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Old 19-09-2008, 14:44   #1
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ASA Sailing Courses

I decided to take my wife out on the 5 day ASA training course this fall in corpus Christi, Texas. They call it their fast track certification.

I am used to boats, not sailing. BIG boats. At one time I was qualified OOD underway and I'm sure I can recall all the Nav parts and other things not related to sails but my wife is another story. She has absolutely NO experience.

Can anyone recommend any study materials or anything else to help prepare us before we take the course? I don't know how in depth the course is or how much they actually teach in it but what I was thinking so far is to teach my wife all the Naval terminology I can think of and how to use a GPS. Just for starters. Anything else I can teach her now in preparation?
Or anything I can learn on land for sail handling? All I ever knew about sail boats previously was it's a good idea for them to move aside when an aircraft carrier is in a tight channel. I've never handled one myself before.
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Old 19-09-2008, 15:16   #2
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The ASA course books are what they base the tests on. You can get them at any book store they may be able to sell you them as part of the course ahead of time too. They really are all you need for the course but in real life you need a lot more. If you start with the course material it will give you a solid base to go on from there. Are you attempting all 3 at once or just the first 2? The first one is really the hard one especially if you don't have sailing experience. It is and should be an eye opening course. Lots of stuff that just comes together and you start to get it.

To pass you really need to get all the reading done before you leave and spend some time practicing all the material so you at least know it somewhat. Book stuff just does not click in a 5 day course and needs extra effort or you won't get through it all and all the sailing. It's a lot to get through for a a 5 day course We did the 2nd and 3rd all at one time. I passed both but my wife only made one. She did fine on the actual at the wheel items but the written stuff she was not prepared for partly because it was all so new. The 3rd course for bare boat chartering covers all the systems and that for a beginner is a lot to bite off. Lots of technical terms and how things on a boat work. The others cover all the rules of the road and all the rest of the written material about boats and navigation aids and some charting.

You really want all the written stuff done and out of the way up front so you can enjoy the sailing parts. You really want this to be a lot of fun and it really should be.

The other part is if you can get by the courses in a week you still need a fair amount of time on the water to jump off and charter and feel comfortable. Think about how good you need to be to have fun not just good enough to get by.

The really good news is any boat experience is all good stuff you still need to know, but there is more and then more after that. You just need to make sure you both have a fun time. It really is all supposed to be fun and you need to work a little harder to make sure it is. Think about making it more fun! The extra effort is very valuable. You should both come away feeling ready for more yet knowing you need more and are enjoying it all.
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Old 19-09-2008, 19:14   #3
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My wife and I took the ASA 8 day course, made a vacation out of it. It is a lot of material to cram into that time span, but request an instructor that is good with women and novices. Do read the books they tell you to buy before you go. Here's the real tough part...unless you are a real good teacher and have a great relationship (rock solid) with the lady...let the instructor teach her. It's his job, he has a class/teaching plan all worked out, and she will not be upset with you for the way you "spoke to her" in front of the others. You know what you know from past experience, but set it aside and learn "with" her.
It could be a great time for both of you.
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Old 19-09-2008, 21:07   #4
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We just finished an ASA course in Fort Lauderdale. Neither of us had any sailing experience, but we did a lot of reading before we started the classes. The school had us buy three books: Sailing Fundamentals by Gary Jobson, Cruising Fundamentals by Harry Munns, and Multihull Fundamentals by Rick White and Harry Munns. All three are "Official American Sailing Association Guides" but available from most book sellers. They were part of the cost of our classes and were sent to us by the sailing school - water sailing">Blue Water Sailing School in Ft. Lauderdale. Even though we took the class together, we each had to pay for our own books and couldn't just get one set and share them. ASA also gives you an "Official International Log Book." We didn't get ours until a day before we actually started the class, which was unfortunate, as it is very specific about what you need to know to pass each test. Try to get a copy of it as soon as you register for the class so you know what to study before you start. It's a small booklet and you'll keep it to record the classes you take and tests you pass.

In six days, we were instructed and took tests for four classes: Basic Keelboat Sailing 101, Basic Coastal Cruising 103, Bareboat Chartering 104, and Cruising Catamaran 114. There are other classes you can also take, but those four were enough to do in six days. In fact, it was information overload. I would also recommend some flash cards we purchased. They are called SeaCards from Doyle Marine. The box says, "ASA Approved" and that they cover 101 and 103. I got them at West Marine. We were told to learn six knots and were tested on them: Bowline, Clove Hitch, Sheet Bend, Rolling Hitch, Round Turn and Two Half Hitches, and Figure 8. A good book for this is a small one costing $6.00 called Knots and Splices by Steve Judkins and Tim Davison. Be sure to practice those knots as you will definitely use them.

We took possession of our Lagoon 420 in August and a few weeks later started the classes. We chose to take it on our own boat and by ourselves, not with 2-4 other students. That was a good choice, although obviously more expensive than sharing the cost with a bigger class.

For the first two tests, 101 and 103, you won't need to know much about navigation, but you will need to actually plot a course on a chart for the Bareboat Chartering test.

Another excellent book to have before you take the course, and one you'll use later is Reed's Nautical Almanac. There is a new one published each year and for different areas: East Coast, West Coast, and Caribbean. Most of the book is general information which you'll need to know. It also includes Tides and Currents for areas specific to each book. You can get it online at Reed's Nautical Almanac - Tide charts, Ocean currents maps, NOAA weather radio or in marine stores or other book stores. Also, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is an excellent one to read. It's long, but information in the other three books we were required to read were all included in the Annapolis book.

Our class was supposed to be six days of sailing, during which we would anchor out the entire time. Due to working around the hurricanes, we did a three day sail and then came back to Ft. Lauderdale and took three day sails with a week in between. When you register for your class, they'll be able to tell you the way they run it.

Considering the fact that we started the class with a lot of "book knowledge" but no hands on experience, we feel we have good basic skills now and we know what we have to practice and learn. It was well worth the time and money spent.

If you or your wife have any other questions, feel free to PM me.
Jan
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Old 20-09-2008, 05:55   #5
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My wife and I took the ASA courses this year and we had never sailed before (both ex-Navy but this doesn't really count or matter). Do all the reading ahead of time (the ASA books). It may not seem that you understand at the time, but makes a big difference once on the boat. Don't try to "teach" your wife, let the instructor do that. Instead work on your communication between each other while on the boat as that is more important. You will find that certain things work best when each of those them (IE they are your atchstation foir that). Later it becomes easy to find out what she is comfortable with as we naturely avoid those things (I know mine doesn't really like to be on the helm and doesn't like sailing downwind), and you have to be smoothly find ways to overcome this.
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Old 20-09-2008, 07:59   #6
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I sailed for 30 years before I ever took the classes (the first 3) and took them because it was getting harder to charter a bareboat without them. I thought the classes were excellent for beginners and worthwhile even for someone who has been sailing for years. I learned by the seat of my pants and some of the things that I learned that way were maybe not wrong, but could have been done better.

I would concur with a prior post, get the course books and the log books, read them thoroughly, and take the short quizzes at the back of each chapter.
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Old 20-09-2008, 14:28   #7
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Originally Posted by Shu View Post
My wife and I took the ASA 8 day course, made a vacation out of it. It is a lot of material to cram into that time span, but request an instructor that is good with women and novices. Do read the books they tell you to buy before you go. Here's the real tough part...unless you are a real good teacher and have a great relationship (rock solid) with the lady...let the instructor teach her. It's his job, he has a class/teaching plan all worked out, and she will not be upset with you for the way you "spoke to her" in front of the others. You know what you know from past experience, but set it aside and learn "with" her.
It could be a great time for both of you.
Best yet, men should not even be in the same boat with their wife while she is learning. I used to teach sailing and we never let husbands and wives in the same boat while they are learning. The men were the potential problems and not the women.
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Old 20-09-2008, 15:16   #8
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Best yet, men should not even be in the same boat with their wife while she is learning. I used to teach sailing and we never let husbands and wives in the same boat while they are learning. The men were the potential problems and not the women.

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lolololol That was going to be my suggestions
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Old 20-09-2008, 15:40   #9
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We just finished a three-day ASA Basic Keelboat course (101) in Alabama. We spent a week there, with my husband taking lessons on three days and me taking my lessons on the other days. Our school (Lanier Sailing Academy) provided some required reading ahead of time, including Sailing Fundamentals by Gary Jobson. I had no experience going into it, so it was like reading another language, but I'm glad I read it because it gave me a good sense of what we would be doing. I'm happy to report that it now makes perfect sense to me. :-) I learned so much.

There is also an ASA video/DVD available. It looks like it was made in the mid-80s, but watching it was, again, useful as it helped me see what I'd be doing during my lessons.

I recommend re-reading the material after the first day or two of sailing so that it will really stick.

Have fun! I'm sure finishing these courses will bring you and your wife a great sense of accomplishment.
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Old 20-09-2008, 15:45   #10
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One more tip: practice your knots. Knowing the basic ones - especially the bowline and figure eight knots - is useful from the very first day you're on the boat.
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Old 20-09-2008, 19:09   #11
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One more tip: practice your knots. Knowing the basic ones - especially the bowline and figure eight knots - is useful from the very first day you're on the boat.
Good tip - Also the square knot and clove hitch are first course knots. Get yourself a little 3 foot piece of rope and just keep practicing. Learn those 4 and you'll be pretty salty in no time.

My boat partner's wife took her first course sans husband. In fact it was an all ladies course. They had a blast and now do ladies days on our boat alone.
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Old 20-09-2008, 20:12   #12
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Even though my wife and I learned together, and did so successfully, I can see where in some cases it may be better to take seperate classes. No matter how one chooses to do the training you do want to study the books beforehand.
In our class we were also given a list of recommended things to buy for the class. Sadly most of those things were not needed for the class. You may want to talk with your instructor about these items if they recommend them to you. It was things like our own handheld GPS, VHF, sailing shoes, sailing knife (with marlinspike)? Waterproof windbreaker, etc. The only thing we did need from the list was the wind breaker (Duh!) If you bought all these things and keep sailing you will use them but they were not even asked for in the class. Everything needed was on the boat but the jackets and shoes, and nobody in our class bought the stuff.
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Old 22-09-2008, 09:09   #13
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I forgot all about the knots. My wife is going to have fun with those. I have been trying to teach her the knot I came up with for tying the horses for 5 years now and she still messes it up every time. It takes about two seconds to tie and is a fast one to get undone when the horse goes nuts or lays down on the rope.
I better find a different way to help her learn those.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'll go out and get the books as soon as we go to town again and we'll start reading.
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Old 23-09-2008, 10:40   #14
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I'm an ASA certified instructor and I think there is a lot of very good advice above. I'll just emphasize a few things already said:


Learning terminology and some of the theory can be as difficult as the hands on learning, so read through the books ahead of time. They may very well be provided with the course. If they are not, call and ask. If they are not provided, I do recommend the ASA books since they will be consistent with the course structure.

I've been on a couple courses where husband and wife were on the course and learning together and I thought it was a positive thing. You are going to be working together sailing. Learning together will let you know where you stand. A pushy husband can be a problem, but between your awareness of this and the instructor appropriately running the class, I doubt it will be an issue.

If either of you get sea sick, figure that out ahead of time. Personally, I start taking meclazine a few days prior to getting on the boat. That way the initial drowsy affects have worn off and I have the med built up in my system.

Also, when on the boat, don't be timid - step up and get the expereince you need. It's the instructors job to work with you on things you may not be comfortable with.
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Old 23-09-2008, 14:27   #15
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Also, when on the boat, don't be timid - step up and get the expereince you need. It's the instructors job to work with you on things you may not be comfortable with.[/quote]

Sage advice indeed.
Do not be shy about jumping in and trying things. It is a beginning course, everyone already knows you are there to learn the basics. They know you will make mistakes so don't be shy. Make your mastakes with pride, it only proves you are definately trying to learn, and learn you will.
I spent time on commercial fishing boats in my younger days and while the wife and I were in the ASA school I made several mistkes. Some because of the time past since I lived on the sea, and some because things had changed (mainly technology). I don't outdate ropes but I do outdate gps course setters.
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