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Introduction to Offshore Sailing

Five Day Sail Training Voyages on the West Coast of Vancouver Island

Experience the adventure and challenge of ocean sailing while receiving expert instruction aboard Sarah Jean II, a proven offshore passage maker.

Offshore Sailing Training Vancouver



Experience Offshore Sailing!

Take the first step towards sailing over the horizon. Join us aboard Sarah Jean II for five unforgettable days of adventure on the spectacular West Coast of Vancouver Island. Receive instruction. Learn by doing. Plan the route, forecast the weather, stand night watch, trim sails and make a dawn landfall. Have fun while building your knowledge, skills and confidence.




The 2016 VoyagesVancouver Island Chart for Offshore Sailing Training

In 2016 we will offer four offshore training voyages; two in June and two in September. We accept just one couple per voyage, providing highly focused and personalized training, and guaranteed hands on experience with all aspects of the boat and her systems. The planned itinerary for each voyage is listed below. These may vary according to weather and sea conditions. While sail training is our focus, we always make time for kayaking, shore exploration and observing the stunning wildlife.


Voyages 1 & 3 in 2016  –  Victoria to Hot Springs Cove to Tofino  – 5 Days & Nights

Sea Lions Vancouver Island SailingAfter boat orientation and a safety briefing we will depart Victoria Inner Harbour for an overnight sail up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, closely monitoring commercial freighter traffic. We will sail past Cape Beale  before heading north to make landfall in the Broken Group in Barkley Sound. The next day we will practice our upwind sailing skills, close reaching into the prevailing northwesterly winds and swells, past Tofino, to our anchorage in Hot Springs Cove, one of nature’s most remarkable creations on the West Coast. We will hike through the rain forest along the twisting boardwalk, reading the names of countless boats, carved with care into the weathered planks.  Then it will be time for a soak!

At dawn the following day we will sail offshore where we will deploy storm sails, heave to and practice man overboard drills.  The next day we will practice our downwind sailing techniques, using the whisker pole and double head sails and perhaps the spinnaker if conditions are right.  Voyages 1 & 3 will end around noon back in Tofino.

Voyages 2 & 4 in 2016  –  Tofino to Hot Springs Cove to Victoria  –  5 Days & Nights

Cockpit at Dawn Sailing Offshore Vancouver IslandAfter boat orientation and a safety briefing we will depart Tofino and start to work our way north. At dawn the next day we will sail offshore where we will deploy storm sails, practice heaving to and hone man overboard skills before turning towards our anchorage at Hot Springs Cove. We will hike through the rain forest along the twisting boardwalk, reading the names of countless boats carved with care into the weathered planks.  Then it will be time for a soak!

The next day, we will depart for an invigorating downwind sail, using the whisker pole, double head sails and cruising spinnaker, as conditions permit. We will anchor in the Broken Island Group in Barkley Sound. The next morning there will be time for kayaking and viewing the enormous California sea lions that reside nearby. After lunch we will depart on a 100 mile overnight passage down the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, carefully monitoring commercial freighter traffic. Voyages 2 & 4 will end around noon in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

What is Included

  • Five days and five nights of sailing and instruction aboard s/v Sarah Jean IIKayaking
  • Accommodation in your own private cabin with king size bed and heater
  • Linens & towels
  • Separately enclosed shower with a good supply of hot water
  • Three hearty meals per day, snacks and night watch cookies
  • Mustang inflatable PFD’s with integrated harness and tethers
  • Use of inflatable kayaks and kayaking life jackets
  • Use of fishing gear
  • Fuel and propane used on the voyage
  • Marina and port fees
  • Full access to all ship manuals, cruising guides, charts and other reference materials
  • Certificate of Completion from Ocean Forest Voyaging detailing the subjects studied
  • Answers to all your questions
  • Our undivided attention

What Students Are Responsible For

  • Transportation to or from departure and arrival ports
  • Shore accommodation before or after the voyage
  • Foul weather clothing and waterproof, non-marking footwear and related sailing gear
  • Fishing license with salmon stamp – if you plan to fish
  • Alcoholic beverages – permitted only in moderation and only at anchor

Qualifications to Join an Offshore Sailing Voyage

  • We sail with couples only. Our focus is on preparing couples for offshore voyaging. This is what we enjoy and Crew on Winch Offshore Sailing Trainingwhat we know. As an experienced cruising couple we can demonstrate teamwork skills and offer valuable perspectives to other couples who are preparing for their own adventure.
  • Some prior sailing and coastal cruising experience are required. Please outline your training and/or experience in your application email or include your cruising resume.
  • Coastal navigation certification or coastal experience navigating your own boat is recommended but is not required.
  • A good level of fitness and an enthusiastic mental attitude are necessary. It is essential that everyone is capable of performing all duties aboard, including standing while hand steering and working on deck in challenging sailing conditions.
  • We accept only non-smokers. This means no smoking for at least the past 6 months.

Pricing & Payment Schedule

  • Introduction to Offshore voyages: C $2,500 per person
  • Bluewater Cruising Association (BCA) member price: C $2,385 per person.
  • If you join BCA, the savings will pay for your one-time initiation fee and your annual membership dues for a year for you and all crew members on your boat. It’s like getting free membership!
  • A deposit of C $500 per person is required at the time of booking. Full payment is required 3 months prior to the voyage departure date.
  • A fee of $250 per person will be charged for a cancellation made 3 months or more before the voyage departure date. After this date there will be no refund unless we are able to find replacement students. Trip cancellation insurance is recommended.

How to Apply for an Offshore Sailing Voyage

  • Please contact us by email. Apply as a couple. Please make sure your spouse or sailing partner is enthusiastic about coming sailing with us. Let us know which voyage is of interest to you by identifying the voyage number and date. Also give us your second choice.
  • We will let you know if your requested voyage is available and will hold it for you while we collect additional information regarding your sailing experience and qualifications.
  • We will then confirm acceptance and advise you of the various ways you can pay the deposit or make full payment, depending on the date of your application relative to the voyage departure date.

Voyage Availability in 2017

GOING CRUISING AGAIN!  Sorry but we have temporarily shut down OFV operations until 2018.  We are heading off cruising again, this time to Alaska.    After preparing the boat over the winter we will be heading north in spring 2017 and will be returning sometime in the fall when the weather gets too chilly, too rainy or both.  Wishing you fair winds and see you when we return!

What You Will Learn

Sailing to WeatherOur offshore sailing training syllabus is aimed at introducing you to the key skills required to sail offshore and the unique requirements of an offshore sailboat. It is not possible to teach you everything you need to know in just five days. But this experience will get you started. It will likely whet your appetite for more offshore sailing and more courses, both at sea and in the classroom. What you will learn is based on our own voyaging experience across the Pacific and back, combined with the proven training syllabus of John and Amanda Neal of Mahina Expeditions, who have generously supported us with their guidance and permission to use their educational materials.

Once you have completed your Introduction to Offshore voyage with us, you may want to take your offshore training to the next level by crossing an ocean or completing a major passage aboard s/v Mahina Tiare II with Mahina Expeditions.

Safety at Sea

  • Use, inspection and maintenance of inflatable PFD’s and various safety harness designs.

  • Location and launching procedure for our Winslow life raft.

  • Location and inventory of ditch bag, EPIRB’s and other survival gear.

  • Discussion of equipment list for assembling your own ditch bag.

  • Use of tethers and hookup to cockpit padeyes and high jacklines.

  • Location and testing of service and emergency bilge pump systems and bilge high water alarm.

  • Location of thru-hull fittings and wooden plugs.

  • Location and use of emergency rudder tiller and Hydrovane emergency rudder tiller.

  • Use and test of propane solenoid; safe use of stove and oven.

  • Location and inventory of marine medical kit and first aid supplies.

Boat Systems, Storage & Provisioning

  • Use and maintenance of Spectra watermaker.

  • Energy management, battery charging and battery monitoring systems.

  • Alternative power options including solar panels and tow generator.

  • Manual and electric bilge pumps, emergency pump and high water alarm.

  • Use, cleaning and maintenance of marine heads and marine sumps.

  • Spare parts discussion: engine, outboard, watermaker.

  • Storage systems and space optimization

  • Provisioning for passages and stowage of food goods. Meal planning and cooking underway.

On Deck Procedures

  • Pre-departure check list

  • Setting up crew watch schedules

  • Use of ship’s log for recording of key navigation info and weather data

  • Hand steering by compass  –  day and night

  • Raising, reefing and stowing mainsail including use of lazy jacks, traveler and rigid vang.

  • Use of a furling headsails.

  • Sail controls and trimming at various points of sail

  • Use of Raymarine autopilot in heading and wind vane modes

  • Use of Hydrovane auxiliary rudder windvane steering system

  • Rigging and use of preventer – safe gybing procedures using preventer

  • Rigging and use of telescopic whisker pole for downwind sailing

  • Sailing downwind with double head sails

  • Rigging and use of furling asymmetrical cruising spinnaker – Bamar Roll Gen system

  • Man overboard procedures: under power and under sail

  • Rig inspection procedures.

  • Coiling short and long lines, key knots, whipping lines and marking the halyard for reefing


  • Sources of marine weather: Internet, VHF, SSB, GRIB files, Email text files, Weatherfax

  • Use of SailMail to request and download weather and view weather data and faxes

  • Weather fundamentals and understanding weather maps: high pressure, low pressure, warm fronts, cold fronts, occluded fronts, stationary fronts, convergence zones, ridges, troughs.

  • Develop an awareness of dangerous land effect weather along coasts

  • Tracking of barometric pressure and weather observations in ships log

  • Use of World Cruising Routes book, Pilot Charts and Visual Passage Planner software

  • Use of professional weather routers

Storm Sailing Techniques

  • Discussion on preparation of the boat and crew for storm conditions

  • Rig storm and sail with staysail, running backstays, storm trysail.

  • Practice heaving to with storm sails

  • Deployment of warps and drogue to slow boat speed


  • Paper chart selection and organization.

  • Use of Sailing Directions, Light List and local Cruising Guides.

  • Coastal Navigation: plotting course, determining DR position, depths and dangers.

  • Electronic Navigation: Use of Raymarine, laptop and iPad charting systems.

  • Use of radar for collision avoidance, chart accuracy check and landfall navigation backup

  • Use of AIS for collision avoidance, ship identification and communication.


  • Use of VHF and SSB radios, and Iridium satellite phone for communication and distress.

  • Daily ham radio contact sked with shore station in Berkley, California

  • Learn how to send and receive emails at sea using SailMail – email a shore contact

  • Learn how to set up a sailing blog and post to it from sea using SailMail


  • Selecting best type of anchor and rode for varying conditions.

  • Calculating scope required for depth and tide

  • Setting a second bow anchor.

  • Safe use of electric windlass and chain stopper.

  • Marking and stowing chain and use of a chain snubber.

More Training for Offshore Sailing

Bluewater Cruising Association

We encourage you join the Bluewater Cruising Association. Remember, the savings we offer to a BCA member couple for our Introduction to Offshore voyages will pay for your one-time initiation fee and annual dues for the first year. Meet like minded sailors, hear stories of offshore adventure and gain access to a myriad of outstanding training courses at discounted prices. And receive significant discounts from Ocean Forest Voyaging on our other courses and products.