Join Date: Jan 2009
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Chesapeake Bay sailor here...
I am a bit of an amateur. I first sailed on the Whitsunday Islands in Australia back in 2001 while studying abroad. I took a class that organized various weekend trips which included rock climbing, kayaking, and sailing. My class chartered about six boats and we set out for three days of sailing. I fell in love almost immediately and planned to pursue sailing once I returned home.
After I arrived home, I finished my undergraduate degree and began law school. It wasn't until about my second year of law school that I had the notion to charter a boat for a weekend with a couple of friends. I began looking down the Jersey shore but there wasn't a whole lot available. Eventually I stumbled upon the Chesapeake Bay and realized that one of the greatest sailing destinations in the world was less than an hour from my house.
I contacted a couple of charter companies but my lack of experience kept coming up. I was confident that the three days of sailing I had done three years prior was enough to keep me and my crew safe on the water (hindsight is 20/20). Finally I landed on Baysail, which is a great little charter company out of Harve de Grace, MD. They insisted that I be certified up to at least ASA 103, but agreed to let me "test out of" ASA 101.
My first day on the water with the instructor for my test-out was a bit overwhelming. I realized in the first five minutes that I didn't have nearly enough experience to safely handle a boat on my own, let alone a 34' or 36' boat, like I had planned on chartering.
I basically failed the test-out but the instructor agreed that he would pass me if I came down for one day of private instruction and was able to pass the written portion of the exam. I gladly accepted the offer and scheduled a day of private lessons.
By the end of my second day on the water, I was only slightly more confident in my ability to handle a larger boat without an instructor on board. I took the written test and passed and was officially ASA 101 certified.
The ASA 103 portion consisted of three separate days of instruction and sailing. As I progressed I realized more and more how little I knew about sailing and began having second thoughts about my scheduled bareboat charter. By the third day I felt cautiously optimistic but nervous as hell.
Luckily, my first charter experience went off with out major incident. We had some difficulty getting the boat into the fuel dock and its slip when we returned, but all and all there were not major issues. We spent one night achored in Fairly Creek and the second night we got a slip in Georgetown. We had dinner at the Kitty Night House, which was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.
The next summer I decided to take the ASA 104 course. The only opening though was in the five-day ASA 103 and 104 combo course so the owner of Baysail allowed me to take the combo course for the price of the 104 course. Even though it was a sailing course, I had a great time. Five days on the Chesapeake Bay - I was in heaven.
We chartered again that summer and every summer (with the exception of last summer) since. I took the 103 and 104 courses again each year as a refresher before my bareboat charter. I think I ended up taking ASA 103 about four times and ASA 104 about three times. Ive been to most locations on the northern bay and I've been as far south as St. Michaels, MD.
I have another trip planned this summer for the Fourth of July. We're chartering a Hunter 41' with three cabins. I can't wait. I'm looking to buy a boat "some day." I am constantly checking websites to see what's available and compare prices.
Anyway, that's my story. Sorry it was so long.