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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys I have a question regarding sailing lessons. I did a quick search but didn't find what I was looking for. A few years ago my fiance and I joined one of the local sailing centers and got a few hours worth of lessons in the beginning but we ended up dropping the membership because we didn't really like the area we could use the boats in. Lately I've been looking into buying a boat but I want to get more proficient before I decide what to do since my sailing skills are minimal and quite rusty at best. My question is, are there any benefits to taking the ASA courses besides being able to say you completed 101, 103, etc.? I've been looking around in my area and found a company that does lessons for a fraction of the price of the ASA courses. I've also been looking in to yacht clubs in the area and found a local one that does Thursday night races and welcomes walk ons so I'm hoping to make it out there this week. Thanks for the help!
 

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One advantage of the ASA courses is that it forces the instructors to cover a syllabus. At the same time their aims are broad and as I remember it aimed at inboard keelboat of a certain size.

For us I feel it did give a broad scope overview of the knowledge that was going to be needed. Having said that I don't think we got any great depth in the sailing department itself (setting sails, getting a feel for the helm, balance, power) and after the course mostly relied on what I already knew at the time. Much of this though is going to be down to your instructor on the day.

You could possibly approach things by doing the races, the cheapo instruction (preferably in a small boat) and perhaps see if you can get some diesel maintenance instruction on the side.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. So basically it sounds like the big difference is the material and how it is covered. I was mostly just wondering if having the ASA courses would have any benefits with regards to insurance or anything like that.
 

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How well you learn will be best correlated with how good your instructor is, regardless of affiliation, and how well you chemic with them. People learn best from different instructor styles, so this can be individual.

I think the odds are higher than an accredited instructor, such as ASA, will be good. However, there are bad ones everywhere. References are key.

One advantage of the ASA is for when you may want to bareboat charter. However, its more likely to help when your resume is light. Once you gain any reasonable experience, it isn't necessary.

If you have the time and resources, I highly recommend one of the week long liveaboard courses, such as Offshore Sailing School. Its amazing how much is taught in one intensive week.

Welcome aboard!!
 
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How well you learn will be best correlated with how good your instructor is, regardless of affiliation, ...

If you have the time and resources, I highly recommend one of the week long liveaboard courses, such as Offshore Sailing School. Its amazing how much is taught in one intensive week.

Welcome aboard!!
Hear, hear. Offshore has an excellent 5 day program at South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island which is a great vacation spot. See (click on) Offshore Sailing Captiva
 

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I took ASA 101 & 103 having never prior being on a sailboat, it taught me everything I know. It also got me 50% off rentals on my home lake. Since the instructor was at that lake he signed my log book after every time I had a rental out and that was critical when I chartered a boat on SoCal last fall.

I also got a discount from BoatUS when I finally bought my own boat and needed insurance.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One advantage of the ASA is for when you may want to bareboat charter. However, its more likely to help when your resume is light. Once you gain any reasonable experience, it isn't necessary.
That's good to know, I remember seeing something about bareboat chartering and ASA in another thread and kinda got the impression it was required. I dunno if chartering is something I would want to do but it's good to know.

I remember seeing that offshore sailing course while I was researching lessons a few weeks ago. I think that would be a lot of fun but I can only imagine what something like that costs...
 

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That's good to know, I remember seeing something about bareboat chartering and ASA in another thread and kinda got the impression it was required. I dunno if chartering is something I would want to do but it's good to know.

I remember seeing that offshore sailing course while I was researching lessons a few weeks ago. I think that would be a lot of fun but I can only imagine what something like that costs...
In MOST instances, ASA certification is not required to charter a bareboat. Most charter companies will accept a sailing resume in lieu of ASA certification, and, regardless of certification status, will also check your sailing skills out during an introductory sail on the boat that you wish to charter. If you don't pass, you don't get the boat.

That said; HAVING the ASA certification means that you have successfully demonstrated that you can do the specific things that are required for that level of certification. Briefly; 101 means that you know sailing terminology, how to sail and pick up a MOB. 103 means that you know how to dock, and how to anchor. 104 means that you know what to do when things go wrong, how to reef, how to navigate, and provision. The preceding list touches only the highlights, there is a lot more.

You definitely can get the skills without lessons, but it will probably take a lot more time. ASA allows for you to "challenge" the standard, which means demonstrate your knowledge, and gain the certification without taking the class, and it costs less than taking the class. Having ASA certification means that the check out should be quick, painless, and not embarrassing.

Another benefit to taking sailing lessons is that it enables you to sail with different people. Most people find that learning from other's mistakes is very effective (as you will see from the armchair captaining that goes on here and in other forums). You can also meet sailing partners (crew/captain) without making the commitment of joining a club...

If you think that the cost of lessons is scary... wait till you buy, or buy a share of, a boat.:eek:
 
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I've also been looking in to yacht clubs in the area and found a local one that does Thursday night races and welcomes walk ons so I'm hoping to make it out there this week.
There are other alternatives like learning to sail on other people's boats. It was how I learned. I did have a mate who was an RYA instructor help me prep for the Yachtmaster. However that was not for learning to sail, it was for learning what the RYA's standards are.

I have bareboated in the Med. and in NZ and was never asked to see any of my certifications nor were they asked for by any companies I have used for insuring a boat. I would, however, keep a signed log of your sea miles to document your experience just in case.
 

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All that was said above and I would add that you shouldn't look at any sailing course as the beginning and end of learning how to sail. Courses (along with sailing with experienced sailors) are a foundation onto which you build and it gives you the basics necessary to have the ability to take all the information you should continue to gather from many different sources over your sailing lifetime and sort out what's relevant to you now, what you may need later depending on your goals, and what may or may not get you hurt.

Also, for my first on-water lesson, I was more focused on what the instructor was trying to teach me and less on where we were sailing as I knew that wasn't going to be my primary cruising grounds.
 

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..... I think that would be a lot of fun but I can only imagine what something like that costs...
No need to imagine, give them a call. Rates are different by location and time of year. If you can drive to the FL location, you save a ton. Flying to the BVIs is a great combo vacation/course. However, this is a fully intense course. You'll get evenings, after dinner, to yourself. But that's about it. No dropping the hook to snorkel. I don't believe anyone has every thought it wasn't worth every penny.
 

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Having ASA certification means that the check out should be quick, painless, and not embarrassing.
One charter company I heard about did their checkout in a more laid back manor.

They give the prospective charterer the keys and the slip number and tell them to check out the boat and come back to the office for the paperwork and to let them know what is missing.

So you come back to the office and say the boat is fine so then they tell you about the price of the 1/2 or full day check out captain. You of course say you don't need a captain.

They then pull out the winch handles from under the desk and say they beg to differ.

That would be embarrassing, and pretty hard to argue with.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the replys, lots of good info. I'm not trying to avoid lessons, just trying to weigh all my options to figure out what is best. I liked the idea of crewing at the yacht club because no membership or experience is required and it would give me a chance to get a feel for sailing as well as meeting people and getting to see and learn about a variety of boats. I like the idea of the offshore sailing school but that might be hard to work out with my work schedule. I don't necessarily find the cost scary or prohibitive, I'm just hesitant to sink that much money into something right off the bat. I actually live in Tampa so I'm not far from Sanibel. I have owned power boats in the past so the inherent expenses are something I am familiar with and expecting.
 

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Definitely do a little crewing to see if you have a real interest. If you do, use a vacation to take the week long course, when you're ready. There is really no other good way to know if you will like cruising aboard. A lesson here or there for a couple of hours is not the same as sailing all day, making all your meals and sleeping aboard. Total immersion, just like cruising.

Whatever you do, have fun doing it!!
 

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I am a recent ASA 101 graduate, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

When I first decided to take the plunge, I knew I was doing so alone. I'm somewhat new to the area. Taking the three day course was fantastic. I actually enjoyed learning with others on board because not only did I benefit from their mistakes, but I also performed every job on the boat. During instruction, each student is rotated to the helm, allowing you to be in every position, and see every perspective of the boat. I do not think I would have benefited as much had I taken private lessons.

Immediately after the course, I joined the sailing club for one year. I have spent as much time as possible on the club boats, gaining experience, comfort and confidence. But what's best about it? Sailing with others that are also new or less experienced. It truly is a great way to build new connections with like minded people.

Now, I would not suggest you abandon your desire to crew with the yacht club. That is something I would love to do, but don't really know how to in my area.

Which ever path you choose to take, it will be fun, so just stick with it.
 

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Now, I would not suggest you abandon your desire to crew with the yacht club. That is something I would love to do, but don't really know how to in my area.
I just hopped on the old google machine and started searching yacht clubs in my area. Most of them have a lot of information and event calendars on their websites. I finally found one that does weekly races and said they were open to the public for walk ons. If that fails a phone call or visit couldn't hurt. I've seen it mentioned elsewhere that a lot of time the clubs will have a list posted somewhere on site for crew wanted.

Best of luck.
 

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If that fails a phone call or visit couldn't hurt. I've seen it mentioned elsewhere that a lot of time the clubs will have a list posted somewhere on site for crew wanted.
I've seen some their sites around here with crew listings, but they're locked to club members as far as I can tell. Though I haven't looked at all of them. I'll dig a little deeper.
 

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why would anyone use you for crew, you have no idea about anything, no idea on terminology, etc.

Take the 101, it's a few hundred dollars, at least someone can then feel like you have some interest in sailing.... IMHO
 
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