Learning how to sail is an adventure that can be undertaken at pretty much any age – whether in your early twenties or at the beginning of retirement. Not only is sailing fun but it also offers endless benefits to your physical and mental health. Being out on the water everyday with the sun on your face and wind in your hair, swimming at beautiful bays and beaches along the way, offers a detox to the stresses of modern life.
Indeed, sailing can take you to the most paradisaical places on earth which makes it a rewarding activity for intrepid travelers. If you are considering this sport for your next hobby, you will be pleased to know that there are many breathtaking destinations around the world to choose from as your training ground. And with quality course providers such as Nautilus Sailing, you can pick up all the necessary skills in the shortest amount of time.
Nautilus Sailing runs one-week live-aboard courses in six spectacular spots across the globe: from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico to the historic town of Trogir in Croatia. Their award-winning instructors provide you with all the techniques and certifications you need to rent yachts for your dream expedition – wherever that may be. For seven days you will live and breathe the cruising lifestyle, and put your newfound knowledge to the test.
With up to four students on each vessel, you will get the chance to learn how to sail in an intimate setting and make new friends for life. There are two types of sailboats for the courses: catamarans and monohulls. Catamarans are the most popular as 90% of students choose them. Upon completion of the course, you will earn four levels of American Sailing Association certifications – allowing you to charter sailboats internationally.
Since these accreditation’s are recognized globally, it doesn’t matter which country you hail from in order to join. The most important thing to bring is a positive attitude and willingness to learn, because four textbooks and over 100 practical skills are covered. During your free time you will be able to snorkel in pristine reefs, paddle board on tranquil lagoons and wander around white sand beaches – making each day more exciting than the last.
Combining a holiday with a sail course has never been easier than with Nautilus Sailing. Their locations have been hand-picked to ensure the best of both worlds: perfect sailing conditions and a plethora of attractions to keep you entertained. Some might like the sound of a European getaway in Croatia or Spain, while others may gravitate towards the South Pacific or Caribbean. Wherever you choose, it will be the journey of a lifetime!
Best Places to Learn How to Sail
The Exumas, Bahamas
More than 300 islands make up the Exumas district of the Bahamas, home to an abundance of untouched beaches and idyllic snorkeling sites like Thunderball Grotto. For many, the Exumas is the very definition of paradise and after learning how to sail there for a week with Nautilus Sailing you will be in full agreement. The consistent winds, endless sunshine and navigable waters are simply a joy to experience for all future sailboat captains.
This trip begins in Nassau, before jumping on a stylish catamaran with your fellow students. The next day sees you sail to the Allen Cays where you greet iguanas on the beach and enjoy your first formal lesson. On the following day, the group explores engine operation and maintenance, points of sail, sail theory and sail trim on the way to Shroud Cay. Day four is all about Warderick Wells, and the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Stunning anchorages and reefs is the offering here. Then Staniel Cay will be visited where Thunderball Grotto is situated. The final couple of days involve completing the ASA tests, staying at Norman Island, snorkeling at the wreck of Pablo Escobar’s plane and celebrating becoming a new captain! With your own private cabin, three meals a day and hands-on training – you will leave full of energy ready to sail to other heavenly waters!
The Sea of Cortez, Mexico
The Sea of Cortez, situated between the Baja peninsula and mainland Mexico, is blessed with azure waters and deserted beaches – making it a wonderful choice for any sailing adventure. On the week-long live-aboard trip with Nautilus Sailing, you will be starting in the capital of Baja California Sur (La Paz) and then heading to the uninhabited island of Espiritu Santo to learn how to anchor – in addition to swimming in the inviting turquoise sea.
The following day gives you the opportunity to develop your engine operation and maintenance skills, before practicing points of sail and sail trim, en-route to Ensenada Grande – a bay that offers hikes through cactus forests. The next morning the group cruises up the coast to spot sea lions and to an anchorage called “The Hook”. On the fifth day, it’s time to take the ASA test and try your luck at circumnavigating an island on your own!
San Evaristo (a fishing village) will be visited next where you head onshore to eat fish tacos. Day six sees the students sail to Bonanza Beach which is reached via a 30-mile trip. At this point you will be leading the charting, navigation and sail trim – practicing key skills that allow you to be your own captain. The final few days include docking practice, swimming with whale sharks just outside of La Paz and celebrating the end of the course.
The Grenadines, Caribbean
The Grenadines are an unspoiled island chain spanning parts of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The tropical peaks, majestic waterfalls, postcard beaches and friendly locals create a special vibe which can’t be found elsewhere. If truth be told, much of the Caribbean has lost its authenticity due to tourism but this isn’t the case for the Grenadines – here you can discover what the Caribbean was like 30 years ago!
Your voyage with Nautilus Sailing commences in Saint George, Grenada and then at Port Louis Marina where you board the boat. The subsequent day features a chart briefing, systems overview and equipment check as your first major training tasks. Thereafter, you sail to Moliniere Point to practice mooring ball pickup and to swim in the lovely waters. Day three takes you through the basics of raising and trimming sails.
You do this along the way to the islands of Carriacou, Sandy and Ronde. The following day is all about engine checks and mooring practice, with a beach visit and grilled lobster meal thrown in for good measure! Rounding off the week are a few ASA tests, sailing around the island of Petit Saint Vincent without any instructor help, checking out Anse La Roche Bay and Tyrrel Bay, swimming in an underwater sculpture garden and much more!
Tahiti, South Pacific
Tahiti’s beauty needs no introduction – towering green peaks rise up from the ocean, awe-inspiring waterfalls flow down lush terrain, black sand beaches hug the coast and sheltered lagoons offer endless activities. On top of that, this gem of the Pacific is home to a distinct Polynesian culture which has managed to uphold its customs and traditions. For these reasons, Tahiti is easily one of the best sailing spots on the planet!
The course with Nautilus Sailing gets under way in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, before flying to the island of Raiatea. From here, you board the boat and head off on the adventure of a lifetime! The first learnings are around chart briefings, system overviews and equipment checks. You then set sail to a remote anchorage on the west side of Raiatea, with a chance of spotting whales along the way, and to go snorkeling in a turquoise lagoon.
Day three runs through things like engine operation and maintenance, points of sail and sail trim. The highlight of this day is heading up a passage to Bora Bora. After that, you sit your first ASA test and sail to the island of Taha’a where the snorkeling paradise of the Coral Gardens awaits. Capping off the trip is circumnavigating Taha’a, visiting a pearl farm, touring a vanilla plantation, docking practice and sailing to the dive site of Miri Miri.
Mallorca is one of the four main islands that make up the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. This jewel of the Mediterranean is known for its ancient towns and fortresses, beautiful beaches and coves, clear and warm waters, and fantastic food and wine. The course with Nautilus Sailing gets going in Palma de Mallorca by boarding the boat at the marina. The next day sees you do a chart briefing, systems overview and equipment check.
After ticking all these educational boxes, you set sail to Es Trenc – one of the longest and most amazing beaches on the island. As you anchor here, you will be able to swim in the turquoise waters and walk along the white sand beach. Day three gives you an introduction to engine operation and maintenance, points of sail, sail theory and sail trim. These are all crucial skills to master if you wish to become a sailboat captain in the future.
Cala d’Or is the next point of interest. At this typical Med village you try your hand at mooring, admire the bay and enjoy dining at a restaurant overlooking the water. The following days are bursting with fun: motoring down the coast to the Mondrago marine park, practicing anchoring techniques, chartering a course to Cabrera, hiking up to a fortress, eating tapas, visiting Portals Vells, sailing to Isletas and a whole lot more!
Croatia’s Adriatic Coast is ideally explored by sailboat as there are so many sun-drenched islands and quaint towns to discover. The sapphire waters that you navigate across are incredibly calm and picturesque. At the end of each day, you venture ashore to sample world-class seafood and wine – which is the cherry on top. The live-aboard sail course with Nautilus Sailing embarks from the town of Trogir after arriving in the city of Split.
The UNESCO-listed Trogir is famous for its well-preserved old town and mix of Baroque, Renaissance and Romanesque architecture. From here, you sail to the island of Šolta. Beforehand a chart briefing, system overview and equipment check ensures you are getting that all important catamaran or monohull training. Afterwards, it will be time to take a look at engine operation and maintenance, points of sail, sail theory and sail trim.
You then get to practice these new skills on a relaxing journey to Hvar. Vis is the next destination on the itinerary where you stern tie to the boardwalk and wander around the old town, with the option of wine tasting in a WWII bunker. There are so many other highlights packed into this trip but the only way to find out is to go. With the European summer just around the corner, there has never been a better time to learn how to sail!