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FAQ - BVI ASA SAILING COURSES

  • COURSE INFORMATION
    What courses do you offer? We offer three main course offerings. You can learn more here. How long is each course? Fast Track to Cruising: Cruising Catamaran, our most popular course, is an eight-day, live-aboard, fast-track course to ASA captain certification. It covers ASA 101, ASA 103, ASA 104, and ASA 114. Our Learn to Sail: Basic Keelboat Sailing course (ASA 101) is a two-day beginner’s course where you’ll learn everything you need to skipper a keelboat (and fall in love with sailing). Our Intermediate-Advanced Catamaran Sailing course is a six-day course for those who’ve already learned the sailing basics and are looking to get ASA captain certified. It covers ASA 103, ASA 104, and ASA 114. What’s included in my sailing course? Tuition includes mooring fees, safety equipment, and fuel. Other items included as part of our live-aboard courses: Luxury accommodation in a private cabin aboard our catamaran Towels and linens Breakfast, lunch, two dinners aboard the boat, and complimentary snacks Course textbooks ASA certifications Items that are not included in your stay: Any meals ashore (mainly dinners) Lunch and dinner while docked at Penn’s Landing. (Red Rock Restaurant, located right at the dock, has terrific food options.) Soft drinks or alcoholic beverages you wish to bring aboard Gratuity for instructors How much do your courses cost? Fast Track to Catamaran Cruising: $4500 per person Learn to Sail: $600 per person Intermediate-Advanced: Catamaran Sailing: $3900 per person *10% discount available for bookings of two or more students Check out our course page for a complete overview. Do I have to pay in full when I book the course? After the 30% deposit is paid, Top Tier will process the remaining 70% balance 60 days prior to the confirmed start date. All courses must be fully paid for at least 60 days prior to the confirmed start date. If a course is being run on a chartered vessel, the payment terms will be in accordance with the charter company’s terms and conditions. Check out our Terms and Conditions for more information.
  • LOGISTICS
    Where are you located? We’re located in the British Virgin Islands near Penn’s Landing Marina on Tortola Island. Tortola Island features lovely beaches, gorgeous island views, and tasty local food options, including our local favorite, Red Rock Restaurant & Bar. Check out the map and more detailed information here to get a feel for the British Virgin Islands and our stunning location! What day and time do the courses start and finish? The Fast Track Courses begin on Saturday at 9:00 am and finish at 12:00 noon on the following Sunday. Intermediate-Advanced Courses start Monday morning at 9:00 am and also finish at 12:00 noon on the following Sunday. When should I fly in? Students should arrive, at the latest, the day before the start of class, which begins promptly at 9:00 am. For example, students attending the Fast Track to Catamaran Sailing course should arrive Friday so they will be ready to go for the start of their 9:00 am class on Saturday morning. What should I pack? Check out our packing list here. Do you have paddle boards? How about snorkel gear? We’ve got you covered. You’ll have some free time to swim off our swimming platforms, as well as paddle board and snorkel. We have paddle boards and snorkeling gear, including masks, snorkels, and fins in sizes small to XL. (You’re welcome to bring your own snorkel gear if you wish; however, keep in mind that space is limited on the boat.) Am I required to get travel insurance? Yes, you are required to purchase travel insurance before you arrive in the British Virgin Islands for your sailing course. In fact, it’s best if you purchase it soon after making your initial deposit and confirming your stay with us. You can find more information about travel insurance here. Is there power on the boat? Yes. You will be able to charge laptops and phones. What is the power in the BVI? US plugs, 110 volts, the same as in the US. Do the boats have Wi-Fi? Yes, you’ll have free Wi-Fi during your stay. Will I have cell coverage? Most of the time, yes.
  • ASA SAILING COURSES AND CERTIFICATIONS
    Are you an ASA training school? Yes. We are an American Sailing Association (ASA) training school located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Why should I get ASA certification? Founded in 1983, the American Sailing Association (ASA) has produced 590,000 sailors from 400+ affiliated sailing schools. ASA certification offers many benefits: Standardized Curriculum: ASA sailing courses provide a structured and standardized curriculum for learning to sail. The courses cover a range of topics, starting from the basics and progressing to more advanced skills and knowledge. Following a standardized curriculum ensures that you receive a comprehensive and consistent education in sailing. Industry Recognition: ASA certification is widely recognized and respected in the sailing community. Many charter companies, boat rental agencies, and sailing schools around the world prefer or require ASA certification as proof of competency. Holding an ASA certification can open doors to opportunities such as chartering boats or gaining employment in the sailing industry. Safety and Confidence: ASA sailing courses focus not only on sailing skills but also on safety procedures and best practices. By completing these courses, you'll gain a solid foundation in safety protocols, emergency procedures, and seamanship. This knowledge instills confidence and enhances your ability to handle different sailing situations with safety in mind. Skill Development: ASA sailing courses are designed to progressively build your skills as a sailor. Starting from the basics, you'll learn fundamental sailing techniques, boat handling, navigation, and more advanced concepts. The hands-on training provided during the courses allows you to practice and develop your skills under the guidance of experienced instructors. Networking and Community: Participating in ASA sailing courses can introduce you to a community of sailors and sailing enthusiasts. You'll have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, share experiences, and potentially connect with sailing clubs, events, and organizations. This networking can enrich your sailing journey and provide ongoing support and resources. Confidence for Independent Sailing: ASA sailing courses aim to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary for independent sailing. As you progress through the certification levels, you'll gain the confidence to handle different types of boats, navigate various waters, and make informed decisions while sailing solo or with a crew. What are ASA sailing courses? The American Sailing Association (ASA) offers a series of progressively advanced courses that cover various aspects of sailing. These courses range from basic keelboat sailing to advanced coastal cruising and offshore passages. Each course typically consists of both classroom instruction and hands-on practical training on the water. The ASA certification levels are divided into different "levels" or "standards." Each level represents a specific set of skills and knowledge that students must demonstrate to earn the certification. As students progress through the levels, they gain a deeper understanding of sailing techniques, navigation, safety procedures, and other important aspects of sailing. ASA certification is recognized and respected in the sailing community and is often required or preferred by charter companies, sailing schools, and boat rental agencies. It provides a way for people to demonstrate their competency and qualifications as sailors. What is the American Sailing Association (ASA) certification? The ASA certification is a program that offers a standardized curriculum and certification system for recreational sailing in the United States. It is designed to provide a structured pathway for individuals to learn and develop sailing skills and knowledge. Knowledge and skills needed to pass ASA 101: asa.com/certifications/asa-101-basic-keelboat-sailing/ Knowledge and skills needed to pass ASA 103: asa.com/certifications/asa-103-basic-coastal-cruising/ Knowledge and skills needed to pass ASA 104: asa.com/certifications/asa-104-bareboat-cruising/ Knowledge and skills needed to pass ASA 114: asa.com/certifications/asa-114-cruising-catamaran/ What American Sailing Association (ASA) textbooks will we use? Your Top Tier ASA sailing courses will use the textbooks listed below. (We will provide you with the textbooks.) Sailing Made Easy (ASA 101): This textbook covers the fundamentals of sailing, including basic terminology, sail trim, boat handling, safety procedures, and introductory navigation. Coastal Cruising Made Easy (ASA 103): This textbook focuses on coastal cruising skills, such as advanced boat handling, navigation, anchoring, and sailing in various weather conditions. Bareboat Cruising Made Easy (ASA 104): This textbook delves into the skills required for bareboat chartering, including advanced navigation, passage planning, provisioning, and advanced boat systems. Cruising Catamarans Made Easy (ASA 114): This textbook highlights the unique art of sailing a larger catamaran with its distinctive characteristics and operating systems. Will I be tested on my skills? Yes! American Sailing Association (ASA) certifications for each level of completion involve an assessment of skills and an exam. All certifications are authorized by your instructor. A passing score for the exam is 80/100, and a passing score for the skills assessment is 100/100. When taking your Top Tier ASA sailing courses, you will always be able to ask for more clarification on any skill or knowledge section and retake the assessment during the class. You must complete one level of the assessment before you’re certified for the next level. Is there an American Sailing Association (ASA) app? There is! ASA’s Sailing Challenge includes six fun, easy-to-use modules that unlock the mysteries of sailing. Learn Points of Sail, Apparent Wind, Sail Trim, Tacking and Jibing, Rules of the Road, and Docking. Then, put it all together when you sail around a course against the clock in the Sailing module. You can download the app for iOS or Android here.
  • WHY TOP TIER SAILING
    Who are the instructors? Top Tier ASA sailing courses are taught by sailing experts and designed to provide the education and hands-on practice you need whether you want to simply learn how to sail or captain your own vessel. You can learn more here. Are your instructors experts? Our instructors are ASA Sailing certified experts. They are certified for First Aid, CPR, and Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeeping (STCW), as determined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Why catamarans? Catamarans are the boat of choice in the British Virgin Islands. In fact, many amazing hidden anchorages, bays, and beaches can only be accessed by boat. Because the islands are all close together, it’s easy to navigate and “island hop” without losing sight of land or having to simply sail around one island in a circle. What boats are included in your fleet? Our fleet includes three seaworthy vessels that are ready to take your sailing knowledge to the next level. From learning beginner sailing techniques aboard the keelboat to cruising comfortably aboard the catamaran, your sailing adventure is calling. Learn more about our fleet here.
  • BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
    What will the weather be like? All year long, the air temperature usually ranges between 21°C (70°F) and 32°C (90°F). The sea temperature usually ranges from 26-29°C (79-84°F). Winds are generally E or SE 10-15 knots (11-17 mph). There’s a relatively dry season from January to April and a rainy season from May to December. The least rainy months are February and March. Generally, the wettest period is from September to November. What is your refund policy? You can read our refund policy here. What are the British Virgin Islands like? Your sailing course is set amidst the backdrop of the serene British Virgin Islands (BVI). The BVI consists of more than 50 islands scattered between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic. It’s a lovely area that attracts adventurous souls, admirers of beauty, and those looking for rest and relaxation. The main islands of the BVI include Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. The capital of the BVI, Road Town, is located in Tortola. This island is the most populated and features popular sites like Smugglers Cove, Soper’s Hole, Cane Garden Bay, and Sage Mountain National Park. During your visit, you can even quest out to the other lesser-known islands like Peter Island, Norman Island, and Cooper Island. What is the local currency? The local currency in the British Virgin Islands is USD.
  • OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT OUR ASA SAILING COURSES
    Can I take a sailing course if I have no sailing experience? Absolutely! You can start with ASA 101 as part of Top Tier Sailing’s two-day Learn to Sail: Basic Keelboat Sailing course or our 7-day Fast Track to Cruising: Cruising Catamaran course. You don’t need any previous experience or sailing background to take our courses. Whether you have no sailing experience, or years of it, the best thing you can bring to your course is a hunger for knowledge and an adventurous spirit. After all, your live-aboard sailing course will take you to all the best sights of the British Virgin Islands. So I can just show up without any preparation? Well, we wouldn’t go that far. We encourage you to review all course materials and course textbooks prior to arrival so you can dive right into onboard sailing instruction. We also recommend that you take a short online American Sailing Association (ASA) sailing course called Your First Sail and read A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats and Safety Tips. What if I can’t keep up with the skills being taught? Everyone’s experience is different. That’s why our courses are structured in a way that allows anyone – from beginner sailor to seasoned captain – to get the most out of their experience aboard our fleet. The pacing of the courses depends on your own sailing background, and our expert instructors tailor each course to the learner. We find this personalized approach to be the best way to ensure the safety of each guest while also creating a memorable experience for everyone. Best of all, we keep our student-to-instructor ratio small, which allows us to provide a more hands-on, one-on-one experience than any other sailing school in the British Virgin Islands. No matter which of our courses you choose, you’ll be able to ask questions and get the education and insights you need to become a top tier sailor! I’m not sure what course I should take -- can you help me decide? Sure thing! We encourage you to give us a call or use our contact form to tell us a bit about yourself. Are you looking for an easy yet informative beginner course where you learn the sailing basics? Are you already at captain status and want to further your knowledge and sailing education with ASA certifications? We’d love to discuss your sailing aspirations!  Should I tip my instructors? They would appreciate it! Our expert, highly experienced crew is paid well based on industry standards, and they work hard to make sure you have an educational (and fun!) travel adventure. You can tip your instructors in cash, credit card, or Venmo. (Suggested amount: 15-20% of your charter.) Where will we sleep? On the boat! You’ll have a private cabin accommodation aboard our catamaran. Does the boat have a bathroom and a shower? Our spacious, well-designed catamaran includes four cabins with showers, electric toilets, and air conditioning to keep guests comfortable. You’ll also be able to use toilets during the day on shore. How will we spend our free time? Will we have free time? Great question! While most of your time will be spent learning, studying, and practicing your sailing skills, you will have the opportunity to travel ashore for food, shopping, and relaxation. As a sailing-school based in the BVI, we want to give you the opportunity to explore the area and fall in love with this location. Prepare yourself for the vacation adventure of a lifetime! Should I worry about hurricanes? Hurricanes generally happen from July through October. We’ll have sufficient warning in advance, so there should be no cause for concern. In addition, you will be required to purchase travel insurance. You should ensure that your insurance policy covers cancellation due to named storms. When is the best time of the year to go? The British Virgin Islands sailing season typically runs November through June, with the December through April period usually being the busiest months. Top Tier Sailing does not run courses during hurricane season, which consists of the August through October months. How many other people will be on the boat? Our typical instructor to student ratio is 1:5. Will I get seasick? If you have a tendency for motion sickness, you should be able to find good pharmaceuticals, wristbands, and/or ear patches to help.

Get ready for an exciting new experience in the gorgeous British Virgin Islands! We’ve compiled FAQs on course information, logistics, BVI ASA sailing courses, ASA certifications, and more so you can make the most out of your Top Tier Sailing course -- and your trip to the British Virgin Islands!

We can’t wait to host you on our lovely catamaran as we sail the Caribbean and teach you how to become a master of your own ship. And, of course, if you have additional questions, reach out!

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