Archive For May 3, 2017

Sailing Lessons – A Unique Florida Gift for Any Age


Sailing Lessons: The Perfect Florida-themed Gift for Any Age!

Sailing Lessons: The Perfect Florida-themed Gift!


Help!  I Need a Unique Milestone Birthday Gift Idea

Time was running out.  There was only two weeks left to come up with something magnificent and memorable for my hubby’s birthday.  And this wasn’t just any birthday, but a milestone one that required something more than the traditional dinner and flowers.  To make matters worse, he had the audacity to be born right between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, so typically we find restaurants and hotels in Florida to be overbooked, overpriced, and way under our expectations.  So wine and dine was no option.

Sure, I could have done the [pretend-you’re-surprised] surprise birthday party, but that was too obvious. Isn’t that what everyone does when they’re celebrating three-quarters-of-a-century?  The pressure was mounting and I felt like hubby thought I had it all under control, but in reality I had nothing planned and the onslaught of negative thoughts were having a party in my perplexed little head.  I had no peace and was flat-out persuaded this special birthday was not going to be special at all.

Unusual Gift Ideas for a 75th Birthday

You’re probably thinking why didn’t I just go to the big “G” to get some recommendations for unusual birthday gifts.  Truth be told, I spent hours doing Google searches that yielded very little results for something truly unique for a “seasoned citizen” living in Florida.  Consequently, the word ‘senior‘ created a barrage of results giving me the top birthday ideas for men wasting away in state run nursing homes.

Really?  Do they assume at 75 you’re senile and immobile?  My hubby gives new meaning to the term “active adult!”  He walks in divine health and has more energy and stamina than I do.  The recorded miles on his Fitbit don’t lie!  No, I had no interest in a gold plated custom-engraved magnifying glass or imported European walking stick.  The top sure-to-please gifts for a 75th birthday (according to the search engines) were not going to impress my golden guy.  I needed a special gift to reflect his youthfulness, not what the candles on the cake were indicating.

Sailboat Charters: The Perfect Special-Occasion Gift!

I was disappointed, to say the least, with my search engine results.  The popular opinion seemed to be that many of us will either be dead by 75 or incontinent.  But longevity is an inheritable trait, so I expect my handsome husband to be around for many more milestone birthdays!

So even after searching the internet, I was back to square one.  My hubby doesn’t need Metamucil, has been on hot air balloon rides, climbed the ancient Mayan Pyramids in Tikal, Guatemala, and encountered screaming [Howler] monkeys in the jungle, among other notable experiences.  Surely the Sunshine State has something outside the [boring] birthday box to offer his adventurous spirit, right?

In an effort not to be totally humiliated on that special day, I reluctantly booked four nights at a Luxury Bed & Breakfast Inn near Daytona Beach, only 10 minutes away from one of the top-rated restaurants in the country.  It was exactly what I did not want to give… dinner and flowers!  But I was persistent.  In the wee hours of the morning, while hubby was sound asleep, I finally received my breakthrough.  While searching TripAdvisor for “Things to Do in the Daytona Beach/Holly Hills area,” I came across a fantastic option — charter a sailboat with your own private captain!  But even that was not so unusual for us.  We have fond memories of sipping champagne as the sun was setting on a spectacular sailboat in the Florida Keys.  But this one had a unique twist


Our 36′ Morgan Nelson/Marek Designed Sloop EAGLE


A Private Sailboat Charter Was the Perfect Unique Gift!

A Private Sailboat Charter Was the Perfect Unique Gift!


Private Sailing Lessons — I Hit the Mark with Eagle Yachts!

No, this was not your typical sit back and sip champagne kind of sailing.  In fact, alcohol is strictly prohibited on this sailboat.  I was booking a participatory adventure.  In short, that means we were going to be sailing the boat!  During our two-hour cruise down Florida’s Halifax River we would receive private sailing lessons.

I had contacted Captain Eric West with Eagle Yachts who helped me understand how it all worked.  I was so impressed with Captain West.  I told him the sailing lessons were a birthday surprise for my husband, so he privately texted the directions to the marina and secretly answered my many questions.  He helped me keep it a secret, and my husband never knew where we were going when we left our accommodations at The River Lily Inn… until we pulled into the marina!  And even then, when he fixed his eyes on his birthday surprise, he assumed it was going to be your average sit-back-and-relax chartered sailboat ride.  Not so!  I was convinced I hit the mark with Eagle Yachts.


Adventure Yacht Harbor in Daytona Beach/Port Orange, Florida

The Dock at the Marina - My Husband's First Clue to His Birthday Surprise!

The Dock at the Marina – My Husband’s First Clue to His Birthday Surprise!


Location of Adventure Yacht Harbor on Florida’s Atlantic Coast

The Adventure Yacht Harbor is located just south of Daytona Beach and near Ponce Inlet, Florida.



Sailing Lessons in Central Florida — The Perfect Gift for ANY Age!

I was amazed to learn that no prior sailing experience was necessary, nor any maximum age restrictions imposed.  In fact, Captain West told me he had just finished a lesson with a 90-year-old man who did fantastic!  And, that senior citizen chose the more adventurous “ocean route” verses the calm Intracoastal Waterway I had elected.  Captain West wasn’t even concerned that I couldn’t swim.  He said he had given sailing lessons as young as three years old!

Prior to leaving the dock we were given detailed instructions and taught proper sailing terminology to be used throughout our trip.  Captain West would not allow any negative talk, and making fun of each other’s efforts was a major no-no.  We were also educated on sailboat safety and emergency procedures. Knowing that the life jackets were within easy reach helped to calm my nerves, although wearing them was optional.  By the time we set sail I felt perfectly safe and one-hundred-percent confident in Captain West’s vast experience and nautical knowledge.  And, besides being an excellent teacher, Captain West is an interesting story teller as well.  This sailor has had some incredible high-seas sailing adventures!  For private sailing lessons in Central Florida… Captain West is certainly the best!


Private Sailing Lessons on the 36-Foot ‘EAGLE’ Sailboat

Captain West - Our Professional Sailing Instructor

Captain West – Our Professional Sailing Instructor


Sailing 101 — Welcome to the Classroom

It was an extremely windy day with wind gusts to 28 knots, which made our sailing adventure even more dramatic.  During our two-hour sail on the Intracoastal we did a lot of winching and had to tack a lot. (Those were a few sailing terms I learned… and remembered!)  Hubby and I both had the opportunity to take the helm for about thirty minutes each.  We found the sailboat to be responsive, easy to control, and we were not intimidated in the learning process.

What an incredible classroom!  As sailors we learned all the basics: points of sail, rules of the road, overboard procedures (I tried not to focus on that one too long), heaving to, reefing, required safety equipment, maneuvering under sail and power, anchoring, and so much more.


The 36-foot ‘EAGLE’ Yacht: Our Hands-on Classroom!

Hubby at the Helm of the Sailboat

Hubby at the Helm of the Sailboat

That's Me at the Helm of the Sailboat

That’s Me at the Helm of the Sailboat

I'm Working Hard - Because of the high winds, we had very little time to rest!

I’m Working Hard – Because of the high winds, we had very little time to rest!

Captain West Working the Sails

Captain West Working the Sails

Hubby Anchoring the Sailboat with Captain West's Approval

Hubby Anchoring the Sailboat with Captain West’s Approval


Dolphins & Various Marine Life — The Icing on the Cake!

For an added bonus during our sailing lessons, we witnessed playful dolphins and various other marine and bird life. Occasionally, according to Captain West, manatees, ospreys, frigate birds, manta rays and eagles are sighted.  He told us this area is also a Right Whale sanctuary and calving ground, therefore, they can sometimes be spotted between November and April.  (I would have loved to see them!  They are among the most endangered of the world’s large whales, with an estimated population of only 500!)  My only regret was that I couldn’t take more pictures of the marine life… we were too busy working!


Marine Life as Seen from Our Sailboat

Shore Birds Sitting on a Pier - Halifax River

Shore Birds Sitting on a Pier – Halifax River


The ‘EAGLE’ Yacht is Not Just for Sailing Lessons…

Even though Captain West specializes in private sailing lessons, there are additional events he’s available for…

  • Lessons on your own boat
  • Burial ashes scattered offshore
  • Wedding proposals
  • Wedding ceremonies
  • Meteor shower watching trips at night
  • Any special requests


Call Captain West with Your Special Sailing Request

Call Captain West with Your Special Sailing Request


Contact Captain Eric West:

(386) 295-2578 or at

Eagle Yachts Website

Sailing Lessons – For the Young and Young at Heart!

We would highly recommend this sailing experience to anyone… young, or young at heart!  The sailing lessons were not only educational, but entertaining.  The next time you’re searching for a special occasion or unique Florida-themed gift, think outside the box.  Our sailing lessons were unforgettable!  Chartered sailboat lessons make great gifts for birthdays, retirement, graduation, promotions, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day.  Or, here’s a fantastic idea: Purchase a 2-hour Private Sailing Lesson Gift Certificate and donate it to a charity fundraiser.

Sailing Lessons are not only the perfect unique gift for Florida residents, but also the millions of tourists who visit every year.  It’s a beautiful reprieve from the hectic Central Florida theme parks, yet only an hour or so away from them. We’re already planning sailing lessons for our best friends who visit from Pennsylvania every year.  And, because of Florida’s mild semi-tropical climate, it’s something you can do 12 months out of the year!  We went in the middle of February.  By Florida standards, it was quite chilly (low 60’s) but a sweat suit kept us comfortable and warm.

NOTE: The cost for the sailing lessons was far less than I had imagined.  For a very reasonable rate of $85/hour, (minimum 2 hours), I spent $200 which included a $30 tip.  Although it was just hubby and me, Captain West allows up to 6 people on the sailboat, which makes the lessons a very good value for families or small groups.    


Finished Our Lesson – Officially Sailed a Boat!

Completed Our Very First Sailing Lesson!

Completed Our Very First Sailing Lesson!


A Gift to Remember Our Sailing Experience

Each time we travel some place new or have a first-time life experience, I try to bring home a unique gift or souvenir to remember the occasion.  Imagine our surprise then, when Captain West photographed us sailing the boat, then hand-delivered the keepsake photos to us at The River Lily Inn the following day. What an unexpected personal touch!  And a sweet souvenir from our sailing adventure that we didn’t have to purchase.

Sailing Lessons: The BEST Birthday Gift… Ever!

Needless to say, hubby absolutely loved his gift.  In fact, he has reminded me many times that it was the best birthday gift he ever received.  Perhaps it was the ‘secret’ element; he’s so hard to keep a secret from! Here’s my challenge though… his birthday is coming up again in a few weeks.  How do I top the sailing lessons?


Happy Birthday Hubby!  He Was a Happy Man!

Hubby LOVED His Sailing Lessons! from Eagle Yachts!

Hubby LOVED His Sailing Lessons!


Would you consider Sailing Lessons for a unique special occasion gift?  Or perhaps you have another unusual gift idea.  Please share with our readers in the “comment” box below!  

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