Posts Tagged ‘Coastal Cruising’


Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

By Oleg Polishchuk

Participant on Offshore Sailing School’s Latest Blue Water Sailing Adventure
From Captiva Island, FL to Charleston, WV

Captiva Island, Florida to Miami – Magnificent First Night at Sea

Coastal Passage Making Course

Oleg Polishchuk at the helm of Offshore's Jeanneau 439

We sailed away on a sunny Monday afternoon. After swinging the boat and practicing a couple of tacks, we set off for Key West. Our first night at sea was magnificent. We had a very pleasant breeze that allowed us to sail on a reach at 5-6 knots through the night enjoying a fantastic display of stars.

In the morning, we were greeted by a couple of dolphins. They played with the boat for a couple of minutes posing for pictures and generally having a good time.

Gulf Stream Baptism

Just as we planned, by mid-day, we were at the entrance to the Key West channel, and in a couple more hours we were greeted by the Gulf Stream, who meticulously baptized us into true coastal passage makers. The so-called baptizing came in form of a 25-knot Northeaster,  rousing waves and our spirits 6 feet high. It was a jolly good ride for a while. The wind and waves kept us thoroughly entertained for many an hour.

However, after being close-hauled for hours on end, our exhilarating beating started to feel more like… a downright beating, indeed. Bruised an exhausted we were only too happy to bolt for Miami for a well-deserved R&R.

Miami to Charleston – Due North in Following Seas

The second stage of the expedition was much more peaceful. We left Miami with an ebbing tide making our way through choppy waves raised by the Southeastern wind. Once we left the harbor and set the sail, the going got much smoother.We were met by dolphins again who staged a fantastic show jumping from wave to wave, obviously sporting with us and having a great time.

From Miami the course was due North. We were in following seas for a night and a day enjoying frequent surfs that would carry the boat forward at 11 knots or more. Wind conditions remained challenging forcing us on occasion to deeply reef the main. We experimented with dropping the genoa altogether when the wind veered farther south. While a flapping genoa is not much fun, furling it deprived us of early warning signals indicating we might be sailing by the lee. So, the genoa was back pretty soon.

Collision Course on the High Seas

Coastal Passage Making Course

Captain Jeff Werner (left) and Oleg Polishchuk

One night, while on a starboard tack, we encountered what seemed at first like a Flying Dutchman trying to take us head on. Despite, or maybe in spite, of all navigation rules, it was sailing, as any respectable Flying Dutchman worthy of its name would, on a collision course. After long minutes of peering through the binoculars and a series of not so pleasant radio exchanges we figured out that the boat was crewed after all. It was sailed by a frightened couple heading God knows where and why. They lost the engine, and with just a foresail up they were pretty much at the mercy of the wind.We decided to be nice and did not complicate the matters any further by being sticklers to the navigation rules.

Veering Winds and the Milky Way

Another day and another night followed. The wind veered, and we had to deviate from our course to steer by 20-30 degrees before we finally tacked for Charleston, and then the wind died.  But before it did we enjoyed a fantastic star show featuring constellations and the one and only Milky Way, annotated by expert observations from Capt. Jeff. We hove-to and spent our last night at sea in a peaceful slumber interrupted now and then by intermittent and quite intriguing Securite calls from the Coast Guards.

Charleston met us with a cold morning, by the light of which we could clearly see the reason for the previous night’s radio activity. Right at the entrance to the harbor there was a Navy speedboat sitting snugly on the wave breaker. We docked soon thereafter at the city marina, gliding to the pylons as smoothly as an old man would ease himself into a hot bathtub.

We made it!

Thanks to Oleg for this delightful story about his Offshore Sailing School  Coastal Passage Making course with Jeff Werner as lead instructor.

Offshore Sailing School Passage Making Course “A Blast”

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

1313 Nautical Miles
1492 Statute Miles

Offshore Sailing School's Fast Track to Passage Making course

The Crew (left to right): Charlie and Bob (back row); David, Tyler, Bill Baird, Cruz, Kris Kaminski (front row)

November 2, 2011, five Offshore Sailing School graduates embarked on a 12-day Fast Track to Coastal Passage Making course from St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

On November 15 at 1:30 p.m. they slid skillfully alongside the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa’s dock on Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.

It was a gorgeous sunny day with very little wind when they left the Inn at Perry Cabin on the Miles River in St. Michaels, Maryland - great for preparing the boat and getting used to one another, Offshore’s two instructors and the Hunter 50 that would take them on this liveaboard cruising odyssey. During the trip, the entire crew stood watches and worked on two certifications – Coastal Navigation and Coastal Passage Making.

Two courses with two certifications

Offshore Sailing School requires two expert instructors for these programs.  A lead instructor who runs the course and a second instructor who assists and manages one of the watches. Everyone aboard stands watch – working on deck while the other half of the team is below sleeping or resting.

Offshore Sailing School Coastal Passage Making Course preparation

Checking safety equipment before getting underway

Will Baird, who has been sailing since 1974 and has more deliveries and passages under his belt than one can imagine, was the lead instructor on this course. Kris Kaminiski, the second instructor, started sailing at age 9 and has done many ocean races and transatlantic passages.

Will teaches many Offshore Sailing School passage making courses – which normally are run in the Gulf of Mexico from Fort Myers Beach or Captiva Island, Florida.

Kris has been teaching all summer at Offshore Sailing School at Liberty Landing Marina – challenging students to navigate the busy waters of the Hudson River between New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey.

Provisioning for Offshore Sailing School Coastal Passage Making course

Stowing 12 days of provisions is an art

Advance preparation 

Participants hailed from Maryland, Florida, Missouri and Canada. Before departing, some of the team stowed 12 days of food using a menu prepared by Doris Colgate, president of Offshore who has a lot of experience in this area from her racing days on the Colgate’s 54′ Frers ocean racer, Sleuth. For this course, the Colgates did all the shopping from an extensive list based on the menu. When asked if the provisioning worked out, the unanimous comment was “it was great!” though they never could find the pancake mix (which Doris thinks was off-loaded by mistake before they left).

A lot of preparation goes into a course like this with special emphasis on provisioning, safety equipment and procedures. “Passage Making courses are no different from ocean races and deliveries when it comes to safety,” explains Steve Colgate – a veteran ocean racer, Olympic and America’s Cup sailor who started Offshore Sailing School in 1964. At a “meet and greet” the evening before the group departed, Steve emphasized techniques for “staying aboard” when going from topsides to below and vice versa in heavy seas, as well as many other requirements and skills they would learn and practice.

Good trip, great crew!

Instructor, Kris Kaminski commented as they arrived, “It was a good trip and great crew.” Jeremy (Cruz) Krause said “it was a blast.” With excitement in their voices, they described 20′ seas, 40 knots of wind off Cape Fear and surging down waves at high speeds. Charlie McVicker, a physician on call for offshore oil rigs, had the thrill driving with a huge wall of waves behind him in follwing seas. We can’t wait to see those pictures!

Bob Peat, an engineer, turned out to be an outstanding cook and took over the galley to everyone else’s delight.  “At first they had a little trouble plotting courses in 40+ knots of wind,” explained head instructor Will Baird. But everyone soon got used to the moltion and into the rhythm of standing watches – four hours on, 6 hours off. When asked if they went aground anywhere, Will described a quick touch 20′ of water just outside Charleston “where the wind and waves sucked the water out.” at times they were going 9 knot with a triple reefed main.

Offshore Sailing School Coastal Passage Making course departure

Underway at 11:30 a.m. on November 2, 2011

Almost there!

On the Miami to Key West run, they changed the watch to 3 hours on, two hours off and finished up their Coastal Navigation plotting and tests for both certifications before taking off on their last leg. Warm fog engulfed them as they neared Ft. Myers Beach, another great experience – sailing in dense fog, then anchoring as they got into shallow water near land to let it burn off.

If you’ve got blue water sailing and passage making in your plans, first you’ll need all the credentials that lead up to this course - Basic Keelboat through Bareboat Cruising and Coastal Navigation certifications taught through the US SAILING certification program.
As the Coastal Passage Making crew secured the Hunter 50, a Learn to Sail course with the Waite family sailed by on an Offshore Sailing School Cogate 26. Steve, Anne and daugher Hilary from Seattle, Washington were brushing up their skills on the warm waters of the Gulf on a beautiful sunny day. Maybe their next step is cruising!

Learn more, go to and pick a course that gets you on the Fast Track now. Want to talk to someone about your options? Call 888-454-7015 today!

See you on the water . . .

Doris Colgate

38 Years in the British Virgin Islands

Saturday, August 28th, 2010
The Moorings fleet in the BVI

Some of The Moorings fleet in the British Virgin Islands

In 1972 Steve and I put together the first of more than 100 cruising vacations for our growing list of Offshore Sailing School ( graduates who wanted more. We got on a plane in the heat of a New York City August morning and sped down to the British Virgin Islands with 34 graduates – all for less than $500 per person including air! It was beastly hot when we changed to a puddle jumper in Puerto Rico, but on the ground at Beef Island a steady breeze off the water wafted through the air. We got to expect those cooling Trade Winds any time of year and, along with our graduates, fell in love with those beautiful, lush islands. A year later, we forged a partnership with The Moorings and started teaching cruising courses on their yachts.

 Today, 38 years later that partnership is going strong. Offshore Sailing School has taught thousands of would-be cruisers to take the helm of a bareboat charter yacht. I can’t think of a better place to fulfill your sailing goals and enjoy a refreshing and rewarding learning experience than from The Moorings Village at Wyckham’s Cay in Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands (

This is the place to Learn to Sail, take the Fast Track to Cruising course, our Live Aboard Cruising course and get into Passage Making. You can get US SAILING certification or Colgate Certification and start cruising all over the world at The Moorings bases after just one course. Offshore Sailing School’s Colgate 26 fleet at this location provides a five-day relaxing vacation with certification at the Day Sailing level. It’s also the stepping-stone for Live Aboard Courses on gorgeous 43′ to 51′ cruising yachts, even power cruising on super comfortable Moorings 47′ power cats.

Here’s an excerpt from The Moorings website: The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are comprised of more than 25 beautiful jewels set amid the sheltered, turquoise waters of the central Caribbean Sea. Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada are the major isles of the archipelago. The smaller islands, many splendid for day or overnight visits, add to the varied mix of tropical pleasures, which can be as laid-back or as active as desired during a British Virgin Islands yacht charter. White-sand beaches, luxury waterfront resorts, sailor-friendly bars and upscale restaurants, chic boutique shopping, snorkeling and scuba diving on coral reefs teeming with sea life, it is all the perfect blend to create a delightfully rejuvenating experience under sail.

The Baths in the British Virgin islands

Learning to Cruise on a power boat or sailing yacht in the British Virgin Islands

No matter when you go, you’ll enjoy temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 with constant breezes and beautiful crystal clear waters. At this location you can spend your time learning while staying in a lovely room ashore (our five-day Learn to Sail course on a Colgate 26), go from novice to ready-to-cruise in an accelerated Fast Track to Cruising experience with two days learning the basics on a Colgate 26 and then five days mastering the techniques of handling a beautiful 43’ cruising yacht. Or, if you already have the basics you can step right into the Live Aboard Cruising course and earn your bareboat cruising certification in five action packed days.

Then the world is yours – chartering with The Moorings back in the BVI, heading abroad to the Greek Islands or the South Pacific, or one of their many other locations in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Far East, South Pacific, Mexico and Pacific Northwest.

But you gotta start somewhere, so send me an email ( and I’ll get you hoooked up with one of our super sales associates for a learning vcation you’ll long remember!

Yours truly,

Doris Colgate of Offshore Sailing School

Doris Colgate, forever sailing and loving it

A Southwest Florida Jewel for Offshore Sailing School

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Thirty-five years ago, when Steve and I decided we needed a southern U.S. base we drove the Florida east coast route from Port St. Lucie down to the Keys and up the west coast to Captiva Island – in search of the perfect destination resort. It was quite an eye opener as we visited one location after another – finding beautiful beaches but no harbors where we could keep boats, a great harbor but rinky-dink motels or no housing at all ashore – or a combination that worked but with a low, fixed bridge in the path to open water. 

South Seas Island Resort's pool and fishing pier viewed from Pine Island Sound

Then, running out of time, we came upon South Seas Plantation (now called South Seas Island Resort) on the tip of Captiva Island.  Tired, and feeling like we needed to think twice about Florida, Steve had earlier called the resort and was transferred to the harbor master who said the resort only had 50 rooms and the marina was full. He was a power boater, we found out later, who referred to sailors as “ragmen” (“rag” for sails). But we made one more call on the advice of a beach vendor at the then Marco Island Marriott, and reached the manager of the resort who said “I know who you are, come on up!  We’d love to have you.” Turns out he was at Out Island Inn in the Bahamas when we opened a racing program there in 1971. It is a very small world when it came to hotel managers.

We had dragged our scrapbooks full of articles about Offshore Sailing School all over Florida and didn’t need them at this perfect home for Offshore Sailing School.  The 17 mile drive down Sanibel Island and ont0 Captiva was arched with Australian Pines gently blowing in the breeze. We saw our first Osprey and thought it was a Bald Eagle. Thirty-five years ago, the resort had condos and hotel rooms facing the marina, a small ante bellum style hotel sitting on the bay, and a bunch of little fishing cottages that dated back to lime plantation and fishing camp days.  The historic Kings Crown Room was where we ate our meals, overlooking gas burning tiki torches that cast shadows on majestic coconut palms.

Over the years, the 330 acre resort grew from a couple hundred rooms to over 500 but has maintained its unique village style with two themed

areas and an atmosphere that invites learning, relaxing, exploring and total rejuvenation. Now a Luxury Resorts property, South Seas Island Resort’s ambiance, accommodations and amenities are absolutely top of the line. There are wonderful kids programs, and educational sessions for adults as well, plus fishing, jogging and bicycle paths, kayaking, golf, tennis, a gorgeous pool with private cabanas, broad white sand beaches loaded with shells, spa and fitness facilities and a Nature Center – all right on the property. You never need to use your car, as golf carts and Trek bicycles are available to rent and a trolley travels back and forth on the 2.5 mile Plantation Drive.

Best of all the sailing is terrific; with the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Pine Island Sound to the east. The sunsets overlooking a horizon that stretches all the way to Mexico are spectacular. We’ve even seen the “green flash” there! It’s a beautiful place all year round, and a fantastic fall/winter/spring getaway when snow’s on the ground and the wind is howling through tall buildings and plains up north.

Colgate 26 fleet

Offshore Sailing School fleet at South Seas Island Resort

At this location you can take just about every course Offshore Sailing School has to offer: Learn to Sail, Fast Track to Cruising, Live Aboard Cruising, Bareboat Cruising Preparation, Performance Sailing and our annual Offshore/North U Race Week, plus Coastal Passage Making. It’s a favorite of all who visit, so plan your next vacation now – because our courses fill early and so do the rooms.

As South Seas says on its website – - the resort is all about “Family. Nature. Comfort.” Offshore Sailing School is all about giving you the best learning vacation you’ll find.

So I urge you to take a look at this touch of paradise and check out for more information on a vacation that will set you on a

whole new lifestyle.

Yours truly,

Doris Colgate – a very happy sailor!

Scepter 43 Departs for CPM 12-14-2009

Monday, December 14th, 2009

mini Dragonsbane 1-1This afternoon one of the new vessels of the Offshore Sailing School cruising  fleet, the awesome Scepter 43 “Dragonsbane” departed on a week long Coastal Passage Making  course. With prevailing Northerly winds she and her crew of six (4 students and 2 instructors) departed Captiva Island,  FL and headed out into the very blue Gulf of Mexico for the run to Key West to start the week’s Passage Making Course.  The water color and clarity is excellent  off the coast of Florida, providing a plethora of visible sea life for their viewing pleasure. This morning while participating in the  first boat  safety briefing of the day two  dolphins entered the  harbor at South Seas Yacht Harbour on Captiva Island and put on quite a show for the students and instructors, a good omen for the start of this week’s Coastal Passage Making Course. The students on board have diligently prepared for this instructional voyage. The students arrived  last week to begin this journey spending 4 days in the Coastal Navigation Course at Offshore Sailing School’s South Seas Island Resort Campus on Captiva Island. The CONAV course ended yesterday with all  students graduating with their CONAV certification. The next step is the week long sailing adventure in the Coastal PassageMaking course that strated today.

Sailing, Good for you – Good for the world!

Doug Sparks