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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you've paid for sail training in the last 10 - 15 years, which route did you choose - certificated course (like ASA...) or a la carte (non-certificated, custom tailored, multiple sail lessons)?

Some folks prefer the certificated route (one size fits all - but nationally recognized) and others go to schools where the training is personally tailored (well developed course, sail until proficient - but not nationally recognized).

Everyone learns differently, at different rates and in different ways.....what was your experience? And why did you choose the route you took? And were you pleased with the training and the outcome?

Certificated school or personalized, tailored sail training? I'd like to hear your thoughts if you've paid for training in the last 10 - 15 years.

If you prefer to PM plz do.

Cheers and Thanks!
 

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I opted to go through an ASA school. The only charter company I've ever used also has their own non-certified classes that qualify you to charter from them. They're cheaper than the ASA classes, but since I sometime hope to charter elsewhere I decided it was worth the extra money to take ASA classes.

Funnily, this charter company generally makes you take a checkout sail (for a few hundred bucks) if they don't have you on record, unless you've taken their classes. I was lucky in that my ASA teacher is one of their checkout captains and she vouched for me, so I was able to charter from them without the additional checkout.
 

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I took non-accredited classes at a locally known non-profit school. I wanted my initial classes to concentrate on sailing and basic sail trim and liked that this school had a low student:teacher ratio of 2:1. The classes were taught on small (20' LOA, 5' beam) and motorless keel boats and the first time that we left the dock my instructor put the tiller in my hand and had me sail away. That really triggered a great love of sailing.

ASA or US Sailing would make chartering easier, but I have no regrets with the path that I chose. Many people started off at the same school as me and then jumped into the ASA or US Sailing programs at an appropriate point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! Great answers from all of you - just the sort of replies I was hoping to get. Plz keep more insights coming - I'm only curious to hear individual reasons/logic/perspectives and not to debate anyone's reasoning.
Thanks!
 

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Malyea, don't think it has to be a binary choice. You can also have a certifed course that is taylored to your wants/needs.

There are lots of instructors out there that have CYA, RYA, ASA certifications that can custom build a syllabus for you towards a certification, or even allow you to go right to challenge the testing requirements based on your own experience.

You should also consider what your learning style is as well. Do you perform well in a regimented/military style learning environment, or more laissez-faire allowing you to make mistakes on the way at your own pace?

There are lots of threads out there discussion the actual need for an official certification as well.

For my wife and I, based on where we are currently living, we are using an RYA certified instructor. So far we have achieved Day Skipper, and will soon have Coastal Skipper.

In our case it is a compressed amount of practical experience/instruction/testing due to our limited time available.

We will have 2 certificates from the RYA to show off, but very little real world experience compared to others our there that do not have any certifications at all.

What Day Skipper does do is let you charter vessels in the med, to get more experience on our own. Haven't found any places here that will rent to Visa Captains. Some of them will require an ICC as well, which we just have to fill out the paperwork for through the RYA.

Do some self-analysis and actually talk to some places on the phone, and visit them in person. Very hard to get a good sense communicating via email...which we all tend to do these days.

Good luck!
 

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Thanks! Great answers from all of you - just the sort of replies I was hoping to get. Plz keep more insights coming - I'm only curious to hear individual reasons/logic/perspectives and not to debate anyone's reasoning.
Thanks!
If you are reasonably intelligent and can read, you do not need to take any classes. If you like that sort of thing, fine, spend your money that way, but there are plenty of opportunities to learn sailing without taking any classes. Many boat owners are looking for crew. The best courses are the almost free ones: the Coast Guard auxiliary and Power Squadron courses and the Boat/US online courses available. There are many good sailing books and accounts.

The truth is becoming a good sailor depends, in large part, on natural abilities, talents, or gifts: spatial relations abilities, problem solving, planning, mechanical abilities, strength, coordination, and balance. Unfortunately, if you lack these gifts, you will probably never become a good sailor - those are all the posts by folks who can't get in and out of their slips, in and out of the inlet, anchor without dragging into someone else, or sail without hurting themselves or breaking something, or requiring a tow home or a rescue from the Coast Guard. Inevitably, they seem to believe they just need to buy something more to become a good sailor: certification classes, a better boat, more electronics, or a next generation anchor (which erroneous belief is great for the sponsors of sailing sites).

Lack of natural ability or gifts doesn't prevent you from enjoying sailing as a social activity: spending lots of time on boats, owning a boat, belonging to a club, chartering, sitting on other people's boats, sleeping on your boat on weekends in the marina, motorsailing to raft ups, going to boat shows, buying all sorts of gear, learning to tie 100 knots, etc.

Becoming a good sailor means sailing outside your comfort zone in challenging circumstances. For those of us who have been sailing for years, ultimately, that requires solo sailing and learning how to repair maintain our boats ourselves. Books become our best resources. We also learn to recognize the few knowledgeable sources of information on these forums from the mass of garbage, such as those recommending that you spend thousands of dollars for framed sailing certifications you can hang on the wall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
More good thoughts - thanks.

Having sailed since 1973 starting with a basic weekend school at NAS Pensacola, I've managed to miss out on the 'formal sailing schools & certifications' that have developed over the last couple decades. I came up more through the self taught, read and do approach - have owned and or skippered numerous boats 12' to 41' - offshore, coastal, charter, etc....

...but having zero experience with the 'school/formal curriculum' approach I'm particularly interested in hearing why individuals have chosen one path over another.....just curious...

Thanks.
 

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Gone the route of some who previously posted without formal training but gained experience through Power Squadron courses, crewing on boats and volunteering on Pennsylvania's tall ship, Brig. 'Niagria'..but learned mostly from my wife whom was brought up as a child on her father's, (a Naval academy grad), various sail and power boats. With that attained my USCG Masters the hard way passing the much harder USCG examination point in Baltimore..not the current USCG approved Captains Schools....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
..not the current USCG approved Captains Schools....
Thanks aa3y...but maybe just a tweak of a course correction here :)

I'm interested mainly in hearing from folks about their choice of 'entry level' sail training (Basic Keelboat, Coastal Cruising, etc). Curious more about 'I chose a certificated program because.......' or 'I chose Capt Bill's Sailing School because.....'

Thanks everyone - bare your soul and tell us 'why'...
Feel free to PM if this too public ;)
 

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I have never seen the value of an ASA certificate, but then again, I've never felt that the "cookie cutter" sailing school was the best way to teach sailing. As an instructor for a major, national, sailing school, there were a few things in the curriculum that I was extremely impressed with, but the majority of the classes were just too narrow minded, IMO. There are as many ways to do most things in sailing, as there are sailors, and to preach that this is the only, "right and proper way" does not sit well with me.
As a teacher, I much prefer to tailor the lessons to the individuals, though it may be more expensive and time consuming for me. I want my students to be able to draw on their own common sense, as much as what they have been taught, when things don't go as expected.
 
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If you are reasonably intelligent and can read, you do not need to take any classes. If you like that sort of thing, fine, spend your money that way, but there are plenty of opportunities to learn sailing without taking any classes. Many boat owners are looking for crew. The best courses are the almost free ones: the Coast Guard auxiliary and Power Squadron courses and the Boat/US online courses available. There are many good sailing books and accounts.
This assumes a lot. I don't know where the original poster is, or what their goal is.

"Many boat owners are looking for crew" really? So I should just drive five hours to the water and walk around the docks hoping some mom & pop will take me out with them for the weekend? This might work in the boat-filled Chesapeake, but it's hardly a sound plan in flyover country.

My goal was to be able to charter a boat. No charter company is going to say "You read a book, took a free Coast Guard class, and have puttered around in dinghies? Great, you can take our 40' boat out, no problem!"

I think I spent $1500 to take ASA 101, 103, and 104. That's not a lot of money, and I consider it well spent.

I see your point that there are a lot of ways to learn to sail that don't involve handing filthy lucre over to for-profit schools, but for someone who doesn't have a lot of access to boats but wants to be able to rent a big one, they're the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Never intended this thread to be a "I think my way is the best way" flavored discussion...human nature being what it is - oh well.

Consider it curiosity or market research - either way, I continue to be interested in hearing from folks who've paid for sail training in the last 15 years, especially if you can answer these questions...

WHICH route did you choose - either a) certificated course through ASA, etc or b) non-certificated school like "Capt Bob's Sailing School?

WHY did you chose your school?

In hindsight, are you SATISFIED with your choice?

Appreciate you folks taking the time to answer - PM is fine if you prefer.

Cheers!
 

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I sailed for 30 years before ever taking a formal course. About 5 years before I retired, I took the ASA instructor clinics and then taught for about 7 years part time. ( 5 while I was still working, and 2 summers after retirement)

I had great instructors in those clinics and excellent sailors taking the clinics with me. I definitely learned a lot and felt that it was a great fun experience.

As far as the certificate vs a private more tailored course, I would say, that you don't know..what you don't know. So, why not take a " cookie cutter" course, get a certificate and in the process; you will then discover where you need more training. With that knowledge you can seek private lessons or continue advancing via the school format. It really doesn't matter whether or not other people think it's a value to pay for such a course it only matters if you find it of Value.

The biggest mistake I see made by students is that they take a basic course...then don't go sailing to practice/master what they've learned. Then they come back the following year and want the next level course...and they've forgotten everything they learned the previous year.

At the end of the day...you'd be hard pressed to charter bareboat for 2 days for what these schools charge for a basic course with an instructor, So it's not all that expensive imho. So my answer is that you can do both... I'd probably start with a basic course and see what you think. If you do go that route, I'd ask around and find the school and instructor that people have had good experiences with.
 

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My wife and I chose an "official" school over your "Capt. Bob" because the structure was laid out and all official -- we knew what we were getting (or at least, supposed to be getting). I suppose if Capt. Bob was a friend, then we might have chosen a different path. But also, rumor has it that official certs can make chartering simpler and insurance cheaper.

We did some fairly decent research and chose Charleston Sailing School. We had good reasons ... we liked the full-week-on-the-boat option, and we thought it would be nice to spend time in Charleston. Both reasons turned out to be good ones.

And yes, we had a great time and learned lots. I can recommend the Charleston Sailing School without reservation.

Hope this was useful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My wife and I chose an "official" school over your "Capt. Bob" because the structure was laid out and all official -- we knew what we were getting (or at least, supposed to be getting). I suppose if Capt. Bob was a friend, then we might have chosen a different path. But also, rumor has it that official certs can make chartering simpler and insurance cheaper.

We did some fairly decent research and chose Charleston Sailing School. We had good reasons ... we liked the full-week-on-the-boat option, and we thought it would be nice to spend time in Charleston. Both reasons turned out to be good ones.

And yes, we had a great time and learned lots. I can recommend the Charleston Sailing School without reservation.

Hope this was useful!
Thanks for the terrific Reply - right on target, just what I'm looking for. Anyone else with first hand, first person experience in actually choosing a sailing school - 'certificated' or not?

Thanks!
 

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I am very new to sailing, it was and still is daunting to know where to start and what's the path I need to take to reach my specific goals.
In the end I want to own and safely sail my sailboat. Safely and confident, especially that as a woman I like to depend on myself only, just like I drive my car instinctively, I don't think per se what I need to do to get from A to B. I want to sail a boat like that, at one point internationally, blue water sailing, which means I need to "learn" to do it but also gain a lot of experience to reach that direct instinct level.
Last year I did a Basic Keelboat with a US Sailing certified club. But most of these are short courses, they cover the theory and a little practice. What would make a difference for these to stick is to do a lot of practice and also being exposed to different theories.
Now currently I am not in the US for a while, but still want to keep at it, so I am actually starting new sailing courses with another club on Monday, on small boats and I think that will give me a great deal of experience and hopefully to tap more into that instinctual sailing.
To me, anything that would expose me to sailboats, small and big will be an advantage regardless I get a recognized certification or not.
But a recognized certification is important too from what I was told when in discussions with insurance companies for your own boat and when renting a boat as well when the need is there. So the moment I am back in the US I will continue the usual US Sailing courses path to get several certifications for the above mentioned reasons. It seems US Sailing is fairly recognized internationally actually, just like PADI for scuba diving.
In rest, I think the real learning comes with a lot of practice not the course itself, so any way I can get my hands on a boat, small or big, that's good for me. :)
 

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This thread would be a really good disguised commercial for sailing schools in general, and sailing certifications in particular!!!

I am so glad I was able to read this very important information!!!

My dream is to spend lots of money on a sailing school certification so I can spend lots of money on a charter!!!

Now, that is real sailing, not that imaginary, fantasy sailing someone was complaining about!!!

:laugher:laugher:laugher
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I am very new to sailing, it was and still is daunting to know where to start and what's the path I need to take to reach my specific goals.

Last year I did a Basic Keelboat with a US Sailing certified club. But most of these are short courses, they cover the theory and a little practice. What would make a difference for these to stick is to do a lot of practice and also being exposed to different theories.

In rest, I think the real learning comes with a lot of practice not the course itself, so any way I can get my hands on a boat, small or big, that's good for me. :)
Thanks Paikea, another good insight/answer from your personal perspective.

Not intending for this thread to be an opportunity to foist 'opinions' on folks
and I appreciate your view.

Cheers and good luck getting the practice you want - it's well worth it!
 

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I haven't read all the replies, but it seems that maylea has been sailing for a while, and is unsure about the value of certifications. All that the certifications do is prove that you successfully demonstrated particular skills at one point in time. By themselves, they do not make you a "competent" sailor.

ASA provides for a student to "challenge" the ASA standard at any level (101, 103, 104, 105, etc.). What this means is that you can take the written test, do a brief sail with a certified instructor, and pay a nominal fee (substantially less than the course). If you are successful in the sailing and written parts of the challenge, you are awarded the certification.
 
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