While taking sailing lessons in cold, wet England this reader never imagined that one day he would be living his dream by operating a business in warm, sunny Saint Lucia.

I have always had a fascination with the ocean and boats. It was easy to look at these beautiful yachts in the marina or sailing majestically out at sea, but how could one actually get aboard? I longed to feel what it was like to be propelled across the ocean’s surface by the wind, taking the helm and pointing the bow to some unknown tropical destination.

Like many a would-be sailor, I commenced sailing lessons in small dinghies, often being unceremoniously dumped in the cold water, but I learnt the basics of sailing, and the principles of a small boat apply to big ones as well.

Later in life I decided to obtain some certification because I had no friends with boats, and this seemed the only way that I could get out on the water. Living in the UK gave me the opportunity to learn in the sailing mecca of the south coast. It was always a little cheaper to go in the winter so there were times when I found myself out in the middle of Southampton water — cruise ships and containers motoring by — on deck, trying to pick up a bucket for our man overboard exercises in the pouring rain and freezing cold. It was hard work and, with the addition of unpleasant weather, the call of the fireside in the pub was loud. The distant dream of sailing in tropical waters spurred me on.

I persevered and worked my way up the training ladder, and began to get work delivering boats. Bringing other peoples boats back from Europe to the UK, and from the UK to Norway, wasn’t the Caribbean paradise that I yearned for but it was great fun, if not a little arduous, and I learnt a lot.

As my experience grew, I took on more challenging trips. I applied for crew work further afield, delivering yachts from Thailand to Sri Lanka and from Mexico to Panama. It was on one of these deliveries that the strange twists and turns of life occurred and a suggestion was made that my girlfriend and I should buy a boat, sail it to Saint Lucia and start a business. Well, why not? Soon Vicky and I were doing just that. This is how I eventually found myself captain of my own yacht, Papagayo, with her bow pointing directly at Pigeon Island, our destination being dazzling Saint Lucia.

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Saint Lucia is a fantastic place to sail, with almost constant winds and sunny skies (OK, barring the odd, little rain shower) so it’s the ideal place to give sailing a try. The island has many fine excursions on the water where the guests get to experience the view of the beautiful landscape and enjoy a lime or a wonderful sunset but we found that none taught and encouraged active participation. Remembering how hard we both found it to get into the world of sailing and on board a yacht, we wanted to start a unique company that would offer just that, catering for complete novices or someone who wanted to experience more but without necessarily having to do a full course.

Papagayo is a 40ft offshore race yacht built in California that has raced extensively in the Pacific Ocean. Due to her thoroughbred nature she makes for a lively and entertaining sail that requires much tweaking of sails and winching of lines as she takes off on a gust of wind, heeling over and giving the passengers a fun ride. We encourage all our guests (or crew, as we call them) to take the helm and grab a winch handle so they have immersive, hands-on experience as they discover the delights of sailing. 

As well as half and full day experiences, First4Sail offers overnight trips along with Internationally recognized sail certification courses to all levels.


— By Thompson of first4Sail

First4Sail, Tel. 518 1187 or 717 1628

Email: info@first4sail.com