Fast Track to Cruising® Courses

Our Most Popular Cruising Certification Course

When Offshore Sailing School developed the course curriculum and registered the name Fast Track to Cruising® in 2006, it set the stage for the most comprehensive and successful cruising course in the country. Don’t be fooled by copy-cats who claim to teach the same course. There is only one program – the Fast Track to Cruising® Course taught by Offshore Sailing School’s professional instructors – that truly gives you the knowledge, skills and confidence to handle sailboats up to 50’ in just about any weather, without hired captain or professional crew.
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Couch to Captain’s Chair in One Week

Whether you have no sailing experience, have sailed small sailboats or are returning to sailing after a long hiatus, this is the perfect course for you. The Offshore Sailing School Fast Track to Cruising Course has no prerequisites. As soon as you enroll you are sent the comprehensive 246-page Fast Track to Cruising textbook which is the foundation for this course. If you read the book in advance you will be well-prepared for our heralded course curriculum which includes classroom training and hands-on catamaran sailing lessons. You learn from professional, experienced instructors who receive accolades from their students on course evaluations. See What You Learn below for more details.

Learn on a Catamaran or Monohull

Your first two days are on a Colgate 26 – a high performance open-cockpit daysailer used by the US Naval and Coast Guard Academies for training plebes and cadets. Then you board one of our cruising boats and learn to sail a catamaran or a large monohull. Whether you are a beginner or already have some sailing experience and feel competent handling small to mid-sized sailboats, this is the most successful program there is for Bareboat Charter Certification.

Exclusive Sailing School for The Moorings

Offshore Sailing School has been the exclusive sailing school for the most prominent charter company in the world for over 35 years. Our standard monohull for Bareboat Cruising Certification in the BVI is a Moorings 50.5, fifty feet of sheer fun that gives you the confidence to charter any size boat anywhere! Offshore Sailing School cruising course graduates are also “Captains” in The Moorings preferred charter program, and get charter discounts after completing this course. Just ask the two largest charter companies in the world – The Moorings and Sunsail – how much they value our more than 8000 recent graduates of the Offshore Sailing School Fast Track to Cruising course.

“I live in Colorado with very little sailing experience over the years since college. I’m now 61. When I told The Moorings about my “meager experience,” they seemed to be far more interested that I had completed the Fast Track to Cruising Course with Offshore. They considered that more relevant than a logbook full of experience. I was deemed qualified to bareboat charter a 43’ Beneteau.”

John Klebba – Lakewood, CO
Read more testimonials here

International Cruising

Most countries outside the Caribbean, Canada and the United States require an International Cruising Certificate to charter boats in their waters. The International Proficiency Certificate for U.S. citizens is issued by US Sailing – the governing body of Sailing in the United States. If you already have US Sailing Bareboat Cruising Certification you can apply directly to US Sailing for this certificate. Download the IPC Application Form to learn more.

The Ultimate Learning Vacation

Learn to sail a catamaran or monohull with your family and experience the real meaning of “bonding.” Learn with a friend or loved one and share the responsibilities of cruising, just the two of you. If you join the(23)_1.12A_KimSissel_700x465 course as a single you could make life-long friends with others aboard (never more than 4 students per boat). The first two days, you learn the basics on a Colgate 26, while sleeping ashore at night. Then you board a cruising sailboat for your monohull or catamaran sailing lessons, and ultimately receive your Bareboat Cruising Certification. At course end you sail with your classmates, while your instructor either stays ashore or silently relaxes aboard.

“I learned a lot and feel confident in my sailing. The course also encouraged teamwork. My husband and I did this trip as an anniversary gift and Christmas gift. I was very pleased with the course and our working together. It was a good marriage/teambuilding experience.”

Kim Sissell – Mandeville, LA
Read more testimonials here 


The Fast Track to Cruising® Course prepares you for big boat ownership and charter cruising on your own, without professional captain and crew aboard (called Bareboat Cruising by charter companies). Depending on weather conditions and the learning pace of all in your class (maximum four per boat per instructor unless you opt for a Private Family Course), the following knowledge and skills are learned and practiced in your catamaran sailing lessons.

Learn to Sail Course the First Two Days

  • Nautical terminology
  • Rigging and sails
  • Getting underway
  • Proper winch techniques
  • Finding wind direction
  • Points of sailing
  • Tacking and jibing
  • Wind and sail interaction
  • Maneuvering in close quarters
  • Wind pressure and lift

  • Heeling and stability
  • Apparent wind
  • Wind shifts
  • Sailing wing and wing
  • Stopping and starting under sail, without an engine
  • Sailing backwards, no engine
  • Rudderless sailing
  • Sail trim and sail shape
  • Boat balance

  • Hull speed
  •  Mooring and anchoring
  • Docking under sail
  • Most used knots
  • Right-of-way rules
  • Grounding remedies
  • Heavy weather techniques
  • Reefing sails (reducing sail area)
  • Steering with a compass
  • Sailing in current
  • Weather and lee helm

Bareboat Charter Cruising next 5 days or Live Aboard Cruising next 6 days at resort locations

Bareboat Charter Cruising Course: Sleep at the resort or at home while you learn to sail a catamaran during the day, a great format for those with accompanying family or friends who are taking the 5-day Learn to Sail or Performance Sailing course, or no course at all, or for those who prefer the privacy and amenities of a hotel room at night.

Live Aboard Cruising Course: Board the boat and live aboard while moving from port to port for 6 days, a unique learning experience that immerses you in the cruising lifestyle, with classroom aboard before setting sail each day, sleeping in a private or shared cabin, sharing common space, meal preparation and other tasks with classmates.

  • Planning a cruise
  • Familiarization with boat layout and sail plan
  • Operation of engine, stove and head
  • Routine engine maintenance
  • Fueling techniques
  • Use and conservation of battery and charging systems
  • Water use and conservation
  • Use and location of thru-hull fittings
  • Maneuvering under power and sail with emphasis on windage considerations and close quarters
  • Big boat docking and anchoring techniques
  • Proper and safe handling of halyards and lines
  • Proper and safe use of winches
  • Apparent wind and sail selection
  • Sail shape and trim
  • Inter-crew communication when trimming sails, docking and anchoring
  • Genoa roller furling use
  • Overboard recovery procedures

  • Big boat heavy weather and reefing techniques
  • Heaving-to
  • Sailing wing and wing on bigger boats
  • Use of jennaker if available
  • Boom preventer use
  • More knots and their applications
  • Log procedures
  • Piloting techniques including set, drift and leeway calculations
  • GPS navigation
  • Rules of the Road
  • Danger bearings
  • Coast Guard requirements
  • VHF use
  • Courtesy using lights and sound signals
  • Use of safety harness
  • Emergency tiller use
  • Distress signals

If you are learning on a catamaran, your training also includes:

• Multiple scenarios related to wind direction and current while docking and anchoring
• Close quarters maneuvering on a catamaran versus a monohull
• Windage considerations
• Proper docking techniques for catamaran including spring lines and other dock lines

Pre-requisite for the Fast Track to Cruising Course: No prior sailing experience required

Three Certifications: Colgate Day Sailing, Colgate Coastal Cruising, and Colgate Bareboat Cruising Certifications come with this course, when you pass those tests. US Sailing certifications are available for a fee of $150 per person, paid at the time you sign up for course. If you opt for US Sailing certification, the US Sailing Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising and Bareboat Cruising textbooks are sent in advance in addition to the Fast Track to Cruising textbook. Certification testing will then be based on the US Sailing books.


Please visit Our Locations for Fast Track to Cruising Course packages. Rates include everything listed below, vary by season, location, type of boat (monohull or catamaran), and whether you choose a shore-based or live-aboard course. Not included are meals unless otherwise noted, travel and other expenses you may incur.

Resort Locations

At all resort locations, your course includes:

  • Learn to Sail and Bareboat Charter Cruising or Live Aboard Cruising Course tuitions
  • Three nights accommodations at the resort if choosing the Live Aboard Cruising course
  • 7 or 8 nights accommodations if choosing the Bareboat Charter Cruising Course
  • Daily per person resort fee covering all amenities, WiFi and other services at the resort
  • Mandatory taxes on accommodations and resort fee portion of the package
  • Steve and Doris Colgate’s 246-page Fast Track to Cruising textbook, published by McGraw-Hill (also available in e-book format)
  • Two days (six hours each day) learning on a Colgate 26 sailboat
  • All breakfasts, lunches, snacks and three dinners if choose Live Aboard Cruising Course
  • Practice test sail at course end
  • Three certifications (see What You Learn tab)
  • Colgate Logbook
  • Certification stickers
  • Course diploma
  • Eligibility to join alumni-only Offshore Sailing Club
  • Eligibility to participate in alumni-only Offshore Cruising Club Flotilla Cruises
  • Exclusive subscription benefit from Cruising World or Sailing World magazines
  • Discount charter benefits from The Moorings

International Proficiency Certificate (IPC) for Chartering Overseas

If you plan to charter with The Moorings, Sunsail or another reputable charter company in Europe or other areas overseas, you may be required to show your certification certificates or an International Proficiency Certificate. US Sailing, the governing body of sailing in the United States, will issue this certificate for a nominal fee for U.S. citizens who have achieved US Sailing Bareboat Cruising Certification. Download the IPC Application Form to learn more.

Fast Track to Cruising – 8-days with Live Aboard Cruising, sleep ashore first two or three nights, then next six nights are aboard

Sample schedule for resort based courses – may vary depending on weather and which location you choose.

Friday  Arrival Day
No instruction

Saturday & Sunday Days  1 & 2 Learn to Sail Course
8:00-10:00 – Learn to Sail classroom session
10:00-1:00 – On-water Learn to Sail course instruction – Colgate 26
1:00-2:00 – Lunch
2:00-5:00 – On-water Learn to Sail course instruction – Colgate 26

Monday Day 3 – First Day of Live Aboard Cruising Course
9:00 – Meet instructor and board boat, stow gear and provisions
Boat show safety briefing and chart briefing as soon as everyone has settled in
Instruction under sail starts right after chart briefing
5:00 – Drop anchor, pick up mooring or dock’ debrief, relax or study, dinner, anchor checks

Tuesday – Thursday Days 4-6 – Live Aboard Cruising Course
Sunrise  Breakfast and classroom session
Colgate Day Sailing or US Sailing Basic Keelboat certification test, Wednesday
9:00  Set sail – various drills, practice maneuvers, sail handling, overboard recovery
5:00  Drop anchor, pick up mooring or dock; debrief, relax, study, dinner and anchor checks

Friday Day 7 – Live Aboard Cruising Course
Sunrise  Breakfast and classroom session
9:00-12:00  Course continues with certification tests; debrief. final round of docking practice
12:00-sunset  Test mini-cruise (without instructor aboard, or with you as silent observer)

Saturday Day 8 – End of Live Aboard Cruising Course
No later than noon Return boat to base – graduation party

Fast Track to Cruising – 7-days with Bareboat Charter Cruising, sleep ashore each night

Sample schedules for resort locations, vary depending on weather and which location you choose.

Friday  Arrival Day
No instruction

Saturday & Sunday Days 1 & 2 Learn to Sail Course
8:00-10:00 – Learn to Sail classroom session
10:00-1:00 – On-water Learn to Sail course instruction – Colgate 26
1:00-2:00 – Lunch
2:00-5:00 – On-water Learn to Sail course instruction – Colgate 26

Monday and Wednesday Days 3 & 5 – Bareboat Charter Cruising Course (Full Day Sailing)
8:00-10:00 – Classroom lecture for all
10:00- 1:30 – On-water instruction on cruising boat
1.30- 2:00 – Lunch break (may pick up lunches in morning and be on water all day)
2:00- 5:30 – On-water instruction on cruising boat

Tuesday and Thursday Days 4 & 6 of Bareboat Charter Cruising Course (Half-Day Sailing)
8:00-10:00 – Classroom lecture for all
10:00- 1:30 – On-water instruction on cruising boat
1:30- 2:00 – Lunch break
2:00- 3:00 – Certification tests taken

Friday: Day 7 of Bareboat Charter Cruising Course (Half-Day Sailing)
8:00-12:00 – Test sail without instructor aboard or as silent observer


Offshore Sailing School knows we cannot thrive without great employees and products. All graduates are asked to fill out an evaluation at the end of the course. The following testimonials come from those evaluations and individual correspondence with recent graduates of the Fast Track to Cruising® Course. Many are happy to correspond by email or phone with you. If you would like us to put you in touch with anyone below, please call 888-454-7015 or email sail@OffshoreSailing.com.

Here’s what our Fast Track to Cruising graduates have to say:

My husband and I have been bareboat chartering for the past 10 years. It was our 17 year old daughters that wanted to get certified. They wanted to ensure that they could sail on their own one day. We took the live aboard as a family and took our knowledge and skills to the next level. We all now know “why” we make each sail adjustment, tack, jibe, etc. Sailing is now a bigger thrill than ever.

Susan Burns – Nashville, TN

I went from novice, wondering if sailing was for me, to a sailing enthusiast – comfortable with a large boat, in one short week.

Mike Mahan – Live Oak, FL

The experience was outstanding. My wife was so worried she would not enjoy it; I thought she would bite her nails off and pull her hair out on the trip down to the class. About 2/3 of the way through the week she thanked me for making her come and still says it was one of the best weeks she has ever had. She is telling everyone she sees to do it. My thanks to the instructors for their patience and caring, not to mention their humor.

Steve Allen – Albany, GA

One of the most productive vacations I have ever been on. The instructors were amazing, I learned a lot and had so much fun. I can’t stop telling everyone I know how cool this experience was. I will be sending my parents this trip as a gift.

Charles Zahalka, MD – Las Vegas, NV

This experience was life-changing and opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunities. Before taking this course I had never sailed, yet alone been on a boat. I never imagined that after only one week I would be sailing with confidence. I entered the course excited and terrified, but the moment I arrived I felt a sense of ease. My instructors were extremely patient, never intimidating, and always encouraging. The difference between Offshore Sailing and other organizations is that both of my instructors had extensive experience and knowledge in sailing.

Jennifer Card – Chicago, IL

My wife and I are planning on purchasing a boat in the next few years and I feel this course was a great decision in preparing us to own a boat.

Joseph Boucher – Pasadena, MD

We had an amazing experience! Mike and I really only took this course because it was important to my brother-in-law who had a passion to learn and we wanted to spend time together. Neil took two beginners with only slight curiosity and made us extremely passionate to sail and continue the journey. He’s an amazing teacher with the patience of a saint!! We came away with way more knowledge and excitement to learn. We rented the 4600 catamaran right after our courses which will allow us to put all this great info to work.

Heather Nichols – Selana Beach, CA

I just wanted to let you know what a great time I had in St. Petersburg. Everything was perfect from the accommodations, weather, boat, instructor and classmates. The boat was provisioned perfectly. I couldn’t be happier with the experience I had at Offshore Sailing School and want to congratulate you on a superbly run organization. Cory was a great instructor and a fun guy to share a week with.

Brad Vaughan – Overland Park, KS

It is obvious that Offshore Sailing School puts a lot of effort in their selection of instructors. Our instructor, Jim Marvin, did an exceptional job. It was obvious he was very knowledgeable about sailing, but what impressed me the most was his ability to teach. My wife and I have very different learning styles. Jim recognized that quickly and adjusted his teaching where we were both able to grasp the subjects covered and apply them in an actual sail experience. This was a family course for us and my two children (9 and 11) were a little apprehensive at times throughout the week. Despite that, on our sail Friday without an instructor, they all put what they learned to work and we had an excellent day at sea! We thoroughly enjoyed the class and look forward to getting back out on the water with newly gained confidence in sailing.

Kyle Couture – Birmingham, AL

I learned a lot and feel confident in my sailing. The course also encouraged teamwork. My husband and I did this trip as an anniversary gift and Christmas gift. I was very pleased with the course and our working together. It was a good marriage/teambuilding experience.

Kim Sissell – Mandeville, LA

Terrific experience, very impressed. Bart was exceptionally patient on the water. For a complete novice like myself I cannot believe how much I learned about sailing.

Cynthia Rice – Halifax, NS

It was a huge amount of material, and I am surprised how much I learned in a short period of time. We can’t wait for summertime sailing on the Chesapeake. Mark and I chartered a cat for our June wedding and sailed it from Annapolis to St. Michaels with some of our wedding guests aboard. Our honeymoon was spent sailing!

Leigh Scott – Vienna, VA

Both instructors had an unbelievable wealth of knowledge and were able to impart it with ease. Outstanding bonding experience with my teenage son and other classmate.

Michael Morrison – Plantation, FL

Jacek is a natural teacher – very patient, allowed us to do everything so we learned a faster pace. He put me at ease with regard to testing and handling the boat, loves sailing, and it was contagious. This was a stretch for me, but I am very glad I did it. I am unlikely to sail the world, but will definitely take on our lake and sail with our grandchildren!

Kathy McAuliffe – Concord, NH

I thought the experience could not have been better. We learned a tremendous amount and had lots of fun at the same time. Jacek was the key to our successful journey into proving our sailing and cruising skills.

Jane Cogswell – Concord, NH

Mark is an amazing instructor! As a corporate trainer myself I know how difficult it can be to let the student experience and learn. LOVED how he explained the why and how first, then demo’d and then gave great feedback to help learn. I felt very comfortable as the solo gal with three experienced male students. AMAZING experience! So happy I chose Offshore!!

Ruth Ann Holly – Koln, Germany

My experience at South Seas and with the Offshore Sailing School was incredible. I couldn’t believe I’d learn to sail a 43’ Jeanneau in a week, but by the end of the course I feel comfortable on the water and ready to sail even more. Highly recommend, especially for those who haven’t sailed before.

Elizabeth Hwang – Philadelphia, PA

This course greatly exceeded my expectations. I am very new to sailing, but this experience has opened my mind to a whole new world. I thank Offshore Sailing for providing a course where I was able to spend some very valuable time with my family.

William Bennett V – Lexington, KY

Excellent course, much more comfortable with bareboat sailing and now looking forward to bareboat cruising. Michael was great with helping our kids enjoy the course, Garren was very patient on the water and very kind to our children.

Karen and Eric Snider – Kirksville, MO

Start Cruising Now!

Call 888-454-7015 or 239-454-1700
Email Sail@OffshoreSailing.com

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