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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I signed up a few days ago for the American Sailing Association's 103 "Coastal Cruising" course. I'm excited to continue learning to sail. However I have a slight problem.

The sailing school I'm going to only had a few openings this month so I'll be out on the water this Friday. The sailing book that they sent me to study with only came in yesterday. I'm devoting as much of my free time to reading the ASA sailing manual as I can, but I'm still worried I'm going to run out of time.

Do you have any recommendations for instructional videos I can watch to help speed up the learning process? Also what sort things I should be focousing my priority on learning more? Docking, motoring, or something else?

I'm usually a slow but meticulous learner, but it looks like I'll have to speed things up. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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When I took ASA, I was also given the books. Honestly, I think some people do not spend much time with the book before the class. If you read the book, you will be ahead. Some people dispute the quality of the ASA books. The ASA 104 book (one after 103) is all about getting you ready for charter (engine checks, plumbing and electrical systems, etc.) ASA 101 book actually has more about sailing technique so review that. The DK sailing book is very good quality in my opinion. More compact than the three ASA books. "The complete sailing manual, 4th edition"| Jun 6, 2017
Chapman's piloting is very good. Buy it recent edition, good used condition. Very substantial book. This is more of a general seamanship book but has surprising amount relating to sailing.
As you can see, I prefer books because you can refer back to them as often as you want, repetitively if necessary (a lot to absorb in a single pass), any time and anywhere. Few would dispute that it is on water experience rather than books, videos or lectures that count most.
ASA is about increasing the number of charter eligible clients - in my opinion. I was very happy with my instructors in every respect so it is the quality of the instructors on the day that matters more than anything else. Have lots of good questions. Focus on the things that are important but not heavily emphasized. For example, a lot of weight is given to docking which is appropriate because, like with flying, it is the intersection of moving object with terrain that causes many problems. Actual sailing technique depends on the time available (typically limited) and the wind on the day. That can be a problem. Some people complain about the price of ASA classes. However, how much does it cost to charter a boat for a collection of learners and pay for the insurance and instructor? Would you charter out to a class doing docking practice? (Some schools own their boats and some are also in the business of chartering for owner clients.)

Maryland School of Sailing have some good videos. Check them out on youtube.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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ASA is primarily about getting people to prepare for bareboat chartering. As a former instructor, my experience is that many students do not read the book. The best preparation for ASA 103 is to read the ASA Student Logbook. The logbook lists all of the skills that must be demonstrated to pass the course.

From my instructor presentation, the objectives are:
  • "To gain the skills necessary to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered keelboat of 25 to 35 feet by day in moderate winds and sea conditions.
  • To gain knowledge of cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather forecast interpretation, safety and seamanship.
  • We will do a lot of docking!"
The outline of the course when I teach 103 is:
  • Basic Docking
  • Staying out of trouble
    • Engine Checks
    • US Coast Guard Requirements
    • COLREGS
    • Navigation Lights
    • Sound Signals
  • Sailing
  • Systems
  • Introduction to Navigation
  • Introduction to Weather
  • First Aid
I hope you find this helpful.
 

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If you already took and passed ASA 101, then you know the basics e.g. points of sail, tacking, gybing, rules of road, etc. In your short amount of time, my opinion is you should just read (and re-read, as required) the ASA 103 book and take the practice quizzes. If you do that, videos and other info in your short amount of time will simply get you sidetracked from what I assume is your goal of passing the ASA 103. The videos and other stuff are good once you've gotten your cert and you want to augment as you also get actual sailing experience. Just my .02 cents. (I took a combined 101/103 course from Annapolis Sailing School last October.)
 

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Most of the class time will likely be structured around hands-on practice (i.e. docking, anchoring, etc), which means you may want to spend more reading time on the theory items such as weather, navigation, and ColRegs. Treat those as things to know in advance and use the class time to ask questions and clarify understanding. I'd also make sure you have your knots well-practiced so that you have one less thing to worry about during the class.

The book, if it's anything like the US Sailing counterpart, should contain all you need to know at this level. For example, the US Sailing text at this level builds on the preceding text by going into some of the rules for when you're under power, but it still gives a very abbreviated version of them. (Which actually explains a great many things, now that I think about it.) Going for something like Chapman is good and I too recommend having a copy, but it would likely overload any prep time you have over the coming week.
 

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Hello everyone. I signed up a few days ago for the American Sailing Association's 103 "Coastal Cruising" course. I'm excited to continue learning to sail. However I have a slight problem.

The sailing school I'm going to only had a few openings this month so I'll be out on the water this Friday. The sailing book that they sent me to study with only came in yesterday. I'm devoting as much of my free time to reading the ASA sailing manual as I can, but I'm still worried I'm going to run out of time.

Do you have any recommendations for instructional videos I can watch to help speed up the learning process? Also what sort things I should be focousing my priority on learning more? Docking, motoring, or something else?

I'm usually a slow but meticulous learner, but it looks like I'll have to speed things up. Any advice would be appreciated.
If you have a commute, you might like these audio lessons. They helped me a lot.
 

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Here's what I would recommend you review before the class: your ASA 101 knowledge, shake the winter cobwebs off with a day sail if you can, your knots

I've taken ASA 103, 104, and 108 (docking) at Maryland School of Sailing (great experience, can't recommend it highly enough) and in my experience the books are more useful for passing the written test and reinforcing what you learned after the class than as a 'pre-study' before the class. A few reasons:

  • different instructors emphasize different material, and even have different takes on the right or wrong way to do something than what is in the book
  • the less 'book knowledge' you have before the class the less likely you are to annoy the instructor with opinions he/she considers ill-informed. ;)
  • most people can't absorb sailing instruction material very well without the context of experience
 

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I JUST learned of this website: Start Here

At first blush it LOOKS pretty good.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who replied, your advice really helped me. I passed the ASA 103 course. I was jamming all the information in up to the last second (I actually was reading the book in the parking lot just before I went in). The test at the end was actually pretty easy all things considered.

If I had the chance to do it over again, one thing I would have done differently however would have been to study the ASA 101 manual more. I was surprised just how much time on the water was spent doing the things I already learned in ASA 101, but learning to do them better. I had gotten a bit rusty since I last went sailing a year ago, so I’m really happy how much hands on practice I got.

I still made a bunch of rookie mistakes, but I learned from them quick. I’m glad I took the coastal cruising course before I attempted to go out sailing again. Thanks again everyone for your support.
 

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I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who replied, your advice really helped me. I passed the ASA 103 course. I was jamming all the information in up to the last second (I actually was reading the book in the parking lot just before I went in). The test at the end was actually pretty easy all things considered.

If I had the chance to do it over again, one thing I would have done differently however would have been to study the ASA 101 manual more. I was surprised just how much time on the water was spent doing the things I already learned in ASA 101, but learning to do them better. I had gotten a bit rusty since I last went sailing a year ago, so I’m really happy how much hands on practice I got.
Thanks for the reply. I was about to pester you about sharing your experience.

Now that you have had a refresher, and seen what you forgot over time, I would like to ask your opinion on something;
Many schools offer a combined ASA 101, 103, 104 class over 7 days.
  • Would this have been a class that you would have been interested in taking?
  • Would you feel comfortable crewing for someone that had this one week ASA104 certification for a week-long charter?
 

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Thanks for the reply. I was about to pester you about sharing your experience.

Now that you have had a refresher, and seen what you forgot over time, I would like to ask your opinion on something;
Many schools offer a combined ASA 101, 103, 104 class over 7 days.
  • Would this have been a class that you would have been interested in taking?
  • Would you feel comfortable crewing for someone that had this one week ASA104 certification for a week-long charter?
I'm not the OP, but as someone who has taken all three classes I would say, no and no. First, seven days is way too short. My combined 103-104 class was 8-9 days. But even if this course was 14 days, that person would need a lot of sailing time skippering their own vessel before I'd want to join them on boat as crew.
 

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To TheSailingNovice, Thanks for letting us know. I always wonder what happen to folks that come here for help.

To eherlihy, 2 No's from me as well . 101 to 104 in a week would be over load 95% of folks. I too did a combined 103-104. Wished latter I had not I say you need some sailing on your own between I each level.
Nor would I want to take all three from the same instructor. My keel boat sailing has been so spread out and my wife has only take lessons on a dinghy. We hired have an instructor 2 or 3 time since I passed 104. It's amazing what I learn from each one, that the others never touched on. There are also something some have said that left me scratching my head or wondering how qualified they are. One tried to get the jib out by pull the furling line. I actually did learn some things from him. I guess he had just not sailed on boat with furling jib much or for a while....
 
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Now that you have had a refresher, and seen what you forgot over time, I would like to ask your opinion on something;
Many schools offer a combined ASA 101, 103, 104 class over 7 days.
  • Would this have been a class that you would have been interested in taking?
  • Would you feel comfortable crewing for someone that had this one week ASA104 certification for a week-long charter?
1. I took the 101-104 specifically for the liveaboard and immersive learning experience.
2. Probably not but would depend on the sailing area, float plan, expected conditions, and how well I knew them.

I took the course after having owned my own boat for almost five years and having ~220 sailing days experience. I found the course quite useful filling my DIY gaps. The other student had little experience and was overwhelmed but had the benefit of lots of one on one instruction. I doubt he would be confident skippering that same boat (Dufor 43 Classic) for a week without more experienced crew along.
 

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I took the course after having owned my own boat for almost five years and having ~220 sailing days experience. I found the course quite useful filling my DIY gaps.
I used to recommend that all of my students join a local sailing club to gain experience with other skippers. In the Boston area I suggested the Pelagic Sailing Club.

Last fall, when I brought my boat from RI to FL, I sought crew using the GoSailing app. I was surprised that I had so many applicants, many of whom owned their own boat and were looking for additional experience. The crew that joined me lived aboard with me for 10 days (staying at marinas, anchoring out, cooking, cleaning, and lots of motoring), and shared all expenses as we made our way south.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thanks for the reply. I was about to pester you about sharing your experience.

Now that you have had a refresher, and seen what you forgot over time, I would like to ask your opinion on something;
Many schools offer a combined ASA 101, 103, 104 class over 7 days.
  • Would this have been a class that you would have been interested in taking?
  • Would you feel comfortable crewing for someone that had this one week ASA104 certification for a week-long charter?
  • I don’t think I would have done a combined class. That seems like too much to take in too quickly. As it was I felt somewhat rushed with trying to study for ASA 103 within only a week. I think the ideal timeframe would be to take a new ASA class once every 2 weeks if I wanted to get it done all at once.

    Originally my plan was to try ASA 101 to make sure I liked sailing before committing myself to becoming a sailor. When I took it and found that I loved sailing, I planned on joining that sailing schools sailing club.

    By joining they let you rent their sailboat once each month for a full year. That sounded like the ideal way to learn. Of course Covid-19 hit and I ended up moving away which ruined my plans.
  • To answer your second question I don’t think I would feel comfortable crewing for someone on a week long charter. So far I’ve only learned on older 22 foot trailer sailors. On a larger, more expensive boat I would worry the entire time about breaking something or making an expensive mistake.

    Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from ASA 101/103. Week long cruising on someone else’s boat however seems like too much of a jump from day sailing unless they were really forgiving of novice mistakes.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I was about to pester you about sharing your experience.

Now that you have had a refresher, and seen what you forgot over time, I would like to ask your opinion on something;
Many schools offer a combined ASA 101, 103, 104 class over 7 days.
  • Would this have been a class that you would have been interested in taking?
  • Would you feel comfortable crewing for someone that had this one week ASA104 certification for a week-long charter?
I have not taken the ASA courses...so my opinion is not worth much at all, however id agree with everyone else haha. If someone said they'd taken a 7 day skipper course and that was the bulk of their experience...eh id maaayyyybeee go with, mostly for entertainment value depending on how far from shore we got. Im certainly not paying for anything that breaks or goes wrong though, thats for sure. It would be really difficult for me to not try and step in and take over, as im sure someone with that little experience will not make all the best decisions.

I agree with the opinions though...ONLY 7 days of sailing, assuming worst case scenario is the student starts from zero prior knowledge is simply not enough if they get a 104 after. I get the ASA goal is to pass students, but it seems like for these courses it would be helpful if there was some kind of "sea time" requirement between them. like, go sail any sailboat with anyone and document it for 3 days before getting the 102, go sailing for 10 more days for 103, sail for another 10 days for 104, something like that. Sure you can lie about it, but some quick questioning by the instructor would very quickly be able to show if the student actually went out. Every time you go out sailing you learn or experience something new.
 
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