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Captain’s Log: Lessons of learning and overcoming

ASA Sailing courseThe Basics

The boat: Jester, an FP Helia 44’ Catamaran

Crew: Captain Trevon (instructor) and first mate Stephanie

ASA Students: Kevin, Peter, Rosie and Kirill 

Courses Completed: ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising), ASA 104 (Bareboat Cruising), ASA 114 (Cruising Catamaran) 

Day 1: Setting Goals

It’s New Year’s Day when Captain Trevon and first mate Stephanie welcome Rosie, Kevin, Peter, and Kirill aboard Jester, Go Sail VI’s trusted FP Helia 44’ Catamaran. The students are excited to begin their journey and are eager to share their goals for this sailing adventure as well as future sailing dreams. On this trip, the group would like to do a crossing to St. Croix. Along the way, they hope to get their full slate of certifications and gain the confidence to charter their own catamaran without a captain for a weeklong trip. 

Day 2: Setting Sail 

Before heading to St. Croix, the group decides to spend one more day near St. John. They sail from Compass Point Marina to Salt Pond Bay, practicing boat handling under power along the way. At first, the students struggled with oversteering and handling the course into the waves along St. John’s south side. However, by the afternoon everyone had relaxed and settled into a good rhythm sailing through the 4 foot seas and 15-18kt winds. 


At Salt Pond Bay, the students practiced dropping the mooring ball before enjoying an afternoon of snorkeling and grilling tasty cheeseburgers. 

Day 3: St. Croix bound

The journey to St. Croix gives the students plenty of time at the helm under sail. Even before leaving the bay, the had already raised the mainsail to it’s reef #2 position and unfurled the jib to two thirds,  anticipating the 20 kt winds and 5-6 ft seas. 


The journey to Gallows Bay in St. Croix gave the crew plenty of time to discuss the differences between monohulls and catamarans, as well as use of a chart plotter, heading vs. Course over ground, bearings, fixes, and more. 


By evening, everyone was ready for a delicious dinner ashore and a relaxed walk along the boardwalk before heading to bed. 

Day 4: Lessons learned

The day’s plan to sail to Buck Island with the dinghy in tow hit a snag when the dinghy painter (a rope attached to the dinghy’s bow to tow it) got caught in the port propeller. Fortunately, the crew shut down the propeller immediately. However, the propeller had severed the rope and the dinghy began floating away. Peter dove into the water to retrieve the dinghy. Captain Trevon tested the engine and noted it seemed to be running fine, with no vibration. However, he reported the incident immediately to the charter company and agreed to let them know if any other issues occurred.


The group headed back to Gallows Bay and reflected on this lesson learned over dinner at a local restaurant serving authentic island cuisine. 

Day 5: A taste of unpredictability  

As sometimes happens when you are sailing, the predicted sailing conditions for returning to St. John varied from the conditions the crew actually faced. The forecast of 18-20 kts winds ended up being winds at a steady 22 kts with gusts up to 30 kts. Additionally, the group encountered eight foot seas along the way opposed to the predicted four to five foot seas. However, the students did a great job adapting to changing conditions, demonstrating proper trim, and changing sail configurations for the conditions. 


By late afternoon, the crew arrived in Pilsbury Bay and grilled mahi and salmon aboard.  

Day 6: The Dinghy strikes back

After traveling to shore in the morning, Peter and Rosie boarded the dinghy to head back to the boat. However, the dinghy wasn’t done with providing lessons to this crew! The motor quit and the pair were forced to begin rowing. Luckily a power boat came to their rescue and towed them back to the Jester. 


Luckily, when they arrived back aboard the Jester, Captain Trevon let them know this was only a slight bump in the road and fun activities were to follow! The group practiced man overboard procedures, figure eights, and then made a downwind run to Christmas Cove. 

Day 7: Saying goodbye

The crew made their way back to the dock, practicing helming and holding the boat in the waiting position to fuel up. Everyone said their goodbyes and Captain Trevon and first mate Stephanie were able to quickly get the dinghy motor fixed and the painter replaced.