ASA-105 to USCG 6-pack
In December, I did the ASA-105 navigation class and I found it challenging but very well done and very helpful. I did very well on the final exam. At the same time, I signed up to take a USCG-approved license class from an independent USCG-approved school.
Basically, the first half of the USCG course (nav general and chartplotting) is exactly what ASA-105 is - at least in topical coverage. So far, it's been a very disappointing class. The text is horribly written (it's not even pre,pre,pre rough draft stage IMO), with tons of type-os and wrongly worded questions (and answers). The material is taught at a much more elementary level than ASA as well. For example, I have yet to see a "doubling the bow angle" problem that didn't involve 45 and 90 degrees. And of course you're always going 6kt and the time is 30 minutes. I honestly don't think any of the other students besides me know it can be done doubling ANY angle. Also, there are three different teachers and two of them have never seen this text before and are as confused and perplexed and tripped up by the mistakes as we are.
I had expected this to be an advancement to my knowledge but it's really turning out to be a very elementary review. Another pretty shocking thing to me is that the test will be all multiple-choice answers - even the chart plotting part! The guy next to me said last night "boy I'm glad this is all multiple choice". I said "yeah - good thing the decisions on the boat are multiple choice too".
It's also a damn expensive class. I've read way ahead into the rules of the road and deck-general parts and there is material there that will be new to me. But it still seems like a very elementary coverage compared to what you can read in Chapman's for example. I think that what I'm really paying for is the test itself and whatever help the teachers will give in preparing my application. In hindsight though, I think I would opt for an on-line USCG-approved school. I figure that way I could sample some of the learning materials and get an idea of the quality first.
I'm not going to say what school this is because I'm not out to bash anyone. I actually do like and respect the instructors. I just think they have a really poorly made curriculum. What I don't understand why the CG lets these approved schools make their own curriculum. These guys are fishermen, sailors and charter operators, not instructional designers and authors. I think the ASA model makes so much more sense - a standard curriculum taught by approved schools with real-world difficult test questions. I'm just curious if anyone else has done these two courses and had the same experience and perception. Maybe it's just me. Hopefully by the end of 2012, I'll have my license and this will be but a unpleasant memory.
-Capt. Bob and Linda (owned by Fujin)