Our family has taken many vacations together and we have the photos to prove it. The majority of shots feature us pointing at things, standing in front of buildings, or about to eat something beautiful, unusual, huge or scary. Some catch us standing in lines, getting a little grumpy or falling asleep somewhere inappropriate. Others illustrate how totally fun the trip was, magic kingdoms and all, but were over when they were over. Our most recent trip traveling with kids was remarkably different.
We completed the week without a single posed photo or forced smile. We functioned beautifully as a team, learning some new things about both ourselves and our family, and earned a bevy of new titles that we will likely continue to use throughout our lifetimes. We learned how to sail.
We could have opted to take a course on the mainland U.S., but the opportunity to do so in the beauty of the British Virgin Islands proved too great a lure. Through word of mouth and days of research, we settled on a school out of Tortola owned by a couple that has dedicated a lifetime to the sport, having trained some 130,000 landlubbers to hoist jibs and trim mains. Thank goodness for Steve and Doris Colgate.
We “bought the boat” for the class, as they say, so that we would be on board with just the four of us and the instructor. The first two days we were put through our paces on the Colgate 26, a boat that founder Steve Colgate designed to meet the specifics of teaching, with an aft berth for the instructor, sturdy rails to inspire confidence, and a cockpit organized for ease of use in the learning environment.
After that initiation we graduated to a 49-foot cruiser that we simply fell in love with. Our younger daughter remarked that boats really do have personalities as she described this sleek, spacious beauty as a place that was friendly and comfortable to spend time with, just like her best pal at home. She worked her little heart out as the flyweight on our team, but accomplished a great deal and cannot wait to return as she gets older for additional certifications, as there are various certifications available for specific age groups.
The final test was what sealed the deal for our older daughter. After all the wisdom exchanged hands and all of our days of experience were behind us, we took the boat out on the final day without the instructor. Our daughter sailed us out of the marina, nicely maneuvering among other boats and obeying the rules. Once in open water, she really let the boat fly. She was beaming and in her element.
The Colgate’s have united us in a passion that will take us on countless future adventures as a family. We don’t even have to ask what the girls would like to do over upcoming vacations as long as sails, wind and blue water are involved.
The nights not spent on board our beautiful boat were enjoyed within the Moorings Village, which has undergone a recent renovation that made our stay simply perfect. Convenient to the marina, with restaurants and shops nearby, it was ideal. We learned that there are beautiful, private residences available for short stays as well and will likely check those out on our return trip, but for simplicity’s sake, this was grand.
After our week of hands-on sailing, we emerged with both parents certified in Day Sailing, Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Cruising, two children with Basic Skills Certification and one with Advanced Certification. Everyone had fun, worked hard, and learned more than just how to sail a boat.
For more information visit:
Offshore Sailing School, BVI
K. L. Turner is a freelance writer with roots in Illinois, Colorado, Idaho and Florida’s left coast. She writes with academic authority on all things water and with 3D experience about travel, wine and sailing. Follow her on Twitter @turnerkat