All posts by Zeke Quezada

2019 Arabella Grand Tour: Trip Update

We are in the middle of the 2019 Arabella Grand Tour as ASA members are currently sailing the waters of New England aboard the 157 mega sailing yacht, Arabella. The Arabella Grand Tour is a once in a lifetime experience and is more than just sailing as passengers are touring iconic destinations off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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Learning To Sail In New York City

Can New York City Be Your Summer Sailing Destination?

When I turned my back on the Statue of Liberty, the view of New York City romanticized everything about this metropolis. Sunshine bouncing off the ripples in New York Harbor, the sounds of the chaos on the city streets replaced by the sounds of a boat cutting across the water. New York from the harbor is enchanting.

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This Croatian Flotilla is organized by Sea Safaris in Chicago and ASA Captian Jean “John” De Keyser and his wife “Admiral” Mila. Follow along in this three-part series as they lead the way through the three-week journey.

The final week of our flotilla has arrived, and we will be heading back with new crew.

Skipper Joe C and his lovely bride, Anna, will be staying with us for this last week. On “Cetina”, we only have three souls on board: Admiral Mila, Thorsten J from Vancouver and yours truly. On “Tina”, we have Joe and Anna as well as Ron M, his wife Carol and their friend Richard D.

Tina, week 3 crew.

We also had a third yacht, S/V Lovro, with Skipper Alan T, his wife Cynthia and friends, Dave R, Susan S, Deborah S and Diana V. All from the Houston, TX, area.

The Lovro Crew

It took a long time for the charter company to have “Lovro” checked out.  We agreed that “Cetina” and “Tina” should leave the ACI marina in Dubrovnik as early as possible in order not to be charged for an extra docking day and that we should wait at anchor in the river for “Lovro” to depart.  The plan was to spend the night in the bay of Sipan island.  

Tired of waiting, Skipper Joe went ahead and left for Sipan, where we joined them later, once “Lovro” got released.

Sipan is a lovely small city at the end of a scenic bay.  “Tina” was already at anchor and we spotted a mooring ball but someone at a restaurant on shore yelled at us that the ball had been reserved.  We moved away from it and dropped the anchor. “Lovro” also dropped their anchor near us.

We lowered the dinghies in the water, mounted the outboards and went to shore to find a place for dinner.  One place really appealed to us with its patio surrounded by colorful hydrangeas. Marco, the owner, a friendly elderly gentleman got us a table for the “Lovro” and “Cetina” crews.  Skipper Joe and his crew had decided to eat on board.

Marco’s Restaurant on Sipan Island

We had a delicious meal at Marco’s restaurant and, of course, we were again the ones who closed the place down. We ferried the crews back to their boats on our small dinghies and soon were heading for our berths.  Mljet was waiting for us the following day.

We awakened to, again, a glorious and sunny day but not very promising wind-wise.  As soon as we headed out into the wide channel between Peljesac and the island of Mljet, the wind picked up and we had a great sail, tacking back and forth, all the way to the entrance of Polace where we docked again at our familiar restaurant, Sponga.  Soon all three boats were at the dock.

Sponga in Polace, Mljet

The owner of Sponga showed us the fish and lobsters that he kept in a net cage under his dock and six of us decided to share a seabass prepared in salt for dinner.  Others decided on a huge lobster. We opted to go to the lake and the Benedictine monastery island in the morning and we relaxed on our yachts waiting for dinner.

The seabass was paraded out of the kitchen with great fanfare.  It had been cooked in a thick salt crust which would have kept it nice and moist.  Unfortunately, the poor thing had been overcooked and came out dry and chewy as an old leather shoe sole.  We complained to the waiter who answered that this was the way they always cooked it. Poor fish!

The Ruins of the Roman Palace of Polace in Mljet

Monday morning, we went to the national park and the lake with the monastery and, around noon, we left Polace and headed towards Korcula.  The idea was to dock at the ACI marina but, when we got there, the place was a total zoo and we went for option number two, anchoring in the Uvala Luka Korcula bay.  We then took water taxis to commute to the city for a treat of gelato. Korcula is a lovely place with a very rich history. It is supposedly the home of Marco Polo and you can sense the Venetian influence in its architecture.

The scenic anchorage of Polace, Mljet.

While enjoying our ice cream, we were listening to a Klappa acapella group singing beautiful Dalmatian songs.  They were just a bunch of friends sitting at a table near a restaurant and they were performing just for the fun of it. They did not try to push CDs or get tips.  They just loved doing it for the art and the Admiral and I just sat there for half an hour taking it all in.

The water taxi closed operations at 11:00 PM so, not to miss it, we had to get to the docks to be transported back to our anchored boat. Tuesday was going to be a long sail to the island of Scedro, just south of Hvar island but, before we could leave, we had to go to the ACI marina and take on water for our tanks. We took advantage of that to do some additional provisioning and I bought a chocolate strawberry cake and a chocolate cake for the Admiral’s birthday which we were going to celebrate in the anchorage of Lovisce on Scedro.  Lovisce is a gorgeous little bay surrounded by pine trees and with three konobas (small restaurants) along the shore. 

We were given two mooring balls per yacht, one for the bow and one attached to the stern. That way, our boats could not swing in the restricted amount of space available.

Our three boats at the mooring balls in Lovisce Bay, Scedro

We had planned dinner on board but first we were going to celebrate Mila’s birthday on “Tina” with cocktails and appetizers and with the two cakes.  By the time we had consumed all these goodies, we were not hungry anymore.

“Admiral” Mila’s Birthday Bash

We had a very quiet night in Lovisce and woke up energized for our next stop, the island of Vis.  We just love Vis and it is almost every year on our itinerary. It is not surprising that it was featured in the movie Mama Mia II as the “Greek Island”.  During its history, Vis has always been of important strategic value and was considered the Gibraltar of the Adriatic. The British and the French fought there during the Napoleonic wars.  It would have been Tito’s last stronghold had Stalin invaded Yugoslavia. There are memorials to British Commando’s who, during WWII, fought the Germans here but our favorite place on the island is the Kod Magica restaurant of our friends Bise and Dennis Jerkovic in the vineyard about twenty minutes inland from the city of Vis.

This is where we take our crew members for a traditional Dalmatian lamb peka dinner and, again, we were not disappointed.  Sitting amid the vineyards with locally made wine and enjoying the delicious food prepared by Bise, her mother and their staff, you realize how lucky you are to experience this kind of cruising vacation. Dinner at Kod Magica is always the highlight of our sailing trips in Croatia.

Peka Dinner in Vis

Soon it was time to retire to our yachts for the night. Thankfully, the marina was very quiet at night, which probably had to do with the fact that there seemed to be less yachts than in the previous years.

What a View of Vis at Sunset!
Stari Grad Waterfront

Thursday morning, after refueling at the local fuel dock, we reluctantly left Vis and, after a brief stop at the so-called abandoned submarine base, we head towards Hvar but, instead of going to Marina Palmizana across from the city of Hvar, we opted for the city of Stari Grad on the northwest side of the island.  Stari Grad, which means old city, is indeed one of the oldest cities in Europe and it is located at the very end of a long bay.  

The first time we went there, about ten years ago, it was a drab and uninspiring place.  No flowers and no colors. Now it is a vibrant tourist town with flowers, palm trees, plenty of restaurants, a colorful market and an ever-expanding modern marina.  The idea was to dock there and to take the bus for a forty-minute ride to the city of Hvar but the crew members preferred to stay in Stari Grad which was too bad as Hvar is such a hopping place.  After a pizza dinner near the port and a gelato (who comes up with a flavor called Facebook? It has an unappetizing green color too), we went back to our boats and got ready for our last night of the flotilla.

And there it was, Friday, the last day of this three-week adventure.  We said our goodbyes to the crew of “Lovro” who would end up in Trogir whereas “Cetina” and “Tina” were headed for their base in Kastela.

Lazy lines dropped and dock lines hauled in for the last time and off we went back to the home base in Kastela. As I had calculated, we arrived there at exactly 6:00PM where we were checked out.  All our crew members left the boats, except for Mila and I who spent our last night on our “Cetina”. She had been our home away from home for three unforgettable weeks.

We can’t wait to be back.

Be on the look-out for the 2020 September Croatia program.  It will again be a blast!

Capt. Jean & “Admiral” Mila

Roxy Darrow Has Gone Sailing

“I’ve always looked out over the Pacific and wondered about our ocean neighbors, the cultures, the people, the land that share the Pacific together. What the ocean looks like in the middle, what it feels like. And now I know. I want to continue experiencing more of her secrets.” Roxy Darrow responded to Captain Ann Alberg when asked about her inspiration for being out on the water.

Roxy Darrow found herself while kayaking on the Potomac. Strange to think that a sailor’s soul would be found in the nation’s capital but not strange at all when the water we desire speaks to us. “After graduating from college and working for a time in Washington DC, I found myself dissatisfied, my soul was lost. One early summer evening I went kayaking on the Potomac River, a habit I’d developed to overcome the Monday blues. As I paddled and pondered life, a clear voice, my inner voice, my soul said to me, why don’t you sail to Japan? And I thought that’s a fine idea.” With so much as an idea, Roxy left her job and went back to California where she grew up sailing on her family’s Islander 36. After a couple of years of preparation, she was off to San Diego to join the Baja Ha Ha.

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Your First Charter Sailing Vacation

When ASA started over 35-years ago our primary goal was to get people sailing safely and competently so they could reach the goal of buying their own boat and living happily ever. At that point, charter companies were few and far between, however, as time went on, the bareboat charter industry became more and more substantial and omnipresent. Now sailors can rent all different kinds of boats, in nearly any location in the whole world.

Today ASA has over 400 affiliated schools, has taught over half a million students and has a team of over 7000 certified instructors. As ASA has grown so has the charter industry. When Ginny and Charlie Cary founded Moorings Bareboat Charters in 1969 could they have imagined an industry where you can charter a boat almost anywhere in the world?

ASA believes a great charter experience is truly the reward of a superior sailing education.

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ASA Featured Instructor: Anne Alberg, San Juan Sailing School

ASA is encouraging women to get out on the water and, with that, we are highlighting the adventures of our women instructors as they lead expeditions around the world and spread the love and joy of sailing to as many people as possible. Captain Anne Alberg is currently sailing from Seattle to New Zealand aboard S/V Arctic Loon and we have profiled her journey in Women on the Water – The Journey of the Arctic Loon

ASA asked Captain Anne Alberg of San Juan Sailing about sailing and her history with the lifestyle. She is this month’s Featured Instructor.

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Let’s GO Sailing

You have completed your ASA 101 training and you are thinking of taking more courses, perhaps ASA 103, Basic Coastal Cruising or ASA 104, Bareboat Cruising.

There is no shortage of places to sail – it’s just a matter of picking a spot, finding a boat and untying the lines.   An obstacle to sailing in new locations is finding a boat or crew, utilizing the GoSailing App fixes that. You don’t need to own your own boat to go sailing, you just need to find a few new friends who are looking for crew. If you already know how to sail, this makes the search even easier.

Utilize the Go Sailing App

The GO SAILING App helps you find crew or apply to be crew on other skippers’ trips. There are also sailing related social events, seminars, and sailing lessons on the app. GO SAILING is the best free sailing app for connecting to your local sailing & boating community.


Key features of the GO SAILING app allow users to easily:

  • Post a sailing trip in order to find crew.
  • Discover upcoming sailing trips and join as crew.
  • Learn to sail by taking an introductory GO SAILING experience.
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently with crews from within the app.
  • Keep track of trips, sailing buddies, certifications and more.

Go Sailing

Tired of sailing to the same cove over and over?  We have a few ideas for sailing destinations to help you use your sailing skills and to build upon your sailing resume. Each of these destinations has options for charter opportunities as well as sailing schools that can build on your existing knowledge and certifications.  

Sailing Destinations

Exotic Destinations

Looking for 7 exotic locations to work on your sailing? Consider Grenada, La Paz or St. Lucia or any of a number of off-the-beaten-path places to sail. Try the Go Sailing App in these locations and you might find you have new friends in faraway places. You could also contact an ASA affiliated school and work on your skills for new certifications.

Sail in Greece

According to Captain Bampakos of Fair Winds Sailing Greece “Corfu island is considered one of the finest destinations in the Mediterranean.” The town of Corfu has been characterized by the vast majority of visitors as cosmopolitan, picturesque and fascinating. The many villages along with picturesque cliffs and isolated, secluded beaches make for an abundance of exploration opportunities on Corfu. You can examine the sites of prominent Greek history, sample the Mediterranean cuisine or take on a strenuous hike to view the surrounding islands.

Sail the Florida Keys

If you fantasize about boat life or you just want to spend time near the water, the Keys might be calling you. If you want to learn how to sail there are quite a few places in the Florida Keys where ASA courses are taught and where you can combine a getaway with enhancing your sailing education. Veterans would be especially interested in Captain Joe Matrangelo’s Veterans Sailing Association.

Sail San Diego

San Diego is the ideal location to visit because you can mix in your ocean adventures with some sightseeing and some cultural sites. Throw in a visit to a wild animal park and sample some craft beers and you can easily see why a sailing vacation in Southern California’s other beach city is the spot to choose to work on your sailing education.

Explore Hawaii by Sailboat

Venturing further than Waikiki, a sailing adventure from Oahu might start with a short cruise to Keehi Lagoon. Downwind from Ala Wai, Keehi is home to La Mariana Sailing Club, the original Tiki Bar and an unofficial “dock and dine” stop with some of the best seafood dishes, local favorite rum punch, and live entertainment. After a fun night at La Mariana, Keehi Marine Center is also the place to top off on fuel at the start of your multi-day sailing adventure.

Sail the Pacific Northwest

Take a moment and breathe in the crisp air on Puget Sound. Feel the wind as it moves across the water and through your hair. Mount Baker in the distance Victoria to the north and the Pacific Ocean beyond a series of islands heading out west. For the lover of the outdoors, the Pacific Northwest is the ultimate playground of lush green forests and deep blue ocean that is alive with wildlife.