Just a quick report-- my wife and I achieved our ASA Bareboat certification last weekend from www.sanjuansailing.com
in Bellingham, Washington. We had a great time.
It was a two-day course that involved a cruise from Bellingham Bay to Sucia Island in the San Juans. We used a 2004 Catalina 350. In addition to us, there was one other student and our instructor (who grew up sailing in the San Juans).
The confidence of our instructor was really evident when the weather became rough. We overpowered the boat right off the bat and had to reef as the rain came down. Then things cleared and the rest of the trip to Sucia was perfectly manageable even if overcast and cool. We took a narrow channel into Echo Bay, and then practiced anchoring, maneuvering, and picking up mooring bouys. That night, we studied for the test and practiced chart skills.
The next morning, there was a strong blow coming into the day, with 3 foot chop. The boat was bucking at the mooring, and the thought of taking the hour-long written test below decks was not comforting. We motored into a more protected part of the bay and anchored, but still my wife and I were getting green halfway through the test and moved up and down between cabin and cockpit as we completed the pages. We both passed without much problem, but I wasn't in best form for the rest of the day.
Sailing back to Bellingham, we had some fairly heavy conditions (for us, at least). There were strong gusts, four foot swells, and we used only a reefed foresail. Still, we buried the rail more than once, rolling to 25 degrees or more. It was pretty exciting, and my wife did a great job at the wheel and the winches (which were under major strain and a bit touchy when releasing).
We had enough wind to sail all the way back down Hale Passage, which I understand is somewhat rare, and we used the GPS/chart plotter to get the maximum distance out of our tacks. We lunched at Inati Bay (well, at least I ate some trail mix and sipped water). Then we sailed the rest of the way back to the Bellingham marina. There, we did slip practice. We used the engine very little during the entire trip-- pretty cool.
So, a wonderful experience, and we're looking forward to our week-long charter of an Islander 28 in the San Juans this summer (last week of July). This weekend we plan to do an overnight trip on our C&C 27 with our kids on the Columbia River (if I can get out to shock the water tank this week).
I've posted some pictures from our Bareboat course here: