We are just back from ten days of training in Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines. Our goal was to further our Sail Canada certifications and obtain the International Certificate of Competency, which is mandatory in some parts of the world, especially in Europe. Barefoot Yachts Charter rapidly came to the top of our search list for a few reasons:
- They have an agreement with Wavelength Sailing School (Phil Morris from Kingston, Ontario). There are a lot of American Sailing Association (ASA) affiliated schools in the Caribbean but finding a Sail Canada school is not easy.
- The Grenadines seemed like the ideal sailing area to learn and be challenged by the elements… And we were not disappointed.
- Phil Morris could certify us in parallel for Sail Canada, ASA and International Yachts Training (IYT), which was for us the trifecta of sailing certifications.
- Finally, as our plan for the end of 2019 is to cross the Atlantic from the Canaries directly to Martinique and go north from there, we would have otherwise missed visiting the Grenadines.
Besides our desire to be as ready as we can be for our boat in July, we also realized that insurers are a bit pickier than they used to be… As we do not have past sailboat ownership and offshore experience, we need all the qualifications we can get.
We had a couple of days to enjoy St-Vincent and the Blue Lagoon area when we arrived. The facilities of Barefoot Yacht Charter are very warm and quaint, they have a nice restaurant (Driftwood) and 5 guest rooms. We were very satisfied by the facilities although a bit of additional tender loving care would probably make it an exceptional location.
The training was on a Fountaine Pajot Venezia 42 that was over 20 years old. She was aptly named “Inordinate” and we gave her a series of other less flattering nicknames throughout the week. Let’s just say that we learned a lot of things that we did not plan on learning… An older boat forces you to be resourceful when things break. And they did… From losing all the anchor chain in a few seconds in a (very) windy and busy anchorage in Bequia because of a faulty windlass on the first day to having the jib tack/furler break up in 25-30 knots of wind and 2 metres seas on the last day. But overall it was an extremely successful learning experience and we feel ready for the next step. Although we were not happy with our boat, we were informed that Barefoot Yachts are planning to renew their school fleet… We would not recommend the experience until they do but were otherwise very happy with the facilities and the training.
We come out of our adventure with 9 new certifications… ASA 101, 103, 104 and 114; Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate (ROC-M); Sail Canada’s Intermediate cruising standard and Catamaran Endorsement; and IYT’s International Bareboat Skipper alongside the International Certificate of Competency (ICC).
All the anchorages in the Grenadines were spectacular, and the evenings lying on the trampoline looking at the milky way and the shooting stars were priceless. A special mention goes to Tobago Cays. These tiny cays protected by a horseshoe shaped coral reef are part of a marine park dedicated to the protection of a sea turtle habitat. To cap off a beautiful day in this idyllic location, we were treated to a lobster beach BBQ by Captain Neil and his team; we highly recommend the experience if you ever get there…
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