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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 02-27-2013
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US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

Getting back into sailing in FL (decades after sailing dinghies as a kid in NJ).

Question - it looks as if both US Sailing and the American Sailing Association (ASA) offer sailing instruction on everything from basic keelboat to coastal cruising to navigation to anchoring/docking to offshore. Which is the better program, or has the better respected credential?

I'd be taking courses over a season or 2, in or near St. Pete - if I do.

The local sailing center here offers a basic weekend keelboat course (safety and rigging, sail trim, tack, jibe, and docking) that I took last weekend, and a local yacht club has something similar over 5 weeks (evening class, weekend afternoon sail) that I am taking starting tonight - with the hope to get on OPBs too.

I'm thinking that these local basic courses, plus some local cruiser and racer crewing, should be enough to prepare me comfortably for local day-sailing.

Eventually I want to be cruising the FL and US East Coast, Bahamas, etc., probably in a smaller cruiser (<30'). For these kinds of coastal cruising and limited offshore sailing (assuming I don't find enough crewing opportunities with seasoned sailors), which is the better call - US Sailing or ASA?
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

I think it depends more on the individual instructor than on which outfit it is. In general, USSA is a bit more racing-oriented and less cruising-oriented than ASA. But again, instructor skill/effectiveness is more important. Whether you take paid lessons or not is up to you. maybe the club course will suffice. But classes, paid or unpaid, can help prevent you teaching yourself any bad habits that are harder to unlearn than if you hadn't learned them in the first place.

And you're right about the local crew and especially race-crew rides afterwards. Racing's a concentrated course in everything you learned in 'school'.

Best wishes.


(full disclosure--I'm a part time ASA Basic instructor but it won't hurt my feelings either way)

Last edited by nolatom; 02-27-2013 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

If it were me, I would probably just take the local basic courses first before taking either the ASA or USSA. These will at least allow you to meet some local sailors.

I took a few of the ASA courses with my wife, who had never really sailed before, and it was a fun experience. I sailed a lot as a kid and up through my twenties, now 47. I was away from sailing for about 10 years or so before my wife was interested so I got back into sailing. For me, it was kinda like riding a bike, you don't really forget, you just got to clean off the rust before you remember everything. Besides if you can sail the small boats you can sail the big boats, docking in a slip with wind, current, and million dollar yachts everywhere is another issue.
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebeach View Post


I'm thinking that these local basic courses, plus some local cruiser and racer crewing, should be enough to prepare me comfortably for local day-sailing.
more than enough to get you safe, capable, and sailing....save your money and get out with the local guys. IF needed, later you can fill in the gaps with an instructor of your choosing.

My wife and I have both done ASA 103/10X and were not impressed.

YMMV
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

I'm interested in this thread too. I'm actually a power boater (32-42ft). But was introduced to bareboat vacation sailing in the BVI's. Twice on 47ft Oceanis monohulls and three times on 44 cats. I played very active crew for these trips and thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately, we have lost touch with the individual that we used for captining these trips.

I know enough to be dangerous :-) I can easily motor these boats about. Throw up the genoa. Dock at the pier, pick up a mooring ball, etc. I'm looking to certifications in hopes of furthing my knowledge, add to my resume and hopefully open doors to go bareboating again.

That said, I've already covered the just getting out there. But for certifications is either one of these programs better geared to bareboating or more recognized by these charter companies?
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Old 03-01-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

Having a recognized certification from either ASA or USSA could help if you want to bareboat charter or possibly with one's insurance. That said, I fully agree that the actual value of the training is entirely dependent on the instructor themselves, local or national.

I seem to recall that when my wife took lessons, she had a choice of which cert she wanted. The only difference was which written test she needed to take, so they could send in the right paperwork.
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Old 03-03-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

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Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
more than enough to get you safe, capable, and sailing....save your money and get out with the local guys. IF needed, later you can fill in the gaps with an instructor of your choosing.

My wife and I have both done ASA 103/10X and were not impressed.

YMMV
You did them at the wrong school with the wrong instructors then... I was very impressed with ASA 101/103/104.

There does seem to be some variation... 101 took me two full weekends. I've heard of some schools doing it in 2 days, or multiple courses in a week. Really, the more time you are spending on the water, the better. Time between courses is worthwhile too (if you are sailing).
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Old 03-03-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

I took the ASA courses with a local boat club. Taking the course enabled me to use the club boats, but not to reserve, for 45 days. As I recall, the club did not force, or even encourage taking the ASA tests. However, taking the classroom instruction, and the instructor led sailing were requirements in order to use the club boats.

I was glad that I gained certification this way, as it enabled me to use several different size boats (27' Soling, Pearson 26, Albin 28, J-29, Pearson 31, CAL 33, Pearson 34, Pearson 36, and a CAL 39) and sail with several different people. I realized that I did not like racing, and that the minimum size boat that the Admiral would be content with was a CAL 33. I eventually bought an O'day 35, which is VERY similar to the Pearson 34.
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Old 03-03-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

Check out the Power Squadron courses too.
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Old 03-03-2013
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Re: US Sailing vs. ASA courses, vs. just get out there

After a few day sailors and many power boats my Wife and I took ASA 101, 103 and 104 for our 10 wedding anniversary in 2009. We took it on a 37' Tayana Cutter in Abaco Bahamas. It was the best vacation we've had. We returned home and bought a 26' Macgregor to make sure we were ready for the larger sailboats as far as investment went. We had a blast with that Mac but we decided soon it was time to move up even bigger so last year we sold her and now have a beautiful Catalina 320. We took our classes through cruiseabaco.com
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