I’ve now completed five of the seven major hikes on my trip around the world. With all that hiking under my belt, I decided to switch things up and spend time on one of my other passions: sailing.
One of my goals for my current travels was to get enough sailing experience to be able skipper a charter boat anywhere in the world. Charter companies typically require at least one person on board to have a valid skipper’s license for bareboat charters (bareboat means the charter includes the boat but not a hired captain).
For Americans, that means getting certified up to the 106 Advanced Coastal Cruising level of the American Sailing Association (ASA) course series. (A word of advice – the European equivalent of the ASA is the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which has a corresponding suite of sailing certifications. The RYA courses are much more respected worldwide. Focus on the RYA courses if you’re interested in sailing but haven’t started your certifications yet.)
I completed ASA 101 Basic Keelboat and 103 ASA Coastal Cruising (there is no ASA 102) in 2011 when I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. That meant I still needed to complete ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising and ASA 105 Coastal Navigation, in addition to ASA 106, to reach my goal.
ASA courses are taught at accredited sailing schools all around the world and courses taken abroad are often much cheaper than those in the United States (especially in places like Croatia or Thailand). I was in Indonesia, where I’d just completed my most recent hike, so I booked a week long course covering ASA 104-106 with the Yacht Pro Thailand sailing school in Phuket, Thailand.
Most of my sailing experience is from the 2011 Trans-Atlantic passage, but it has been a long time since then and my sailing skills were more than a little rusty. So I landed in Phuket and headed straight for the hotel in Kata Beach to spend the next week cramming as much new and old sailing knowledge into my head as I could.
After days of non-stop studying, I finally made my way to the Yacht Pro office at the Yacht Haven Marina on the northeast side of the island. I spent the first day buried in navigational charts, completing three point fixes, measuring true and magnetic headings, and calculating variation and deviation, as I worked my way through ASA 105 Navigation.
The next morning I took command of the 38 foot Beneteau that would be my schoolhouse for the week. I spent the week sailing around the Andaman Sea with my Irish instructor on board to help me through the course work and keep the boat from crashing while I got up to speed. We made stops at an array of gorgeous islands, from Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai to Ko Phi Phi, while I boned up on the intricacies of bareboat skippering.
Now that I had my certifications in hand, I flew to Seoul, South Korea to meet Travis, a friend from my Tour de Mont Blanc adventure last September who is also on his own world tour. We spent the next few days researching and planning the next phase of the sailing adventure, a bareboat charter in one of the world’s premier sailing destinations.
Exposing ourselves to be inveterate travelers always ready to check out new places, we totally failed to nail down a single location to go sailing. Instead, we decided to split the trip into two parts. We’d spend the first month in the Seychelles, a group of a 115 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The second half would be in either Croatia or French Polynesia, but there’s still a few weeks left before we move on to that second part so no need to decide which one yet.