In 2021, Barefoot Offshore Sailing School (BOSS) is adding Offshore Cruising to its roster of course offerings. ASA 108 and Sail Canada Offshore Cruising provide a structured way for a sailor to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience to plan and implement a significant offshore passage.
Rob McLean, an instructor at BOSS since 2018, has recently concluded a 7,000 mile passage from Lake Ontario to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) that began in the summer of 2019. Interrupted by Covid for 15 months, the final 1,500 mile leg from Exuma in the Bahamas to SVG was a continuous passage, apart from a brief fuel stop in the Dominican Republic. On top of his prior 14,000 miles of cruising experience, this passage helped qualify Rob as a certified Offshore and Celestial Instructor.
The first set of offshore courses begin on November 1, 2021. BOSS is offering a unique transatlantic offshore training experience in conjunction with the delivery of Aonyx, a new Class 4 O-Yacht (https://www.o-yachts.com/class-4/), from La Rochelle in France to SVG, with stops in Gibraltar and the Canary Islands.
About Aonyx (46 LOA and LWL)
O-Yacht’s Class 4 fast catamarans can routinely sail at 15-20 knots and have recorded speeds as high as 27 knots. Aonyx is being built in a 4 cabin / 2 head configuration, with a wing mast, main with three reefs, jib, gennaker and A2 headsail. Completion is expected in early September 2021. After delivery to La Rochelle, a BOSS representative will supervise rig setup and all the steps required to ensure that the vessel is ready for an offshore passage before mid-October, prior to a final inspection by Rob McLean in the last week of October.
About the Transatlantic La Rochelle to SVG Passage
The passage from La Rochelle to SVG is organized in 3 legs as follows.
- Leg 1: La Rochelle France to Gibraltar, ~1000 miles, November 1 – 10, 2021 (including initial training shakedown sail and allowance for weather)
- Leg 2: Gibraltar to Canaries, ~800 miles, November 15 – 22, 2021
- Leg 3: Canaries to SVG, ~2600 miles, November 25-December 10, 2021
All target dates above are subject to change due to weather and other factors. We are assuming that by November 2021, Covid-related international travel restrictions will be eased for fully-vaccinated travellers.
Participants can choose to sail one, two, or all three legs.
In Leg 1, sailors will meet on the boat on November 1 and prior to departure for Gibraltar, targeted for November 4, will:
- undertake a thorough inspection of the boat;
- participate in a comprehensive safety briefing
- provision the boat
- conduct a 1 day training / shakedown trip off La Rochelle
- monitor weather in the Bay of Biscay to support a final decision about timing for departure to Gibraltar
Conservatively assuming 200 miles per day, the passage to Gibraltar should require less than 5 days. The routing enables dropping into any of several ports in France or Portugal if adjustments are needed to the vessel or rig.
La Rochelle is a delightful French seaport on the west coast of France, featuring a fascinating old city, and famous also as a German U-boat base in WWII.
The Rock of Gibraltar is even more well-known. Apart from touring Gibraltar, there is an opportunity for day trips across the Strait to Morocco.
After updating provisions and conducting a safety briefing and training for those joining the boat in Gibraltar, the passage to the Canaries should require approximately 4 days. There may be an opportunity to visit a port on the Moroccan Atlantic coast since ideally we want to avoid arriving in the Canaries before departure of the ARC fleet which is scheduled to leave for St. Lucia on November 21 (see https://www.worldcruising.com/arc/event.aspx). Arriving after the ARC fleet has departed will enable us to avoid the congestion caused by up to 200 boats doing final provisioning at the same time! We anticipate 2-3 days in the Canaries for sightseeing and updating fresh provisions for the trans-Atlantic passage.
The Canary Islands are a popular tourist destination, as well as a traditional staging point for vessels sailing the trade wind route to the Caribbean.
We target leaving the Canaries several days after departure of the ARC fleet on November 25. With its faster speed, Aonyx will catch up to and pass most vessels in the ARC fleet by the middle of the passage. The fact that so many other vessels are crossing at the same time offers an additional safety factor. Helped by the trade winds, we anticipate a fast downwind passage lasting 10-15 days.
Rob McLean will be acting as Skipper (Master) and Instructor for all 3 legs.
Qualifications for Participants
BOSS is recruiting 3-6 participants for each leg of the passage. Preferably, participants will be seeking Offshore Cruising certification according to ASA or Sail Canada standards, and will participate in self-study and online training prior to the passage, and practical on-water training during the passage.
Participants seeking certification should have ASA or Sail Canada Advanced Cruising as a pre-requisite, and must already have a prior celestial certification or be prepared to write a celestial exam prior to departure on the relevant leg of the passage. For otherwise experienced sailors, it may be possible to obtain an Advanced Cruising certification in the first leg of the trip, and Offshore Cruising certification in a second leg.
If space permits, BOSS will consider participation by experienced sailors who wish to join one or more legs for the offshore experience and are not seeking ASA or Sail Canada certification.
Each participant must provide official documentation indicating that he or she is fully-vaccinated against Covid.
Further details on pre-requisite qualifications, required personal safety equipment, and the Crew Agreement will be provided to those expressing interest. Regardless of qualifications, all prospective participants will be interviewed by Rob McLean and are subject to approval by BOSS and Rob McLean.
Fees for participation (at discounted introductory rates) are as follows:
- Leg 1: US $2,500
- Leg 2: US $2,500
- Leg 3: US $4,000
- Legs 1 and 2: US $3,750
- Legs 1 or 2 and Leg 3: US $5,250
- Legs 1, 2 and 3: US $7,500
Former BOSS students (and their partner if joining as a couple) will be entitled to a 10% discount from the above pricing.
This pricing includes:
- Provisions (food and beverages) during the passages
- Instruction and coaching according to ASA 108 or Sail Canada Offshore Cruising Standards, as well as BOSS’s course in Emergency Navigation which is under development. This includes instruction related to the Ashore Knowledge assignments for ASA 108 or Sail Canada Offshore Cruising (to be completed prior to the passage), as well as the practical instruction that will be provided during the passage.
- Providing guidance on self-study resources related to celestial navigation, and marking exams for ASA 107 or 117.
- Shared accommodation (possibly including hot-bunking) aboard the boat at sea and while in port before or between legs
- Boat running costs (diesel, other supplies) and boat entry and port fees
This pricing does not include:
- Travel costs from or to your home country
- Sail Canada or ASA certification or membership fees (typically ~US$ 30 per certification obtained, plus ~US$ 80 if you are not already a member)
- Personal snacks (since only you know your snacking preferences!)
- Provisions or dining ashore while in port
- Cleaning / disinfection fee of $250 per person
- Alcoholic beverages while in port (consuming alcohol will not be permitted while at sea). Because we will be crossing international borders, recreational drugs will not be permitted on board.
- Entry fees assessed on individual crew members by countries visited
- Sightseeing expenses while in port
Expressions of interest
Additional documentation that can be provided to interested parties will cover:
- Details on required qualifications for participants
- Passage Plans for each leg of the passage
- ASA and Sail Canada Offshore Cruising Standards, including prerequisites for Offshore Cruising and Celestial Navigation
- Details on safety equipment on Aonyx
- Requirements for safety gear and recommendations concerning other clothing and equipment that each participant should bring with them
- Crew Agreement
Types of Offshore Cruising Experiences
BOSS offers three main types of Offshore Cruising experiences:
- Offshore Cruising in conjunction with yacht deliveries to SVG from North America or Europe. The length of these courses depends on the time required to complete the delivery: if longer than 2 weeks, the course will in most cases be sub-divided into two or more legs.
- Week-long Intra-Caribbean courses that begin and end in SVG. A typical 500 mile passage that meets the requirements of both ASA and Sail Canada would involve departing SVG, rounding Barbados, heading north to 16°, west around Dominca, returning to SVG along the leeward side of Martinique and St Lucia
- Private Offshore Cruising Courses delivered on the owner’s yacht. These itineraries are customized based on the location of the yacht.
Offshore Cruising Standards
Please review the relevant standards as linked below:
For ASA 108:
For Sail Canada Offshore Cruising: https://www.sailing.ca/uploads/2021/03/Advanced-Cruise-1-March-2021.pdf
Offshore Course Components
In accordance with these standards, BOSS Offshore Cruising Courses have four main components:
- The standards specify a significant take-home “Ashore Knowledge” assignment that involves carrying out all of the planning required for an offshore passage. To complete this assignment, a candidate will need to carry out a significant amount of guided and independent research.
- Prior to the passage, candidates will draw on this research to carry out specific assignments such as passage planning, provisioning, watch assignments, etc., related to the specific upcoming passage.
- Also prior to the passage, a candidate must acquire the skills needed to reduce celestial sights, by completing ASA 107 or 117, or for Sail Canada candidates, SC Celestial Navigation. These skills are put into practice during the offshore passage.
- The on-water portion of Offshore Cruising involves candidates playing a significant role as helmsman and crew for an offshore passage that meets the requirements of the relevant ASA or Sail Canada standard.
Offshore Course Preparations
• Once you sign up for an Offshore Cruising course, we will be in touch to get you started on the Ashore Knowledge assignment. We have compiled a list of resources relevant to the Passage Planning assignment, as well as other texts you might refer to for research purposes.
• We have also compiled a guidance document to help you meet the Celestial Navigation prerequisites: BOSS Celestial Guidance
• Leading up to the passage, your instructor will organize a conference call including all participants to discuss course logistics, provisioning, watch schedules, what to bring, and other relevant details.
Pricing depends on which type of offshore experience you are joining. Details will be made available as each offshore opportunity is published.