Just another Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
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The sailing courses are great but not necessarily required... like many have said, commonsense and caution will get you started.
If you had to pick one course I'd go for the Power and Sail squadron's basic boating course. Good emphasis on charting and piloting, you'll learn how to use/read charts, what the symbols mean and how to recognize the meaning of all the navigations buoys (may save you a tow off the mud at some point).
If you are a cautious self starter, I'd tend to suggest you take that course after a little bit of experience - you'll have a better frame of reference. But taking it beforehand is helpful too. I've known people that had sailed for several years finally take the course and get a lot out of it.
As a bonus, many insurance carriers will give credit for having taken these courses and lower your rates a bit.
We did as many did, got introduced to sailing by some friends; liked what we saw, went out a bought a small boat, figured things out, and eventually moved up in size (and now back down) We did take the CPSS course as well, but after a season or two.
And, as others have also said, nearly 30 years later we're still learning.....
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)