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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Sailing the Keys

With first rate charts and other navigational aids, the Florida Keys are an ideal cruising ground for all sailors, regardless of experience. The famously warm, clear waters of the Keys are a snorkeler’s paradise—shipwrecks and coral parks are plentiful—and secluded beaches number in the hundreds. If you crave terra firma, you can always stop at Key West for a nightcap at Sloppy Joe’s, a favorite hangout of writer Ernest Hemingway.  One full day’s sail west of Key West brings you to the Dry Tortugas, home to Fort Jefferson, which dates back to Civil War days. This is a popular sailing route. If you feel like you’re off the charts, anchor at any harbor and ask the nearest boater for directions. Thankfully, yachting is no longer a sport only for the affluent. Florida Keys Bareboat Charter Company in Marathon bareboat charters a 27-foot Catalina for a cost of $899 per week (7 days/6 nights). 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/19/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Disappointing America’s Cup

For those of you who caught that small short blurb in the middle of the sports section last week, smack dab between Winter Olympics, basketball, and spring training baseball coverage, the America’s Cup is finally returning to American soil for the first time in 15 years. Software billionaire Larry Ellison and his BMW Oracle Racing team easily crushed the Swiss in Valencia, Spain. But did you take a look at his boat, a space-age trimaran that’s all sail, little deck? This is what the greatest sailing race has been reduced to, creating the fastest object on the water? Call me a traditionalist but I yearn for my childhood where we would head to Newport and watch the likes of Ted Turner and Dennis Connor sail large mono-hulled sailboats that at least looked like sleek yachts, not something better suited for Star Wars. One of the greatest thrills I had was racing on the winning 1986 Stars and Stripes boat in St. Martin, now used as a tourist attraction, racing against other boats from that era. It’s a far better way to introduce people to the exhilaration of sailing races, at least compared to Ellison’s high-priced toy.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/26/10 at 01:59 PM
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Sail Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Founded in 1982 in Newport, Rhode Island, J World has since added teaching facilities in San Diego, Annapolis, the Keys, and Sweden. The Annapolis-based franchise is owned by Jahn Tihansky, a former sailmaker and instructor with US Sailing. Tihansky’s philosophy of “more time on the water, less time in the classroom” will turn any landlubber into a sailing aficionado. You’ll learn how to set the sails, practice your knots, stop and start under sail, tack, jibe (controlled, of course), and anchor. More advanced courses will teach salty dogs how to put up a spinnaker, navigate, and moor. Learn to Sail 5-day courses cost $995 per person.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/16/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sailing on an America’s Cup Yacht in St. Martin

One of the most unique opportunities in the Caribbean is the chance to race aboard authentic America’s Cup boats used in the actual competition. In the three-hour sailing fantasy camp called the Sint Maarten 12 Metre Challenge, you have the rare opportunity to step into Dennis Conner’s soft-soled shoes. After an introductory talk about the history of the America’s Cup, four captains choose teams and off you go to your respective boats. The boats include the winning Stars & Stripes yacht which Connor used in the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia; his back-up,  Stars & Stripes '86; and two Canadian yachts, Canada II and True North IV. Once aboard your boat, crew assignments are designated by the captain. You could be chosen to be primary grinders (grinding a winch as fast as possible so that the foresail can change direction), timekeepers, or handlers of the mainsheet or rope. Simulating the America’s Cup, you sail against one other boat around a triangular course, about one-tenth the size of the actual race. Afterwards, you’ve earned your rum punch.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/01/11 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Learn to Sail This Winter off Captiva Island

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida, (right next door to the better known Sanibel Island) will once again be offering three and five-day Learn to Sail packages for those looking to earn sailing certification while on vacation. Overseen by the renowned Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School, the courses can be taken in a fast-paced three-day curriculum with full eight-hour days or a more relaxed five-day schedule in half-day sessions. We prefer the latter, so you have time to bike through the alligators at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, look for seashells on the spanking white Gulf Coast beaches, and search for manatees in the waters. Rates for the three-day Learn to Sail package start at $1,350 per person including the sailing certification course, resort accommodations, textbooks, Colgate Day Sailing certification, diploma and logbook, based on double occupancy. Courses are open to all skill levels, minimum age seven with adult.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/29/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Boothbay Harbor’s Linekin Bay Under New Ownership

For the first time in its 106-year history, Linekin Bay Resort will have new owners. I first visited the resort in 2012 with my family, penning a story for The Boston Globe after a memorable weekend. Located on one of the many inlets that form the landscape of midcoast Maine, Linekin Bay has one of the finest locales in New England to sail and sea kayak. Spend your day with the family boating, hiking with a naturalist, and swimming. Then dine communal style on Maine specialties like a lobster clambake and blueberry pie in the main lodge. The new owners, both local Mainers, have already begun to rehab the aging buildings, creating 14 new rooms in the new Linwood Lodge. They still aim to retain the rustic charm of this classic retreat, the only all-inclusive sailing resort in the Northeast. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/20/16 at 05:59 AM
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Monday, March 07, 2016

Sail the British Virgin Islands on Your Own Luxury Catamaran

Sailors know the British Virgin Islands as legendary cruising grounds. Here, in places like Virgin Gorda, Peter’s Island, and Tortola, you’ll find sheltered marinas where you can dock or throw down your anchor, shopping, restaurants, and small hotels that are popular with yachters. Even better, you can sail to these various islands without going outside the reefs into the open ocean. But you won’t have to worry about navigational charts on Festiva Sailing Vacations 7-night night cruise around the BVIs, because a skipper comes with you. Their 45-foot Lagoon 450 catamarans, which sleeps 8 passengers in 4 guest cabins with private bathrooms, also comes with a chef and liquor to make this the ideal all-inclusive package. The weeklong jaunt starts in Tortola and includes snorkeling with sting rays in The Baths of Virgin Gorda, a stop at Cane Garden to listen to the steel band play at Stanley’s, and a night anchored off Norman Island, the treasure island author Robert Louis Stevenson made famous in his book. Cost of the trip starts at $3595 per couple, including meals, a berth onboard, and, of course, transportation. They still have one berth available on the March 19-26, April 9-16, and April 16-23 sailings. Please contact ActiveTravels and we’ll be happy to make the booking. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/07/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

America’s Cup Comes to Bermuda June 2017

Just had lunch yesterday in Boston with the Bermuda Tourism team who are already getting the word out on next summer’s America’s Cup coming to the island. Crews, like the winning one from Oracle Team USA, are already at the Royal Naval Shipyard trying out the course they’ll take next May when the qualifiers begin. Needless to say, it’s going to be an exciting time to be on the island. These newfangled hydrofoil sailboats reach speeds over 30 knots so don’t expect a leisurely sail amongst friends on the water. It’s going to be a highly competitive competition that could very well lead to a rematch between Team USA and Team New Zealand. If at all interested, don’t wait too long to find lodging and flights. Properties will sell out quickly. Our clients love The Reefs, Fairmont Southampton, and the newly refurbished Hamilton Princess, which underwent a $90 million renovation. I also like the all-inclusive beach resort, Grotto Bay, for families. ActiveTravels is here to help select a property that’s right for you! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/10/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Another Relaxing Day on the Schooner Mary Day

We wake up to blinding sunshine at Buck’s Harbor in South Brooksville, best known as the spot where children’s book author and illustrator Robert McCloskey (“Make Way for Ducklings,” “Blueberries for Sal”) summered. FDR would also stop here on his way to Campobello Island for a short ice cream break. We found some of those famous wild Maine blueberries in our pancakes that morning before hoisting the sails and setting a course for that hump atop Big Spruce Island. Each one of these Penobscot Bay harbors and islands has a legacy and Big Spruce Island is no different. This is the place where artist Fairfield Porter and his brother, photographer Eliot Porter, would spend their summers and there’s still a working artists’ community on the island today.

We sailed close to an 8-knot clip passing a gray seal who popped his head out of the water like a periscope, stocky razorbill auks, and more porpoises. Pulpit Harbor on North Haven was far too congested for Captain Barry so we continued on to Islesboro, the ridge of mountains on the mainland not far off. We anchored in a placid harbor where there were no other boats. 
       “What do you call this place?” I asked Captain Barry. 
       “Snug, beautiful harbor,” he said.
       “You’re not going to tell me the real name, are you?”
        “Nope,” Captain Barry said. Then he reached for his guitar and started to sing a Woody Guthrie tune as we watched another magical sunset. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/04/16 at 05:30 AM
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Friday, August 05, 2016

Book a Last-Minute Sail on a Maine Windjammer

Sad to be leaving the Schooner Mary Day and heading back to civilization. I tried to convince Captain Barry to sail straight through Election Day but he had other commitments. The good news for you is that the Maine windjammer season runs all the way to mid-October. This year’s Camden Windjammer Festival takes place in the harbor on September 2nd and 3rd. Festivities include a parade of sail, live music, dancing, and fireworks. On Tuesday, September 13, the fleet gathers in Brooklin for a day of live music and tours at the WoodenBoat Sail-In. Also don’t forget the full moon sail over August 18th and the fall foliage sails in late September/early October. The windjammer Angelique is featuring a 4-night Wine and Foliage sail October 2-6. The schooner Ladona has a 4-day wine cruise with wine expert and consultant Michael Green August 26-30. Stephen Taber has a 6-day Photo & Lighthouse Cruise with photographer John Shipman September 4-10. With a 9-ship fleet, you’re bound to find a sail on a Maine Windjammer that fits your schedule. Take it from an expert, you won’t regret it. 

I want to thank Meg Maiden at the Maine Windjammer Association for helping to arrange this week’s trip and special thanks to Captain Barry King for creating a memorable 3-night itinerary. Have a great weekend! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/05/16 at 05:30 AM
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Come Sail Away

Friday, Lisa and I join our colleague Amy and her husband Josh in Tortola, after a brief stop in Puerto Rico to see firsthand how San Juan is doing after the devastating hurricane. Tortola was also greatly affected by hurricanes but we’re happy to support the people of the British and US Virgin Islands as we sail on 41-foot sailboat called Island Karma provided by Horizon Yacht Charters. St. John, St. Thomas, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and many other islands in this region are busy rebuilding their infrastructure, schools, homes, and resorts. We’ll get a good look at their progress while anchoring just offshore. We’ll be back the week of February 12th to report on the region. Amy has also just returned from Berlin and she’s ready to discuss that vibrant city later in February, along with her experience flying WOW Air. Be well and keep active! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/31/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Volvo Ocean Sailing Race Returns to Newport in May

The Volvo Ocean Race, the world's premiere ocean sailing race that began back in 1973 as the Whitbread Round-the-World Race, returns to Newport May 8-20. The 2014-15 edition of the race attracted over 125,000 fans during the 12-day stopover in Newport and quickly became one of the biggest sporting events of the year in New England. This year's Race Village opens on May 8th and is a free, family-friendly event that features music, interactive displays, food and, of course, viewing the state-of-the-art racing yachts. The in-port race takes place May 19th before the competitors sail off on their next leg to Cardiff, Wales. Come join the festivities in Newport, a town known for welcoming sailors, having hosted the America's Cup for over 50 years. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Top 5 Dream Days of 2018, Sailing to Anegada in the BVIs

My barometer for an authentic travel experience is one that plants you squarely in the present where your mind can't drift to other thoughts and worries. This was certainly the case aboard the 41-foot Island Karma last February when we made the crossing from Virgin Gorda to the remote British Virgin Island of Anegada. Sailing at a speed over 8 knots, the boat was on its side, heeling over in the blustery tradewinds. But under the competent helm of my friend, Josh, and the watchful eye of our Captain, "Boss," I never panicked. With the occasional splash aboard to keep me alert and very much alive, I was relishing the adventure at hand. After 2 hours, we finally reached this sliver of land lined by sparkling white beaches and surrounded by the most spectacular turquoise waters I've seen since diving in French Polynesia. We pulled up to a mooring, motored the dinghy to land, and caught an open-air taxi to dreamy Cow Wreck Beach, passing rambling goats and cows along the way. We arrived at a long stretch of desolate sand and a small beachfront bar, planted our bums in Adirondack chairs, took out our books, and started to read. Ahh, sun, sand, sea, sky, serenity. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/08/19 at 06:00 AM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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