January 13, 2024 by Layne Wray

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Liveaboard Sailing Course in 2024

Liveaboard sailing courses offer an immersive experience that's gaining popularity among sailing enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. As 2024 unfolds, more and more people are looking for unique, hands-on learning experiences, and a liveaboard sailing course fits the bill perfectly. In this guide, we'll dive into what makes these courses special, how to choose the right one, and why they're a must for anyone serious about mastering the art of sailing.

All students on the back of the boat in the marina after their liveaboard course with Sailing Virgins in the Caribbean

What is a Liveaboard Course? 

A liveaboard sailing course is much more than a conventional training program – it's a total immersion into the sailing lifestyle. Unlike typical day classes, a liveaboard course involves staying on the water round the clock. The ocean is your classroom and the yacht becomes your home for the week. They provide you with a comprehensive experience of life at sea and offer a unique blend of education and adventure, where every day and night provides a deep dive into the nuances of sailing.

Why Choose a Liveaboard Sailing Course? 

  1. Intensive Learning Experience: Being on the water 24/7 accelerates your learning curve. You're not just learning to sail; you're living the sailing lifestyle. 
  2. Real-life Situations: Immerse yourself in the practical aspects of sailing in real-world scenarios. Hone your dinghy handling skills, not just as a part of the curriculum, but as a means to get to the local seaside restaurant for your evening meal. Liveaboard courses offer a genuine slice of life at sea, blending practical education with a relaxing sailing vacation.
  3. Hands-on Training: Continuous exposure means more hands-on practice and a deeper understanding of sailing techniques and boat handling.
  4. Bonding with Crew Mates: You'll build strong relationships with your instructors and fellow sailors, fostering teamwork and camaraderie. The bonds formed during these courses are so strong that many past sailors continue to meet for sailing adventures together long after the course has ended.


Sailors at the bow of the boat whilst anchoring in bay on a Sailing Virgins liveaboard course in Croatia


Choosing the Right Course for You 

  1. Accreditation and Reputation: Look for courses accredited by recognized bodies like the American Sailing Association (ASA) or the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Reputation matters, make sure to check out a sailing schools reviews on reputable sites such as Tripadvisor or Google reviews before booking. 
  2. Instructor Expertise: Ensure your instructors are experienced and certified. The quality of your instructor significantly impacts not only your learning, but the overall course experience.
  3. Location and Route: Choose a location and itinerary that excites you. Different waters offer different challenges and experiences. The destination and other activities offered on your chosen course can make a huge difference to your overall experience. 
  4. Course level: When choosing a course level, it's important to consider both your existing sailing skills and your future goals. If your ambition is to become a captain, seek out courses that provide the ASA 104 or RYA Day Skipper certification. However, approach this with realism and patience. Be wary of schools that might overpromise; becoming a competent captain is a journey, not an overnight achievement. If you're starting from scratch, it will take more than a single week on the water to truly reach this level of proficiency.
  5. Course Duration and Cost: Liveaboard courses vary in length and price. Consider your availability and budget when selecting a course. 

What to Expect

  1. Life on Board: Living on a boat is part of the adventure. Expect close quarters, variable conditions, and a focus on teamwork and cooperation.
  2. Daily Routine: On liveaboard courses your days are structured around sailing lessons and practical drills, interspersed with opportunities to explore the destination you are sailing in. Expect to immerse yourself in boat life to make the most of your course.
  3. Unexpected Situations: Life on a boat is inherently connected to nature, meaning plans may change with the weather, tides, and other unforeseen conditions. Boats are also notorious for presenting unexpected challenges, you'll learn how to band together with crew mates to overcome issues as they arise, better preparing you for your own sailing adventures post course. 


Photo of students on the back of the boat on a Sailing Virgins Liveaboard Course in the British Virgin Islands


Preparing for Your Course 

  1. Physical Fitness: Basic fitness is beneficial, as sailing can be physically demanding. 
  2. Pre Course Studying: Dedicate time to studying the course material before you arrive to lay a solid foundation. Engaging with the course content beforehand means you'll grasp new skills more easily when practicing them in real life situations.
  3. Packing Essentials: Space is limited, so pack light. Check out our downloadable packing list here

Next Steps

Ready to embark on a liveaboard adventure? Your next step is to find a course that aligns with your sailing ambitions in a destination that captivates you. Sailing courses can vary greatly on the experience offered and each sailing school caters to a different audience, so thorough research beforehand is crucial. Delve into each school's profile – check out reviews, social media presence, and YouTube channels to get a comprehensive understanding of what they offer. This step ensures you find a school that resonates with your style and expectations, guaranteeing that you'll have an unforgettable week.


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Sail With Sailing Virgins

Is Sailing Virgins the right school for you? We specialize in delivering active and adventurous liveaboard courses in the world's best sailing destinations. Learn whilst exploring the historic coastline of Croatia, island hopping in the Caribbean or in the serene beauty of the Tahitian waters. We have a wide range of course offerings that cater to solo travellers, friends and couples alike. We also run specialised courses, such as, our 18-35 weeks, women-only and family adventures
We have a course for every sailing level, attain your ASA sailing certifications on our Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Courses. Build sea miles and improve your blue water sailing skills on our Offshore Courses or push yourself to next level under the expert instruction of a professional offshore racer on our Performance Courses
You can check us out on on Tripadvisor, Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, if you are unsure on which course type or destination is the best fit for you don't hesitate to reach out to one of our team here
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