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Old 03-19-2011
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Share your experience with Ontario sailing schools and CYA Basic Cruising course

Hello! I'm getting back to sailing after too many years away. I sailed at university for a while, 40 odd years ago, but haven't since. I figure it's now or never, so now it became. Got the boat; want to get the lessons to make me safe for myself and others on the water.

It's likely that I'll be sailing on a smallish lake in south-western Ontario, near London, Ontario. From looking at different school offerings, I think that the CYA Basic Cruising (BC) course (DAY SKIPPER SAIL) will benefit me most. I don't think the White Sail 1 - 3 would cut it. The BC course covers 'the skills required to cruise safely by day in local waters as either skipper or crew of a sailing cruiser of 20-30 feet, in moderate wind and sea conditions'. Sounds to me like a good foundation on which to build and gain experience. Even though I won't yet be sailing on open water, I'd have the foundation to go there following good experience on the lake.

My first stop was to look at the list of schools at OntarioSailing

There are intensive courses available that say they meet the CYA BC course requirement with a training period of four consecutive days and about 32 hours on water. Seems to me that that would be a better learning experience, which would be retained and carried over to practice with my own boat, than spreading it over several week-ends.

The typical cost for these BC courses seems to be about $600, which isn't too much more than what the local sailing club charges for its White Sail program!

There are several courses offered, all based on a keel boat, and knowing that a successful course depends so much on the instructor, as well as boat condition, I wondered if anyone had any feedback, best based on personal experience, about them?

The courses I'm considering are:
Adventure Sailing with a course in scenic Georgian Bay (in June - the earliest start date, and... it's done in one week! Clean water, and not inconvenient to get to for one trip - Penetanguishene)

Midland Bay Sailing School also on Georgian Bay (in July, two weekends)

Port Credit Yacht Club although this site bills itself as 'Mediterranean & Caribbean', the page link that brings one to this page says 'Port Credit Yacht Club'; on Lake Ontario (two consecutive weekends or long weekend intensive Friday thru Monday) Sadly, the website doesn't show course dates...

Bronte Harbour Yacht Club on Lake Ontario (in July, two weekends)

I'm thinking hard about the 'Adventure Sailing' course. It gives me a little time to get my boat sorted (new to me, lots to do), and doesn't cram all the spending (boat, gear, course) in too close a time.

So, does anyone have any feedback on these courses, especially the Adventure Sailing course? Please feel free to make any other suggestions, also.

Thank you in advance for your input, suggestions, comments and advice!


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Last edited by knotted; 03-19-2011 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 03-21-2011
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Change the question, get a reply... I hope!

Well, there have been quite a few views of the original question, but it would seem that there are few to no sailors on SailNet who have taken this or other courses in Ontario! I was hoping that at least one would have done so...

Perhaps these next questions might be easier to answer: what is the practical difference between CYA and ISPA courses? Is there any advantage one over the other? Is there any certification difference, i.e. does one certificate have benefits or advantages over the other? My ultimate ambition would be to obtain the Yachtmaster qualification, if I can get that far!

In view of this goal, and the fact that you finish in the stream in which you start, in which training stream (CYA or ISPA) would I be better advised to start my training?

I hope that this might bring some Canadian input and advice (thinking of jackdale, and others). I guess this is somewhat like the comparison between ASA and ISPA. Not so much to determine which is better, but which would suit me best


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"You start with an empty cup of experience and a full barrel of luck. The trick is to fill your cup before the barrel runs dry." - bljones
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Old 03-21-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knotted View Post
Well, there have been quite a few views of the original question, but it would seem that there are few to no sailors on SailNet who have taken this or other courses in Ontario! I was hoping that at least one would have done so...

Perhaps these next questions might be easier to answer: what is the practical difference between CYA and ISPA courses? Is there any advantage one over the other? Is there any certification difference, i.e. does one certificate have benefits or advantages over the other? My ultimate ambition would be to obtain the Yachtmaster qualification, if I can get that far!

In view of this goal, and the fact that you finish in the stream in which you start, in which training stream (CYA or ISPA) would I be better advised to start my training?

I hope that this might bring some Canadian input and advice (thinking of jackdale, and others). I guess this is somewhat like the comparison between ASA and ISPA. Not so much to determine which is better, but which would suit me best
Differences between ISPA and CYA

1) CYA has written exams for each standard. ISPA uses assessments at the end of each module.

2) ISPA has practical assessments for each standard. CYA navigation standards can be met through the exams.

3) ISPA coastal nav follows day skipper. CYA coastal nav follows intermediate.

4) ISPA has manuals for all levels, except celestial. CYA has a Basic Cruising manual; instructors and school develop their materials and/or use other manuals / texts.

5) Both offer accepted PCOCs

6) Both are accepted by charter companies. Experience is still a big factor.

7) ISPA does not have a race component in their standard.

8) Both offer powerboat instruction.

9) Both are very good standards; what matters is the quality of of instruction / instructor.

10) Both will likely get you an insurance discount on your boat.

[edit] some more

11) Different MOB methods ISPA - heave-to, sail-to, heave-to; CYA triangle/ figure 8

12) ISPA - single-line docking CYA - two crew with breast lines.


Please feel free to contact me through a PM. Or ask away publicly.

Disclaimer - I teach both standards. I have no personal knowledge of any Ontario schools. I work primarily in Alberta and BC.

Jack
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Last edited by jackdale; 03-21-2011 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 03-21-2011
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Thank you for the clarification, Jack; it is much appreciated and just what I needed! Perhaps this the most important comment that you made:
Quote:
Both are very good standards; what matters is the quality of instruction / instructor.
I will take up your kind invitation to pm you.

It's a shame that I haven't been able to find anyone who's taken the course I'm thinking about taking, or any course for that matter! Factors for me include cost and travel, as well as the reputation of the instructor and quality of the boat. If an instructor consistently gets poor reviews, I feel comfortable in avoiding his teaching; the odd poor review most likely indicates, I feel, a personality 'conflict' of some sort. As this will be my first course, I think I can 'get over it' (if I have to) for one bout with poor instruction - it would however become a very regrettable waste of time and money.

I did receive a reply from a west coast (Nanaimo, BC) school, which was also very explanatory although less technical and detailed than the very useful and clear info that Jack posted above. For the benefit of those Canadian beginning sailors who may find the simpler version more to their liking, I'll post some of it:
"Both CYA and ISPA are well recognized and both would qualify you to charter other sail boats around the world with intermediate level and coastal navigation. The material that is covered is identical in both courses although the teaching techniques are slightly different. Both certifications have the same value- so the choice is yours.

With ISPA there are two components – Shore and Practical. The shore section is done “at home”. This involves studying each section of the manual and completing the exercises at the end of each section. The exercises need to be completed before you do the practical side with is the part of sailing techniques on the water. The instructor then marks your exercises and passes your practical skills while you are sailing and then signs your log book. Once the instructor has signed off your log book he will register you onto the ISPA website and then you can order your registration seals- one for practical and one for shore. There is no formal exam with ISPA.

With CYA you would study the manual before the practical sailing and once you have completed the course then you write and exam which is then marked by the instructor. Once you have passed the exam and the instructor is confident that you have mastered to the level that you are being tested the school then sends your instructor signed form to CYA who will send you the registration seal.

Both CYA and ISPA registration seals are put into your log book as proof of completion of the course.
(I assume this means the seal for the course that you succeeded in passing; I'll have to ask if that means 'both' as in two! Though I doubt it)

I understand however that some insurance companies will reduce the insurance on the owners vessel if they have a CYA certification.
Someone on this forum wisely commented that the answer to most sailing questions is 'it all depends', in this case on where you are, what course is available that you can afford, who is teaching it and on what boat. Just do the research and the homework (as I was attempting to do) After all, if you're trying to follow bljones' advice, that's about all you can do... then enjoy yourself and have fun doing it!

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Old 03-22-2011
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Hello, this is actually my first post, I've been lurking here for a while... my girlfriend and I took the CYA basic keelboat course at the Midland Bay Sailing Club last summer. It was a very enjoyable experience, and we both learned quite a bit. The course is run fairly informally, both weekends the weather was good, so we spent almost the entire time sailing, with a little book time once we got back just before we left for the day. I think he marked down 32 hrs in my log book for time spent sailing. We did not write the test at the end of the second weekend, but went back I think in September for a study session one weekend and then to write the exam on a second weekend. The instructor was great, and very flexible, so if the distance is an issue (I see you're in southwest Ontario) I'm sure he would be willing to make other arrangements to accomodate you. The whole club seems to be run fairly informally, seems like a friendly place that really impressed me so much I'm actually considering becoming a member in the future. Georgian Bay is a beautiful place to sail.

The course was fairly basic, but it is called "basic keelboat", so I suppose that is to be expected. I think all the CYA requirements were covered well, and everyone seemed happy with the course. I'm hoping to take the coastal navigation and intermediate keelboat courses in the future.

The boat we used was a Shark 24, not the prettiest boat but was well suited to the purpose. There were 3 of us in the session, so 4 of us on the boat including the instructor. I'm not sure if they will use the same boat this year or not. If you have any specific questions I can put you in contact with the instructor.
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Old 03-22-2011
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Welcome and congrats, Mike!

Sounds like you had a good time that was well worthwhile. The Midland course sounds very interesting, although it being over two weekends means two longish (about 4 hours each way) trips for me, whereas Adventure Sailing in Penetang (just literally around the corner) completes the course in 4 or 5 consecutive days - one trip - and for about the same cost.

Did you practise between weekends on the course? Did/do you have your own boat, or were/are you sailing through a club boat program?

It's always good to know that there are Canadian sailors on SailNet!
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Old 03-22-2011
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There is an adult keelboat sailing class offered in Port Dover. Will you be sailing your boat on Pittock or Fanshawe?

Port Dover Yacht Club Sailing School | Sailing Lessons for All Ages | Sailing Course Details
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Last edited by bljones; 03-22-2011 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 03-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knotted View Post
Welcome and congrats, Mike!

Sounds like you had a good time that was well worthwhile. The Midland course sounds very interesting, although it being over two weekends means two longish (about 4 hours each way) trips for me, whereas Adventure Sailing in Penetang (just literally around the corner) completes the course in 4 or 5 consecutive days - one trip - and for about the same cost.

Did you practise between weekends on the course? Did/do you have your own boat, or were/are you sailing through a club boat program?

It's always good to know that there are Canadian sailors on SailNet!
I can definitely see how 4 or 5 consecutive days would be better for you than two weekends. Plus there is the potential that you would need to go up again to write the exam with the MBSC course. For me, I have limited vacation time so two weekends was the best choice. At the time we took the course I only had an Albacore dinghy, and because I commute from north of Barrie to the Toronto area for work there isn't enough time on weeknights to go sailing, so we did not practice. I passed the course with no difficulty, I haven't sailed in quite a few years but frequently sailed my father's Hobie 16 as a kid (I'm 35 now), and at that time read extensively on sailing, and took a windsurfing course when I was 12 which covered things like points of sail, theory, etc., so I had a pretty good background knowledge. Things like charts, required lights, buoys, etc., were new to me and I think the CYA course covered them well.

We took the course because we'd gotten the Albacore dinghy and I wanted to brush up on my sailing skills. It was the only course offered locally that was available on the weekends. Last fall I bought a 22' trailerable keelboat (a DS22) and am hoping to spend as much time as possible with it exploring Georgian Bay, once it's fixed up, that is.
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Old 03-22-2011
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The "bookwork" for most courses can be done through homestudy. However, I find a much higher success rate and more satisfaction when navigation courses are conducted in a classroom. Having the assistance and experience of an instructor, and being able to work and discuss with other students leads to a better learning environment.

If a CYA or ISPA class is not offered, a Power Squadron course would help. However, they do not provide on-the-water practical assessments. They also provide the administration of the ROC(M) VHF course, which you will need.
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Old 03-22-2011
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bljones thanks for the link to Port Dover PBS, that's certainly a much more local course, with far less extensive driving! Have you had any feedback about the course quality?

I'm not sure on which lake I'll be sailing. Fanshawe is local to me now, I haven't seen Pittock, and there's the possibility of a move to Stratford this summer, so that suggests Wildwood. WSC won't take new boats with a keel draft greater than 40 inches, which excludes my boat, an Abbott 22 drawing about 46 ins, so the UTRCA marina would be the dock there. FSC have no problem with the draft (the Abbott would be on a mooring, and they sail J24s also), and I haven't yet investigated Pittock, which I think might be just that bit too far away for convenience... It's difficult to make the decision: either way I'll be driving to the boat for a while, whether it stays at Fanshawe and I move to Stratford, or it's on Wildwood and I've not moved to Stratford. But not so bad as driving to the boat now, while it's in Sarnia! Decisions, decisions...

Where do you sail?

MikeMorrison sounds like the course you took did the job for you! Your DS 22 with its swing keel is a lot lighter than the Abbott; that's the Abbott's only drawback (until I catch 3 ftitiss) it needs a truck to tow it, and the full 40 inches PLUS of water to launch it; so I doubt that it'll get much trailering for now.

jackdale a very good point on navigation; one can study, and even understand, the theoretical side of simple navigation from a book, but group learning is much better when it comes to problem solving and grasping difficult concepts. I've found this applies to most learning.
Quote:
...the assistance and experience of an instructor, and being able to work and discuss with other students leads to a better learning environment
Banging your head against a wall in the dark with no-one to talk to isn't my idea of fun!

At first I'll be sailing on a local flood control lake, long but not too wide, and I don't know if any/all boaters on the lake have or will have VHF. (Makes note to self to check VHF that came with boat, and if dud to investigate hand-held units) Is the VHF ticket something you would advise getting ASAP? And because I imagine that it is more procedural and doesn't really need on-water time, would the local PBS be a good choice for this?


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