Souwest AdventuresVisitors to Atlantic Canada may know of Nova Scotia’s rich sailing history, its fabled sailors like Angus Walters and Joshua Slocum, but may not think of the province as a sail-training destination. While the coastal waters of the province produced great sailors of the past, they’re now being used as training grounds for an ever-increasing group of budding sailors, many of whom are families.

The Mahone Bay area on the province's “South Shore” is the site for Sou'wester Adventures Sailing School, which operates from Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island. While sailing in the shadow of Oak Island, legendary site of Captain Kidd's buried treasure, students learn all aspects of handling a modern cruising sloop, and navigating the myriad of islands that supposedly number one for each day of the year.

It’s a great place to learn as it combines elements of sail handling, navigation and anchoring in a salt-water environment that’s challenging, but still protected from the open ocean. There are also opportunities to see the abundant local wildlife, as sighting of seals, porpoise, osprey, cormorants, great blue herons, and a variety of shorebirds are quite common.

For those eager to expand their horizons, and see more of the Nova Scotia’s coastline, there are also options of five and six day live-aboard courses available. These levels require students to undertake all the elements operating a cruising vessel from planning and provisioning, to charting the course, and sailing it to the variety of secluded anchorage’s and historic seaports the South Shore has to offer.

Towns like Lunenburg (a UNESCO world heritage site) can best be appreciated from the deck of a sailing vessel after cruising the rugged coastline and harbor entrance. Students follow the routes established by the “Salt-Bankers” of old.

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