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We received this letter from Marge Fenton who sailed with us in the Virgin Islands in January 2003 aboard Island Packet 45 HALIMEDA:

Dear Denise, Capt. Tom and Nancy, 

Before the salt and scent of sea breeze totally disappears from my clothes and I’m once again consumed by my dry land life, I wanted to write and thank you for my experience with Maryland School of Sailing. 

From the very beginning, it has been a pleasure.  Denise and Nancy made everything easy.  They answered all my pre-trip questions with such grace and enthusiasm, I felt like the first one who had asked although I know they must field dozens of the same question week after week.  

HALIMEDA was great.  I thought I would be intimidated by a vessel 10’ longer than mine (IP350) but soon felt at ease on the boat.  Your forethought and labeling made things easy to find;   I really liked the procedures book and will created a similar one for SIMPLE PLEASURES. 

Lastly, but most importantly, thanks for the opportunity to crew with Captain Troeltzsch.  I’ve been sailing for over 25 years but feel I made a quantum leap in my sailing skills and my confidence in the last week.  My objective for the week was, of course, to pass the ASA certifications, but more importantly, to develop the confidence to be “master of the vessel.”   When my husband, Rich, died a year ago, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore.  What I did know is that I couldn’t quit sailing and I wondered how I would ever be able to take Rich’s place as captain of SIMPLE PLEASURES.  Jeff used the right combination of mentoring, pushing, cajoling and playfulness to get me where I need to be.   I achieved everything I needed and more. 

As a former one design racer, I especially enjoyed all the sail trimming and boat speed tips and techniques.  I never thought an IP45 could maintain a constant 7+ knots upwind but we smoked up the channel to Virgin Gorda!   What a ride … I loved it!  Jeff also threw in a few lessons on celestial navigation, whetting my appetite for more so you can expect to see me in future classes.   We also just sailed a lot and he was continually teaching and challenging me to improve my skills. 

Rich used to say that the best teacher was “time in boat.”  I guess I would add “time in boat with a gifted and dedicated teacher.”   I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.  Thank you. 

Marge Fenton

Subsequently, Marge sent the following in an email in  response to someone's questions:

I took a crash course, testing out of ASA 101 the first day and then combining 103 and 104. There can be up to 4 students on the boat each with a different objective. You receive all the study material well ahead of time. My class was small which helped. I think it is possible to get the boat/captain-teacher dedicated to you for a week but it would cost more. Check out www.mdschool.com (Maryland School) to see the schedule/costs and call if you have questions. I found the staff delightful and they answered all my silly questions with grace and enthusiasm.  You can also check out the ASA certifications by going to www.american-sailing.com. There are many schools certified to teach ASA classes. I was drawn to Maryland School because  they sail IPs and several people on this list recommended them. Of course, being in the Virgin Islands didn't hurt; I love it there.

Yes, we stayed on the boat and we sailed a lot, which kept me very happy. We left St. Thomas and anchored or moored out each night. Went through customs to enter the BVI at Jost Van Dyke. (Foxy was back for a short time in the afternoon) Anchored that night in Little Harbor and had a great dinner at Sidney's Peace and Love. You have to radio her in the afternoon to order your entree but it is well worth it. Most nights we ate on the boat, taking turns with the meals. There was some time for swimming/snorkeling/playing but the purpose was to sail, to learn  and prepare us for the ASA tests.

Because I had been sailing a long time, I knew much of the material but it sure helped in areas I didn't know and gave me the confidence that I could manage my boat without Rich. And now I can go there and charter my own boat!
Guess you can tell it was a good trip!

Marge Fenton

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