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My Family's Sailing History and sailATX's Newest Offering: Touring the Virgin Islands

My father, Pat Ward, owned a Hunter 25 sailboat on Lake Pontchartrain, just north of New Orleans, Louisiana.

When I was in 4th grade, my parents allowed me to spend the night on the boat and go late to school the next morning. Oh the special treatment! When Dad dropped me off at school my classmates were in "library" time - so I got to slip in without any fanfare.

Thus began my long love affair with sailing and sailboats.

We only sailed a handful of times together in those early years. I recall my dad giving instructions like "head up" or "fall off" when I was at the helm and steered crossways to the wind. Dad had stacks of books about sailing and even arcane topics like lofting which I would later learn more about.

Years later when I was 26 and living in Austin, we met in the British Virgin Islands for a weeklong sailing adventure.

The five Ward men (dad Pat, brother Kevin, uncle David and cousin Slade) gathered in Tortola, British Virgin Islands aboard a chartered 46' Beneteau to spend a Father's Day week sailing. We sailed the sporty winds of Sir Francis Drake Channel and visited places like The Soggy Dollar Bar (so named for the wet wallet you get during the dinghy ride required to get there) and the famous Bitter End Yacht Club. We snorkeled, slept, ate and drank up the beauty of those epic sailing grounds.

I was hooked.

Ironically, I was frustrated and worn out by the end of that first trip. My younger cousin was the source of my angst. He was 11 at the time and picked me for constant, bored pestering. I couldn't wait to get back on the plane and head back to Texas.

By the way, my cousin did grow up into a smart, very capable computer and website business owner.

The Ward Family's Hunter 25 (former Lake Pontchartrain Harbor Marina, Mandeville, LA - mid 80s)

Turning Passion into a Business

Over the years my love and devotion to all things sailing only grew. I invited friends to join me on sailing trips to places like The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

Then in 2005 I left my high tech job at Dell and enrolled at the Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart, Florida. At Chapman I spent three months in a wide-ranging, thorough education in professional seamanship.

Finally in 2015 I purchased a Catalina 270 sailboat to start a local, Lake Travis, TX charter service. has been an immense source of joy to my customers and myself alike. We take guests on day sails in the waterways and coves of Lake Travis.

The Next Chapter

After seven years and over 500 customer charters, sailATX is launching its next phase: Exotic Destination Charters. We'll focus first on The British Virgin Islands which we know so well. We've teamed up with charter operators like The Moorings and Navigare to offer premium guided sailing tours to our guests.

Boat anchored in the lee of Marina Cay, BVI

We'll extend our special knowledge and skills in sailing to our clients so that they can experience that one-of-a-kind adventure that drew me into sailing almost 30 years ago.

Follow us here on our blog or @sailATX on Instagram to watch our progress or find out more.

If you'd like to know more about either offering -- day sails or exotic destination charters -- cruise over to


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