When school’s out the kids go sailing!

Kids from around the Caribbean and world will head to St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., June 13 to 19, for the International Optimist Regatta (IOR) presented by EMS Virgin Islands and the TOTE Maritime Clinic and Team Race. The big draw this year is the chance to use this event as a tune-up for the Optimist North American Championships, which take place in Antigua, July 10 to 18. The perennially favorite feature of the IOR is an opportunity for junior sailors, both novices and advanced, to participate in a three-day clinic taught by top Opti coaches. Add a chance to team race and then fleet race some of the best local, regional and international sailors, plus delight in a destination where younger siblings can play on the beach, and moms and dads can enjoy some family-friendly sightseeing, watersports and dining, and you’ve got one great summer sailing vacation. styc.club/international-optimist-regatta.html 

Summer sailing camps

Swap a tent for a boat at one of the many Caribbean-based sailing camps each summer. Sail Caribbean, based in Northport, New York, offers a number of adventures designed for students 11 to 22 years of age. The Alpha two-week program provides junior high and high school students with a chance to learn to sail aboard a 50-foot monohull in the B.V.I. Days are also filled with watersports such as snorkeling and wakeboarding, hands-on marine biology lessons, and hikes ashore on deserted islands and cays. The cost is $3,995 per camper. Those looking for a longer cruise can sign up for the Caribbean Arc Sailing Voyage, a 31-day camp for high schoolers offered by Raleigh, North Carolina-based Broadreach, Inc. This 500-nautical-mile passage starts in St. Martin and ends in Grenada. Along the way, campers can earn several International Yacht Training (IYT) sailing certifications. The cost is $6,480 to $7,280 per camper. School may be out, but camps like these provide incredible life-skills learning experiences for kids. sailcaribbean.com; gobroadreach.com

Summer sailing school

Families can go back to school together by taking one of the region’s many fun learn-to-sail courses. For example, Grenada Bluewater Sailing (GBS) offers a number of classes under the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) scheme aboard its Beneteau Oceanis 461. “Dad or Mom will normally aim for the Day Skipper qualification (minimum age 16) while the kids take the Competent Crew course (no age minimum),” says GBS’s Polly Philipson. Both courses run 5-7 days and cost $1,060 to $1,345 per person, respectively. OnDeck Antigua offers a 2-day beginner Start Yachting course with a choice of living aboard or ashore, and a 5-day liveaboard beginner Competent Crew course, both on Dehler 39s. There is no age restriction on either of these courses as long as a family books the whole boat. Otherwise, Start Yachting is for those ages 16 and older. Rates start at $940 per person for five days. “Learning to sail is a great family holiday,” says OnDeck Antigua owner Peter Anthony. “It’s not all hard work. There is plenty of time for relaxation, and often families will book a night or two shoreside at either end to sightsee the island.” grenadabluewatersailing.com; ondecksailing.com 

By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating Magazine June 2016