What destinations can we choose from during our sailing class?
Students work with their captain to make a decision on what destinations to visit during their class. This decision depends on the length of the class, desires of those on board, skill level of the students, and the forecasted wind and sea conditions.
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 north coast of Saint John (Leinster Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Francis Bay, or near Caneel Bay). We then return to Red Hook on day three arriving around 12:00 -1:00 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.
ASA103 (Three Day Class): We typically sail to Jost van Dyke or Sopers Hole, BVI on day one, and to Cruz Bay, St. John on day two, and return to Red Hook on day three. Combination ASA103/104 classes would not return to Red Hook on day three and would instead follow the itinerary below for ASA103/104.
ASA101/103 (Six Days): Typically we sail as indicated in the ASA101 and ASA103 descriptions above only students do not return to Red Hook on day three. Since we do not return to Red Hook ASA101/103 classes can visit additional locations. Possible destinations include 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, or Peter Island.
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 Tortola by taking a ferry. Students in combination ASA101/103/104 or ASA103/104 classes do not need to take ferry.
ASA101/103/104 (Nine Days): We typically sail as indicated in the ASA101, ASA103, and ASA104 descriptions only we do not return to Red Hook in between classes.
ASA103/104 (Six Days): We typically sail as indicated in the ASA103 and ASA104 descriptions only we do not return to Red Hook in between classes.
ASA106 Seven Days): After a day of sailing drills to build skills students sail from Red Hook to Jost van Dyke or Sopers Hole to clear into the BVI and then on to Cane Garden Bay all on day two, then around the northern side of Tortola to Virgin Gorda on day three, then north to Anagoda on day four. Finally students head south and sail through the Sir Francis Drake Channel stopping at the Baths in Virgin Gorda on day five, and then go to Cruz Bay, St. John on day six, and then back to Red Hook.
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. 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 but if you plan to arrive early or extend your stay in Saint Thomas we recommend the following hotel that one of our students enjoyed. This is just one of many hotels in the area near Red Hook.
Mafolie Hotel & Restaurant- Telephone: 340-774-2790, www.mafolie.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7091 Estate Mafolie, St. Thomas, USVI 00802.
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. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the settees and berths.
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.
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?
Sometimes the instructor will contact you prior to your class to discuss food preferences but in most cases, 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 10-20% 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 2 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.
Classes go forward with a minimum of 2 students. The maximum number of students is five students if there are two couples and one single and a captain. Most classes have 2-4 students. Students should not book flights until the they have confirmed that there are sufficient students for the class to go forward.
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.
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 keep this from happening, students signing up for a single ASA103 or ASA104 class or a combination ASA103/104 class in many cases need to meet up with or return from our teaching vessel via ferry where ever she is located when their class begins or ends. These arrangements will be clarified at sign up for students signing up for a single ASA103 or ASA104 class of a combination ASA103/104 class. Typically students signed up for a single ASA103 or combination ASA103/104 class meet up with our teaching vessel in Cruz Bay In St. John by taking a 15 minute ferry from Red Hook. Students taking a single ASA104 class typically meet up with the boat in Road Town or some other location in Tortola. Again this is all clarified prior 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?
If we cancel a class due to weather or boat problems or a captain being sick etc. then students can reschedule or receive a full refund. If we have a problem with the boat that is repaired during the class and then the class goes forward and we are still able to accomplish the requirements for the class then no refund is given.
Most other sailing schools require a deposit at sign up and then the remainder is due about a week prior to the class start date. If a student cancels prior to the final payment being due they lose their deposit. If a student cancels after making the final payment they forfeit their deposit and final payment. At Virgin Islands Sailing Academy we think our refund policy for student cancellations is much fairer. If a student cancels then we will try to sell their space, and if we can sell their space to another student then students get their deposit back minus the cost of the course materials. The final payment is not due at Virgin Islands Sailing Academy until students arrive for the class but some students pay in full anyway. If a student has paid in full and then has to cancel we would return all of their money minus the cost of the course materials if we can sell their space to another student. If we cannot sell their space to another student the student would get 50% back.
Cruising is sailing the boat while you go about fixing it. Although we spend a large amount in preventive maintenance on our sailboat, sailboats are very complex systems and problems occur of one type or another in nearly every class. 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 crew 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.