I am new here, and just took the Keelboat certification, my goal is to take the cruising course eventually. When do you recomend taking the crusing course after taking keelboat. How many sailing hours would you say one needs to be confortable before he can move on to the next levels?
It depends on how comfortable you are with your completion of basic keelboat, and what you want to do next. I looked forward to more classes and access to larger boats immediately after BK, so I took BC right away.
It worked for me as I felt very comfortable completing the BK class, and because I really wanted access to larger boats knowing that my wife and friends wouldn't enjoy going out on the bay in the smaller/sportier keelboats.
It all depends on your comfort level and your goals. I found sailing the larger boats in the BC class to be easier wrt the wind and water. There are more systems to learn like the inboard engine, head, electrical, plumbing, and furling systems. And the larger boats are a little more challenging to maneuver in the harbor, but thats what the class is for. There is also a lot more detail on dayshapes, lights, sound signals, right of way, and some more knots, which is all just stuff you can study at home in advance of the class anyway.
Have your school loan you a copy of their Basic Cruising textbook to get a look at what they cover, to see if you feel its overwhelming and you need more log time, or if it looks pretty easy and you're ready.
I read the guide at US Sailing Lessons and Online Sailing School
(each chapter is on the left side navigation) and then took the cruising test at Online Sailing Test
That covered a fair amount of the classroom material for BC, so I could concentrate on any new material and just focus on the sailing part of the class.
So.. long answer: 0 hours.