Can’t sail but would like to learn?  Look no further, the BVI is known as the sailing capital of the world for good reason.  BVI Holidays work with Swain Sailing, who are in our opinion – the best in the business.

The Rob Swain Sailing School on Tortola offers courses from complete beginner to advanced.  From Basic Keelboat to Ocean Passagemaking.

If you just want to learn to sail to enjoy the BVI, the course for you is the Fast Track to Bareboating. This complete certification course can be done in a week and starts from Tortola on a Saturday with Basic Keelboat.

The Fast Track to Bareboating course is designed for beginners and also those who have had some sailing experience, but little to no formal training who enjoy learning at an accelerated pace.

This 8 day / 7 night course combines Swain Sailing’s two day Basic Keelboat course and six day Live Aboard cruising course, offering the most comprehensive sailing course you will find anywhere. Upon completion of this course, students will have the skills, confidence and international certification necessary to bareboat charter a monohull up to 54′.

The key to learning at a more accelerated pace is training on the correct boats and learning from excellent instructors who know how to teach the fundamentals of sailing and have the years of experience not just sailing, but teaching sailing and can impart their knowledge to their students beyond what the standards require.

Course Format: The Progression from Basic Keelboat to Live Aboard Cruising

The progression from Basic Keelboat, covering the fundamentals of sailing to training on a cruising boat helps to reinforce the material, mechanics and techniques.

Fast Track to Bareboating is comprised of two parts. The Basic Keelboat curriculum is structured to challenge every level of person and rewards each with the objective and subjective know how to command a boat of this size.

The second component of the course is Live Aboard Cruising. This portion of the course is designed to instill complete confidence in captaining a bigger (36′ – 54′) sailboat. Bareboating is not necessarily difficult to do. If you want to do it with comfort and confidence, this is the correct and best course to get you to your goal.

Your training can also be done on a catamaran in the BVI, if this is what you would prefer, just ask BVI Holidays for details.

Live Aboard Cruising Sample Itinerary

Day 1

Following an afternoon of big boat tacking, crew over boards, maneuvering under power, sail trim, and eyeball navigation, we find our anchorage on the eastern end of Tortola.  Marina Cay (like all of your stops) is idyllic with a fringing barrier reef for snorkeling or just staring at calm, clear water where the bottom looks six feet away, but could be fifty.


  • Overview of boat (below and above deck)
  • Engine- gauges, shifting, neutral, prop walk
  • Dock lines
  • Electrical panel
  • Stowage
  • Refrigeration (stowage)
  • Safety equipment
  • Dinghy and outboard operation
  • Depth, speed, auto pilot
  • Through haul fittings
  • Propane operation
  • Successful provisioning
  • Maneuvering under power
  • Proper sail raising/unfurling
  • Fair lead placement,tell tales
  • Big boat tacks -team work
  • Rights of way
  • Man Overboards
  • Double Anchor prep
  • live aboard cruising

Day 2

Tuesday you will sail up to the Bitter End Resort located in North Sound on Virgin Gorda. Head ashore for some of the best water sports in the world or stroll through this world class resort, or stay on the boat and watch the sun go down.

We call day 2 “big Tuesday”, in that Swain Sailing cover: solo reefing, solo MOBs, docking practice, upwind sailing performance, and more rudimentary navigation.


  • Mechanical systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Fresh water systems
  • Solo reefing
  • Solo man overboards
  • Perfect sail trim
  • Mooring balls
  • Power spins with prop. Walk
  • Reversing
  • Incessant docking
  • Weather reports
  • Live aboard cruising

Day 3

Anegada is your Wednesday destination. On this day, you will fully cover navigation – all fixes, dead reckoning, gps., lines of position, depth sounder navigation, danger bearings, and more. Along with this comes sail trim and sail shape as it relates to reaching. You cannot see Anegada when you set out so your navigation skills are both fresh and necessary.

Anegada is actually a sand bar on top of a reef. Its mean elevation is six or seven feet which requires solid navigational skills. Always worth the sail, Anegada is almost completely circled by reefs and is surrounded by white beach. After snorkeling the reefs, long walks on the white sand beach, or relaxing in a hammock under sea grape trees, you’ll have dinner ashore at a fabulous restaurant on the beach.


  • Navigation i.e. dead reckoning, lops, (all) fixes, gps depth contours etc.
  • Trimming sails to course
  • Man overboards
  • Position and DR fixes
  • Cooking underway
  • Compass steering
  • Live aboard cruising

Day 4

From Anegada, you will perfect jibe angles and wing on wing skills. It’s the longest sail of the week, so there is ample time for navigational fixes and dead reckoning.

After a long broad reach, you will sail into Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, a picture book anchorage with palm trees and a fabulous white sandy beach, Cane Garden Bay is a small beach community that you will find difficult to leave the next day.


  • Broad reaching with proper trim
  • Jibe angles and wing on wing;preventer
  • Controlled jibes
  • Navigation
  • Live aboard cruising

Day 5

After picking up the anchor, you will reach down the NW Tortola coast, piloting your way to the West End, from there you will tack your way through the Thatch Cut to Norman Island. The snorkeling here is tremendous, and the harbour is always flat and breezy. Whether you enjoy dancing it up on the “Willie T” (a floating bar known by countless visiting boaters) or sitting back on the boat, Norman Island will be on your list of islands to return to.

Day 6

  • Sail instructor back to base
  • More docking practice
  • “Debrief”

Tuition Rates

The tuition rate for the group Live Aboard Cruising course (maximum 4 students) is £1740.00 per person (May 15- November 15); £1895.00 per person (November 16 – May 14).

Rate includes the ASA Bareboat Cruising Made Easy text, first night Tortola hotel accommodations or sleep aboard option, cruising permit, provisioning for 5 days (5 breakfasts; 4 lunches; 3 dinners; snacks and starter kit); ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising certification fee.

The BVI offers the best sailing in the world as you are always in sight of land and Swain Sailing is the best company to learn to sail with.

Call BVI Holidays and we will be happy to arrange whichever course you decide you need – whether you want to brush up on your existing sailing skills, obtain certification or learn to sail from scratch, Swain Sailing is the “go to” sailing company.