Sail Away

Your next sail­ing ad­ven­ture may be just a short drive away

SAIL - - Contents - By Zuzana Proc­hazka

The Great Re­ces­sion birthed a new con­cept, the “stay­ca­tion,” in which you en­joyed a mini-va­ca­tion with­out ven­tur­ing far from home. Ho­tels loved it be­cause they filled empty week­end rooms, and lo­cal busi­nesses ben­e­fited too. To­day, ex­pand­ing the con­cept a lit­tle, a stay­ca­tion can also make for a great ex­cuse to hook up with a nearby char­ter com­pany and do a lit­tle sail­ing.

The ben­e­fits are many. First, if you drive to your sail­ing des­ti­na­tion, pre­sum­ably you won’t need a pass­port. Se­cond, driv­ing is usu­ally cheaper than fly­ing. And even if you do fly, the fare should be min­i­mal. Be­yond that, you won’t need for­eign cur­rency or knowl­edge of an­other lan­guage; the pack­ing is bound to be lighter; you’ll be able to spend more of your va­ca­tion time sail­ing rather than trav­el­ing to the des­ti­na­tion; and road-trip­ping, in par­tic­u­lar, can be a great way to ex­plore more of the United States on your way to and from your char­ter des­ti­na­tion. Fi­nally, with a lit­tle luck, you may be able to talk some other­wise re­luc­tant friends into join­ing you and shar­ing ex­penses. You may even be able to bring a pet.

Of course, one ob­vi­ous way to “stay­cate” (OK, I may be tak­ing this too far) is to hop on your own boat. How­ever, if you don’t have one, or want a change of scenery, think about char­ter­ing. Find­ing bare­boat char­ter or­ga­ni­za­tions is easy on Google. And al­though it may be a lit­tle harder to get the nec­es­sary word-of­mouth about a smaller com­pany’s per­son­nel or fleet qual­ity, you may be sur­prised at what you can find out by ask­ing friends or fel­low yacht club mem­bers. Same thing with the mer­its of a par­tic­u­lar cruis­ing des­ti­na­tion.

The good news is that there are plenty of bare­boat out­fits out there to choose from, in­clud­ing in such lo­cales as Maine, the Up­per and Lower Great Lakes, the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay or the Pa­cific North­west. For spring char­ters, you might also want to con­sider Mi­ami or South­west Florida in the Fort My­ers area. As a side note, one of the nice things about small pri­vate com­pa­nies is their fo­cus on per­son­al­ized ser­vice and the fact they of­ten have boats of all sizes, which in turn can make for a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

Of course, you can also go with a tried-andtrue large com­pany, like Sun­sail, the Moor­ings or Dream Yacht Char­ters. For those in the Pa­cific North­west, for ex­am­ple, Sun­sail has a base in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia. Yes, it will re­quire a gov­ern­ment ID and dif­fer­ent dol­lars. But at least the lan­guage is the same (sort of), and sail­ing with or­cas and feast­ing on salmon sounds like a good choice to me. Sim­i­larly, Dream has a base in An­napo­lis if crab cakes are your fancy. Or you can also opt for a trip out of the com­pany’s base in Ft. Laud­erdale, Florida, for a more trop­i­cal feel and some city cruis­ing.

Yet an­other way to en­joy lo­cal sail­ing is to join a club. You can be­come a mem­ber with SailTime, for ex­am­ple, for far less than the cost of ac­tual boat own­er­ship, and its bases are cur­rently in the process of up­grad­ing to the lat­est Beneteau mod­els. It also now has cata­ma­rans as well, and with the SailTime Plus pro­gram, you can re­serve a boat out­side your lo­cal area and home base. Along these same lines, Free­dom Boat Club has 145 lo­ca­tions around the coun­try. Free­dom fo­cuses heav­ily on small power­boats, but since they’re fran­chises, some now have sail­boats avail­able, and you can char­ter at their other lo­ca­tions as well.

Fi­nally, why not try a learn-and-sail va­ca­tion? Amer­i­can Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion schools, for ex­am­ple, of­fer three- to five-day classes around the coun­try, in which you char­ter a boat with a cap­tain and then learn while sail­ing, at the same time earn­ing var­i­ous dif­fer­ent tech­ni­cal cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. An­other op­tion is Col­gate’s Off­shore Sail­ing School, which fo­cuses on per­for­mance sail­ing so you can hone your rac­ing skills.

Bot­tom line: what­ever kind of sail­ing you’re in to, stay­ca­tions can be a great way to get out on the wa­ter with­out hav­ing to spend a lot of money or burn through tons of va­ca­tion time. What’s not to like about that? s

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