Virgin Islands Sailing Academy

Common Questions
What destinations can we choose from during our sailing class?
 


Possible destinations include Jost Van Dyke, Cane Garden Bay, or islands on the southwest side of Tortola in the Sir Francis Drake Channel such as the Indians, Pelican Island, Norman Island, Cooper Island, Virgin Gorda, or Peter Island. Although weather could change the itinerary for your specific class, the destinations listed below are typical based on past class itineraries:

ASA101 (Three Day Class): Our ASA101 class typically includes day sailing near Red Hook in Pillsbury Sound on days 1-2. We return to Red Hook the evening of day 1. The evening of day 2 we typically spend the night moored along the coast of Saint John (typically near Caneel Bay). We then return to Red Hook on day three arriving around 1:00-2:00 PM. This itinerary is typical for students who take ASA101 as a single class. Combination ASA101/103 and ASA101/103/104 classes do not return to Red Hook on Day three unless thee is a 101 student to drop off or a 103 student to pick up.

ASA103 (Three Day Class): We start in Red Hook and typically sail to Jost van Dyke or Sopers Hole, BVI on day one, and to Norman Island on day two, and go to Road Town of Nanny Cay on day three. Students who take just ASA103 will need to depart in Road Town or Nanny Cay and take a ferry back to St. Thomas or where they are going next.

ASA101/103 (Six Days): Typically we sail as indicated in the ASA101 and ASA103 descriptions above.

ASA104 (Three Day Class): Typical destinations Norman Island, Peter Island, the Indians, Pelican Island, Salt Island, Cooper Island, Virgin Gorda, Beef Island, Road Town, and others. Students taking a single ASA104 class would need to meet up with our teaching vessel in Road Town or Nanny Cay by taking a ferry or flight. Students in combination ASA101/103/104 or ASA103/104 classes do not need to take ferry. ASA104 classes end in Red Hook.
 
ASA101/103/104 (Nine Days): We typically sail as indicated in the ASA101, ASA103, and ASA104 descriptions.

ASA103/104 (Six Days): We typically sail as indicated in the ASA103 and ASA104 descriptions.

ASA106 and ASA108: See our ocean passage making brochure on the courses page of our website for more information.
How to get to Virgin Islands Sailing Academy and where can I stay?
American Yacht Harbor marina is located at the following address:
6100 Red Hook Quarters #2
St. Thomas, VI 00802

By Vessel: American Yacht Harbor is located in protected Vessup Bay on St. Thomas East End. Vessup Bay is immediately west of Pilsburry Sound, the channel between St. John and St. Thomas. The marina is located immediately to the west of Red Hook Ferry Terminal on the North Side of Vessup Bay. Lat and Long position: 18.19.36 N 64.51.06 W.

By Air: The St. Thomas airport, Cyril E. King International, is one of the largest in the Caribbean and generally sees a high volume of air traffic from the US and beyond. This makes American Yacht Harbor very easy to get to from just about any destination with an international airport. From Cyril E. King International, ground transportation is available to American Yacht Harbor in the form of taxis, rental cars, and hotel shuttles.

Passport Info: A valid passport is required for all classes other than ASA101. Although U.S. citizens traveling to St. Thomas, St. John or St. Croix from the mainland USA need only government issued picture identification to gain entry, you will need a passport to enter the British Virgin Islands or Spanish Virgin Islands.

Hotels: Most students stay on board Gallivant and do not require a hotel except for possibly the last day of the class. If you can't get a flight on the last day of the class you will need a hotel. We recommend the following hotels: This is just a few of many hotels in the area near Red Hook.

Mafolie Hotel & Restaurant- Telephone: 340-774-2790, www.mafolie.com, info@mafolie.com, 7091 Estate Mafolie, St. Thomas, USVI 00802.
Sugar Bay Resort and Spa- Telephone: 340-777-7100, http://www.sugarbayresortandspa.com, 6500 Estate VI U.S., St Thomas 00802

Many of our students have had success using Air B & B to find excellent and less expensive accommodations.



 
What should I bring with me to class?
Having the right things with you on a sailboat improves both your comfort and safety. We have created a list of things our students may want to consider bringing with them during their class. Please click here to get the list.
To get list of what to bring.
How many students will be in my class?
Where will I sleep on board?
Gallivant has four sleeping areas. There are two private double berths with a door located fore and aft, and two settees in the salon area that both convert into single berths. You can see them on the "Our Teaching Vessel" page.

The captain typically sleeps in the port settee in the salon area so he can get up to check the boat at night without disturbing anyone. Students are assigned to the other three sleeping areas. Couples are given priority to berth assignments. If one student is a woman then she would typically be assigned a private berth.

Since there are four places to sleep on board this means that three single students and a captain make up a full boat. Note also that if there are couples there could be more students since a couple can share a double berth and there is still room for two singles and a captain. If we have a full boat then one student has to sleep in the starboard settee. Note that there is a table dividing the port and starboard settees so it is not like doubling students into a berth. There is also a curtain on board that can be put up to add more privacy if desired.

Please note that Virgin Islands Sailing Academy does not double single students into one double berth. Many other sailing schools double single students into a double berth and put up a lee cloths down the middle. Our policy of not doubling single students into a double berth is in line with our desire to keep the highest standards possible in our classes. We believe that our sailing classes should maximize sailing education and also be fun.
What will be included in terms of meals and beverages on board?
Shortly after students arrive, students sit down with their instructor and decide what food and beverages should be purchased. Leaning what foods and beverages work out well on a boat is part of the class and this is why we include food and beverages for lunches and breakfasts in the price for the class. Dinners are eaten off the boat except for ocean passage making classes where dinners are also included.

In most cases students eat all or nearly all breakfasts and lunches on board. Dinners are eaten off of the boat in local restaurants unless there is no restaurant available. In the event that a boat stays overnight at anchor or on a mooring ball where local shore-based dinner is unavailable, dinner will be planned, provisioned and provided by the school. Students are responsible for purchase of any meals in local restaurants.

Lunches in many cases consist of sandwiches or wraps with lunchmeat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Breakfasts often consist of hot or cold cereal, juice, eggs, and coffee or tea. Most classes also want snacks like fruit, cookies, etc. and all of this is included. Beverages include bottled water, soft drinks, juice, etc.

All on board food for breakfasts and lunches and beverages are included with the following exceptions:

Per local laws, no alcohol will be purchased for students. Alcoholic beverages are allowed to be consumed on board when we are not underway at the captain's discretion, but purchase of alcoholic beverages is not included in the beverage allowance. Students who wish to drink alcoholic beverages should bring what they want to drink or plan to purchase it locally. No alcoholic beverages are allowed while we are underway.

We feel that our budget for food and beverages is very generous and meets the needs of most students however if you have a special diet, or if you prefer extravagant foods which cost more, an additional charge for food and beverages may apply or you can bring your own food.

Students are welcome to bring food and beverages with them if they wish but no reimbursement for food and beverages brought with students will be provided unless this is agreed upon in advance.
How much should I tip the instructor?
Tipping is not required but if your instructor does a great job, it is common for students to leave a tip. We are sometimes asked for guidance on what is customary in regard to tipping. It is customary to tip 15-20% as with other service industries. I believe that the amount to tip for a sailing class depends on the number of days in your class and on the quality of service you receive. If you take a class that lasts 6-7 days, your tip probably should be larger than if you take a 3 day class. If you feel the quality of the class is average, then the tip should not be as large as if the class were really great. You may also want to tip more if you receive special attention. For example, if your class is not a docking class, and your instructor includes a lot of docking practice at your request, then you may want to give a larger tip.
Most classes have 2-4 students. The maximum number of students is five students. This does not happen often since for it to happen two couples and one single have to sign up. Three singles is also a full boat since there ore only four places to sleep on the boat and we do not double up single students. Students should not book flights until they have confirmed that there are sufficient students for the class to go forward. Although this is our written policy in reality we almost never cancel classes since our classes typically sell out, and since our sailboat and captain are already there, it is better for us to go forward than to cancel. For example if there is a nine day ASA101/103/104 class and the ASA101 class has just one student but the ASA103/104 class has two or more students we would still go forward with the ASA101 class even though there is only one student.
Are the destinations we will be sailing in safe?
At Virgin Islands Sailing Academy, safety is always our foremost concern. Our yacht is equipped with far more than the minimum required US Coast Guard safety equipment. We only sail in locations that most would consider to be safe. To our knowledge there are no acts of piracy in the Virgin Islands where our sailing classes are conducted. We also have never experienced any theft on our yacht.
If I am interested in sailing in the BVI why should I come to St. Thomas in the USVI?
St. Thomas is the perfect place for you to begin your sailing classes. If you are arriving from the US mainland then you can fly direct to St. Thomas, but flying to Tortolla requires either taking an additional plane or taking a long ferry. Flights to the St. Thomas area are also generally less expensive than flying to Tortolla.

St. Thomas is part of the US so you are not required to clear into the BVI while flying. If you fly to St. Thomas once you arrive you can take a taxi to our facility in Red Hook and relax on the boat. If you are headed to Tortolla then you have to clear in at the airport, and take another flight or wait for the ferry.

Since almost all Virgin Islands Sailing Academy classes go to the BVI you will still need to clear into the BVI but our students find it far more interesting to clear into the BVI on the boat in either Sopers Hole or Jost van Dyke. We also clear back into the US at Cruz Bay on St. John.

Also consider that most schools originating in Tortolla spend all their time in the BVI and are less likely to visit the US Virgin Islands. By attending classes at Virgin Islands Sailing Academy, originating in St. Thomas USVI, you will visit St. Thomas, St. John, and the BVI.

ASA 104 includes instruction on how to clear into ports of entry. Why not do it on the boat as part of the learning process instead of just reading about it. All clearance fees are paid for by the school.

Most of our sailing classes visit parts of St. John, St. Thomas, Jost van Dyke, and various destinations in Tortolla so by attending Virgin Islands Sailing Academy you get to see more and learn more.
I see that single classes are mixed with combination classes. Does this mean that if a student takes a combination class that they have to return to Red Hook in the middle of their class in order to pick up or drop off students?
We realize that our students want to visit as many locations as possible during their classes, and that no one wants to return to Red Hook during the middle of a class to drop off or pick up students. In order to minimize this from happening, Students signing up for a single ASA104 class need to meet up with our teaching vessel via ferry in either a marina in Road Town or Nanny Cay. ASA104 classes end in Red Hook.

Students signing up for a single ASA103 class can meet up with our teaching vessel in Red Hook but will need to return from a marina in Road Town or Nanny Cay.

Students signing up for a combination ASA103/104 class start and end in Red Hook so no ferry is needed.

Students signing up for a combination ASDA101/103 begin in Red Hook and end in either a marina in Road Town or Nanny Cay.

Ferry Service is readily available in Road Town to various locations. See the Questions Page under Ferrys for links showing prices and schedules.
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Welcome
Links
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Virgin Islands Location, Classes, and Prices
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Instructors
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Our Teaching Vessel
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Schedule and
How to Sign Up?
Should I bring snorkel gear?
Most of the places we visit have wonderful snorkeling. We recommend that you bring your own snorkel equipment, including fins. You can also rent snorkel equipment at the Red Hook Dive Center located in the same marine where our sailboat is moored. 340-777-3483. The last time I checked it cost $80 to rent snorkel gear for a week. We can not accomodate dive tanks on board.
Do I get my deposit back if I have to cancel a class? Do students get their money back if the school has to cancel a class?
What happens if there are problem on the boat that require repair and possibly lost time under sail?
It is unlikely that we would cancel a class but if we cancel a class then students can reschedule or receive a full refund minus the cost of the course materials.

50% payment is due when students sign up for ASA101, ASA103, and ASA104 classes. The remainder is due within 60 days of the class start date. If a student has paid the 50% deposit and cancels a class no refund will be given. Deposit payments are final since once we accept your deposit we hold space for you and cannot sell that space to others. Sometimes students pay in full for classes when they sign up. If they cancel 60 days or more from the class start date then we will refund half of their payment minus the cost of the course materials. No refund will be given if a student cancels a class less than 60 days from the class start date. Course materials cannot be returned for refund even if in new condition.

Full payment is required for ASA106 and ASA108 classes at sign up. If a student cancels a ASA106 or ASA108 class then we will refund half of their payment if they cancel 120 days or more prior to the class start date shown on our calendar. No refund will be given if a student cancels with less than 120 daysí notice.

No refunds are given for ASA105 or 107 home studies.

By making payment you agree to our terms and conditions.
Although we spend a large amount in preventive maintenance on our sailboat, sailboats are very complex systems and problems can occur of one type or another. Learning to deal with issues on the boat is normal and part of sailing. Our experience has been that so long as the class goes forward students welcome the challenges provided by problems on the boat. For example if the dinghy starts leaking, the captain and students may need to stop and fix it using the dinghy repair kit on board our vessel. The class would then continue on as normal after the repair is completed successfully. Other examples could be given but in general as long as the class goes forward and we have time to complete all the skills required in the ASA standard no refund would be given.
Is smoking or chewing of tobacco allowed on our yacht?
Smoking is not allowed on our yacht. We also do not allow chewing of tobacco on our sailboat.
Is it possible that I will have a different instructor than the one indicated when I signed up?
Although most classes go forward with the instructor listed on the schedule page of our website we reserve the right to change the instructor at any time. This is necessary sometimes due to illness, death in the family, scheduling conflicts, etc.
Many sailing schools operate illegally in the Virgin Islands without getting required boat inspections and license requirements for captains and a permit to operate the sailing school. Does Virgin Islands Sailing Academy and it's instructors meet all these requirements to operate legally and safely in the Virgin islands?
Our teaching vessel meets all US safety requirements and has a Small Commercial Vessel Certificate issued by the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry ensuring it meets all BVI safety and operational requirements. Our vessel also has been approved for stability by the Royal Yacht Association in England.

All Virgin Islands Sailing Academy instructors have as minimum a US Coast Guard 50 Ton Near Coastal Master Captain's License with STCW Endorsement. It is illegal for captains without STCW endorsement to sail with passengers to foreign countries. Our captains also have an equivalent license in the BVI allowing them to serve in capacity requiring a Boat Master Grade II license.

Virgin Islands Sailing Academy has a business license to operate in the Virgin Islands.

Many sailing schools in the Virgin Islands operate without meeting required certifications, permits, and licenses. This compromises student safety and if they are caught by authorities the school could be shut down during a class. Virgin Islands Sailing Academy and its instructors meet all requirements to operate legally and safely in the Virgin Islands.
Is Virgin Islnds Sailing Academy an ASA affiliated sailing school?
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We realize that things happen such as trip cancellation, illness, death in the family, missing your flight, or other problems so we recommend students purchase travel insurance. If you choose to not purchase travel insurance, you are assuming any financial loss associated with your travel arrangements. In order to obtain travel insurance, contact your insurance agent or other insurer to ask about travel insurance plans. Please see below an insurer who offers travel insrance that can be customized for your needs.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
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What happens if there no wind or too much wind to sail?
Students come to the Virgin Islands from all over the world because it is one of the best places to sail. The weather and wind are nearly ideal during the season when we operate. Although unlikely it is possible for there to be little or no wind, or too much wind to sail. If there is little or no wind then we will go over the course materials each day as normal and motor from place to place the same as if we were sailing. We can sail with as little as 5 knots of wind so it is very unlikely that there would be many days with such light wind that we could not sail. Once the trade winds fill back in we will sail as much as possible to pick up as much lost time under sail as we can. If there is too much wind then we would have to hunker down either in a slip, on a mooring ball, or at anchor whereever we are when the big wind starts. Once the big wind decreases to a wind speed where it is safe we will sail as much as possible to make up lost time sailing. It is up to the captain to decide if there is too much wind for the boat and students to be safe. Although the captain makes this decision, in general we will go forward with classes so long as the apparent wind speed is 25 knots or less. There are no refunds given if the wind is either too light to sail or too strong to sail.


One of our competitors tells people that they are the only ASA Sailing School in the USVI. This is false and easy to look up and confirm. Virgin Islands Sailing Academy is an ASA affiliated sailing school. We have operated out of Red Hook in the US Virgin Islands since 2013 and have always run as an ASA school. Click here to go to the ASA website and see the Virgin Islands Sailing Academy listed as an ASA affiliated sailing school in the US Virgin Islands.
What Ferry services are available?
The following ferry services have been used by our students

To and from Road Town from Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook

https://www.vinow.com/travel/virgin-islands-ferry-schedules/tortola/

Red Hook to Cruz Bay and other locations

https://www.vinow.com/travel/virgin-islands-ferry-schedules/




Common Questions
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