, so lingering ashore over a a leisurely continental dinner is not advisable. Mike and I opted for a romantic dinner in a little restaurant perched on a hill overlooking the harbor. The Galician style tenderloin was scrumptious and we’re becoming rather fond of the bread and olives to start. Of course, we had to check out the local gelato parlor before heading back to the boat.

The Adventure Continues As We Head to Cabrera’s Marine Sanctuary

On July 4th, we were up and in the ready position for a 7 a.m. start. Order of the day is the island of Cabrera followed by an overnight in Cala Portals Vells. We need to get to Cabrera by 10 a.m., so unless we have enough wind to maintain 5 kts speed over ground, we’ll be motoring. 4-7kts of wind this morning seals the deal … we’re motoring. We picked up a day mooring in the main harbor of Cabrera right on schedule and proceeded into the dinghy dock. Cabrera is a heavily regulated marine sanctuary with a history that includes a prison housing soldiers of the Napoleonic army, an old monastery, fish salting factory, lime kilns, quarries and a farm. A landing with a cantina and park buildings greeted us. We hiked up the hill to the remnants of a 14th century fortress, carefully navigating a narrow circular staircase barely large enough for one. Well worth the climb, we were treated to a panoramic view of the island and harbor.

A Gentle Broad Reach to Cala Portal Velis

At 2 p.m. we slipped the mooring and headed for Cala Portal Vells. The wind was out of the east at 8-12 kts and we sailed away on a gently rolling broad reach. The winds built over the course of the afternoon, becoming a steady 16-18 kts, gusting to 21.  Erring on the side of caution, we put the first reef in the main and headsail, and on we went. No one is excited about tonight’s anchorage since we are in the manual mode with the windlass motor shot and the capstan frozen. The guys drew straws and Skipper Scott got the honors. Rank does have its privileges 😉. We made a pass through the anchorage looking for a shallow sandy spot. Unfortunately our first drop didn’t take and we had to haul it up and try again. Complicating the maneuvers were a couple of groups of swimmers frolicking in the anchorage, totally oblivious to the boats passing through the anchorage in search of a spot. Anchored at last, the dinner discussion began. Initial plans were to head into town, but we’re tired, it’s going to be a rolly night and we opted instead to settle for hot dogs aboard. After all, it is the 4th of July. The swells rocked us to sleep, substituting boat creaking for Brahms Lullaby. Best night’s sleep I’ve had during this cruise.

Back to Palma for a Farewell Dinner of Tapas and Mallorcan Specialties

Today is July 5th, a lazy day with time for lingering over a leisurely breakfast. Fortunately our anchor as well as our neighbors’ anchors held fast with nothing going bump in the night. We did wake to find a small catamaran that had come into the anchorage and anchored behind us sometime after 2 a.m. Hola! The local male swim team assembled early on the beach and hit the water to swim laps. The morning flotilla radio call informed us that we’re hanging out here until about noonish. We’re heading back to base in Palma tonight, so no rush. Would love to explore the cliffs and caves of the cala, but no one has the energy or inclination to wrestle the dinghy motor onto the dinghy. The water looked inviting until we spotted multiple brown jellyfish trailing tentacles. Chilling on the boat sounds good to me. We capped off our cruise with a farewell dinner of incredible tapas and Mallorcan specialties at a lovely restaurant overlooking the harbor of Palma.

by Andrea Berndt

Coaching An Exceptionally Rewarding Offshore Sailing School & North U. Performance Race Week in 2019 /coaching-an-exceptionally-rewarding-offshore-sailing-school-north-u-performance-race-week-in-2019/ Mon, 20 May 2019 18:22:25 +0000 /?p=81445 One of our nine coaches in 2019 was Andy Cross, a former sailing instructor for Offshore Sailing School. Andy is livin’ the dream with his wife and two sons aboard their Grand Soleil 39 named Yahtzee in Alaska. Andy shared this blog post with us and it’s really great.

Coaching an exceptionally rewarding Performance Race Week in 2019

By Andy Cross

I’m happy to report that I’ve been doing a ton of sailing lately, none of which has been on Yahtzee though. As many readers are aware, my passion for sailing isn’t just in cruising with my family. I also love to teach sailors when my schedule allows and I was fortunate enough to recently return as an onboard racing coach at Offshore Sailing School’s Performance Race Week with North U. on Captiva Island, Florida. Boy was it fun!

Teaching from my stern office on the Colgate 26

Teaching from My Stern Office on the Colgate 26

The basic format for Race Week, which is now in its 20th year, is that nine highly-experienced racing coaches get four students each onboard nine Colgate 26s. The boats are setup exceptionally well for one design racing and are easy to learn on. Watch the  prep video here. After a welcome party on Sunday night, we spend eight hours each day Monday through Friday teaching the ins-and-outs of sailboat racing. Sail trim, boat handling, race strategy and tactics, starting, spinnaker work and much more are folded into an action-packed week. Then, the culmination of the event is a Saturday regatta with four races in the morning and four in the afternoon. The sailing instructors switch boats for this final competition and offer little to no assistance, which makes it fun to watch the crews duke it out for the podium — and bragging rights.

Sailing instructors switch boats and watch the crews duke it out

At the beginning of Race Week, I knew what to expect of my coaching tasks because I’d been here before. But I didn’t really know what to expect of my four students. Who were they? Where did they come from? What was their sailing experience?

To my pleasant surprise, I learned at the Sunday night meet-and-greet party that my students were part of a group called Veterans Ocean Adventures (VOA). Based in Miami, the vision of VOA is to create opportunities for disabled veterans to experience open ocean sailing, offshore cruising and scuba diving. They do this by collaborating with community partners including the Miami VA and Miami Vet Center. My guys race together on Harbor 20s and Catalina 27.5s in Miami, and their comfort with one another and sailing was readily apparent.

Weather for the week is always a factor, and it couldn’t have been any better this year, with typical breezes ranging from 7 to 15 knots. Throughout the week I had an absolutely fantastic time working with my guys on each job required of them, sail shape and trim, driving the boat fast upwind and down, and teaching the various approaches to starting a race. Speaking of that, we did 77 starts in six days of racing. You read that right — 77! I also worked with them a lot on reinforcing their individual and team strengths, and on the areas that they could improve and how the team could handle the boat and racecourse during the Saturday regatta.

The fleet dials up for one of the week’s 77 starts

The Fleet Dials Up for One of the Week’s 77 Starts

When race day arrived, I was confident that my guys were ready. They continued to sail better during each session on the water and their teamwork and communication skills were something I thought would set them apart from the rest. Without the same coaches on the boats, the four morning races began as an adjustment for all the teams because they had to make decisions on their own. After tough finishes in the morning’s last two races, I knew my crew would come out after lunch swinging. Did they ever — taking fourth, third, second and first over the final four.

Sailing fast towards the finish on the final upwind leg of the regatta’s closing race, I watched as my students sailed triumphantly across the line in first place. Putting them third overall. From the stern of another boat, I couldn’t contain my excitement. My face was beaming with pride and I gave a fist pump and shout of congratulations to four sailors who had come a long way in one week.

My students sail past en route to a 1st place finish

Proudly Watching On as My Students Sail to a 1st Place Finish in the Final Race

The week, though, was far more than just six days of sailboat racing. Sure, I taught them about racing and sailing, but what these four gentlemen taught me about resiliency and the power of positivity and teamwork was far greater. They showed every single person involved with this year’s race week that life is bigger than us, and certainly bigger than sailing. I couldn’t be prouder to have sailed with this VOA team.

Enrollment is now open for Offshore Sailing School’s 20th Annual Performance Race Week with North U on Fort Myers Beach, Florida in 2020. View details here.

Girls Gone Sailing 2019 – Learning to Skipper a Big Boat for a Milestone Birthday in the BVI /girls-gone-sailing-2019-learning-to-skipper-a-big-boat-for-a-milestone-birthday-in-the-bvi/ Mon, 01 Apr 2019 14:56:51 +0000 /?p=80196 My friend Carolyn & I turned 50 earlier this year and decided that sailing lessons in the British Virgin Islands were the way to celebrate! It wasn’t difficult to find two more friends to join us and although we each had different levels of experience with sailing we found the perfect course to meet all of our needs with Offshore Sailing School’s Fast Track to Cruising course. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to follow our week of lessons with a second week of bareboat chartering with our families turning our celebration into a two week adventure! Watch a video recap of their “Girls Gone Sailing” women’s sailing adventure here.

All the Reasons We Wanted to Be “Captains” Without a Safety Net

The four of us: Carolyn, Joanne, Joanna, and myself had all been on at least one bareboat charter vacation before, however in the past most of us were “just along for the ride” or happy to be helpful crew with our husbands, friend, or brother as the skipper. Personally, I knew that I wanted to be able to captain my own boat and in order to take my sailing skills to the next level I had to do something independent of the other “Captains” in my life. I needed to find a scenario where I could learn without the “safety net” they provided for me. Carolyn, also a sailor, owns a boat with her husband said she wanted to learn more so she could be confident enough to take their boat out on her own at times. Joanne, who has many years’ experience as the “Captain’s Wife” was ready to improve her own sailing skills in preparation for sailing trips with her husband in their retirement. My sister-in-law, Joanna, was new to sailing and had only been on one sailing vacation before but she was up for the challenge and wanted to learn to sail!

More Than Just a Sailing School Adventure

Our families were a little jealous that we were going to the beautiful BVI without them and within a few weeks of booking our course we were booking three charter boats for another eight days of cruising immediately following our “girls week.” The guys would fly down with our kids and a few friends and meet us at The Moorings base on Tortola the same day we finished our course. In total we would be a group of 18!

As the trip approached during the cold winter months, we all studied our textbooks and practiced our knot-tying while we counted down the days to our escape to paradise. The Fast Track to Cruising Course covers a lot of information and skills in a short time so preparing ahead of time was really important.

On March 1, 2019, after a very long travel day we arrived at beautiful Scrub Island Resort late Friday night, before our course began Saturday morning. We were warmly greeted on the dock with a tray of cocktails and then shown to our luxurious villa, complete with our own private plunge pool! Class started at 9AM the next morning.

First Two Days in OSS 101 – Learning to Sail

We spent the first two days completing the Learn to Sail Course portion of the course with about 12 other students while staying on Scrub Island.(Editor’s note: there were three simultaneous courses taking place the same week, with four students and an instructor aboard each of three Colgate 26 sailboats). Each morning was spent in the classroom and each afternoon we sailed aboard 26’ Colgates. Our very knowledgeable instructor, Patrick, covered the basics in the classroom and was also our instructor for the on-water portion of the course. Fortunately we had prepared well by reading the books in advance. We were still recovering from our long travel day and the amount of information covered quickly, although thoroughly, was a bit overwhelming. Each afternoon we practiced all the basics on the water, and spent time picking up mooring balls under sail and practicing man overboard drills. This was a tiring but fun experience and great preparation for the live aboard portion to come.

And Then We Started OSS 103/104 – Learning to Cruise

Monday morning we met our Live Aboard Course instructor, Dutch (Folkert), to begin the OSS 103 Basic Cruising and OSS 104 Bareboat Cruising portions of the course. We were very excited to move aboard the 50’ Moorings yacht, our home for the next five days. Dutch is Offshore Sailing School’s Caribbean Manager and lead instructor for the BVI school and we were so fortunate to have him as our instructor as his incredible knowledge, patience and ability to teach was beyond our expectations. We really appreciated his ability to tailor his teaching to each of our own abilities, skill levels and experience. Most importantly, he made the week fun for all of us and although we worked hard we really had a great week of sailing with Dutch!

We Actually Got to DO Everything Sailing and Learning Aboard a Fifty Footer

Most mornings we did theory and covered all the knowledge components for the day, then we would set sail in the late morning with different goals each day for practicing skills such as tacking, gybing, docking, hooking mooring balls, anchoring etc. All of this was done while sailing around the most beautiful islands, with great, consistent winds and warm Caribbean weather. We picked up so many good tips for managing every aspect of sailing safely and efficiently and we got to actually DO everything, putting what we learned into practice. For a beginner there was an enormous amount to learn but Joanna felt she came away with a wealth of knowledge and practical ability. We experienced a great mix of picking up mooring balls in busy mooring fields, anchoring in secluded bays, visiting beach bars and local restaurants, as well as eating on board.  From lunch at an exclusive resort to drinks on the Willie T with other Offshore students and their instructor, it was a week packed with a ton of learning and fun!

Celebrating International Women’s Day with New Confidence

By Friday afternoon, after passing all our written tests, we were ready for our “test sail” where we dropped Dutch off at The Moorings base in Road Town and sailed to the Bight, Norman Island, for the night on our own. It was very exciting to be able to do this with confidence and knowing we were a great team, having spent the whole week preparing together. Coincidentally, we did our practice sail on International Women’s Day which we proudly celebrated with champagne once we were moored for the night! The next morning we returned to Road Town to meet Dutch and were presented with our certificates for successfully completing the US Sailing Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and Bareboat Charter Cruising courses. We couldn’t thank Dutch enough for making our women’s sailing adventure such a success and we still had another week in paradise to continue practicing everything we had learned.

Ready to Officially Captain a Charter Boat

Our families and friends arrived later that same day and we moved onto our charter boats that evening to prepare for our second week of sailing. We (the girls) attended the chart briefing, unpacked provisions and prepared for the boat check-outs, ready for our departure from the base the next day.

I was the official Captain of our boat for the first time ever and was so excited because I felt very well-prepared to take on this responsibility and I also knew that I had a very capable crew. Having my sister-in-law, Joanna, aboard the same boat was fantastic as we had been working as a team already for a week and we were looking forward to showing the guys what we had learned. My husband happily sat back and let me take responsibility as the skipper for the entire week. I really didn’t give him much choice which was a testament to my new level of confidence! Carolyn & Joanne also took the helm and actively participated in sailing with their families on the other two boats, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting up at happy hour and greeting each other with a toast of “Captain, Captain, Captain, Captain!”

Having a second week to continue sailing after completing the course was invaluable and a great way to solidify what we had learned. The whole trip was incredible, and we came away from this experience empowered by our new knowledge, skills and confidence, ready to set new goals and make plans for our next sailing adventure!

Sherry Pickett, Thornhill, Ontario Canada

Learn more about the popular Fast Track to Live Aboard Cruising Course here. View Offshore Sailing School graduate benefits here, including up to 15% discount on your first charter with Offshore Sailing School’s partners, The Moorings.

Dutch’s Insider’s Guide to the British Virgin Islands /dutchs-insiders-guide-to-the-british-virgin-islands/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 13:36:51 +0000 /?p=79911 Offshore Sailing School Kicked Off Its 55th Anniversary Year with a Fantastic Flotilla in the BVI

The February 2019 Colgate Sailing Adventures® Flotilla Cruise in the British Virgin Islands was like a breath of fresh air. Whoever said there’s no heaven on earth, has never been on one of our BVI sailing vacations. Offshore Sailing School graduates and friends set sail on four Moorings 48’ and two 51’ sailing yachts. Our “mothership” for the week would be a Moorings 51’ Power Catamaran, with enough space to host our group of 40 for parties aboard. Offshore Sailing’s Chief Operations Manager Bryce Jackson and his wife Victoria, and Offshore’s Caribbean Manager, Folkert “Dutch” Jongkind co-hosted this special “Insider’s Guide to the BVI.” Dutch is well-known in these parts, so we knew we were in for a treat.

Saturday, Feb 23rd – The Moorings Base, Road Town, Tortola

The flotilla kicked off Saturday, February 23rd with an introduction meeting in the lobby at The Moorings base on Tortola, BVI. After meeting everyone, we headed to our boats to check our provisions. In the early evening, we had a lovely meet and greet party that ended with a wonderful dinner! This would be an early night because the next morning, we would set sail for Cooper Island.

Sunday, Feb 24th – Off to Cooper Island from The Moorings Base

After taking care of a few things at The Moorings base, we topped off our gas and water tanks and headed to Cooper Island around 11:30 a.m. We had a nice sail from Tortola to Cooper where picked up mooring balls. Once on the hook, we had the opportunity to chill-lax on the beach, explore the island, or take our dinghy to little Salt Island for some awesome snorkeling and a beautiful hike looking out over the islands. We ended the day with a private rum tasting at the world-famous Cooper Island Beach Club’s Rum Bar. Having the opportunity to taste 35-year-aged rum, or some solar-powered brewed beer while watching a breathtaking sunset, was simply spectacular.

Monday, Feb 25th – Cooper Island to Spanish Town, Leverick Bay at Virgin Gorda

After a wonderful night at the Rum Bar it was time to check out the frequently-photographed Baths on Virgin Gorda. We set sail around 10:30 a.m. upwind to the great Spanish Town, Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda.  After close to 17 tacks later and going through a little rainfall, we got some assistance docking from Dutch and Bryce Jackson, Offshore Sailing’s talented Chief Operations Manager. Once our fleet settled at the docks, we had the opportunity to stay around Leverick Bay and visit all the little boutique stores and enjoy lunch at one of the island’s eateries. Or we could take a fun taxi ride to The Baths national park, which is one the most awe-inspiring places on earth. A group of us decided to take this route and realized half way down the trail we had made the right choice to explore The Baths. With boulders at least 40 feet tall, lots of small caves to explore, seeing the beautiful, clear water, and climbing on some rocks, we were satisfied. It was wonderful seeing the unique geologic formations. After an invigorating hike and swim at The Baths, we ended the day with Captain Bean’s famous pirate show at Leverick Bay where people laughed and sang along to classic pirate songs.

Tuesday, Feb 27th – Virgin Gorda to Anegada

After a night of rum tasting and singing pirate songs, we attended the skipper meeting at 8 a.m. Our plan for the day was to have a practice sail race over to Anegada to explore the flat island. We set sail around 9:30 a.m. and arrived around noon. Once everyone anchored or picked up a mooring ball, we set off on our island adventure. We had the opportunity to rent bikes, scooters, cars, and even horses. We chose to rent a car for a small fee to get us around the island. Our first stop was the famous Faulkner House Museum, where Faulkner played a vital role in establishing a Constitution and a new Legislative Council in 1949. He is known as one of the “Fathers of this Little Nation.” After we got our history lesson, it was time to seek refreshments. We headed to Big Bamboo at Loblolly Bay where we had a nice cold Carib and relaxed on the beach where Offshore Sailing co-host Bryce Jackson found a handful of small, colorful shells. From Big Bamboo, we drove past Anegada’s tiny international airport, turned down a tiny dirt road that was along the shore of Anegada’s famous Salt Lake where people can spot flamingos. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any of the intriguing pink birds, so we continued onward to the Anegada Beach Club. After some drinks at the tiki bar, we ran into some fellow graduates on the flotilla and had a wonderful time! Our last stop for the day was Cow Wreck Beach, where we played a game of billiards on a slanted table right on the beach. The next round of drinks was on me since I lost. After a full day of exploring Anegada, our great flotilla leader Dutch had set up a wonderful lobster cookout right on the beach at The Lobster Trap restaurant. After a satisfying meal in this beautiful beach setting, we ended the night with some drinks and dancing.

Wednesday, Feb 28th – Anegada to Jost Van Dyke (First day of Ya Gotta Regatta)

We started the day with an early morning skippers meeting at 8 a.m. to prepare all the boats for the first day of the Ya |Gotta Regatta. The race would begin at 10 a.m. where we started at Anegada and raced 25 nautical miles to Sandy Key just outside the island of Jost Van Dyke. Once everyone made it past the finish line at Sandy Key, we made our way to Jost Van Dyke. Once anchored, people had the opportunity to dinghy ashore or catch a taxi to the iconic Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay where the “Painkiller” originated in the 1970’s. After getting our fill of authentic Painkiller cocktails and conch fritters, we made our way back to the mothership for more libations and revelry with the whole crew. After enjoying Painkillers made by Bryce’s lovely wife Victoria, everyone dinghied to their respective boats for dinner aboard. With what little energy we had left, we knew we could rise to the occasion for a nightcap at the fabled Foxy’s, and some of us even stayed for the dancing, despite knowing that we had one more day of racing.

Thursday, March 1st – Day 2 Ya Gotta Regatta from Jost Van Dyke to Guana Island

On the last day of the Regatta, anticipation was high. During the 8:30 a.m. skippers meeting, a lot of smack-talk began among each boat. Setting sail at 9:30 a.m. for a race start at 9:45 a.m., we raced downwind to Guana Island. Arriving around 1 p.m., the boat “Marty J” crossed the finish line first, for the second day in a row, taking home the 1st place trophies. Once all the other boats crossed the line, we all anchored off the shore of Island for a nice, refreshing swim.

Then to Scrub Island for Our Final Night of Fun and Awards

Around 3:30 p.m. we embarked for beautiful Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina, an exquisite Marriott Autograph Collection resort on private Scrub Island. Since it was sadly the last night of our BVI sailing vacation, we took a group photo on the steps in the marina. We were all eager to explore the natural beauty of this “secret garden” island. We took an exhilarating “taxi” ride on hairpin “roads” neither of those being quite typical to traditional settings. We happily arrived at North Bay for our final dinner celebration. We started off having a nice cocktail hour watching a beautiful sunset for one last time. Then the fun and attentive staff at Scrub Island Resort set up a huge bonfire for us while we ate a delicious Caribbean meal around the pool on this pristine beach. Halfway through the meal we were surprised by Moko Jumbie Dancers on stilts who put on a show. After that wrapped up and everyone finished eating, Bryce emceed the Regatta Award Ceremony. Since we had two teams tied for second place, we had a trivia competition for a second-place winner. No one got the correct answers, so the game continued. The group took a vote between karaoke and talent show format for the tie-breaker. Everyone loves karaoke so the challenge was set. The “Break Away” crew chose Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and “Fig Jam” crew chose Walking after Midnight by Patsy Cline. After two entertaining renditions, everyone voted for Break Away’s Sweet Caroline rendition. The ceremony continued with “Marty J” getting their first-place trophy, followed by Break Away in second place and Fig Jam in third. Once the awards were distributed, the party continued. Everyone on the trip all sang along to Come Sail Away by Styx and laughed and cheered for one last night of fun before having to return the boats to The Moorings base on Tortola. Once the party wrapped on North Beach, everyone was shuttled back to Scrub Island Resort, where we were greeted by a beautiful marina scene. After sunset, the resort turns on colorful lights on the docks to illuminate the many different fish, from tarpon to sting rays, and even nurse sharks.  It was a wonderful conclusion to an amazing trip.




Friday, March 2nd – Scrub Island to Tortola

Still basking in the glow of last night’s revelry and lighted fish display, we sadly bid farewell to new friends from the Scrub Island Resort and set sail for Road Town on Tortola. We got to know so many interesting and fun people on this flotilla BVI sailing vacation. Back to reality for now, but we’re already planning our next flotilla for late summer in Croatia!

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Written by flotilla participant, Ryan Albert – OSS videographer

Breezy and Fun Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla from Grenada to St. Lucia /breezy-and-fun-colgate-sailing-adventures-flotilla-from-grenada-to-st-lucia/ Tue, 05 Mar 2019 23:40:05 +0000 /?p=79364 The second leg of our Colgate Sailing Adventures 2019 Windward Islands Flotilla Cruise brought great sailing from Grenada to St. Lucia. Hosted by Heather Hild-Atwater and Nate Atwater, here is their diary of a fun-filled Leg 2 of our 2019 Windward Islands adventure:

Day One: Saturday February 9

It was a quick turnaround in by 11am and board the boats again with the new crew arriving that day by 5pm.  Nate and I met with Sharon from The Moorings’ Grenada Base to go through the itinerary for the sail from Grenada to St. Lucia and to complete the customs sheets, etc.  Grenada is a well-oiled yachting community and they know what they are doing.  There is a lot to do in Grenada and we hope to go back some day to see more of it.

We were greeting Bryan aboard Jean Harr2 and getting ready for customs our first flotilla participants arrived.  There was a gentleman on the dock saying out loud in a Southern accent, “Well, who is going to take us?” After exchanging a few questions, we understood that they were in fact looking for the Offshore Sailing’s Flotilla.  We welcomed them aboard and into the AC and we quickly got them comfortable.  Nate and I finalized the customs sheets with passport info etc., then Nate set off to check us out of Grenada!

We all enjoyed a nice Meet and Greet dinner at the Victory Bar and restaurant before sailing from Grenada. We had a choice of mahi mahi, slow roasted pork, or chicken cordon bleu and dessert.  I was in bed by 10:30pm, exhausted.

Day Two: Sunday February 10

7am Yoga poolside was a good start to the day.  8am Skipper/Navigator meeting, then boat briefing on ‘All In’.  We managed to get off the dock by 10 am to climb North up the coast of Grenada.  We put up mainsails and power sailed 35NM to Tyrell Bay arriving around 4pm.  It was a rolly crossing and a few got seasick as we were hobby-horsing quite a bit. The mainsails helped but the wind was from the North at 12-24 knots on the nose.  Nate discovered half-way through the day that the port forward porthole had not been secured properly and there was water all over the forward cabin soaking the cushion and sheets.  When I came up deck after securing the hatch and gathering the wet sheets.  I said, “The bad news is that your cushions and sheets and soaked, the good news is your clothes are dry and we have extra sheets, so no worries.”  There had been discussion of Sandy Cay as a destination, but we chose moorings in Tyrell Bay for wind protection. Once we were moored, we enjoyed a swim to cool off.  I was feeling a bit guilty about the fact that we needed to cool off whilst most of my family up North were having very cold weather.  The swim was refreshing, and we ate dinner aboard our first night on the second leg, enjoying a lovely sunset.   Aboard JeanHarr2, I prepared marinated Chicken with sautéed veggies and seasoned brown rice.  It was quiet a first day for some folks and quiet a tenth day for those of us that did the first leg down.

Day Three: Monday February 11

Winds were quite brisk in Tyrell Bay to start the day.  After Nate and I go boat-to-boat we head out, leaving behind, heading toward Union Island to check into The Grenadines.  The wind was blowing around 20 knots on the nose, so we had to power and again it was pretty bouncy.  We arrive in Clifton Harbor on Union Island and planned to anchor while the Skippers dinghied into customs.  Well, it was crowded and blowing pretty good. To make a long story short- Catty Shack and All In got a good amount of practice anchoring. When they were finally set, I think there were a few lessons learned about anchoring.  And mind you there are books on Anchoring…. entire books…but here are a few things we saw that day.

  1. Picking your spot is critical: Choose a location with ample room to drift back as you are setting the anchor. Never right in front of another vessel- over compensate rather than have to reset.  Try to anticipate the drift back and pick a spot with room to swing side to side.  This was difficult to do in a crowded anchorage such as Clifton Harbor that day.  Also knowing what the bottom is sand, clay, mud, etc. is very important.  Here the bottom is sand, so we were good.
  1. If your spot is good then it is a matter of getting the anchor to set properly. I find it is important to make sure the anchor is facing the correct way to start, and to be sure the boat is stationary, not going forward or back before dropping the anchor. Then communication between skipper and the anchor controller is important. The skipper should say when to drop the anchor. I find it is best to drop the anchor to the depth of the bottom quickly and then depending on the speed at which the boat is being pushed backwards the crew needs to release the chain as fast or as slow to match the drift backward.  Diana, who was our chief anchor technician, did a great job and we hooked on our first try.

After we cleared customs, we picked up anchors and had a fast sail around Union Island in 20 plus knots breeze and showers to the lovely Chatham Bay where we anchored again. Second time’s the charm!  We dove to check the anchors anyway to be sure.  Ours was buried well in a good sandy bottom.  The snorkeling was good with plenty of turtles around.  That night we headed in to Aqua restaurant at the Chatham Bay Resort/Anthony’s.  It is a beautiful thatched roof, open-air bar, pool, restaurant overlooking the bay and the sunset.  We had the place to ourselves however after ordering drinks and seeing the speed at which we were served I knew we were in for a long evening so there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the company, the meal and the ambiance, all of which were excellent!  Just as we were ready to pay our bills, a process with 13 individual checks and an iPhone for the cashier, a microburst came out of nowhere and blew the table clothes off our tables and ruined the mega-yacht’s catered beach party, whom we had been amused by during dinner with their amphibious tender’s beach landings bringing first the supplies, then the guests, ashore.  We let the wind die down and the rain stop before walking back to the dinghy dock over the broken glass from the serving platters that blew off the tables from the mega-yacht’s ruined event.  We learned from talking with the mega-yacht chefs that they had clocked the wind at 55 knots in the micro burst.  Nate and I were thankful that all our boats had stayed put.  We got back aboard and headed to our bunks, never a dull moment!

Day Four: Tuesday February 12

Nate awoke me at 2:15 am, “Heath come up, we are dragging!”  I jumped out of our bunk in my Lily nightshirt and start to visually take fixes of our position against the lights ashore.  Nate looked at Navionics on his iPad.  We both determine that we are not presently dragging but definitely are not in the same position as when we went to sleep.  I set my Anchor app and Nate stayed up to be sure we were safe.

Later that morning after Nav. Rounds we were the first boats to head out of the harbor. No wonder, we hit some rain showers and 20 plus knots of breeze on the nose.  We powered the 9.4 NM to the Western passage and Tobago Cay, arriving at our mooring by noon.  We see “All IN” struggling to pick up the moorings so we quickly put the dingy in and Nate dashes off to help.  Turns out that they had left a swim line attached to the stern which blew overboard and then wrapped one of the two props, then as they maneuvered with just one engine to the mooring, they suddenly they lost power in that engine. Nate boarded and got “All In” to the mooring without further incident. Once we settled in, most of us snorkeled and explored the gorgeous turtle preserve. That evening John, Donna, Cindi and Gary hosted us all for cocktails aboard “All In”. A good time was had by everyone.  When we headed back to Jean Harr2, we cooked our steaks, pasta, veggies and enjoyed a chocolate dessert.  Then off the bunks we returned, happily exhausted!

Day Five: Wednesday February 13

We got an early start, leaving the moorings by 7am to sail 30 NM North to Bequia.  It was a great sail, close-hauled from Tobago Cay to Bequia.  We saw 30 knots of breeze and the seas were lively.  We were sailing at speeds up to 8.5 knots.  We took turns at the helm for some heavy air practice.  We arrived around noon, giving us plenty of time to explore the interesting island.  The Skippers did the necessary job of checking us out at the customs house downtown.  Scott, John and Nate did this without complaint each time it was needed and we “Thank You” Gentlemen.  Diana Dean and I headed toward town and got one building down from the dingy dock and stopped in an Art Gallery.  We got off to a challenging start when Diana picked up a piece of the Artist’s work in the backroom and asked Patrick Chevailler, a French Artist, “What is this Decoupage?”  He shouts back, “Decoupage, Decoupage, GET OUT!  GET OUT!”  Diana asked again what it was and he said a print on wood…I said, “So it is Decoupage.”  Realizing his error, he started to warm up a bit and long story short, Diana and I spent the afternoon with ‘Doc’ touring The Banana Patch Nautical Art Museum. It was on the other side of Bequia and the drive alone was magnificent…. the experience will not be forgotten any time soon.  Diana and I caught the local bus back to town for 2 EC and that too was a good, local experience.

That night we all did our own thing for dinner.  The crew of Jean Harr2: Diana, Bryan, Jane, Joe, Nate and I ate at the Fig Tree. We really lucked out, as the curried goat was excellent by Nate’s account, and the music, a local 22-year-old man playing acoustical violin, was great. The music got everyone out on the dance floor, well most every woman anyway.

Day Six: Valentine’s Day 2019

We set sail from Bequia in the morning with a forecast of more of the same winds…20-29 knots from the East this time so a bit more favorable direction.  Jean Harr2 sailed with a reefed mainsail and reefed genoa moving along at a top speed of 11.4 knots.  We arrived at the recommended Kearton’s Bay, next to the famed Wallibou Bay of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” fame.  It was the most chaotic mooring scene I have ever experienced.  Boat boys on all manner of floating vessel shouted all different directions.  Finally I had to outshout them saying, “I am only talking with the men from Rockside Café.”  Unfortunately, as it turned out Sydney and Quinn from Rockside, really did not know what they were doing and the more they gestured, the less I understood what they were asking us to do.  Again, I waved them alongside to ask them exactly what they had in mind. We Med-moored between two extremely long mooring lines with our stern toward land.  When all three boats were settled, all the boat boys/men in canoes with bamboo oars came by to sell their fruit, jewelry, etc.  We all took a liking to one particular enterprising young man named Frankie.  He told me that I had been given a nickname by the locals. I asked Frankie what my new nickname was, and he told me it was “Bad Ass.” First time for everything! After hiking to the waterfall that as advertised, was “Not Like Niagara Falls”, we all ate a yummy, home-style meal at Rockside Café.  This bay, although a bit hair-raising, had excellent cave snorkeling and good food and it gave us a real glimpse into the life the locals live in the towns that we sail past each day.

Day Seven: Friday February 15

Untying from our Med-mooring situation proved much easier than tying up.  Then we enjoyed a fast reach across the channel back to Saint Lucia.  We reefed the main and genoa.  Jane got some practice at the helm on Jean Harr2, which really proved the best remedy for seasickness. Diana tested herself this trip with lots of time on the helm both under power and sail. She proved a steady hand at the helm as well as a helpful crew all around and in the galley, mooring duty, sail trim and navigation as well. Bravo Diana!  We picked up three moorings at the Tetons and Jean Harr2, Catty Shack and All In enjoyed a relaxing afternoon as the puffs blew through the mooring field. A group went ashore to the sugar resort and their staff was very nice and extremely welcoming.  We ate dinner aboard for the last night.

Day Eight: Saturday February 16  

We made a quick hop up the West Shore of Saint Lucia to Marigot Bay in time to enjoy the resort amenities that come with the mooring fee. It felt as if we had really earned this luxury after sailing St. Lucia. Sun, pool, relax, and repeat. We lost Gary Brace that day because he had to fly out, but the rest of our flotilla gathered for a final dinner at Chateau Mygo and we had a good time!

Day Nine: Sunday February 17

The final day, we powered the short distance back to Rodney Bay and The Moorings/Sunsail Base, arriving early to finish immigration and all that comes with disembarking from a flotilla. Now, we are at the end of what for some of us was a two+ week adventure of a lifetime, not to be forgotten any time soon.  We had Great Sailing, Great Scenery, Great Memories and shared many ‘Salty Sailing Stories!’.

For more information about Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruises, please see our Flotilla Holidays page here.


Colgate Sailing Adventures Vacation from St. Lucia to Grenada /colgate-sailing-adventures-vacation-from-st-lucia-to-grenada/ Tue, 05 Mar 2019 22:26:12 +0000 /?p=79360 Another fantastic Flotilla vacation led by Heather Hild-Atwater and Nate Atwater, from St. Lucia to Grenada in the exciting Windward Islands. Here is the Atwaters’ diary from the first leg of our Colgate Sailing Adventures 2019 Windward Islands sailing adventure:

Day One: Friday, February 1, 2019

Most of the crew arrived early to the Moorings/Sunsail Base in St. Lucia, and we were granted access to our boats earlier than expected. We chartered Jean Harr2, a Moorings 4800, Catty Shack, a Sunsail 454, Viva, a Sunsail 404 and All In, a Moorings 4000, and with 23 souls aboard for eight nights, I was grateful to have four catamarans for our sail to Grenada. Everyone was helpful with stowing the provisions I had procured from Massy’s Supermarche in Rodney Heights, including 22 boxes of fresh veggies, fruits, cheeses, steak, chicken, fish, snacks, etc.

After the flurry of stowing baggage and provisions, we had time to exchange money at the bank nearby and purchase beverages for the trip, before the Meet & Greet dinner at Elena’s Restaurant, which is right on the water next to the base. Doug, a Canadian who had been traveling for more than 48 hours, arrived moments before the party began. So with only Paul, absent but due to arrive at midnight, we all gathered to break bread for the first time. We could have a rum drink or choice of beverage, then a choice of entrees ranging from their world-famous pizzas to mahi mahi, salads, fish & chips, or ribs, then carrot cake, chocolate cake or their homemade gelato…Yum!

Day Two: Saturday, February 2

After we gathered additional items for each catamaran, ice and coolers, etc., we left Rodney Bay by 10:30 am to sail to the iconic Pitons further south on St. Lucia. It was a lovely sail of 18 nautical miles with winds from the north/northeast on a beam reach past the town of Soufriere. The boat boys were very persistent. Even after declining their help, one young boy grabbed the mooring we were heading to and demanded we pay him for his fuel even though we had politely told him we did not need his help. So sailors, beware.

We had been advised where and which boat boys to use by Sunsail, but sometimes you have to decide how you want to handle it yourself. (For those of you not familiar, a boat boy is someone who either helps you onto a mooring for a small fee or helps you find a mooring for a larger fee, or he may own the mooring and charge an even larger fee…each situation is different. I have no problem paying for a service I want, but some situations can be confusing to decipher. Once Jean Harr2 was secured to the mooring, we went for a swim and Chad and Duane christened their new GoPro7s and explored the area.

As happens on boats, things don’t always work right the first time. There is a lot of trouble-shooting and ingenuity required, so just be ready. There had been concern expressed about a steering issue aboard Viva. Nate went to Viva to trouble shoot, checked the radios on each boat to make sure they were set to max MHz, and did more radio checks. We noticed it looked as though Viva’s crew had not let their mainsail out far enough, so Nate discussed this with them and I decided to sail with them the following day. Aboard Jean Harr2, we cooked a nice dinner of chicken with garlic and onions, seasoned brown rice, and sautéed vegetables and enjoyed the gorgeous Pitons and our perfect sunset backdrop. Settling into our new surroundings, Elizabeth, Jack, Katrina, Duane, Chad, Nate and I got to know each other better.

Day Three: Sunday, February 3

After boat briefings, we dropped our moorings at 7 am and sailed south with a brisk northeasterly of 10-25 knots. I had jumped ship from Jean Harr2 to sail with Viva for the day. The Sunsail 404 is tricky to trim properly in that the sailplan, which has a lot of area in the main, makes the boat want to round up. This was understandably a bit unnerving for the crew on Day 1 when they tried to head off and couldn’t, but if you de-power the mainsail you can achieve your desired helm, which should be a slight weather helm with good maneuverability.

We worked hard on sail trim, letting the power out of the huge mainsail to balance the boat and maintain proper steerage. Viva’s crew would perfect this technique throughout the week, and on that day we got the 404 cruising along at 8.1 knots in the puffs and were the second boat to reach the mooring in Bequia…but who’s counting?

Hey, this is what flotilla sailing is about: you are constantly learning. Nate and I learn new things on each flotilla. It may not be an easy lesson, but if we are not learning we might as well be banging our heads against the hull! Reality check: We were sailing in tropical Saint Lucia…82 degrees, sunny, palm trees swaying on lovely beaches and Pitons of two types (mountain and beer), while our family and friends back in the USA and Canada were experiencing a record-breaking polar vortex. We are blessed! That evening we all gathered at Mac’s Pizza and Restaurant on the waterfront to enjoy a relaxed, pleasant meal together.

Day Four: Monday, February 4

Since we’d arrived late the night before, we took time to explore Bequia, and to wait for a mechanic to look at Catty Shack’s dinghy engine, which had pooped out the night before. When the highly-anticipated mechanic arrived, he determined what Scott and crew already knew: the strut was broken. We learned, unfortunately, he had no way to repair it and no spares on hand. Foiled again! We contacted the base in St. Lucia and Lene said she’d get an engine to us in Tobago Cay, so we cast off our mooring lines around noon to head to Mustique. Along the way, Catty Shack radioed us that their starboard engine was not working and they would sail as long as they could. They eventually limped in to Mustique where the mooring man, who was running out of moorings, asked, “Why did you wait so long to come to Mustique?”

We did all get moorings, and gathered at “New Basil’s” for dinner. We were seated at two large tables with a booth shape, comfy throw pillows, and decorator chandeliers. What we did not know ahead of time was that it was the last night of the Mustique Blues Festival. Although I felt the restaurant was a bit expensive and foofy-doofy with island-time service, it truly was an amazing spot and the music that followed dinner was quite exceptional. As usual, the ladies, Diana, Jan, Maureen and I, hit the dance floor and had a whoopdy-doo time dancing our feet off. Nate even danced one dance with me, which is a rare, special occasion. We commented that the musicians were very talented and we were lucky to have them performing for us in such a small and personal venue. We all let off a lot of steam, and I felt like a new woman the next morning after the workout on the dance floor.

Day Five: Tuesday, February 5

We did the morning Nav meetings and then dropped the mooring lines around 8:30 am and set sail for Tobago Cay. It was a beautiful day, with 12-18 knots of breeze on a broad reach. Aboard Jean Harr2, we had quite a bit of excitement when Duane’s fishing line started whirring out. He ran to the rod and began a half-hour battle…Duane vs. Fish. Elizabeth was at the helm, Katrina was beaming with pride and ready to lend a hand, Chad was documenting everything on the GoPro, and Nate was there to provide a quick respite for Duane. And I was in the mix, saying things that made it apparent that I know nothing about fishing! Duane reeled it in close enough to the aft port hull for Nate to recognize it as a sailfish before the line broke…all recorded on the GoPro for posterity. “That makes the whole trip right there!” Duane enthused and before long, he had another lure out.

The sail was a good one too, and we all gathered at the entrance to the North Channel of Tobago Cay and entered, ducks in a row, met by boat boys who led us to moorings. The fellow we got, Neil, was very helpful over the next two days. We snorkeled off the boat and then some people went in search of more turtles by dinghy and we all enjoyed time doing what we wanted to do. That evening, we hosted a cocktail party aboard Jean Harr2 and it was fun to all be together!

Day Six: Wednesday, February 6

After Nav meetings, we sailed a short distance under genoa only to Clifton Harbour to check into Union Island. We got to practice our Mediterranean mooring at the Bougainvilla Docks, where we filled up with water and got ice and other provisions in town. We disembarked in short order and sailed around Union Island to Chatham Bay on the west side. This is a lovely protected anchorage and we all enjoyed a beach barbeque at Vanessa’s. It was a good meal, cooked by a pirate, and we all had a good time. Beware: Don’t stand downwind of a pirate when he’s smoking…this is the islands, mon! We had a choice of lobster, mahi mahi or ribs with cole slaw, garlic potatoes and veggies. It was delicious and we were treated to another stunning sunset.

Day Seven: Thursday, February 7

We enjoyed a leisurely morning in Chatham Bay. We dinghied into the Resort Dock, and Elizabeth and I walked the beach collecting sea treasures and snorkeling the reef just off the beach. By 11:30 a.m. we were underway, sailing on a broad reach towards Tyrell Bay on Carriacou, where we planned to check into Grenada. Little did we know it was their Independence Day and the bureau was closed, so we explored the town, swam, walked the beach and met up at the Slipaway Café where the owner made the best virgin piña colada I’ve ever had. Contributions for the Slipaway Café’s WiFi go to the Carriacou Children’s Fund. Nate and I gathered with Scott, Maureen and Eric, Jan, Chad, Katrina and Duane, and had a good old time.

We were back aboard in time to watch the sunset, and Nate and I saw a real GREEN FLASH for the first time in our lives! It’s said that if you see a green flash at the same time as another, then you are truly in love. We ate dinner aboard that night and Duane and Katrina treated us to fresh mackerel they’d bought on their speedboat ride back to Clifton Harbor to check out a kiteboarding resort they’ve been looking at online for over two years.

While preparing our meal – broiled mackerel, lentils, yellow rice, salad and steamed carrots – Katrina, Duane and I were bumping into each other in the galley. Chad picked up on that and played a polka to add to the frenetic activity.

Duane recalled that cooking was always like that when he was growing up, with all the kids and his mom running around doing different tasks. That is one thing I love about these flotillas; I develop a deeper understanding of the various ways in which we were all raised and hopefully that leads to a greater tolerance of our differences, and compromise. Open Minds, Open Hearts.

Day Eight: Friday, February 8

The skippers checked us all out of customs early, which was good thinking because there was a backlog due to the holiday the previous day. We were underway by 8:45 a.m. and sailed another spectacular weather day, broad reaching with 11-17 knots of breeze and 5-6 knots of speed. It was an open passage but it was fairly calm, and we arrived at Dragon Bay to find that the six mooring balls were really only two and one was taken, so we anchored. Keys to a successful sailing vacation are flexibility and managing your workarounds.

We took the dinghy around the point to the south and went snorkeling in the underwater sculpture park. I thought it was very cool. We had gotten a lot of mixed information about this anchorage but in the end, decided to stay put as the sun was setting. As it turned out, it was like sleeping in the agitate cycle of a washing machine. For our last dinner aboard, Nate cooked delicious carbonara and we played a card game that Chad introduced us to called “Screw your partner, screw yourself” or something like that. We did laugh a lot!

Day Nine: Saturday February 9

On the last day of the flotilla, we powered back to the base where harbor pilots greeted us at the entrance to the harbor and docked our vessels. A quick goodbye dockside and our flotilla began to disperse. Another Colgate Sailing  Adventures® flotilla in the logbook, and a pretty interesting one at that!

For more Colgate Sailing Adventures, check out our Flotilla Holidays page!

Colgate Sailing Adventurers Set Sail in Tahiti for a Magical Vacation /colgate-sailing-adventures-set-sail-in-tahiti-for-a-magical-vacation/ Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:34:36 +0000 /?p=77288 Colgate Sailing Adventures Trip Leaders – Nate and Heather Atwater – recently led another exciting and very rewarding flotilla cruise for Offshore Sailing School graduates and sailors who love to sail. Here is Heather’s diary entires about sailing in Tahiti, and just a few of the fascinating photos provided by the Atwaters and cruise participants.

Friday October 26, 2018

No doubt it is a long way to Tahiti from the East Coast but heck it’s Tahiti, a bucket list item and a place of ‘South Pacific’ dreams.  Nate and I flew the economical French Bee from San Francisco into Faaa Airport in Papeete on the Island of Tahiti. From there we flew Air Tahiti Nui 45 minutes to Raiatea, where The Moorings base is located. We were booked at the Sunset Beach Motel owned and operated by Moana and his mother, where we enjoyed the friendly and laid back atmosphere, plus the view and the breakfast were to die for. Somewhere along our journey to Tahiti with our travel nightmare delays it must have crept into my mind, “This better be worth it…,” and already morning one, day one I thought to myself, “ Okay, Okay it’s worth it.”  Traveling to far away places can be a hassle but it is the only way to get there!

We started off the day walking from our lodging to the Mooring Base to meet Laurent, the base manager. Nate had been studying the Navionics Charts for months and we had been planning the Flotilla details starting back in January. We worked for a few hours going over the itinerary. Though we always try to stick to the plan, often the local knowledge tells us to do otherwise. This time we only added a few “Not to miss!” snorkeling spots. That night we got together informally with many of our group at a nearby restaurant for some local food.

Saturday October 27, 2018 – Official Start of the Flotilla

Our group arrived at the base to a fun welcome party. We were twenty-five sailors from all over the United States, Panama and Argentina. First off, the boats were available early, always a bonus! The Polynesian Dance group did a fabulous job and many of us were included in the action!!  Next, skippers and navigators went to the briefing, while others stowed their gear and provisions aboard four Moorings 4800 catamarans: Bessie – leader boat with Skipper Nate Atwater; Hoku lele with Skipper Mike Mahan: Miss Kayo with Skipper Rick Franz; and Leo with Skipper Bill Roberts. It was the best navigational briefing we have ever had but it did take a while.

So, by the time we did all that as well as the boat check, we got underway at 3 pm to our first anchorage off the Southern tip of the Island of Tahaa. There were a few moorings provided by a Black Pearl farm and the rest of us anchored. We were so happy to be there we enjoyed the first of many swims in the beautiful, clean, clear Tahitian waters. Later, we all gathered aboard Bessie for cocktails and watched an amazing sunset while we got to know our crew members. It was the first of many fun evenings in French Polynesia. That night we cooked a yummy dinner aboard.

Sunday October 28, 2018

Today we are off to Bora Bora!  I always rise early and here is no exception.  I notice the sunrise is amazing and different; the clouds are so voluminous and tall that it paints a picture, ever evolving with mauves and pinks. It is indescribably beautiful against the backdrop of the dark ancient volcanic islands. Wow!  After breakfast aboard we head to Bora Bora around 8 am. We got out of the cut from the lagoon to the open ocean for a three-hour trip and with no wind so we powered to get there. Once in the cut at Bora Bora we wove clockwise around the Lagoon avoiding shallows and coral to an anchorage on the SE corner off Pointe Fareone. We passed very high-end resort bungalows suspended over the water on stilts. The water is crystal clear shades of blue and it is easy to see the line where it goes from ten feet depth to four with a clear white line in the sand. We anchor and jump into the dinghies to do some snorkeling off the point. A first for our flotillas, some aboard watch the Red Sox win the World Series. Never have we had such connectivity.

Monday October 29, 2018

It is a sparkling day to wake up to, anchored off Bora Bora, and we start off snorkeling the nearby ‘Aquarium” where we see a wide variety of tropical fish, squid and octopus.  The color patterns of the oysters, clams and fish are diverse. It is incredible to watch the squid change its colors from red as it swims to white matching its surrounding sand in perfect camouflage. We enjoy the water for as long as we can but the sun is so strong South of the equator. After lunch back on the boats, we retrace our path around the reefs to the Bora Bora Yacht Club.  Losing a race for a mooring we anchor in 75 feet of depth right off the shore and others take moorings or tie up to the dock. The town is a short cab or walk away. I, however, am suffering from sun combined with strong antibiotics for my long term Lyme disease so I stay in the shade while most head to town to explore.

That night we all enjoyed the group dinner that was part of the Flotilla package. A fruit cocktail to start, choice of Red Tuna with sautéed vegetables or a local ‘Cane beak fish’ which was delish with veggies and rice or a black angus steak with potatoes and veggies. Dessert was a choice of Crème Brulee or Chocolate Brownie a la mode. We took our ‘Groupie’ photo along with lots of others and a good amount of Bora Bora Yacht Club clothing was purchased (#Onceinalifetime).

Tuesday October 30, 2018

As we pick up our anchor off the Bora Bora Yacht Club the windlass on Bessie loses its grip on the internal gears as the splice from rope to chain separates the plates. After a bit of fussing with it we manage to fix it. Meanwhile the rest of the Flotilla sets sail for a short while, then we head to our snorkeling/lunch spot. After a swim and lunch we motor around to the famous Bloody Marys Restaurant where we pick up moorings. Nate and a few others take the dinghies to get more fuel, others taxi into town and others fill up with water at the dock. Dinner that evening at Bloody Marys was a real experience. You choose your meal from a spread of fresh fish and meats on ice at the front of the restaurant to be prepared how you desire.  Kelly Kaleen made it fun also by giving us all Halloween goody bags and for me a unicorn headband.  All had a fun time.

Wednesday October 31, 2019

We got an early start out the pass from the lagoon around Bora Bora towards Tahaa.  Soon we were able to sail tacking to avoid weather fronts passing through and sailing for as long as possible. By the time we entered the pass on the west side of Tahaa it was blowing around 20 knots. After anchoring on the North side of the Tahaa resort some of us dinghied ashore to check the place out.  Bill and the Hart’s had stayed there before the Flotilla began so Bill gave us the tour and led the way to the stunning poolside bar where some drank out of coconuts. That night we grilled our fish and ate another tasty meal aboard with Bessie’s crew Sandy, Bobby, Ken and Diana.

Thursday November 1, 2018

We had an early morning drift snorkel at the Coral Gardens off the Tahaa Resort. It was fabulous!!  Our next stop was Haamene Bay via lunch hook at Motu Mahaea near Passe Toahotu.  Some went ashore at this small island while others swam or just relaxed. Ken had put together an onshore excursion leaving from Haamene Bay with tours of Pearl Farms, Vanilla Plantation and other land based attractions on Tahaa.  Turned out the information we received about moorings was not accurate and the loose mud bottom where we lay our anchor was not working for us.  Although we FINALLY got it to hold Nate and I had no faith in the holding ground (our anchor had been bent all along, which was fine in the sand and light air but not good in this mud).  Nate and I stayed aboard to monitor our anchor situation while the others went ashore to go on the Land tour. The restaurant that we had made reservations at was closed so most availed themselves of the local food trucks for a makeshift dinner.  Everyone was exhausted that night!

Friday November 2, 2018

After a light sleep, the wind piped before daybreak and with every gust Nate and I took turns popping our heads up to check our position out the porthole.  Sure enough, after a heavy gust we broke free.  As I went aloft, I met Bobby Hart’s gaze and we simultaneously said, “We are dragging.”  I said, “Start the engine,” and he started the starboard engine as I started the port engine and went to the bow to retrieve the anchor. We met up with the other boats – Leo, Hoku Lele and Miss Kayo – at the Passe Toahotu just outside the bay. The wind did not seem bad, gusts to 22 knots, but we watched a monohull try and head out the pass directly into the wind and fetch. They hobby horsed and turned around part way and came back and anchored next to us.

Nate and I decided to take the inside route to our next stop at Marae Taputapuatea an ancient Tahitian temple and ruins.  We set the genoas and sailed reaching south toward Raiatea. After anchoring in the sandy spots most dinghied ashore to the ruins. It was quite an emotional and beautiful landmark where the Polynesian men would gather before leaving on long voyages in their canoes discovering new lands, often never to return. After this we set sail again to our final anchorage in the Baie Faaroa.  Once settled on our moorings we again got into our dinghies to take a tour up the river Aoppomau. We were then met at the mouth of the river by James and our four dinghies traveled up the river to James’s brother’s “Plantation” for an interesting tour.  For me, it was a short glimpse into what many Polynesians today have to do to exist. It is a very basic life. We got the tour and tried a few of his different crops and coconut water. James’ brother sent us back to the boats with cucumber and string beans, which were put to use for our final potluck dinner aboard Bessie.  We all came up with unique ways to cook up what was left onboard and all enjoyed a wonderful last night dinner party together.

Saturday November 3, 2018

We dropped our moorings early and headed back to The Moorings base.  It is a whirlwind of activity both the first and last day of any Flotilla and this one was no different.  Some had early flights while others could relax the day away.  Boat checks were completed and everyone, including Nate and I, said our goodbyes.

Another Offshore Sailing Adventure at its end, with lots of incredible memories to look back on and friendships to continue. Next adventure is St. Lucia to Grenada and then back to Grenada! Join us for both legs or just one on another Colgate Sailing Adventures – this time in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.


Heather & Nate Atwater, Colgate Sailing Adventures Trip Hosts

California Style Sailing Lessons /california-style-sailing-lessons/ Mon, 22 Oct 2018 14:53:12 +0000 /?p=76354 If you are thinking about what you can do to help keep our world a better and safer place to live, California Style Sailing Lessons will put you on the path to competitive sailing, big sailboat cruising adventures or heading off on blue water sailing school passages without carbon emissions. Learn more about our wind sailing lessons below.

What are California Style Sailing Lessons?

California Style Sailing Schools provide sailing lessons in challenging and calm conditions, clean and ecologically friendly settings, and on vessels that leave behind no or very little carbon footprint. Just like Offshore Sailing School does at its Florida Sailing Schools and British Virgin Islands Sailing Schools too. Sailing is a wind-driven activity. While an engine may be required by harbor officials to get in and out of those confined areas, as soon as an Offshore Sailing School vessel is past any harbor restrictions, the engine (if there is one aboard) is shut down and California Style Sailing Lessons commence.

Why “California-Style”?

We have long admired California’s drive to be in the forefront of ecologically favorable conditions. So when we think about conserving fuel, and being kind to our environment, the phrase “California-Style” comes to mind when describing our wind sailing lessons. Here’s why:

  • If you believe that we must be good stewards of our environment, and our world, you should participate in California Style Sailing lessons at Offshore Sailing School and learn to travel under sail power alone.
  • If you have dreams of taking off on a blue water sailing school adventure, you should participate in California Style sailing lessons at Offshore Sailing School and learn how to ultimately handle a blue water sailing yacht safely, comfortably and confidently.
  • If you’d rather be out on the water, with the wind in your hair, and the quiet propulsion of wind in your sails as opposed to noisy engines – then California style sailing lessons at Offshore Sailing School are definitely for you!
  • And if you have a competitive nature, if you like to win but not at all costs, especially when it comes to our environment, then California Style Sailboat Racing Lessons at Offshore Sailing School are absolutely for you.

Stewards of Our Climate for More than Fifty Years!

Offshore Sailing School is entering its 55th year of producing happy, dedicated sailing enthusiasts. More than 150,000 adults – individuals, couples, families and their children – now spend their free time on sailboats sailing, cruising and racing because they learned in one of Offshore Sailing Schools’ California style sailing lessons programs.

What are You Waiting for?

Leave your car in your garage. Set your sails on your own boat, or a chartered yacht and feel the clean freedom only wind power can provide. Our wind sailing lessons can help you get that! Plan to purchase a comfortable cruising yacht rather than a big motor coach and keep carbon emissions to a bare minimum. Cross the starting line on a sleek keelboat with just the wind driving you ahead of the fleet. Finish that day of competitive sailboat racing, with no carbon footprint, and only the noise of high fives and yelps of joy! Now that’s what Offshore Sailing School’s California Style Sailing Lessons Delivers!

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Our Big Fat Greek Flotilla! /our-big-fat-greek-flotilla/ Wed, 27 Jun 2018 15:07:55 +0000 /?p=73037 Another wonderful Colgate Sailing Adventure is in the logbook. This Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruise in the Greek Islands, was again conducted by popular flotilla leaders, Nate and Heather Atwater. Here are excerpts from Heather’s diary.

Saturday 6-16-18 — Arrival Day at Zea Marina

Everyone arrived at the Zea Marina base in Piraeus in good spirits. We were scheduled for a 6pm boat boarding and Skipper/Navigator meeting with Ted from Marina Zea. Nate and I met with Mike, the base Manager, the previous day to review our itinerary. Mike recommended that we make some changes to keep the distances to a comfortable sail,  arrive in the ports early enough to find berthing spots, and enjoy the natural and man made wonders that we had come to Greece to experience. Based on Nate’s research and Mike’s suggestions, we developed a new plan.

The Greek’s Know How to Eat!

At 6pm we boarded the boats and stowed provisions, then dashed to the Meet and Greet at 7:30pm at Portofino Seafood Restaurant. A lovely long table set for 23 people awaited us, nicely appointed with olives. After our brief safety talk, we began to get to know each other, and ate, and ate. These folks in Greece know how to eat. First course: salmon tartar, then choice of salad followed by a lemon sorbet palate cleanser, then the main dish, then dessert which was a choice of cheesecake or chocolate delight with ice cream. We were beginning to see how the Greek take their dining experience and fresh food very seriously. We had two occasions to celebrate with candles; Lulu’s birthday and Shannon and Sharon’s 10th anniversary.  We rolled back to our catamarans that would be our homes for the next week, and when I got into my bunk and looked at my phone it was 11:45, exhausted!

Sunday 6-17-18 — Underway on Our First Day of Sailing, to Epidaurus

Our fleet consisted of four Sunsail 444s Fegari, Nube Azul, La Luna, and a Sunsail 404 Immortality. After acquiring a few items from the base such as, ice and extra towels, we set off from the Piraeus base around 10am heading toward Epidaurus on the Peloponnese Peninsula. The wind was non-existent, so we started off powering, leaving the mountainous shore of Piraeus behind us and threading past Aegina Island to port.  When we arrived, the main quay was full, so we anchored in the neighboring bay a very short dinghy ride away.

The afternoon was rainy, so we chose to relax aboard, then headed to town to explore and enjoy an early dinner.  Each boat organized their own evening. We joined another crew for a walkabout and a lovely dinner inland a bit at a very local restaurant where we feasted on meatballs, wild boar, fresh fish, tzatziki, lamb kabob, feta with honey, and moussaka. The owners were so engaging and kind, bringing us desserts and wine on the house. It was an excellent experience and we enjoyed great company!

Monday 6-18-18 —  First to the Amphitheater and Then to Perdika Bay 

Today we got any early start to catch taxis to visit the ancient Amphitheatre of Epidaurus before the crowds and the heat ensued. It was a good move as we really had the place to ourselves to visit and see the museum as well. As we left the ancient site the crowds appeared. After a relaxing coffee in one of the seaside cafes, we headed to the boats and Nate made his rounds, then we set sail for Perdika Bay.  With light air, we practiced our engine maneuvers, man overboard drills and raising and lowering the sails.

A Beautiful Fishing Village to Explore

Upon arrival in Perdika we med moored. Once we were all settled in, we hiked, enjoyed cocktails, ate, swam, shopped, and otherwise enjoyed ourselves. Perdika Bay is a beautiful fishing village so for our meal that night we ate at a seaside restaurant where we chose our fish, prepared to our liking. In Greece as in much of the Mediterranean, their world slows to a halt for the mid-day heat; shops close and reopen later in the afternoon into the late evening. Strolling along the waters in the evening for a drink or a gelato is a very nice way of life. There is a beautiful chapel at the tip of the island that is worth the short stroll and the small island is easily explored on foot. The paths are narrow as you explore the interior and the homes are covered in flowering vines while the backyard gardens have many vegetables growing.  We saw olive trees, fig trees, pomegranate, orange trees, as well as many different flowering trees and shrubs.

Tuesday 6-19-18 — A Great Sail to Poros

We left Perdika Bay at 8am and had a great sail to Poros Island. We jibed downwind while broad reaching through the cut between Poros and the Peloponnese Peninsula.  We dropped sails and put down a lunch hook for a lovely refreshing swim in Russian Bay. After a nice cool down we continued to Poros Town. It was an exciting time med mooring in Poros town and once settled, we had time to nap, explore, shop, rent cars, to one’s own desires. That night, we all met in one of the waterside restaurants for a feisty dinner.

Wednesday 6-20-18 — Reaching to the Island of Hydra

We headed out at 8am for Hydra pronounced “Idra” – another lovely sail on a broad reach. On Fegari we sailed wing and wing through the cut between Spathi and Tselevinia. Very nicely done girls!!  The wind had built a bit (not in the forecast) to a brisk 19 knots by the time we dropped sail outside of Mondraki Bay. This was a smaller, less crowded harbor than Hydra town and a lot easier to moor in.  We med moored and fed our stern lines through rusty rings in the rocks. A line-throwing contest ensued with long heavy wet lines to achieve the goal of med mooring our little fleet safely in the Bay.

The Sailing, the Sights, the Scenery – All Stunning!

Gorgeous . . . breathtakingly gorgeous. The sailing, the sights, the scenery . . . stunning really. Once settled we did our own thing again. Some went ashore to the beach, others took the water taxi to town. Lulu even hiked over the hill to Hydra Town taking beautiful photos along the way. We took the water taxi and hopped on the famous donkeys for a lovely ride around the town with a local guide. Such fun, and a good way to scope out the town as well. Then we relaxed at a local café. They sure know how to make a delicious iced café latte, yum (makes Starbucks look amateur)!  The shopping on Hydra was good with lots of neat places to wander and explore.

We had dinner around 7pm; some went to the swanky spot overlooking the harbor, our boat explored inland to a very old restaurant that was traditional with local fare. We took water taxis home after a great day!!

Thursday 6-21-18 —  Lessons Learned in Light Tacking

After Nate had did his morning navigational meetings we set off from Hydra in a light breeze, tacking back up the channel we had sailed down the day before. It was a good chance to practice our light air tacking, and required some skill on these cats to keep them moving through a light air tack with speed.  We found that building speed before the tack, then back-winding the small jib through the tack, were essential to tack the cats in light air. I gave our boat crew a lesson in sail plan area calculations. Pop quiz, Pam, what are the I, J, P and E measurements and why are they important?

After sailing through the cut and on for a bit, we dropped sails and powered through Poros Town and past Russian Bay to our destination, a small, craggy harbor named Gerolimani, just before the cut. We all arrived and dropped our hooks, then hosted a 6pm cocktail party aboard our boat Fegari for more fun and group photos. Despite the yellow jackets, a good time was had by all. We ate aboard that night and enjoyed a yummy spaghetti dinner.

Friday 6-22-18 — Back to the Sunsail Base in Piraeus

We had a late start with light air, so we powered to start. The wind picked up a bit as we got closer to Piraeus and we did have a nice sail. It was a sad day as we all knew the end was near to our adventures. We got back to the base around 4pm and the Marina Zea staff was very helpful, assisting us in docking, connecting to shore power, etc. After the skippers went through the checkout procedure with the Sunsail staff, Nate gathered the entire group to say a few words and thank everyone for another wonderful trip.  Some participants got off the boats that night, but most of us stayed aboard and disembarked the next morning by 9am. A large group of us gathered to celebrate one last dinner together at another restaurant adjacent to where we hosted the Meet and Greet, a fitting end to our sailing vacation in the Greek Islands. Next up, Tahiti! Check out all upcoming flotilla sailboat vacations today.

Happy Sailing!

Nate & Heather Atwater

P.S. We have so many fond memories and photos to share of our flotilla in Greece that we put them in the slide show below.  Enjoy!