Join Date: May 2007
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I concur with FutureShock's comments on RYA. They run what most would agree is the best organized training certification program. They are chartered by the British Government to essentially combine what in the US we would call a Coast Guard license combined with the offshore certifications of Navy Sailing, ASA, and US Sailing. Although I am not saying that certifications are "gun decked" in most cases, Coast Guard licenses can be earned for about $2, 000 from many commercial schools without a lot of experience on the water and a lot of on-the-water evaluations. There are also a number of ASA and US Sailing "puppy mills", where a candidate goes from ASA 101 to ASA 105 (or the US Sailing equivalent) in four weeks, even though both ASA and US Sailing discourage it. We have had a bad experience at the Academy and at PSC with some of these "paper qualifications".
The key thing about RYA is that when you get your certification, you will get an evaluator who doesn't know you and probably lives a long distance away. He has no reason to certify you if you don't measure up. There is a lot of integrity in their system that does not exist in the US model.
The problem with RYA is that they are limited to the Commonwealth countries. I can't say that I have seen that many RYA facilities in Canada. I know that the French and Swiss use a different system. The only RYA facility I have seen on the French Riviera is a British School that deals mostly with a British clientele during the winter.
PSC goes sailing in Greece about once every three years. We have never had any issues. We usually need to draft some unusual letters on club letterhead attesting to the certifications of the individuals or other documents that sort of look like an "international driver's license", but that is it.
As for the club membership, suprisingly, there are very few of us who are Navy at PSC. The Army and Air Force have us outnumbered by a substantial margin. When I look at our list of D skippers, it heavily favors Air Force pilots (B-52s, F-111s, KC-135s). We have lots of H-60 pilots. We have only one former Surface Warfare officer and one submariner. We have more Navy Supply Officers, than line officers. Although Navy is only about 25% of the membership, the former or current naval aviators have the "black shoes" outnumbered by about 2 to 1. Seventy five percent of our member units have someone who has been in the military at some point, but there is much smaller number who are vested retirees or active duty. There are a lot of government civilians. Twenty five percent are civilians with no militar or government backgrounds.
Women are very active and forceful. About 30-45% of our governing Bridge is comprised of women. We have two active racing skippers and four of the D skippers are women. PSC focuses much more on cruising, although we have a racing component, and the women participate strongly in the social events, which are our raft ups on the Bay and our remote trips (BVI, Greece, Pacific NW). In the past six years, we have had 8 of our D skippers (normally 15 to 20 of those) who have been active volunteer skippers in the Naval Academy Offshore Training or Varsity Offshore racing programs. I have been a member of private yacht clubs, and we have as many women as you would normally find .
We have five small boats, four of the Capri/Catalina 22 variety and one heavier Sonic 23. All have outboard engines. The only times when you would not be able to use them would be on those weekends when we are conducting our ASA 101/103- Navy Sailing Training Classes. However, if you want to gain experience, in those classes, we are always looking for assistant instructors and primary instructors. When we aren't using them for training, you can't rent them for $25 per day or use a Frequent Volunteer Sea Mile coupon (then its free) for volunteer work (such as teaching) for the club. At PSC, you can sail as much as you want.
The Racing Squadron uses three of the five boats on Tuesday nights and intermittently on weekends.
And if you are not satisfied by PSC, there is always Navy Pax, where I am also a member. NPSC uses a melange of Navy Sailing and ASA as Pentagon does. There we have 3 Catalina 16s (no engine), two Catalina 250s (outboard), two former Academy Luders 44 Yawls (Alert and Vigilant), and one Navy 44 Mk I (Valiant). I am the boat captain for the VALIANT.
Between the two clubs, you can get in a ton of sailing. I think that you will also find that cost of sailing (both training and social use) is substantially lower than what you would pay anywhere else.