We actually went somewhere (Key Largo), rather than returning to the dock each evening. The course was made to be an adventure, as well as simply instructional. The weather was “made to order” — sun and gentle breeze Saturday through Wednesday, then Force 8 for our ‘foul weather instruction’ on Thursday.
— Peter Ratcliffe of Wichita, KS
I thought it was an excellent, challenging course. It definitely wasn’t a “cruise.” The instructor expected a lot from the students. I like that.
— Mark Bruscino of Cody, WY
I have nothing but the utmost praise for your entire operation and the quality of the instruction that I received. Al Hatch is a consummate instructor and brings to this activity a love and a passion that is genuine and expansive. I hope to be able to return to Blue Water to experience some of the higher-level courses of instruction, and I certainly would have no trouble at all recommending your company to anyone.
— Roger Howard of Troy, MI
This was the best vacation I’ve ever had. We accomplished our goals in taking the courses, learned a great deal that we can transfer to our own boat, a Catalina 30, and had more fun than is legal.
— Tony and Lori Pizzuti of Houston, TX
I investigated a number of sailing schools (Newport, Annapolis, N. Fort Myers, and Key West) and Blue Water was the only one that really appealed to me because of the live-aboard experience. The other schools didn’t offer the opportunity to sail to a different anchorage each night, which seems to me a major reduction in the value of the course curriculum.
By doing it the BWSS way we lived and breathed sailing all day, every day. We learned to sail the boat efficiently, in order to make our next anchorage before dark. We learned every day which attributes to look for in an anchorage, and how to set an anchor firmly, and each time we learned something new… we immediately put the new knowledge to use. At the end of our second day, we entered our anchorage and set our anchor under sail, which went a long way toward building confidence. I felt like I was really really learning to sail. The man overboard drills were the best! We really came together as a crew, and really felt like we were learning to sail and control the boat.
Finally — I believe that I did more and learned more than I ever expected to learn in only 6 days. That’s the big advantage of having chosen Blue Water Sailing School. The icing on the cake: I had a ton of fun.
— Vincent Giglio of New London, CT
[The] instructor was without a doubt the best one I’ve ever had in sailing. A total cruising experience. Great location in Newport. Learned, experienced and practiced more than I ever expected. Great boat… stable and quick and easy to handle with just two people.
— Doug Harte of Livingston, NJ
The live-aboard format was key to the learning. It provided a more realistic and comprehensive training environment. The more time you spend on the boat, the more things you experience, hence learn. I also liked the academic reviews on the boat it provided context that you’d miss in the classroom.
— Don Hamblen of Lawrence, KS
From my first phone and e-mail contact to the farewells at week’s end the experience was organized, well thought out & planned, and enjoyable… Although I have not attended any other formal sailing schools, I believe BWSS sets a very high standard. Other programs would do well to follow [their] lead.
— Dale Hartwig of Grand Island, NE
[The] instruction was extremely comprehensive and thorough. We went from your course directly to the Virgin Islands, and chartered a bareboat for 8 days. We sailed (seldom motored) from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda & back (via a different routes), including remote anchorages, squalls, docking & navigation with no situations we didn’t know how to handle.
— Patrick Willyard of Salida, CO
We could not have asked for more — we learned a lot and had a ton of fun! The only way to experience this type of schooling is to live aboard and actually get to go somewhere like we did with your A+ [course]. I am shouting from the top of the spreaders to all the folks I know that your program is excellent and hope that we can return and continue further education and experiences with your school in the future.
— Chris Tucker of Carbondale, CO
Blue Water’s was the only course I found that actually took you out on a cruise where you anchored away from the home marina several nights, and gave you actual cruising experience. During the cruise, there were innumerable little experiences that you wouldn’t get by sailing around close to the same marina and returning each night… Keep up the good work and you can rest assured that I will recommend y’all to any of my friends that want to do the same thing.
— Steve Upchurch of Houston, TX
My husband and I had virtually no sailing experience when we began the course… we now feel confident that we can go sailing on our own. We can’t wait to put our new skills and knowledge to work — starting with a small boat in very open waters — and are very grateful for the superior training that we received from BWSS. I would highly recommend the sailing course, and will certainly consider taking additional courses after I have had the opportunity to get more sailing experience.
— Michelle Delemarre of Washington, DC
The first full day of your course completely exceeded my expectations of what I thought I might experience for the entire week! I could hardly sleep that night thinking about how exciting it had been and how much more we were going to receive throughout the rest of the course.
Captain Condon continually plied us with information until he felt we were no longer able to digest it. His love for the sport and gift as a teacher still has me in awe several weeks after the course. He gave us a really good foundation that can enable us to become real solid sailors providing we practice and continue studying. The trip back up to the home port really helped build confidence as we were able to start the been there done it process.
Your description of the course did talk about the difficulty of trying to train for three levels within the one-week schedule. It was very hard, almost overwhelming at times. There is a lot of information to process. At the same time could there be a better way to be learning about the sport? We were on a wonderful yacht, eating tremendous meals, sailing around in paradise, challenging ourselves and exercising our brains in the company of a mentor who showed, explained and patiently taught the ways of sailors. It’s brilliant.
— Larry Harmon of Crown Point, NY
We also receive many anonymous comments from the Course Evaluation forms that every students fills out after a course. A sampling of these comments:
Live-aboard instruction and sailing added great and necessary experience to a chartering certification. The instructor…was experienced, knowledgeable, and extremely patient while holding to a necessary standard.
I took this course to learn to sail, and I did. I am really happy with my BWSS experience.
I really feel much more confident on the water and I feel I can handle emergency situations much better.
I had a superb experience. I felt well prepared, knew what to expect, learned a lot and feel confident about my new knowledge.
Very professional. Well done.
[The instructor] challenged us to think for ourselves and put us in a few challenging situations where we had to respond, example sailing upwind through a narrow channel… At the end of the course I felt very comfortable handling a 40 ft boat, which is what I hoped to accomplish.
Capt. Bill was the most professional and knowledgeable instructor I have ever had. This was my third sailing school experience and Capt. Bill was far superior than the other instructors.
I truly feel confident with the skills and knowledge gained — can’t wait to use them.
My instructor was outstanding. He never stopped teaching. I have been sailing for quite a while on my own boat. After this course, it will be a much greater pleasure to do so.
I don’t think I ever learned more in a single week or had a better time doing it. It was a great mix of instruction and experience. BWSS’s “stay-a-board” approach to teaching was invaluable.