BVI Learn to Sail with US

Our Courses

Horizon Sailing School in the BVI is the March 2023 ASA featured school. Read the detailed information on learning to sail as part of your solo, couples or friends/family vacation aboard a monohull or catamaran and our “Zero to Hero” program to get you certified in just 8 days!

Learn to sail in the BVI whilst enjoying a vacation in the sun!

Horizon Sailing School is an American Sailing Association-certified facility.  We provide first-class tuition on first-class yachts in one of the most idyllic cruising grounds in the world: The British Virgin Islands.

Our courses are available onboard your own private charter yacht or on one of our Learn to Sail weeks. 

By chartering your own yacht, you can add one of our ASA-certified sailing instructors to your vacation to have complete flexibility on your dates and pick the yacht of your choice from our fleet! Part of your course will be choosing a suitable itinerary with your instructor and finding the best spots to spend the night. You may bring friends and family on your BVI learn-to-sail sailing course even if they are not taking the courses so you can all enjoy your sailing vacation together.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to not charter your own yacht, join one of our Learn to Sail weeks which are available by the cabin. Spaces are limited so enquire today so you don’t miss out! 

Your BVI sailing courses will start from our excellent Nanny Cay base and will take you around the islands. You are here to learn but snorkelling, and checking out local restaurants and idyllic beaches are all part of the process!

Over the course of a week, you will work towards achieving an ASA certification.  This will allow you to charter sailboats anywhere in the world.

With our BVI learn-to-sail courses, you will gain the confidence, knowledge and experience to embark on your own sailing adventure!

For more details on any of our courses please Contact Cara.

 

Our Courses

  • American Sailing Association (ASA) certified.
  • Follow the ASA’s progressive, structured levels of sailing standards.
  • Always run by ASA-qualified instructors.
  • At the completion of your course receive an ASA logbook with your certifications & sea-time signed off by your instructor.
  • Courses are available for all levels of experience.
  • We also offer sailing courses in specialist subjects which do not give you an ASA certificate of competence but do broaden your skillset in specific areas like mooring, night sailing and mile building. These can easily be added to your trip. For these, we provide a Horizon Sailing School certificate.

See below for the full list of courses we can offer and the recommended minimum days for each course. Why not try the “Zero to Hero” course which gives a complete beginner the opportunity to charter a boat solo in just 10 days!

ASA Courses

Please note there is a 5-night minimum on all our sailing courses & charters.

Course Description Prerequisites Minimum Days
ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing Step 1 to learning to sail. Able to skipper a small yacht during the daytime in light winds. None 2 days
ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising Expand your sailing skills and knowledge with new topics in safety, weather and navigation. 101 3 days
ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising The cert you need to bareboat charter! Time to really learn to be a Captain. 103 3 days
ASA 114 Cruising Catamaran Skipper up to a 45ft catamaran during a multiday trip, in moderate to heavy wind speeds. 104 2 days (1 day when paired with ASA 104)
Zero to Hero Monohull From never sailed before to chartering a monohull on your own. None 8 days + optional days on your own
Zero to Hero Catamaran From never sailed before to chartering a catamaran on your own. None 9 days (+ optional days on your own)
Cat Cruising Complete your 114 and then charter a cat on your own. 104 2 days + 5 days on your own
Cert Builder For the experienced sailor wanting to gain certificates of competence. 80 sailing hours Same as ASA course
ASA 118 Docking Endorsement Able to safely and efficiently dock an auxiliary powered sailboat. None 1 day

 

HSS Courses

 

Course Description Prerequisites Minimum Days
HSS Safe Harbour Learn mooring techniques like what to do when you lose your boat hook, practice different types of anchoring. 104 1 day
HSS Rusty Sailor For sailors that haven’t been out in a while. Available to ASA qualified sailors and non-qualified sailors. Available as day trips or add on to beginning of charter. Any Experience-dependent
HSS Mile Builder Learn the things you need to consider before doing a long day sail, plot a long passage and execute it. 104 2 days
HSS Passage Planning For those who have completed their 105 course online, put your knowledge into practice with course plotting and passage planning around the BVI. 105 2 days

ASA 101-BASIC KEELBOAT This is the starting point for anyone wishing to become ASA certified.
What does it gives me?
ASA 101 – Basic keelboat certificate of competence.
What does that let me do?
Take out a small keelboat 20 feet or more in length no eng in light to moderate winds and sea conditions in familiar waters without supervision. No auxiliary power or navigation skills required.
What do I need to do it?
Nothing! No experience required.
How many days do I need to complete the course?
We recommend a minimum of 2 days onboard to complete this course.
Which boats can I learn on?
ASA 101 must be taken on a monohull.

Got your ASA 101 already? Time for your ASA 103 – Coastal cruising!
What does it give me?
Your ASA 103 – Coastal Cruising certificate of competence.
What does that let me do?
This allows you to sail a boat up to 30ft in moderate wind and sea conditions, in local and regional waters during daylight hours.
What do I need to do it?
You need your ASA 101 certificate of competence.
How many days do I need to complete the course?
We recommend a minimum of 3 days onboard to complete this course.
Which boats can I learn on?
ASA 103 can be taken on a monohull or a catamaran. However, if you would like to take your ASA 101 & 103 in the same trip you must take both courses on a monohull.

Got your ASA 103 already? Time for your ASA 104 -Bareboat Cruising.
What does it give me?
ASA 104- Bareboat Cruising certificate of Competence.
What does that let me do?
Along with sufficient experience, ASA 104 gives you the ability to bareboat charter. This advanced cruising standard is for individuals with cruising experience. The individual can act as skipper or crew of a 30 – 50 foot boat sailing by day in coastal waters. The level includes knowledge of boat systems and maintenance procedures.
What do I need to do it?
You need your ASA 103 certificate of competence.
How many days do I need?
We recommend a minimum of 3 days onboard to complete this course.
Which boats can I learn on?
ASA 104 can be taken on a catamaran or a monohull.

Got your ASA 104 already? Time for your ASA 114 -Catamaran Cruising.
What does it give me?
ASA 114- Catamaran Cruising Certificate of Competence.
What does that let me do?
Along with sufficient experience, ASA 104 gives you the ability to bareboat charter a catamaran. Learn to skipper an auxiliary-powered sailing cruising catamaran of approximately 30-45′ feet in length during a multi-day liveaboard cruise upon inland or coastal waters in moderate to heavy winds (up to 30 knots) and sea conditions.
What do I need to do it?
You need your ASA 104 certificate of competence.
How many days do I need?
We recommend a minimum of 2 days onboard to complete this course.
Which boats can I learn on?
ASA 114 must be taken on a catamaran.

Learn to Sail Week ASA 101 & 103.

12th – 18th May 2024. This course runs from 5 pm on Sunday 12th until midday on May 18th onboard a monohull.

The cost of this course is $2995 per person, the shared cabin cost is $500 less per person.

ASA 101, Basic Keelboat, is the starting point for learning to sail. With no experience required, it takes you through the basics of sail trim and boat handling. Paired with your ASA 103, Coastal Cruising, you’ll have the skills and confidence to be able to take out small monohulls on day sails.

If you already have your ASA 101 and are only looking to complete ASA 103 then this course is an awesome way to experience extra days onboard a yacht while getting certified.

The price for this week includes:

  • Private cabin accommodation onboard for 6 nights, 6 days.
  • Experienced ASA Instructor
  • Onboard meals (6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 3 dinners)
  • Fuel and water
  • National Park fees
  • Cruising permits
  • ASA logbook completed and signed by your instructor.
  • Relevant ASA coursebooks
  • ASA certification stickers

This does not include:

  • Travel costs to arrive and depart from Nanny Cay marina, BVI (flights, taxis, hotels etc)
  • Personal Insurance
  • Meals ashore (2 dinners)
  • Alcoholic beverages onboard
  • Instructor gratuity

For accommodation before or after your trip please see our Hotel and Villa recommendations here 

For more details please Contact Cara.

This course is now full. The next available Learn to Sail week is the Lenny Shabes Sailing Festival June 16-22nd 2024.

 

19th – 25th May 2024. This course runs from 5 pm on Sunday 19th until midday on May 25th onboard a catamaran.

The cost of this course is $3295 per person, the shared cabin cost is $500 less per person.

Once you have completed your ASA 103 it’s time to move onto your ASA 104. Add to your previous sailing knowledge with more time out on the water as well as learning about living onboard a yacht and maintaining boat systems such as engines and generators. ASA 104 is the certification you need to be able to bareboat a yacht.

Get comfortable on a catamaran by completing your week with ASA 114, Catamaran Cruising which focuses on the differences between monohulls and cats.

If you already have your ASA 104 and are only looking to complete ASA 114 then this course is an awesome way to experience extra days onboard a catamaran while getting certified.

The price for this week includes:

  • Accommodation onboard for 6 nights, 6 days.
  • Experienced ASA Instructor
  • Onboard meals (6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 3 dinners)
  • Fuel and water
  • National Park fees
  • Cruising permits
  • ASA logbook completed and signed by your instructor.
  • Relevant ASA coursebooks
  • ASA certification stickers

This does not include:

  • Travel costs to arrive and depart from Nanny Cay marina, BVI (flights, taxis, hotels etc)
  • Personal Insurance
  • Meals ashore (2 dinners)
  • Alcoholic beverages onboard
  • Instructor gratuity

For accommodation before or after your trip please see our Hotel and Villa recommendations here

For more details please Contact Cara.

Horizon Sailing School will be joining the Lenny Shabes Sailing Festival for anyone interested in joining the flotilla fun with the bonus option of becoming ASA 104 and 114 certified.

16th – 22nd June 2024. The course runs from 5pm on Sunday June 16th until midday on Saturday June 22nd.

The cost of this course is $3495 per person, the shared cabin cost is $500 less per person.

Once you have completed your ASA 103 it’s time to move onto your ASA 104. Add to your previous sailing knowledge with more time out on the water as well as learning about living onboard a yacht and maintaining boat systems such as engines and generators. ASA 104 is the certification you need to be able to bareboat a yacht.

Get comfortable on a catamaran by completing your week with ASA 114, Catamaran Cruising which focuses on the differences between monohulls and cats.

If you already have your ASA 104 and are only looking to complete ASA 114 then this week is an awesome way to experience extra days onboard a catamaran while getting certified.

Whilst gaining your certifications you can also join in the fun with the rest of the flotilla! See the sample itinerary below to get a taste of what’s to come!

JUNE 16TH – Sunday

Arrive at Marina in the early afternoon

Get settled on the boat

Welcome party

JUNE 17TH – Monday

Sail to Norman

Snorkeling at the Indians

Willy T Glow Party

JUNE 18TH – Tuesday

Sail to Spanish Town

Explore the Baths

Experience a Coco Maya Dinner

JUNE 19TH – Wednesday

Sail to the North Sound

Beach Day at the Bitter End Yacht Club

Hobie Cat Regatta

Sundowners at Saba Rock

JUNE 20TH – Thursday

Anegada Regatta

Beach day at Anegada

Beach Bonfire

JUNE 21ST – Friday

Sail to Jost Van Dyke

Beach day at Soggy Dollar

Foxy’s for sundowners

JUNE 22ND – Saturday

Sail from JVD to Marina

Boat checkout by late morning

Departure

 

The price for this week includes:

  • Accommodation onboard for 6 nights, 6 days.
  • Experienced ASA Instructor
  • Onboard meals (6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, snacks, water and soft drinks)
  • Fuel and water
  • National Park fees
  • Cruising permits
  • ASA logbook completed and signed by your instructor.
  • Relevant ASA coursebooks
  • ASA certification stickers

 

This does not include:

  • Dinners
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Snorkel Equipment / Water Sports
  • Shoreside Activities
  • Skipper Gratuity
  • Travel costs to arrive and depart from Nanny Cay marina, BVI (flights, taxis, hotels etc)
  • Personal Insurance

For accommodation before or after your trip please see our Hotel and Villa recommendations here

For more details please Contact Cara.

Yacht Charter Skippers

Captain Cara – BVI Skipper and ASA Instructor

Hi, I’m Cara, a skipper and ASA sailing instructor for Horizon.

Originally from London, I grew up in Italy and have been coming to sail in BVI waters with Horizon Yacht Charters since I was a little girl.

I love getting people involved in sailing and fine-tuning their existing skills.  I decided to become a  yacht skipper and ASA sailing instructor because I want people to come away from their BVI sailing holidays having enjoyed the islands as much as I do.  I  have my ASA 201,203,204,205 and 214 certificates and also a Yachtmaster Offshore qualification so I bring a lot of experience to your holiday.  My approach is always safety, fun, and success!

Most of my sailing has been in the BVI but I also have sailing experience elsewhere.  I have sailed the majority of the Caribbean from the Grenadines to Puerto Rico and done yacht deliveries around the Caribbean, the coast of Spain, the UK, Gibraltar, from Annapolis to Bermuda and then Bermuda to the BVI. I’ve cruised Croatia and raced around the Solent in the UK, including competing in Cowes Week.

I can also tell you lots about everything you see under the water and I’ll enjoy showing you the best snorkelling spots and beaches.  I’m also a fully qualified personal trainer, PADI open water diver (and ski race trainer – just in case you need tips for the next ski season!).  I speak English, French and Italian fluently.

Before starting work for Horizon in the BVI, I competed for 10 years as an alpine ski racer as a member of the British National Team, reaching the World Cup level.  The switch from skiing to sailing felt natural for me as I moved from one outdoor environment to another.

My passion to be the best comes through in everything I do and I look forward to sailing with you.

Cara has been honoured as an ASA Outstanding Instructor of the Year 2022. This award honours the top 1% per cent of all active status ASA Instructors. This well-deserved recognition highlights Cara’s exceptional teaching abilities and dedication to student success, making her an invaluable asset to our Horizon Sailing School.

This is what our clients had to say recently:

“An incredible week sightseeing, snorkelling, and some great stops for overnight. Cara’s knowledge of sailing is tremendous, she answered all our questions, always made us feel safe, and was a great teacher.”

“Cara was awesome, she even gave us her personal cell phone number. She always responded to questions happily. A pleasure to have a board”

“Really liked the instructor, Cara Brown, as we all got on so well during our 9 days.” Robert Thompson

Read the interview with Captain Cara, ASA featured sailing instructor

Captain Dom – BVI Skipper and ASA Instructor

Hi, I’m Dom, a skipper for Horizon.

I’m from the UK but since starting working on yachts at 18 I haven’t looked back. I have spent my time on boats from South Africa to the Mediterranean and most recently, the BVI.

I am RYA Yachtmaster Ocean qualified, completing my training in the UK and in South Africa. My resume includes work on multiple superyachts in the Mediterranean, so I’m no stranger to excellent service, an Atlantic crossing, which gave me plenty of time to fine-tune my sailing skills and Captain on a 22m yacht based in Monaco which I safely navigated across France, Spain and Italy.

I have a range of skills from yacht maintenance to water sports and I pride myself on always giving guests a great experience in all aspects of their trip.

Testimonial April 2023 from Nathan McElmurry: “Captain Dom is the greatest! As is all the staff at Horizon. We had to alter our dates last-minute due to a death in the family and everyone was very sympathetic and accommodating. Even prior to that incident, the whole Horizon family made our trip a breeze (no pun intended) and ensured that we had everything we needed as first-timers. Highly recommend this company.”

Captain Chris Simpson – BVI Skipper and ASA Instructor

Hi, I am Chris, a Skipper and Instructor for Horizon. I am more than excited and feel very privileged to be going back to my roots and my #1 vocational passion that I left in my late 20s, to pursue other avenues in the marine industry, as Operation Manager for a 50-boat charter company here in the BVI and, then later, as co-owner and Senior Yacht Broker for BVI Yacht Sales.

I first arrived in the BVI in 1985, as an instructor for Steve Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School, fell in love with the territory and was lucky enough to be able to come back here again in 1990, where I have happily lived and worked for the last 28 years with my American wife.

My passion for sailing and, then much later, teaching sailing, started when my sailing-crazy parents put me in a dinghy at the age of one! Long family summer sailing trips then became the norm, and by my late teens, I had logged thousands of offshore sailing miles. Circumstances then conspired to have my training for my RYA Yachtmaster certificate (USCG 100 Ton equivalent) and, a year later, becoming a Yachtmaster Instructor. My teacher was exceptional and infinitely inspiring, she not only instructed me to the highest standards but also noticed my aptitude for instructing my classmates. She encouraged me to get into sailing instruction which I then happily pursued for the next 8 years of my life, 4 of those as the Principal and Chief Instructor of my own sailing school.

To now have the opportunity to go back to my true vocational passion of sailing instruction is tremendous, it’s what I thrive on and so I really look forward to sailing with you. I also love to windsurf, stand-up paddle and snorkel, so I look forward to sharing my knowledge of those pastimes should you have an interest, as well as showing you the many special places that I have discovered over the majority of my life spent in the waters of the beautiful BVI.

This is what one of our clients had to say recently: “First time charting a boat and Horizon Yacht Charters delivered. From initial reservation to check out was thoroughly explained and easy to deal with. Everyone we met was helpful and friendly. The boat we chartered was clean and trouble-free for the entire week we used it. My wife and I also completed our ASA 103 and 104 with an instructor provided by HYC. Our skipper was Chris Simpson and the knowledge and confidence he possesses made the difference.

Chris’ training focus is on safety, doing things the right way and having a thorough understanding of the water. While I am still a novice skipper I feel as if I know more than a lot of the skippers that I watched during the week. If you follow his instruction you too will be a better skipper. No shortcuts and you will ensure a safe happy trip for you and your family.

If you want an instructor or just a skipper ask for Chris. You will not be disappointed.

I will recommend this charter company to my friends and family – We will be back”. Patrick Anglim – January 13th 2020.

 

“Many thanks for an unforgettable week onboard Cosette! Thank for your patience and wisdom as we made our way to sailing proficiency and nailing ASA 101, 103 and 104! I will happily recommend Horizon to anyone who is into doing the same thing” – Nick Sullivan

“Thank you so much for an amazing week of sailing! I am significantly more comfortable heeling and anchoring. I hope to be down again for my 114!” – Vicki

“It was a great week – the perfect balance of theory, practice and fun. I learned a lot! It was also a real confidence builder which I think I need almost more than the instruction.” – Janet and Michael

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