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08-06-2013 05:04 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

In my case I did a bit of both, doing the ASA 101, 103, 104 and 105 courses over a couple of years while sailing a 16ft dinghy on lakes and the bay. The later, more advanced courses will mean a lot more if you have been doing some sailing in between.

What I don't like the idea of is these packages where you do, say, 101 and 103 in a week. I prefer the idea of spacing them out a bit, and each one should take a week (or two weekends). You need to maximise time on the water, not minimise it.

I still look back on those courses as some of the best times I've had. Rather than a chore, they made pretty good vacations - taking a week off work and sailing beats working, any day.
08-06-2013 04:57 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

When I wanted to start sailing there were no classes on the small inland lake in Indiana where we had a cottage. I found a cheap sailing dingy and bought a book on sailing. read the book and practiced every chance I got. When my kids were small we bought a sunfish and sailed the heck out of it. When the wind was blowing whitecaps we were out there tipping it over and having the time of our lives.
Now I live in NC and sail the Cape Fear region. I have sailed with a lot of different people on a lot of different sailboats. Every time I go out I learn something new, even when single-handling my own boat. Nothing beats experience, especially when backed up with knowledge.

I agree with a previous poster, buy a small boat and learn your sailing skills on the lake and your seamanship manners on saltwater.
08-06-2013 03:18 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

Another vote for doing both.

Find a cheap intro sailing course, hopefully one where they will let you rent boats out to practice afterward. You don't necessarily need ASA 101-103 certification ($1200) unless you want to charter - when I started out I found a two-day Red Cross course for about $350 that covered all the same material.

In my opinion, a course is a much better introduction to sailing than learning on your own. Trial and error on the water is not fun. The first day the wind picks up to 20 knots and you didn't reef your sails before leaving the dock and your boat heels so hard the rails hit the water you'll give yourself a heart attack that might cause you to never go out again.

Use their boats to practice for a season while you see how much you like sailing. This will also buy you time to save up for boat, slip, and maintenance budget.

You don't mention who will be sailing with you, but if you are planning to single-hand, lessons will allow you to see how hard that is going to be. If you have someone to sail with in mind, have them take the course with you so you can develop confidence together as a crew.
08-03-2013 02:18 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

I've had my first boat a little over a year now. My wife and I just took the ASA 101/103 courses a few weeks ago, we both learned so much more in the classes than we learned by trying to teach ourselves. The added plus was that my wife is no longer scared about sailing! Going with a trained and certified instructor gave my wife the ability to relax and enjoy the experience. We did countless MOB drills, and my wife can now confidently sail the boat if something were to happen to me. I vote for do both!
08-02-2013 08:01 PM
The Smokester
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

I would suggest you to take a course...Say ASA 101. Why? Because it teaches you some rudiments of sailing and docking, etc.

How do you act like you know what you are doing when you have others less experienced than you aboard? What are some of the gotchas to look out for so that you don't end up with your sheets tangled close onto a lee shore or some other common foolishness.

A good course and instructor can really accelerate you learning experience.

Much of the above and more you will learn by experience. But some book-learnin' stuff you just need to know.

A surprising number of skippers don't know the "rules of the road (rode?)". When do you have the right-of-way (are the stand-on vessel) and when should you give way (are the give-way vessel) and what are your obligations as such? What do the various lights, flags, horn signals and balls all mean? The various buoys? As far as I can make out a large number of weekend boat operators here on San Francisco Bay haven't had any formal training and therefore don't have a clue.
08-02-2013 06:21 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?


6 years ago ago we bought a boat, took a sailing and seamanship course and hit the ocean. As my wife puts it, I have an above average ability to solve problems and fix things. (From wy wife of all people) so as clueless as we were, we weren't complete idiots. That said, that was about 1500 miles ago. You can certainly just start sailing. It isn't rockrt science, making it go. Plus you'll learn more from your screw ups anyway. But, I wish I had taken a class on sail trim. Real instruction would be nice when things aren, t perfect.

07-28-2013 08:37 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
So I'm new to sailing and was wondering from other people who have experienced these situations on what to do. I live in utah so lake sailing is my only way to go really. Question is to learn the proper skills I need to one day charter in the caribbean should I head down to cali and take a ASA course which runs around 1200 $ or buy my own small boat, 25ft or so, and teach/ have local yatch club people teach me at the lake
Buying your own boat is better and you can learn at your own pace. There are so many videos and books out there. That's what I have been doing. I am going to get my own boat next year. Good luck.
07-28-2013 02:20 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

First I would suggest doing research on Youtube, forums and getting some books so that you at least understand the vocabulary of sailing, parts of the boat, parts of the sails, etc. The concepts of sailing aren't all that complex to learn but the lingo can trip up beginners. See if anybody teaches a power squadron course in the area and take it. Maybe try community colleges too. Next I would suggest finding a marina or yacht club to hang out in on a Friday night or Saturday so that you can meet some sailboat owners. Tell them up front that you want to learn to sail and that you will provide sandwiches and appropriate refreshments (I see you are in Utah). Get some time on the water on a variety of boats. Once you get "in" with the right group of people you should be able to spend time on OPBs (other peoples boats) and learn how to sail along with docking and other tasks. A Craigslist add may not be a bad option to meet up with boat owners.

If you end up getting a decent grasp of sailing then whether you have a formal training certification or not should not preclude you from being able to charter a boat in the Caribbean. It would be money well spent to pay for a captain for 3-5 days if you do make it down here. A captain should be able to teach you the intricacies of the vessel you are on and take all the pressure off while you are learning what you need to know. If you aren't comfortable to be turned loose by the fourth day, make arrangements for the captain to stay for your entire charter.

Considering your location, I probably wouldn't suggest buying a sailboat until you were more experienced and understanding more about which sailboat serves your purpose the best.
07-28-2013 01:06 PM
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

We went the buy a boat route and don't regret. Have owned and sailed a 28' now for 4 months. but one thing we did was ride with others a few times before buying. Had to pay a little bit but at least we could test the waters for lots less than course costs. I feel we have most of the basics down with still much to learn. But by buying and getting in a marina we have several newfriends who are experienced hands and could probably be talked into sharing their knowledge/experience. I say buy with help and go slow on the learning curve.
07-28-2013 09:05 AM
Sal Paradise
Re: asa school vs buying own 20-30ft and teach self?

Originally Posted by JIvories View Post
I was in a similar position, thinking of buying a boat and getting people to go out with me to learn, and through books, etc. I ended up taking ASA 103 (I had to to a 101 test first to 'place' into it). It was expensive, maybe around 700, but money well spent. What I learned about boat safety, navigating, and docking would have been hard to get elsewhere. We didn't focus on sailing that much, which is where having a boat and practicing, with friends prefereably, comes in. But I'm really glad I took that course. Between that and getting experience on my boat, I think I'll be really ready to charter somewhere, which sounds fantastic.
Where were you able to test up to 103?? This is what I have been looking to do. Thanks for any info you can provide.

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