Sailing Holiday: Caribbean – 5 Islands Ultimate Explorer
A truly spectacular adventure sailing holiday, with a full month to sail from St Lucia to Antigua, and Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe to explore en route. This is Caribbean sailing and exploring as only the lucky few can do, and usually only those with their own boat on long world voyages. Whether it’s the glamour and pitons of St Lucia, the French Creole wonder of Martinique, the boiling lakes and glorious forests of Dominica or the freshwater waterfalls and plantations of Guadeloupe, there is just so much to see and discover on this route. Add in wonderfully warm trade wind sailing and short daily distances, this really is the ultimate Caribbean sailing holiday.
Sailing area & the yachts
All food and accommodation on board
Your own bunk and storage area
RYA Competent Crew
Use of RIB & kayak
What’s not included
Your connecting travel
Sailing & travel insurance
Meals you choose to eat ashore
Visas where required
Book with confidence
All customer money is held in the Protected Trust Service until your trip has run. This means it is 100% protected and should your trip not run for any reason, you receive a full and immediate refund. This is the gold standard of customer protection.
Rubicon 3 follows the guidelines & requirements of every country on your trip. Rigorous hygiene protocols are followed on board. If Covid stops us running a trip, you get a full refund of all your money.
This is a sample itinerary only showing some of the possible options on this spectacular adventure. The wind and weather at the time will shape what we can actually do and when.
Join the yacht in St Lucia
Breathtakingly beautiful and dominated by its world-famous Pitons, St Lucia is an almost perfect Caribbean island of jungles, white sand beaches, coral reefs and hidden bays. There will be a real sense of excitement for the adventure to come as we help everyone get their belongings packed away. After safety briefings and lunch, we’ll slip lines and head out onto the water to learn new skills, revise any existing ones and get up to speed for the sailing to come. We will practise tacking, gybing, rescuing a casualty who has fallen overboard and all the other skills we’ll need. This is perfect sailing for beginners or more experienced sailors and everyone will be fully involved from the start. This first night we may well anchor under the beautiful Pitons.
It’s around 30 miles north from St Lucia to the French territory of Martinique, so it’s a glorious trade wind sail that will take us about 3-4 hours. You can see the island from a long way off and we will make landfall in Fort de France, the largest city in the French Antilles and the capital of the island.
View from the sea of houses on hillsides in Fort-de-France, capital city of Martinique, an overseas department of France.
Full of history and colonial architecture, it’s a wonderful place to explore. We can wander through the iconic vegetable market established in 1901, tour the luminous Saint-Louis Cathedral, visit the grand Fort Saint-Louis, or just wander through one of the local museums.
the slaves memorial de l’anse caffard, martinique, caribbean
We should have around four full days to sail around and explore Martinique, so we can also go to St Pierre, the iconic volcano site of the former “Paris of the Caribbean” and the picture-perfect peace and quiet, soft sand, swimming and snorkeling of Anse du Ceron.
Just 20nm north of Martinique is the jaw-droppingly beautiful island of Dominica. With nine volcanoes (one of them active) and even more volcanic domes, it is the most mountainous landscape in the Leeward Islands. Almost all the island is covered in rainforest, with over 350 rivers and waterfalls – and much of it is unexplored. The island is perfectly mirrored under the sea where mountains drop straight down into the abyss, creating colourful and striking reef formations of vertiginous walls and subterranean volcanic pinnacles. Dominica is an island we will hope to stop at for around four days to allow us to explore its amazing interior.
We’ll likely make landfall in Prince Rupert Bay. From here we can arrange for a local guide to paddle us up the magical Indian River where the huge swamp bloodwood trees overhang the channel and their roots twist through the banks. It’s a wonderful place, with fish, crabs and surprisingly tame herons. We can also explore the now abandoned Fort Shirley in Portsmouth; this 18th century British garrison is a wonderfully picturesque ruin with lovely views over the Bay.
We can also look to take a half-day trip across to the northeast corner of the island and the Chaudiere Pool. This beautiful natural pool, set among lush tropical vegetation, is fed by a small waterfall and surrounded by rocks. It’s a great place to swim. We’ll probably move the boat tonight to the middle anchorage, just a mile or so North of the Macoucherie river. From here, we can take the tender down to the entrance to the Macoucherie river and spend the day walking inland along the feeder road. This is a great way to see the sugarcane and mountain scenery. Along the way we can visit some rum distilleries, and there are plenty of pools for cooling off.
Before we leave Dominica, we just take the amazingly named Rainforest Aerial Tram. This tour takes you over a suspension bridge across the Breakfast River Gorge, where you can admire the 400-foot drop waterfall below you. A 90 minute aerial tram ride gives you a monkey’s eye view of the rainforest as you fly through the treetops accompanied by an expert nature guide.
Just 30nm further north is Guadeloupe, the pearl of the Caribbean. Part of the charm of these French-speaking islands is that they’re undiscovered. Unlike many other islands, it doesn’t feel like everything revolves around tourism. There’s no slickness here, but it’s heartfelt and colourful.
There are five main islands in the archipelago, which together are home to just 400,000 people, and designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, one of just 25 in the world. The two largest islands, Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, are close enough to be connected by a short bridge, and together their outlines form the wings of a butterfly. If that’s not enough poetic nature, the native people who first inhabited this land called it Karukera, meaning “the place of beautiful waters.” Whatever the word is for “the place of beautiful rain forest” would have been a strong contender too.
We will likely make landfall in the capital Pointe-à-Pitre on the Grande Terre. Located in front of the harbor overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Pointe à Pitre is the heart of Guadeloupe Islands. It is lovely just to soak up the magical atmosphere of the city, admire the colonial buildings such as the Place de la Victoire or the Marché Saint-Antoine and smell the spices, fruits and vegetables in all the markets.
Next, we can head off to Pointe des Châteaux, the easternmost point of the Grande-Terre island. Here are the sharp-pointed rocks that give the beach this “Castles Point” name. The waves here are spectacular and the landscape, the turquoise waters and the white sand of the ‘Castles’ Cove (Anse des Châteaux) are unmatched.
Coming from Sainte-Anne, we can take a trail that weaves through sandy beach, dry forest and even mangrove, so you get a little taste of Guadeloupe’s nature before you get to the magnificent Anse Gros Sable.
We can keep heading southeast, to reach the nature reserve of Petit Terre. It consists of two uninhabited islands: Terre-de-Bas and Terre-de-Haut. The first has a large beach northwest of the island, with white sand and turquoise waters. Terre-de-Haut, on the other hand, has small beaches scattered around a fairly rocky coast. It is the largest of the eight small islands that make up Les Saintes and feels like a slice of southern France transported to the Caribbean.
Next we can sail to the island of Marie Galante, one of the largest in the archipelago. Ever since Christopher Columbus caught sight of Marie-Galante and named the island after his ship, theMaria Galanda, visitors have been captivated by this enchanting isle. Today, Marie-Galante’s unspoiled scenery can be found everywhere, from its quaint chateaus to its isolated beaches. And its rolling hills – frosted with powdery sands, sugar plantations, and 19th-century windmills – add to its rustic ambiance.
We can visit Grand-Bourg, the island’s main settlement (located at the southwestern tip of the island) and the Chateau Murat, a famed 19th-century plantation. Further south is Petite-Anse, a golden beach sheltered by sea grape trees.
It’s time for our last island, the beloved Antigua. Its corrugated coasts cradle hundreds of perfect little coves lapped by beguiling enamel-blue water, while the sheltered bays have provided refuge for everyone from Admiral Nelson to buccaneers and yachties. There’s a distinct English accent to this island. You’ll find it in the bustling capital of St John’s, in salty-glamorous English Harbour, and in the historical forts and other vestiges of the colonial past. Yet, Antigua is also quintessential Caribbean, full of candy-colored villages, a rum-infused mellowness and engaging locals who’ll welcome you whole heartedly.
Find all the information you need about our trips here, from the various trip categories to what to pack, connecting travel and more. The information here is generic across all our trips. For really specific travel details about your trip, click on the Dates & Prices tab.
FITNESS TO SAIL
FOOD AND ALLERGIES
SEA SICKNESS WORRIES
JOINING & LEAVING THE BOAT
IMPORTANT FLIGHT INFORMATION
PASSPORTS & VISAS
WHAT TO PACK
ELECTRICAL CHARGING & POWER SUPPLY
PHOTOGRAPHY AND ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
All of our sailing trips are given one of three categories: ‘Coastal‘ – ‘Offshore‘ – ‘Coastal Passage Making Course’. Whichever category trip you join, and whatever your previous experience (or rustiness!), you will be encouraged to be fully involved from the very start and receive high-quality Rubicon 3 training.
These are wonderful holidays that stay relatively close to shore and have no significant open-water passages. They are day sailing only and usually in quite sheltered water. We sail to somewhere new just about every day and there is time built in to the planning to enable you to head ashore and explore everywhere we get to.
Offshore & ocean trips
Self explanatory and if you’ve ever wanted to leave the coast behind and sail hundreds (or even thousands) of miles offshore out on one of the great oceans, these are for you. Each trip begins with a few days of coastal sailing, training and exploring while individuals and the crew as a whole get up to speed. Timings are very weather dependant. On our two weeks offshore trips, you can expect to have one main offshore passage of between 4-6 days, with the remainder of the time being coastal cruising at either end.
Coastal Passage Making Course
These are intensive training courses, where we really focus on the skills and techniques needed to be strong crew or skipper on a prolonged passage through potentially technical areas. You will mix theory and practical tuition every day. Days are longer and there is less focus on exploring ashore and more on train, train, train. If you wish to supercharge your seamanship and sailing skills, these are for you
All of our trips are open to crew aged 18-70. Age in itself means nothing and we absolutely do allow crew older than this, but to ensure everyone stays safe, we ask you to contact us before booking just to confirm suitability.
Anyone can join these trips. Wonderful for sailors of any experience level, if you are a beginner these are definitely the place to start. If you are at Yachtmaster or similar, there is still a huge amount you can learn and practise on these trips
On these trips, you will spend a prolonged period of time offshore, working in a watch system day and night and potentially experiencing rougher weather and bigger seas. Once we’re away from the land, there’s no getting of until we next make landfall! Therefore while no previous experience is essential, we do strongly recommend that you have at least a week of prior sailing so that you have an idea of what to expect.
If you are joining a transatlantic, transpacific or similar, you MUST have at least two weeks of prior sailing experience, (preferably within the last 5 years). If you are in any doubt, please contact us before booking.
Coastal Passage Making Course (skills builder)
As this is a Coastal Passage Making Course, no beginners are permitted to join. You must have RYA Day Skipper, ASA 104 or equivalent skills and experience. It doesn’t matter if they are rusty – that is what this course is here to address. This course is invaluable to all levels up to and including Yachtmaster.
We believe that as many people as possible should be able to head out to sea and have a great adventure. However, it is essential for everyone’s safety that you are in a fit enough state to be on board.
Ability to complete the five exercises below is a pre-requisite for joining as a crew member. They are not designed to be physically taxing and almost everyone should be able to complete them. Rather they are in place to check that you have the stability and basic physical condition to be on board.
If when you join the vessel the skipper believes you are not capable of completing these exercises, you will probably not be allowed to embark. If you have any doubts at all about your ability to complete these exercises safely, you must contact your doctor before attempting them.
The Rubicon 3 crew will always do their best to cater for any dietary requirements, allergies or food intolerance whenever possible.
If you have severe allergies, it is likely that you will not be suitable to join the trip. Please contact us before booking.
Yachts have small galleys (kitchens) and we may be cooking out at sea, heeled over and bouncing around a little bit, so we cannot accommodate fussy eaters.
If there is anything in particular you require in your diet or would miss from home, we recommend that you bring these with you.
This is particularly the case if you require gluten free bread / pasta or such like
Most areas that we sail to now have a good range of vegetarian options in the supermarkets, but in more isolated areas it can be limited.
We will always do our very best to look after you (some of our skippers are vegetarian or vegan) but please be aware that the diet on board may not be as varied as you are used to at home.
Inevitably, there are going to be worries with sea-sickness.
It is not uncommon for about half the crew to feel a little funny on day one, but the vast majority of people are fine thereafter.
We will give you all sorts of techniques to avoid it and there is a really good range of medications these days that all but prevent it.
So it really isn’t something to worry about and before departure we will give you the guidance you need to avoid it.
Unless stated otherwise on the ‘Dates & Prices’ tab, you must join the boat at 0900 hrs on the start day. It is important you are not late as the pre-trip briefing will start shortly after that time. You will disembark at 1200hrs on the end day. Exact start and end locations may vary depending on your trip date. please see the ‘Dates & Prices’ tab. Due to scheduled crew rest and maintenance periods it is not possible to stay on the boat outside of the proscribed times.
We plan our routes very carefully and build in lots of spare time to ensure that we arrive at our end destination on time. However, particularly on offshore and ocean trips, we cannot guarantee that we will arrive by the end date. It is incredibly are (maybe three times in ten years?) but bad weather or mechanical issues mean it can happen.
Give yourself flexibility
On offshore and ocean trips, build some leeway into your trip home if you can. Maybe book the flight for the day after the end day, and / or use a flexible ticket where you can change the date if needed.
Finding long haul flights
For long haul flights, especially those where we start and end in different places, we can sometimes find very good deals. If you cannot find a good flight, please do ask us to help by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, we cannot offer help with short-haul flights.
One way tickets
If you intend to travel on a one way ticket to meet up with one of our trips, without possessing an onward flight ticket – we recommend that you have a copy of your Rubicon 3 invoice with you and available at immigration to assist easy entry.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER your trip finishes. You should have at least 4-5 spare pages for visa, entry and exit stamps. If you have dual nationality you can only use one passport for the entire trip.
The situation regarding visas and passports can change rapidly and without warning. The information given here is accurate to the best of our knowledge but ultimately you are responsible for ensuring you have the correct visas. Please allow time for unexpected delays in obtaining any visas you require.
Around four weeks before your trip start date, you will be sent final joining instructions. At this time you will be asked to complete our medical declaration. At the time of booking, it is your responsibility to be sure that you will be able to pass all the criteria at the start date of your trip. If you cannot pass the criteria you will probably be refused permission to board.
It is compulsory that you have adequate travel insurance before you board the yacht. We strongly recommend that you take this insurance out as soon as possible after booking your trip with us in case you suffer any medical issues or such like that prevent you from being able to join the trip.
You will be asked to provide the following details to Rubicon 3 if you have not already done so: travel insurance provider, insurance policy number, insurance emergency telephone number. You will also be required to give a copy of your policy with this information to the skipper on arrival with confirmation that the policy duration is sufficient to cover you for the entire duration of your trip.
It is essential that your travel insurance covers you for yacht sailing. For Coastal trips, it is very unlikely that you will be more than 12nm offshore.
If you already have an annual travel or credit card travel insurance policy, please check carefully that it covers you for the criteria listed above.
We provide three meals a day on the boat, so if you do not wish to spend another penny, that is absolutely fine. Realistically, however, most crew like to have a few beers ashore and the occasional meal. Also please note that alcohol is not provided by Rubicon 3 so if you like a beer or wine in the evening please budget for this. You are very welcome to bring some duty free with you to the boat. Past crew estimate that £200 is ample to enjoy all there is offer ashore during the trip.
These are available in most major cities along our route and allow you to withdraw local currency only. We discourage you from relying on your ATM card as a primary source of funds in case it is lost/stolen/swallowed, or the machine isn’t working. Besides memorising your PIN, it is also important to be aware of your daily withdrawal limit and bank withdrawal costs.
Credit & Debit Cards
You will be able to use credit and debit card just about everywhere
Pre-Paid Travel Currency Cards
These cards are similar to normal Credit and Debit cards but they can be pre loaded with cash before you travel with a set amount allowing you to withdraw this cash using the card at normal ATMs. It is a more secure way to access cash on your trip and easier to use than travellers cheques, but again do not rely on these as your sole means of funds on a trip. Several banks and companies now offer these cards, but be sure to look into the rates for withdrawing cash when making your decision.
What equipment and clothing to bring for sailing – and how much to bring – are always the big questions for the crew and we totally understand that. The best generic guidance we can give is to imagine that you are going for a week in the hills or the mountains. If you think of that type of clothing and equipment, you won’t go far wrong.
Beyond that, we say don’t spend money unless you want to. The chances are that you already have most of what you need and a lot of fancy branded sailing equipment is both expensive and not very good. Especially when you’re fairly new to the sport, keep your money in your pocket.
How much to bring?
The next question is always how much to bring. Within reason, you can bring what you like as we have quite a lot of storage space onboard the yachts. The usual airport allowance of 20kg / 44lbs of luggage is not a bad guide. Any more than that and you’ve probably overpacked!
What should I pack it in?
What you pack your clothing and equipment in is vital. It needs to be in a soft bag that can be rolled away. Yes, that means no metal frames or hard backs. It needs to be in a duffel style bag. If you do bring a hard backed case or bag that cannot be rolled away, there is a good chance you will not be able to bring it on board. Something like this Sports Direct sack for just £12 is ideal.
Does what I need change by region, season and type of trip?
Yes, absolutely. For this reason, we’ve given two different lists: cooler weather and warmer weather. We’ve also given a ‘sailor’s pack’ of equipment that keener sailors, or those coming on more advanced trips, should think about bringing with them.
Don’t worry too much and if in doubt bring more. So long as you have hats, gloves and warm clothes, plus your usual toiletries and such like, you will be fine. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us. We’re here to help!
The sailing equipment we provide
Foul weather clothing
You will be issued with a foul weather jacket and salopettes. These are modern oilskins that will keep you completely dry and which we rate highly, but they are not Goretex or similar. If you have your own foulies and would like to wear them or have very high spec ones, then do feel free to bring them.
Crewsaver Ocean Lifejacket
Having vigorously tested all the leading lifejackets in the seas off Iceland, this Crewsaver jacket was the best. You will be issued one for the duration of your time onboard.
Fladen Immersion Suit
Fantastically warm, these all in one suits are incredible for when it gets cold up on deck. You will feel toasty warm all day long or through a long night watch. Essential gear for high latitude trips and RIB transfers.
What you need to bring
Bring a fresh set for every day or second day you’re on board.
Bring a mix of thinner socks and some thicker, woolly socks If not a Caribbean style trip. A fresh pair every second day is a good guide.
Thermal base layers
For upper and lower body. Merino wool is excellent but expensive. There are lots of options out there.
Mid layer – upper
Bring a selection of T-shirts, polo shirts or long-sleeved shirts. You might be wearing a couple of these at any one time, so bring a few
Mid layer – lower
A pair of thick hiking trousers, fleece-lined snowboarding trousers or our new favourite – softshell trousers. These will be what you wear just about every day, so bring a couple of pairs. Don’t go crazy – we buy ones costing between £50-70 and no more. if you are on a Caribbean style trip then you will probably only need light trousers
Fleeces and jumpers
You need to bring at least two good, thick fleeces or jumpers. These are going to be critical to keep you warm, so choose carefully. We usually pack two mid-weight fleeces and one really thick woolly jumper.
You will wear this pretty much every day, only changing up to your foul weather jacket when it rains. Any jacket will do that is showerproof, windproof and reasonably warm.
These don’t have to be sailing boots – even normal wellies will do fine. You can spend a fortune on Goretex lined sailing boots. They are great, but make sure you are going to be a regular sailor before investing. In the meantime, we’d stick to rubber sailing boots costing around £60.
There’s no dressing up on these expeditions, but bring a selection of shore clothes for the odd evening out. No restaurant owner likes people coming in wearing dirty sailing clothes!
Woolly hat and gloves
We suggest bringing 2 sets of hats and gloves. if one set gets lost or wet, you need to be able to keep warm. We don’t really rate the thick sailing gloves. They are not good when wet, hard to get on and pretty expensive. Instead, go for a pair of thinner working gloves and a thick woolly pair.
The classic neck warmer is a godsend when it gets windy and cold.
Wherever you are, bring one. You may want to jump in even when it’s icy, but also sometimes the best showers are in the local pool.
Great for exploring ashore, trainer style is fine. Just something comfortable to do an hour’s hike with.
Great for keeping cool onshore and essential for shower floors in marinas and ports.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to do laundry along the way, so bring enough sets of clothes to last you for the two weeks. You can handwash some essentials if necessary but water is at a premium onboard so we don’t encourage this except on the longer trips of over 2 weeks duration. The start and end ports will nearly always have laundry facilities.
The boats are warm inside, so a medium weight sleeping bag is absolutely fine. If it has a long zip it’s better as it gives you more temperature flexibility but don’t worry and don’t spend money that you don’t need to! If you are on a Caribbean style trip you can probably do without a sleeping bag and just use a silk liner or similar. The Caribbean is usually around 75°F at night, but just occasionally it can be colder: the choice is yours.
Toiletries and a towel
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, razor, deodorant and whatever else you need. We would bring a normal towel for comfort, but a travel towel is also good.
Sunglasses and sun cream
Sunglasses are essential at sea for every trip as the UV is reflected off the sea and can damage your eyes. They must be polarised or the damage can be even worse. Good strong sun cream is recommended for the same reason.
Glasses and contact lenses
Life is pretty miserable if you forget these. Get a strap for the glasses in case they fall off.
We pretty much insist you bring some sea sickness medication, even if you don’t think you’ll be affected. This is a holiday for you and feeling queasy is horrible. In the UK, the brands that seem to work well are Stugeron and Kwells. If you have any other medications such as anti-histamine, blood pressure tablets, insulin, epi-pens etc, please don’t forget these.
Boats have lots of unfamiliar noises and yes, even the occasional snorer. Bring what you need to block out the noise and have a good night’s sleep.
If you’re sailing with us in the high latitudes in summer, the chances are the Sun will never set and it’s hard to get these boats dark. If that bothers you, bring a mask to make the world go dark again!
Phone, camera, laptop
Don’t forget these, but put them in protective casings so they don’t get damaged or broken. Every bunk has two USB charging points, The boat has the UK 3-pin 240v AC power outlets, which can be used when are connected to shore power or when the generator is on. If your equipment has different plugs, bring an adaptor.
The sailor’s pack – for those who want to have some more kit (but absolutely not essential)
Head torch with red light
If your trip has an overnight passage in it, we would really recommend you bring one of these (unless it’s summer in the Arctic with midnight Sun).
Leatherman or similar
These are really useful to carry with you.
Navionics on your phone
This is a very good app. The chart pack for your area will cost you about £25 and then you can always see exactly where we are.
Set of small dry bags
The fancy way of keeping your kit divided up, organised and dry (but plastic shopping bags work very well too!)
The boats have a UK (3 pin) 220 AC power outlet on board, that is available to use when connected to shore power or at sea when the generator is running.
Each bunk also has a USB charging point and a cigarette lighter style power point.
Cameras (incl. Digital & Video Cameras) – An easy to use ‘point and press’ will get you some good photos. For memorable shots, it may be worthwhile investing in an SLR camera, but be sure to get some practice in before the trip! Most towns and cities have internet cafes where you can download onto CD/internet sites – but don’t rely on it.
Drones – As the use of drones becomes more common, countries throughout the world are gradually updating their laws and restrictions on usage. The specific regulations will vary from one country to another, so do check the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for the latest information. As with cameras, use your common sense if you do use a drone and avoid operation in sensitive areas. If you plan to bring a drone on your trip with us please contact us first to ensure there will be a suitable place to store it while on your trip.
The internet and WiFi are available in many areas that we visit. Do bear in mind that the connections can be unreliable and will not always be as fast as you are used to at home. Once we have set sail, internet and phone signal will usually stop very quickly.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offer country-specific advice, regarding not only security but also entry regulations, local laws and customs and health. We strongly recommend all travellers visit the FCO website, or the equivalent in their home country, to familiarise themselves with local conditions and issues in the countries they plan to visit before committing to a trip with us. You can view their website here.
If you have any questions at all about the safety or security of your trip, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to discuss your trip in more detail.
In cities – All major cities have their share of petty crime (just like our cities) and sensible precautions need to be taken. Wearing expensive looking jewellery or watches and carrying cameras will draw unnecessary attention to you. Leave valuables such as passports and excess money in your hotel safe (we recommend carrying a copy of your passport details page at all times). You may find a simple money belt is more discreet than a bag. Always be aware of your surroundings and when approached by people you do not know, use your common sense. At night in cities it’s best to use a taxi, rather than walking around the streets, single women in particular need to be careful and we would suggest that it is safer to be in a group.
Rubicon3 does not take responsibility for clients’ personal items and we advise you to not take items of value that are not essential for the journey.
It is essential that you have read, understood and accept our Booking Terms and Conditions, including our Guest Behaviour, Safety & Security Policy before you book. We take great care to ensure that these comply fully with the Package Travel Regulations. They also contain important information about possible financial liabilities you may have if you subsequently decide to cancel in the period before your trip start date. If you have any questions about these Terms and Conditions please do not hesitate to ask us.
What to Expect
We know you’ll have 101 questions about what life’s like onboard and just generally what to expect. Have a look at the video here of one of our customers telling you all about it. Below, we’ve answered lots of other common questions. Remember, if you have any other questions, just phone or email.
OUR 3 GOLDEN RULES
WHO ELSE JOINS
THE DAILY ROUTINE
Ask one of our regular crew members what distinguishes the Rubicon 3 experience from other sailing they have done, and they will invariably reference our three golden rules. They are the foundation on which the whole experience is built and they are the one area that never changes and is non-negotiable.
We keep our environment calm and never shout
Unfortunately many sailors have experienced shouting on board, and they know the unnecessary tension and anxiety that it causes. You will never find one of our skippers or mates shouting and no one else is allowed to either. Shouting is a clear sign of an inexperienced sailor who is not in full control.
No one takes a task off someone else
We never step prematurely in to take a task off someone, thereby allowing them the space to think and (safely) make mistakes to best support their growth. There is nothing more frustrating than a keen fellow crew member telling you what to do, how to do it, or taking the job off you. You will always have the time and space to stop, think and come up with a plan.
No one must ever be nervous to ask for help
Sailing is both blissfully simple and a sport that benefits from a great deal of experience. Especially on these larger, expedition yachts there are lots of ropes, winches, clutches and bits of equipment that can quickly become overwhelming. In a new environment, it can be hard even to remember one’s own name at times! No matter how straight forward the question, our skippers and mates are always there to help and will never look down on your for asking. It is what they are there for.
Life on board an expedition yacht is unlike any other type of holiday you could choose: it allows a totally new way to explore the world, all whilst learning to sail and building new friendships. From the moment you step on board, you are part of a small if temporary community and how we all act is key to the environment we enjoy.
Everyone gets involved in every task. We all cook, clean, prep, navigate, steer and trim sails. Of course, the skipper and mate are there to show you how and keep things nicely organised. If you are looking for a beach holiday or a skippered charter, this is not for you. But if you want to be an integral part of an exciting expedition, then you will thrive.
It is physical, but anyone with day to day fitness and agility will find it more than manageable. Do check our 5 step physical checklist on the Essential Info tab before you book. Where a crew member may struggle with one task, whether physical or technical, they will no doubt shine at another. This is the essence of the team and no one should worry about needing to be good at everything (or anything!)
Life on board an expedition sailing yacht is very different to what you will be used to at home, but once you adjust to it you will find you are in an amazing team environment, with good friends and a support and camaraderie that you will often struggle to find elsewhere in life.
Everyone has their own bunk. There is no ‘hot bunking’ and each bunk has it’s own personal light and USB charging point. Various bunks also have 12v cigarette lighter sockets, should you need to plug in a sleep apnea machine or similar.
All bunks are in one main accommodation area, in four sets of two bunks – one above, one below.This gives much better space and privacy than being squeezed into a cabin with someone you don’t know and having to lie alongside them. Trust us – this way is much, much better!Each yacht has two heads (toilets) where you can change and a shower with plenty of hot water.
It’s great fun and very relaxed.
There is no typical Rubicon 3 crew member: instead, the people who sail with us come from all walks of life, and are of all ages and nationalities. Some have had years of experience on their own boats, whilst others have never been to sea before in their life. But differences aside, what does unify them all is their adventurous mindset and a shared goal.
The trips run with 9 paying crew aboard, plus a skipper and mate.
Almost everyone joins solo, but couples or groups are absolutely welcome if there are a few of you who’d like to come (right up to whole boat charter). There is something magic about coming together as a team on board a boat that really strengthens the bonds formed, and many of our past crew have left with amazing friends to meet and sail with again in the future
We get a full age range joining, with plenty of people in their 20s, 30s, 40, 50s and 60s.
There is nearly always a 50:50 mix of men and women.
Crew join from all around the world and are a wonderful mix of cultures, professions and backgrounds, all brought together with the same desire to tae part in one of these adventures. You are all but certain to make long lasting friendships.
Whether at sea or alongside, all crew are in a rota for cooking and cleaning to ensure we have lovely food to eat and a constantly high standard of hygiene. There are also daily jobs of navigating, skippering and engineer, allowing everyone to try their hand at every aspect of running a yacht.
With no set itinerary, we will have a look at the weather and tides as a crew and decide where we’d like to go. It keepsit fun and spontaneous and is the reality of expedition sailing, which is always at the vagaries of the wind!
With breakfast at 0800hrs, we’ll try to be sailing by 0930hrs each day, arriving at the destination for the day around 1700hrs. This gives a great day’s sailing but also allows everyone to shower, have a beer, explore ashore and have a nice dinner.
Some days, if the weather is crappy or we’re at a wonderful place, we can just decide to stay there and explore some more, relax, do some training, get the fishing rods out, explore in the RIB…. the time is ours and we can decide as we go!
Night sailing is nearly always limited to the Ocean and Offshore passages and the Coastal Passage Making Course.
If you are on an offshore sailing trip, you will likely spend the first few days sailing and training in coastal waters while the crew builds its competence, both individually and as a team.
Our two week sailing trips, you can then expect to do one long passage of about 6-700nm which takes 4-6 days.
You will normally be on one of 3 watches, allowing you to do 3 hours on and then have 6 hours off. This keeps you fresh and having a good time rather than sitting in a state of continual tiredness.
Get ready for life at an angle, being up at strange hours, being hundreds of miles offshore and living the dream!
Coastal Passage Making Course:
On a Coastal Passage Making Course, the absolute focus is on super charging your skippering skills and seamanship.
Therefore get ready for lots and lots of information, learning, tests and lessons. Days are definitely longer and when you get in to port, you may be asked to put together a talk on a subject one night while everyone else goes to the pub.
It’s supportive, exceptional training but we will also encourage you to push yourself just a bit further than normal.
You are likely to have 2-3 overnight passages over the course of the course.
Everyone takes their turn at cooking. Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself much of a chef – you’re likely to be paired up with someone else, and we’ll provide recipes as needed. One of the many things that makes Rubicon 3 so special is our commitment to ensuring the meals we have on board are nutritious, delicious, and local.
We shun the industry-standard pasta and frozen pies, instead opting for fresh and colourful meals, with each menu adapted to make the most of the varied produce on offer in the countries we’re visiting.
In Norway maybe you’ll have roast lamb with all the trimmings, in the Caribbean we’ll whip up baked plantain with ackee and butterbeans, and in the Azores, we’ll look to find some of their famously sweet pineapples.
We’re also experienced with catering for all different dietary requirements such as vegans, coeliacs, and allergies – please do tell us your specific requirements. However despite our best efforts in some countries, it may be difficult to victual for these, so it would be wise for you to bring some things from home.
If you have severe allergies, you may not be suitable to join the crew. You must get approval from us before signing on.
Training & Qualifications
Training lies at the heart of the Rubicon 3 vision. We want you to learn the skills to be a central part of each adventure and to be able to go away and use the skills on other boats. The teaching syllabus changes quite a bit depending on the trip type. Full details of the syllabuses and qualifications below.
COASTAL PASSAGE MAKING COURSE
OCEAN WATCH LEADER COURSE
OFFSHORE – WATCH LEADERS
On Coastal trips, you can earn the RYA Competent Crew certificate. The price is included in the trip price.
Identify and describe the following cruising sailboat parts, areas, or systems and their functions:
Safety Equipment & Procedures
List the safety equipment you should have on a 33-foot recreational yacht equipped with an inboard diesel engine.
Describe the characteristics and benefits of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s), both Wearable (Life Jackets) and Throwable.
List the ASA / RYA recommended safety equipment for a recreational sailing vessel.
Describe ways to keep gear and equipment secure and in their proper location.
Describe the purpose and proper use of a safety harness and tether.
Navigation & Weather
Demonstrate understanding of basic coastal navigation terminology and practices, including:
Essential navigator’s tools
Use of navigation charts and symbols
Aids to navigation
Latitude / Longitude
Determining magnetic direction
Describe how to prevent undue magnetic influence on a compass.
Describe the dangers of, and how to avoid, a ‘lee shore.’
Obtain and interpret marine weather information; describe the impact that present observations and forecasts may have on sailing plans for the next 6 -12 hours.
Describe and identify Cumulonimbus clouds and what dangers they may signify.
Define ‘small craft advisory’ and ‘gale warning’ and describe precautions to be taken for each.
Describe the appropriate sail combinations to carry under the following wind conditions: light (0-11 knots), moderate (12-19 knots), and heavy (20-33 knots).
Describe the procedures for reducing sail using a roller furling jib and a mainsail reefing system.
Describe the benefits of, and procedures for, heaving-to.
Describe the primary responsibilities of skipper and crew.
Describe, using diagrams as appropriate, the applicable rules for a 33-foot recreational sailing vessel, as found in the IRPCS:
Proceeding at a safe speed (Rule 6)
Determination of collision risk (Rule 7)
Taking early and substantial action to avoid collision (Rule 8).
Sailing vessels (Rule 12)
Overtaking (Rule 13)
Power-driven vessels in head-on (Rule 14)
Crossing (Rule 15) situations.
Give-way and Stand-on vessels (Rules 16 & 17).
Location, colour and illumination angles of required navigation lights at anchor, under sail, and under power.
Actions to be taken when operating a vessel in restricted visibility such as fog or haze including adaptation of speed and use of sound signals.
Basic maneuvering and warning signals (short and prolonged whistle blasts)
Describe the appearance and purpose of the ‘Diver Down’ and ‘Alpha’ flags.
Describe common anchor types, major considerations for anchorage selection, and proper scope for short term and overnight anchoring as well as storm conditions.
Describe the three stages of hypothermia; name symptoms and treatment for each.
Describe two methods for getting a person out of the water and safely back on board the vessel.
Identify common sources and prevention of fires and/or explosions, as well as appropriate actions to be taken if these situations arise. Describe different types of fires and procedures for operating a fire extinguisher.
Describe immediate actions to be taken when the following urgent situations arise:
Cabin filling with water
Failed steering system
Failed running or standing rigging
Grounding at anchor
Running aground under sail
Locate and examine for compliance the vessel’s legally required and ASA / RYA recommended safety equipment.
Demonstrate on shore or aboard the vessel the correct method for putting on a life jacket while in the water.
Identify the vessel’s battery selector switch and power distribution panel and ensure all switches are in the proper position for getting underway.
Perform a radio check using a working channel on the VHF radio.
Visually pilot the training vessel in and out of a harbour, correlating nautical chart symbols to actual landmarks and aids to navigation.
Steer a compass course (+/- 5 degrees) under power for a minimum of five minutes.
Visually inspect the auxiliary engine and demonstrate safe engine starting, operating, and stopping procedures. Demonstrate proper gearshift and throttle usage.
Ensure vessel & crew readiness and depart dock or slip smoothly and under control.
Approach a mooring buoy (or other mark as a simulation if no mooring available); stop the vessel within boathook reach; attach the vessel to the mooring using an appropriate line or bridle; cast off from the mooring and get underway.
Set a bow anchor in water depth 3m or greater, using correct procedures including hand signal communication, vessel manoeuvres, safety in handling ground tackle, and proper operation of windlass (if equipped). Anchor should hold with engine in reverse gear at one-half throttle. Raise anchor and get underway smoothly using correct procedures.
Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under power from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.
Hoist or unfurl sails correctly using halyards and / or furling devices. Describe the effect on sail trim or performance while adjusting each of the following lines and controls (if available on the practice vessel):
downhaul or cunningham
Discuss ways to reduce heeling.
Demonstrate correct winch operation, including safety considerations for line tension / breakage, hand / finger position, winch handle insertion / removal, and clearing overrides.
Without coaching or assistance, verbalize appropriate commands and demonstrate competence, safety and good seamanship in the role of Skipper / Helmsman during the manoeuvres listed below.
Honour all aids to navigation and use properly the Navigation Rules.
Ensure sails are trimmed correctly and the vessel is in control at all times. Adjust sail controls appropriately as the vessel’s heading changes and wind / sea conditions evolve.
Get out of ‘irons’ then select and maintain a given tack and course.
Head Up, Tack, Bear Away, and Jibe while pausing briefly at each of the following points of sail: Close Hauled, Close Reach, Beam Reach, Broad Reach, and Run (with sails “wing on wing”).
Heave-to and get sailing normally again.
While underway, reduce sail area by reefing mainsail and genoa; then shake out reef.
As crew, give appropriate verbal responses and perform correct actions during the manoeuvres listed above.
Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under sail from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.
Lower and/or furl all sails and coil or flake and stow all lines properly.
Return to Dock/Slip
Ensure vessel / crew readiness and use the auxiliary engine to bring the vessel smoothly and under control to a stop next to a parallel dock or into a slip; secure the vessel using appropriate lines and fenders.
Describe the purpose of, and construct without assistance and in a timely manner, each of the following knots:
Square (Reef) Knot
Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches
Basic sailing skills
Can describe true and apparent wind, understands which we refer to, when and why.
Can describe the key sailing forces using diagrams. Can show where to find the center of effort and center of resistance of sails and keel.
Knows the causes of lee and weather helm and how to correct them.
Understands when and how to effect sail shape and sail interactions using:
Downhaul / Cunningham
Knows when to use a barometer and a thermometer and why.
Recognises cirrus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, stratocumulus, cumulonimbus and cumulus clouds and the weather expected to be associated with each.
Knows the difference between gradient and localised winds and what effect to expect on the weather.
Knows when and where to get reliable weather information and understands the limitations of the various sources.
Can helm a boat effectively both upwind and downwind and in light and strong winds.
Cam trim sails effectively in all conditions
Is competent in anticipating when and how to reef on all points of sail.
Can prepare a yacht and crew for heavy weather, including:
Preparation of crew (clothing, food, rest, watch system)
Stowing of all equipment down below
A thorough check of yacht systems
Timely sail change
Use of safety harness
Use of drogue / sea anchor
Heavy weather meteorology: wave heights, wind strengths, dangers to look out for, the rule of 8.
Storm tactics such as heave-to and lie ahull
Anchoring: finding a suitable anchorage and anchoring effectively
When and how to have an anchor watch, including responsibilities.
Various anchor drag alarms
When and how to use two anchors/lines ashore.
How to recover a fouled anchor
When and how to use an anchor buoy/trip line.
Med mooring: use of anchor, bow line, approach and departure techniques.
Know how to prepare a towing bridle
Understand the technique to pass a tow to another boat
Safely be able to get underway with a tow and know which speeds to use
Know how to avoid fouling the propeller
Understand the danger of the towline parting under stress
Know and understand the practical implementation of the key colregs
Has a full range of emergency techniques to include when:
The boat is dismasted
The boat runs aground
The boat is in trouble on a lee shore
The boat is on fire
The boat is flooding
Knows the skipper’s responsibilities and actions for the following common courtesies and customs:
Permission to board
Permission and entitlement to come alongside
Permission and entitlement to cross adjacent boats when after
Rights of the first boat at an anchorage
Keep clear of boats racing
Offering assistance to yachtsmen in trouble.
Flag etiquette: National flag, Courtesy flag, Burgee/house flag, dipping flag
The importance of a clean, tidy, ordered yacht.
Knows the documents required and the procedures followed when leaving and entering territorial waters.
Has basic engineering knowledge, including:
Theory of how to fix fuel supply problems
Theory of how to fix electrical problems
When and how (theory) to service an engine
Describe when and how to carry out an oil change.
Understands the basics of:
Through hull fittings
Pre-season / annual inspections
Spars and rigging
Swimming safely while the boat is at anchor.
The danger of overhead power lines.
Portable radar reflectors vs active reflectors
Demonstrated they can perform the duties of skipper and crew on a passage.
Knows the correct methods of towing a dinghy.
Can recover a casualty overboard while sailing at night.
Can anchor, weigh anchor, pick up and cast off moorings while acting as helmsman and/or crew.
Can take a depth sounding using two different methods.
Can keep a watch and navigate effectively.
Theory or preferably practical understanding re hoisting, setting, trimming, jibing, dousing and packing a spinnaker.
On Offshore trips, you can earn the RYA Competent Crew certificate and, with sufficient skills and experience, you can act as a Watch Leader and complete your qualifying passage for RYA Yachtmaster Ocean.
For those wishing to learn how to be a watch leader or skipper of an ocean-going vessel, the Rubicon 3 Ocean Watch Leader Course is a must.
This course takes you through:
Suitable yacht design
How to prepare your yacht
How to plan your passage
Critical weather information and its sources
How to handle heavy weather if you get caught in it
The consumables you’ll need
The spares you need
The communications equipment choices you have
Crew management and watch systems
Sea sickness and medical emergencies
Please contact us for further details
You may sign on to an ocean trip as Watch Leader providing you have RYA Coastal Skipper or international equivalent or equivalent skills and experience.
We will ask for proof of this before you join the yacht.
When you first join the yacht as a watch leader, you will be asked to sit a 30 minute theory test, which is not dissimilar to RYA Yachtmaster theory. So long as you have done your revision, you will have nothing to worry about.
If you fail to meet the standard, you will likely be reassigned as a crew member. This is to ensure the safety of the vessel and crew.
A Watch Leader’s role & responsibilities
You have a contradictory position as a watch leader in that you are both student and being asked to lead your watch.
As a student, you are there to polish your existing skills and to learn many new ones. As watch leader, you are there to use your past experience and existing skills to ensure the yacht is sailed safely.
This entails but is not limited to:
Monitoring the wind and weather and informing the skipper if there is a change beyond that allowed in the SOPs.
Ensure the course and speed are appropriate to the plan
Ensuring the watch is keeping a good lookout, including on the AIS and radar where applicable
Monitoring of the VHF
Monitoring the well being of the other crew on deck and ensuring they are kept warm, fed and rested.
Making sure that the log is kept accurately and the yacht’s position plotted.
Keeping the cockpit safe and orderly
Getting sextant sights were appropriate
Having the new watch woken in time and your watch always timely.
You should be aware that we expect a watch leader to lead, not tell people what to do.
That means you need to work harder than the rest of the watch, be outside when it is raining and cold, and not hiding down by the chart table.
You need to be getting warm drinks made, doing the tough jobs and generally setting a superb example that ensures others are willing to follow and contribute.
If we do not feel you have adequately fulfilled the role, we will not sign you off as having completed the role adequately.
During the course of your ocean passage, you will have continual assessment of your capabilities and performance.
The skipper and mate will be working with you each day and keeping you up to date with how well you are doing and where you need to improve. The aim is that you learn a lot and pass.
However, if it is felt you have not reached the required standard, you will not be signed off as having completed the role satisfactorily.
The assessment is as follows:
Maintains an accurate log, including monitoring of day tank and battery levels
Navigation station is tidy and orderly when on watch
Effectively delegates navigational tasks to other crew members
Can monitor and maintain course and speed
Other crew members are kept well informed and involved in the passage
Punctuality on watch
Daily engine and generator checks are completed effectively
Bilges are checked regularly
Effective deck walk is conducted morning and evening with observations reported and/ or resolved
Maintains good safety discipline on watch (clipping on, lifejackets correctly worn)
Informs the skipper or mate of significant events and circumstances
Can monitor and assess traffic situations
Can deliver a good passage briefing or happy hour position up date
Conducts an effective hand over with on-coming watch
Latest weather forecasts are recorded and analysed
Accurate monitoring of weather conditions on watch
Appropriate sail plan for the conditions
Total marks available: 105 Pass mark: 70
Free Ocean Watch Leader Course
When signing up as a Watch Leader, there is an additional fee of £150. This covers the additional training we give you. It also gives you free access to the Rubicon 3 Ocean Watch Leader Course, which we strongly recommend you take before starting your passage with us.
The RYA Ocean Qualifying passage
You must have completed a qualifying passage within the past 10 years as skipper or mate in sole charge of a watch on a suitable vessel.
You must have been fully involved in the planning of the passage, including selection of the route, the navigational plan, checking the material condition of the vessel and her equipment, storing with spare gear, water and victuals and organising the watch-keeping routine.
Your time onboard as a watch leader with Rubicon 3 achieves all of these requirements.
Are Rubicon 3 Ocean Passages suitable for Ocean qualifying passages?
Yes, except for the rare exception, they all are.
We very carefully check the routes against the RYA criteria so you can rest assured that it will qualify.
If you’re ever in any doubt whether a passage is an ocean qualifier just email usor call us on +44 (0)20 3086 7245
What tasks do I need to complete onboard prior the exam?
It is important to recognise that in order to take the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean exam, you must have the following:
A qualifying passage
A suitable set of celestial navigation sights
A compass check
These do not have to be done during your qualifying passage, although obviously most people choose to do so.
We will help you revise for these tasks, but you will be expected to complete them yourself for the actual exercise.
Trip Dates & Prices
Start date & location
End date & location
Want some advice or just want to talk through your options?
Our team are always here and can probably answer your question straight away. Whether it’s to check whether a trip is right for you ro to ask a question about flights, get in touch. We’rre here to help.
All customer money is held in the Protected Trust Service until your trip has run. This means it is 100% protected and should your trip not run for any reason, you receive a full and immediate refund. This is the gold standard of customer protection.
Unless stated otheriwse, you should join the boat at 0900 on the start day. Each trip starts with an introductory briefing at this time, so it is important you are not late. You may need to arrive the day before and book a B&B or hotel (It is not possible to stay onboard before or after the trip).
Leaving the boat
We arrive at the end port on the penultimate evening, giving us time to head ashore and have a fun last evening together as a crew. Unless otherwise stated, the trip ends at 1200 on the end day. On the final morning we sign logbooks, give feedback and tips re next steps and clean the boat. We know sometimes the only practical flight leaves in the morning though so you may leave the boat anytime from 0500hrs on this day.
Booking flights and connecting travel
You can book your flights home for the afternoon or evening of the end day. We design our trips very carefully to be as certain as we can be that we will not arrive late and it is very rare indeed that we do.
This is distance sailing at sea, usually from one country to another, however, and delays can happen. Most people travel home on the end day. If you can boo your travel home for the next day, it both gives you a little time to enjoy the end destination and some extra security re making flights
You must ensure you have insurance that covers you specificallty for yacht sailing. Click on the ‘specific info’ to see what requirements your particular trip has.
Or get in touch
Let us help you pick the perfect sailing holiday, course or just chat through your options.