We decided that we wanted to take a trip to Croatia. This is the part in some stories where the protagonist quits their job, sells all their belongs, and sails the world. Our story is a bit different, but still rather unusual.
A Crazy Idea
So Lindsay has a cousin, who was working in France, and met and married a Frenchman. Their happily-ever-after includes 3 kids, and taking over the family champagne business. Our kids are similar ages, and we’ve enjoyed traveling together. So once they found out we had bought a boat, they half-seriously suggested that we sail the Mediterranean. The more we talked, the better it sounded, and I’d heard lots of great things about Croatia…
Who can Charter a Boat?
It depends on where you are going. Some places, they will accept a sort of sailing resume, detailing how long you’ve been sailing, what kind of boat, etc. That didn’t really work for us, since we haven’t been sailing that long, and charter companies in Croatia seemed to want more concrete proof of competency.
Some places, like the Caribbean, are happy with Sail Canada – Intermediate Cruising, or American Sailing Association certification. Some countries in Europe accept the UK Royal Yachting Association Skipper designation. And others, like Croatia, prefer the International Certificate of Competency (ICC).
Getting Real at the Boat Show
Last year, we dragged the kids along to the boat show, and wandered around the tiny sailing area. We talked to a charter company who put us onto the idea of going with a flotilla (more below). And we talked to Adventure Sailing, who runs sailing training trips. They happen on a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 in Georgian Bay (in the summer) and in the Caribbean (when Georgian Bay is frozen). Frank said that we could do a week with him, and do our Intermediate Cruising and ICC together. And we could bring the kids along and call it a family vacation. And I didn’t need to take the Basic Cruising pre-req, I could just challenge the exam (Lindsay had already taken hers). It sounded too good to be true.
The Hard Work
Turns out that getting certified wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded. First, we needed to get our VHF license. Turned out Ray, from Adventure Sailing, lives in Burlington, and we could do the course at his house. So 2 Monday nights later, that was done.
Then, we had to do our Basic Coastal Navigation pre-req online, which was something like 25 hours that we had to squeeze in around kids activities, and renovating, etc. And we were supposed to review the Intermediate Cruising and ICC materials before the course (missed that part of the email, oops). Then we’d need to start the week by writing the 3 hour Coastal Navigation exam (including charting examples). And Les would need to write the Basic Cruising exam. And then we’d need to write the Intermediate Cruising exam, and the ICC exam. This was going to consume a big part of our life for a few months.
So in less than a year, we got the following certification:
- Basic Cruising (Les)
- VHF ROC(M) licence
- Basic Coastal Navigation
- Intermediate Cruising
- International Certificate of Competency (ICC)
Why a Flotilla
A flotilla is basically a tour group of sailboats. The lead boat has a captain who plans the route, and arranges all the moorings, etc. Every morning you will get a briefing with details about the that nights stop, and how to get there.
We thought this would be a great idea for our first sailing trip on our own outside of Lake Ontario. This was we don’t have to worry about planning the route, sorting out where to moor, and how to book moorings. It also gives us a bit of a safety net, as we’ll get info on the best routes to take, and interesting places to stop, and someone who can answer questions, or help if something goes wrong.
It also allows us to have control of our own boat, not worry about having room for a skipper, and having a stranger on the boat with us.
Read about our week with Adventure Sailing on Georgian Bay here
Read about our trip to Croatia here **