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Saturday 25th June 2011

Want to do something different on your summer vacation?  Do you live in Antigua and are you determined to get out on the water and learn something new?  Want to brush up on those rusty yachting skills?  The warm Caribbean waters surrounding Antigua offer the ideal conditions to learn to sail, particularly in the calm waters of the west coast.  And the summer and fall months are the perfect time to take a yachting course – out of high season when travel costs are lower and businesses often offer discounted rates.  When your yachting season in the northern climes is winding down in the fall, why not keep the momentum going by heading south to polish up on your skills and extend the season?

Antigua’s cruising grounds offer educational opportunities rarely found in other Caribbean destinations.  Being surrounded by reefs, Antigua is a perfect place to practise and improve your navigation skills.  Mooring balls are rarely found in harbours and anchorages so there is plenty of opportunity to practice anchoring skills, often in shallow anchorages and on sand.  Both of these skills will be useful to you wherever you cruise in the Caribbean islands.  And while cruising around Antigua you are guaranteed to some across everything from friendly cruising yachts from around the world to some of the most spectacular super yachts to be found in any port worldwide – all of which make for good tales to be told over a cold one at the end of the day!

There are several learn-to-sail institutions in Antigua, all of which offer quality training in conjunction with charter opportunities.  Learn-to-sail institutions include:

Horizon Yacht Charters is based in Jolly Harbour on the west coast of Antigua, an ideal location from which to begin a sail training charter.  Horizons offers the American Sailing Association (ASA) keelboat certification program with fully-qualified ASA instructors.  Courses range from Basic Keelboat Sailing Standard (#101), which requires no experience or prerequisites, to Bareboat Chartering Standard (#104) and Coastal Navigation Theory (#105).  If you prefer to learn privately, you can charter your own bareboat from Horizons and employ your own private instructor for a very reasonable day rate plus the cost of course materials.  Up to three courses can be taught in a week but that wouldn’t allow much time for relaxing.  So from July 10th to October 31st, Horizons offers 10 days for the price of seven on their yachts, an easy and economical way to extend your week’s holiday by a few extra days. 

Once you have mastered the first series of courses, you can move on to a Coastal Passage Making Course which may take you to islands south of Antigua including Guadeloupe and Dominica.  Or, if your prefer a lower-key means of learning without obtaining any particular qualification, just charter a boat with a skipper/instructor who will help you to brush up on your existing skills and even learn some new ones.

The learn-to-sail options available from Horizons are many and you are certain to find one that is ideally-suited to your level of competence and fits into your summer/fall vacation plans.  More information about learning to sail from Horizons is available at:

The Miramar Sailing School is an RYA Sailing School, also based in Jolly Harbour, Antigua.  Following on years of success with its day and term charter operations the proprietors of Miramar wanted to find new ways to share their love of sailing and the Caribbean.  So they made the natural transition to becoming an RYA Recognized Training Centre, bringing you the highest possible standard of sail training.

Miramar offers the ‘Sail Cruising and Yachtmaster Scheme’ which provides courses from novice crew to advanced skippering – everything from ‘Start Yachting’, ‘Essential Navigation & Seamanship’ to ‘RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Ocean’.  Supplementary courses are also available including First Aid, VHF Radio Operator and RYA/MCA Basic Sea Survival.  Miramar has also developed its ‘Yachtmaster Xpress’ program for the most determined trainees, which will take you from complete novice to RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore in three months.  This is a Caribbean sailing adventure that includes 10 weeks of sailing around Antigua and as far south as Grenada, with two weeks of shore based courses.  But it’s not all training and hard work – all weekends are set aside for rest, relaxation and discovery.

Brian and Pippa are the founders and proprietors of Miramar Sailing and both are commercially endorsed RYA Ocean Yachtmasters and RYA Cruising Instructors.  Their skills and experience are combined with the extensive knowledge of Phil, their RYA Chief Instructor.  All on-the-water training is conducted on Miramar, an MCA Category 2 approved Beneteau Oceanis 400.  If you choose to train with Miramar Sailing School, you are guaranteed an exciting and challenging learning adventure!  More information is available here:

Ondeck Sailing and Power Boat School, an internationally-owned and operated company with a base located at Antigua Yacht Club Marina in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua is a leading provider of RYA/MCA Yachtmaster training, RYA sailing courses and RYA power boat courses.  Whether you just want to learn to sail in the Caribbean or need to get advance qualifications to progress your career in the yachting industry, Ondeck can offer a professionally-run course to suit you.

Ondeck has a great fleet of racer/cruiser yachts that are ideal for learning or enhancing your existing skills.  Ondeck’s instructors are trained and chosen for their ability to make your yachting education a fun and positive experience.  Courses unique to Ondeck in Antigua include Powerboat Levels 1 and 2 and PWC (Personal Watercraft) training.

At the north end of Antigua, Ondeck has also set up the first STCW-95 training centre in the Caribbean outside of Trinidad, where it conducts STCW Basic Safety Training Weeks, now a requirement for all crew on most super yachts.  If held in combination with the Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence, it can now lead to an STCW 95 Yachtmaster 200 Tonnes qualification.

Ondeck will make your training a fun and fulfilling experience – whether learning to operate a personal watercraft or learning sailing qualifications that you never dreamed of obtaining while on vacation in the beautiful Caribbean.  For more details on courses available from Ondeck, see their full brochure entitled Ondeck Sailing and Powerboat School -

Antigua is committed to the yachting industry and to sail training.  The recently formed National Sailing Academy is a government-endorsed program that has added swimming and sailing to the curriculum of local schools providing all students up to 18 years of age an opportunity to learn to sail.  This is a huge advancement for yachting in Antigua and will continue to ensure that more and more local youngsters are able to pursue careers in the local and international yachting industry.

We look forward to seeing you learning to sail on the waters of Antigua this summer!

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