If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
In the meantime, our frequently asked questions might help answer some of your questions.
Who Are My Shipmates?
In addition to instructor(s), there may be as many as five adult students aboard the boat selected via an application and possibly a phone call.
Can I Contact a Reference?
Yes! You can check out our testimonials first, and if you would like to speak with former students, please let us know. In the meantime, watch a video testimonial of a recent sail training expedition
What Am I Expected to Do?
You’ll take part in all the responsibilities of keeping a cruising vessel running. Cooking meals, cleaning the head, taking the helm, changing sails, weighing anchor, navigating, etc. Everyone will be assigned a daily role from Captain to Mess Mate (aka dishwasher). The duties will rotate daily. So, don’t worry, if you’re stuck washing dishes on the first day, you’ll have your chance to captain the vessel soon!
What is the sailing itinerary?
Our coastal expeditions have no planned itinerary. The weather has a huge influence on where we will be able to go. Additionally, the latter half of the expedition is planned by the participants, so you and your shipmates will determine your anchorages. Passage expeditions all involve some coastal cruising as well. You and the crew will plan anchorages based on the weather, with the overall goal of getting to our final destination. For every expedition, unless there is extreme weather, we plan to sail every day – rain or shine. Some expeditions will also sail overnight.
What Will I Learn?
We have created a curriculum that will develop your leadership, crisis management, communication, and teamwork skills while simultaneously honing your technical sailing and seamanship skills. Because we are limiting the voyage to only 4 or 5 students (minimum of 2 students), each program is tailored to meet the needs and goals of the students. We will assess your skill level and build from there. Our curriculum is influenced by the weather and circumstances. We will take opportunities as we see them. Your program will include topics and drills such as man overboard, traditional and electronic navigation, watch keeping, engine maintenance, sail trim, fog procedures, and more. And if there is something you are eager to learn, let us know and we will work on that too… like docking for instance!
Will I get a certification?
We do offer a Mo(A) certification for each student. Please click here to find out more.
Can I Bring My Non-sailing Spouse?
Absolutely! Our program is great for couples with varying levels that are seeking to develop trust, reliability, communication, and teamwork skills. No single person will be designated full time cook, and no single person will take every stormy watch. We believe that anyone (of average physical condition) can, and should, be prepared to tackle any job on the boat and we are excited to train you with this egalitarian approach.
What is a Typical Day Like?
There is no typical day at sea. However, we try to start each day with Morning Muster, facilitated by the Captain of the Day. This daily routine is a time when the entire crew will gather together to cover daily topics and check-in. We have found Morning Muster to be a time that the crew looks forward to, and many will carry the tradition on after the program concludes. Throughout the day we will have lessons and practice drills such as anchoring, triangulating, man overboard, storm tactics, etc. These lessons will depend on the weather and if we are day sailing or cruising overnight. If we are day sailing, we will anchor in the evening and the chef for the day will prepare a (hopefully) delicious meal from our shipboard recipe book. We often conclude the day with a lesson or review of things we learned and experiences had.
Can I Become Crew (Not a Trainee) on an Expedition?
Occasionally we do need assistance on a yacht delivery or sail-training expedition. In those circumstances, we hire professional sailors with experience. You’ll notice that most of the instructors we work with are USCG Masters with significant years of sail-training experience. You are welcome to email us your resume for consideration.
Can I volunteer to gain experience?
Our sail-training programs are designed to offer both novice and knowledgeable, skilled sailors enough practical experience to take their sailing to the next level. All passengers are paying trainees, and all crew are paid experienced professionals (see question above).
Do I need to purchase a lot of gear for the expedition?
Yes, and no. We provide you a detailed packing list. Most everything on it you should already own. There may be a few exceptions. You will need marine foul weather gear, a PFD, and a good pair of sunglasses. If you continue sailing, then all of these items will become essentials and will get a lot of use. Everything else on the list are things that are likely already in your closet: shorts, t-shirts, jacket, etc.
Where do I purchase gear for the expedition?
Great stores for marine gear are Defender Marine, Hamilton Marine, and West Marine. To purchase fleece or wool pants, a sun shirt, or other items look in Goodwill, Old Navy, REI, or Mountain Equipment Co-Op.
What type of PFD should I bring?
Everyone is required to wear a PFD at all times while underway. We require a Type V, auto inflating PFD with a harness. Look for “offshore” in the description, as that often means it includes a harness. If you would like to wear a different PFD, please ask us first. Your PFD should have an updated inflation cartridge, which should be checked regularly. Here are a few PFD options:
WEST MARINE Offshore Automatic Inflatable Life Vest with Harness $229.00 – Teresa’s Pick!
SPINLOCK Automatic Inflatable Deckvest™ with Harness $369.00 – Ben’s Pick!
Can I bring a CO2 cartridge (for my PFD) on the airplane?
TSA regulations allow you to bring a PFD and CO2 cartridge onboard an airplane. You can read the regulations here. We’ve had many students fly with their PFD. Only one seemed to have trouble getting through security. We recommend bringing a printed out copy of the TSA rules and bringing a new CO2 cartridge that is not installed or pierced. If you are still concerned, put the CO2 cartridge in a checked bag, mail it to use in advance, or purchase it locally upon arrival. Please ask us in advance for a mailing address. If you are sailing out of Rockland, ME please call Hamilton Marine (207) 594-8181 to purchase your cartridge. Have them hold it under Teresa and Ben Carey. Then let us know you’ve purchased one, and we will pick it up before your course.
What type of foul weather gear do I need?
We recommend bringing marine grade “foulies” foul weather gear. Most terrestrial gear does not hold up in the marine environment. Gill, West Marine, and Helly Hansen are great brands. Look for “ocean” and “offshore” as keywords in the description. Some “coastal” foulies, if they are heavy duty, will also work. Get foulies with a hood and Velcro or snap cuffs. Foulie pants should be bib style. Most lightweight, some coastal, or dinghy gear will not suffice. Remember, you aren’t just keeping the rain out, you are also keeping out the salt spray and pounding waves. Fishing foulies like Grundens will keep you dry, but are not recommended in hot environments, as they do not breathe and most people get sweaty and uncomfortable. However, in northern climates, like Maine, they work well. Many great brands can be purchased at West Marine.
West Marine Third Reef Jacket $189.00
West Marine Third Reef Bibs $169.00
Gill OS2 Offshore Jacket $325.00
Gill OS2 Offshore Bibs $225.00
What about boots?
Rubber rain boots are needed in Maine or other northern climate expeditions. You will not need boots in the tropics!
Gill Tall Yachting Boots $85.00
Gill Short Cruising Boots $65.00
Do I need to bring food?
All the food is provided. We pack enough for a variety of meals and snacks. We plan for 3 meals each day, one daily snack, and an occasional dessert. In addition, we keep a snack locker full. You are welcome to help yourself whenever you feel hungry.
I have a food allergy. Will this be a problem?
We are able to accommodate some dietary needs such as some food allergies, vegetarianism, gluten free, dairy free, etc. If you have a dietary need that is beyond the scope of what we can accomodate, we will discuss this with you in advance. Just remember, a ship’s galley, stove, and refrigerator are small, so don’t expect a made-to-order restaurant. We plan one meal for everyone and therefore cannot accommodate fad diets, food preferences, or picky eaters! If you have allergies or dietary needs, please indicate so in your application so we can plan accordingly.
What if I get injured or have a medical emergency?
Our instructors have medical training and are prepared to deal with most medical emergencies at sea. At least one instructor aboard will have a medical certification. If the situation is beyond our abilities and resources, we will take you to the nearest medical facility. In extreme circumstances, we may call for emergency support.
Could an expedition get canceled, re-routed, or changed?
Anything is possible! We’ve been conducting expeditions for many years, and have a good track record for arriving on time. However, there is always the possibility of lengthy delays due to conditions beyond our control. We are prepared for this as we schedule our passages with a few extra days of flexibility to be adaptable to the weather. We haven’t had to cancel or delay an expedition for weather yet but if extreme conditions are predicted then we will consider it. You may want to purchase travel insurance for the unlikely event that this happens. Here are two options for travel/trip cancellation insurance. If you find another great one, let us know so we can improve our list of suggestions!
What if I need to leave the expedition early or my plans change?
If you leave the expedition early due to a medical emergency, need to return home, etc. or if you are registered for an expedition and are unable to attend, please refer to our cancellation policy in the application packet we send you. You may consider travel/trip cancellation insurance for some of these situations. See above for suggestions.