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Savvy Travel: You Too Can Sail!

Plan your own sailing adventure à la Fifi LaMode, The Budget Babe's International Travel Advisor and seafarer extraordinaire. —BB

by Fifi LaMode
If I can sail, anybody can. I'm terrified of the sea, terrified of getting seasick, terrified of huge sea creatures and medium sea creatures; ok, I'm a big scaredy cat. I overcame all these fears during our week in the British Virgin Island's and you can too.

We booked through a company called Sunsail, which is British, but they have U.S. headquarters too. They offer flotilla vacations in Greece, Turkey, Croatia, the British Virgin Islands, and the Grenadines. They're either 1 or 2 weeks, and they have different grades of difficulty.

We took the baby grade and there were a lot of families with kids. Of course the kids knew more about sailing than I did. There were also couples with not a lot of sailing experience (moi!) but as long as the "captain" knows how to sail, they let you use their boats. You can contact them through You pay for the boat, not per person, and most of the boats can hold up to 6 people.

But here's the best part: If you've NEVER sailed and haven't a clue of where to start, they also offer package vacations (check their brochures, either online or ask for one in the mail) where everything is included: 1 or 2 weeks' hotel (you don't sleep on a boat), all meals, airport transfers, and boat rentals. The resorts are like 3 star hotels, and other water sports are available. They're usually near some small touristy town in case you need a break.

I know people who have been on them and they're great if you're interested in sailing, but not that much. You can paraglide, or just get a small boat or dinghy and motor around the islands. Apparently the Aegean is really easy for beginners. Some of these sailing resorts even offer classes, I believe. The all-inclusive prices are ridiculously reasonable. Be sure to get their U.S. brochures though because the British ones include charter airfare from England.

Another company is Moorings which used to be Sunsail's competitor but now is owned by them. I hear they're little cheaper than Sunsail.

Check in your area about sailing classes before you go. A basic course is a must. Also a course in reading navigational charts. This knowledge is invaluable - it will keep you from hitting rocks and reefs and will tell you where the shallow water is that you should keep away from. Also check the winds for the day you are sailing and the height of the waves, if any. Anything under 5 mph means you have to use the motor or you stay in one place! Anything over 20 mph, stay in port (I'm talking about beginners - I imagine the experts think this is fun. I don't.).

Some of the Caribbean resorts have sailing facilities where you can rent boats. Check online or through a reliable travel agent. Trust me, this is sooo much better than pigging out 24/7 on a 3,000 passenger cruise ship. I hope I've convinced you to try this sport. Have fun and happy sailing.

Last week's column: Fifi's "free-sail" day in the BVI

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