How to go sailing in the BVI even if you don’t know how to sail

Photo by captainmcdan
Photo by captainmcdan

We’ve talked to many people who’d love to go sailing in the BVI but don’t know how to sail. No problem!

If you don’t know how to sail, or if the thought of being in charge of a 30-50 foot boat doesn’t sound like a vacation to you, check out some of these options.

  1. Get a cabin. Several charter companies will rent out a cabin on a week long trip. You’ll be on a 40-50′ boat with a professional crew – usually a captain and a chef – and up to 3 or 4 other couples. It’s a great way to get a feel for what it’s like to charter a sailboat while getting a personal guided tour of the area. The time we chartered a cabin, we ended up with the whole boat to ourselves which was awesome. Beware however that your cabin will not be very big. Just big enough for a bed and some storage, so there won’t be much space to get away if you don’t end up liking your boat mates. Called “stateroom packages”, you can book these cabins by the week from companies like Moorings.
  2. Hire a captain. Another option is to charter a sailboat and then hire a captain. Most large charter companies have licensed captains available to go out with you for a daily fee. The captain will be responsible for the boat and will help you figure out your itinerary for the week and most likely be part of your group for the week. They will probably need help sailing and you will need to provide them with a cabin and food and drink as well as their daily fee.
  3. Hire a full crew. As long as you are hiring a captain, you could go full out and hire a captain and a chef. Having a chef onboard is a luxury as they take care of almost all the meal planning and preparation, often including happy hour snacks just as everyone arrives back at the boat after a hot day of snorkeling and exploring. In addition to paying the captain and a chef, you will also have to pay for food. Often most “crewed charters” come with a fixed price for the boat, crew and food.
  4. Take a sailing class. There are several organizations that offer “live aboard” sailing classes. Basically, you spend a week sailing around the BVI on a charter boat with an instructor. A few hours of every day is spent in instruction – a bit of lecture and a lot of practice. The rest of the day is spent like any other day on vacation in the BVI. You will most likely not get to choose your itinerary although your instructor may be willing to accommodate requests. When I took the liveaboard sailing class from Offshore Sailing, our instructor specifically added Anegada to the itinerary as many charter companies won’t let you sail there if you haven’t been before. She wanted to make sure we had the option later.
  5. Invite friends. We once had a great vacation sailing with friends on their honeymoon. They wanted to try sailing in the BVI and they needed some friends that knew how to sail. We love sailing in the BVI and are always looking for friends that want to go with us.