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Old 24-01-2010, 10:26   #31
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Hello everyone!

I would just like to chime in and update you in regards to our experience with the Offshore Sailing School at Captiva Island Florida.

To sum it up: WOW!

We participated in the "Fast Track to Cruising" course. Which is the Steven Colgate variation of the US Sailing curriculum with a lot of added material. It is comprised of a 2 day Basic Keelboat course aboard the Colgate 26. Then the US Sailing Basic Cruising and Bareboat Cruising curriculum that takes place aboard a 45' Monohaul Hunter for 5 days. The last night of the course challenges the crew to put all of the skills learned to use by sailing out, anchoring and returning the next morning without an instructor onboard.

My significant other had never stepped foot aboard a Sailboat except during a Boatshow or two. She was very nervous about her motion sickness and her ability to absorb so much material in the span of 7 days. My previous mention of “separation” during the initial "Learn to Sail" course was the idea that with so much to take in; being shadowed by your partner would be too distracting. I grew up on sailboats but still opted to take the course with her as a sign of support and the need to refresh my own understanding of sailing dynamics and theory. As we were the only ones participating in the "Basic Keelboat" portion of the course we both sailed together with our Instructor Mike.

Her first day went well but turned ugly as the wind increased to 15kts. Her lunch went overboard and she was overcome with sea sickness. Our instructor was extremely professional, concerned and sensitive to what she was going through and we headed in early to drop her off and let her recuperate. I spent the second portion of that day trying very hard to soak up as much instruction as possible. That evening was gloomy and the prospect of my partner finishing the course was up in the air. This is where your ability to be patient, supportive and caring with your partner can change the tide of events with courses such as these. After a nice dinner a lot of supportive words from both myself and our OSS instructor the next morning she was geared up and ready to try again.

We completed the first course just fine and on our third day my partner had progressed from a frightened passenger to an able and eager sailor ready for more.

The transition from the Colgate 26 to a 45' Bluewater Hunter was quite dramatic. We also had 2 new members for crew and a new instructor that was the best of the best. During the next 5 days all of us were guided through every single aspect of the cruising way of life, sailing theory, navigation, and piloting skills needed to begin our own respective goals in terms of cruising.

We spent much of the course navigating the ICW, listening to the very sound advice and experiences of our instructor who has sailed all over the world and all of us becoming friends. We were also gifted with absolute beauty that the ICW provides in terms of anchorages, wildlife and marinas. All the while sharing stories, working as a team and learning a tremendous amount information about sailing, boat systems and the do's and dont's of cruising.

I passed all 3 US Sailing exams and my partner passed the first 2, opting out of the last. Seeing her at the helm piloting us out of a dense fog, her eye glancing back and forth at the sounder and plotter sealed the deal for me. It was an amazing transformation and would not be possible without the Offshore Sailing School's remarkable instruction and standard of excellence they require of staff and instructors. We will both be thinking of our wonderful instructor Mike this March when we head out for our first Moorings Charter together as a sailing couple and as Graduates of the Offshore Sailing school.

Matt and Jenny

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Old 24-01-2010, 12:33   #32
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How wonderful! So glad you and your SO enjoyed the class so much and had a successful experience. Good on ya!
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Old 31-01-2010, 18:45   #33
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Okay, since This School came up in This Thread, I was just talking with 3 of Colgate's instructors (one was Mrs. Colgate herself), at Strictly Sail in Chicago yesterday. And I ran head-on into a recurring problem:

ASA versus US Sail

There is no love lost between the two, and they're quite open about it. If anything, the US Sail seem to be more vehement about it. Still, it goes both ways. I've hit it before, I have ASA 101, 103, 104, and 105. US Sail does not want to recognize their training, and even places that chartered and also taught US Sail did not want to acknowledge ASA courses as legitimate, IE, I would have been better off telling them I learned on my own.

So yesterday, I am talking to the reps of the Colgate school, and this comes up. Now, the lead training rep was there, and said I could head down a day early and challenge test out of the US Sail equivalents so that I could go on for their passage making and blue water courses. But, they would not simply accept the ASA courses as sufficient. Added expense, added time, added hassle. When I initially looked into courses, I ran into the same thing from ASA, and since ASA is more available in this area, that's what I went with.

I've spoken with local Coast Guard officers, who refuse to endorse one over the other, and consider both vastly superior to none.

So, what gives?

Outside of the competition, is there truly a reason to consider one school or the other significantly better than the other? As an avid learner, wanting to make the best of training as part of vacations when I can get the chance, I feel caught in their unh-uh match, and just don't appreciate the extra hassel it causes. Is there a clear-cut reason why one is a better or worse choice than the other?
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Old 31-01-2010, 18:56   #34
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Outside of the competition, is there truly a reason to consider one school or the other significantly better than the other? As an avid learner, wanting to make the best of training as part of vacations when I can get the chance, I feel caught in their unh-uh match, and just don't appreciate the extra hassel it causes. Is there a clear-cut reason why one is a better or worse choice than the other?
I don't want to generalize because I have only been to one ASA school and one US Sailing school (Offshore/Colgate), but our experience was that the US Sailing class was more thorough, detailed, and professional. We learned more in our one Basic Keelboat class through Offshore than in ASA 101/103/104/114 combined. This may just be a reflection of how good Offshore is vs. the particular ASA school we attended, though. YMMV!

We also found that Offshore placed a lot more emphasis on sail trim than ASA did. They are a bit more racing oriented. Since we are interested in cruising, not racing, we switched over to ASA, but later regretted it and wished we'd stuck with the full curriculum at Offshore (US Sailing).
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Old 31-01-2010, 19:00   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassman1956 View Post
Okay, since This School came up in This Thread, I was just talking with 3 of Colgate's instructors (one was Mrs. Colgate herself), at Strictly Sail in Chicago yesterday. And I ran head-on into a recurring problem:

ASA versus US Sail

There is no love lost between the two, and they're quite open about it. If anything, the US Sail seem to be more vehement about it. Still, it goes both ways. I've hit it before, I have ASA 101, 103, 104, and 105. US Sail does not want to recognize their training, and even places that chartered and also taught US Sail did not want to acknowledge ASA courses as legitimate, IE, I would have been better off telling them I learned on my own.

So yesterday, I am talking to the reps of the Colgate school, and this comes up. Now, the lead training rep was there, and said I could head down a day early and challenge test out of the US Sail equivalents so that I could go on for their passage making and blue water courses. But, they would not simply accept the ASA courses as sufficient. Added expense, added time, added hassle. When I initially looked into courses, I ran into the same thing from ASA, and since ASA is more available in this area, that's what I went with.

I've spoken with local Coast Guard officers, who refuse to endorse one over the other, and consider both vastly superior to none.

So, what gives?

Outside of the competition, is there truly a reason to consider one school or the other significantly better than the other? As an avid learner, wanting to make the best of training as part of vacations when I can get the chance, I feel caught in their unh-uh match, and just don't appreciate the extra hassel it causes. Is there a clear-cut reason why one is a better or worse choice than the other?
It's funny that is exactly the scenario I was in when researching what courses to take. I live in Chicago as well and was planning on taking courses originally with the Sailtime ASA office at Burns Harbor. They were very nice people, but the instructor I spoke with just didn't seem really into "Teaching". When comparing it seemed a bit pricey considering that you are on Lake Michigan.

After some calls it was my understanding that the ASA did not have specific requirements deemed nessasary to become an Instructor. Just a written test. (I could be wrong on this one, but I was told that by several people)

The OSS has very demanding requirements in terms of experience and requires all staff to undergo educational training when they become instructors. That was a major plus for me as I had someone that was very new to sailing.

Honestly, many of these schools seem to operate just to provide enough certification to allow you to bareboat charter. Well, that seemed to be the reasoning for most people attending the school (Including us) when we where there. They wanted to be able to present the Moorings or other charter companies with credentials to allow them to Bareboat. I did not meet any other students there that had plans other than "Charting before the season ends."

All of these schools have their individual pros and cons. The OSS is pricey, but you're sailing on the Gulf of Mexico for a week and stationed on a nice resort, so it was in a sense a mini-vacation, go figure.

I wish I had more information about the ASA, I know of a few people that did their ASA courses and were happy with them. I did however hear similar complaints regarding all the tiers of courses they provide that require... more money. US Sailing is similar in that regard.
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Old 03-02-2010, 19:59   #36
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So, is there nothing concrete?
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Old 04-02-2010, 05:31   #37
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So, is there nothing concrete?
Have you tried googling ASA vs. US Sailing? Maybe you'll get more information that way. It's probably a lot like asking "Ford vs. Chevrolet" or "Honda vs. Toyota (oops)". A lot of religious believers on either side, but when it comes right down to it, either one will get you down the interstate. Well, Toyota might keep you going down the interstate if the gas pedal gets stuck, but I think you get my drift.

Good luck in your quest.
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Old 05-02-2010, 19:55   #38
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I have.

I suppose if neither stands out towards further certs like YMA or 6-pack licenses, it doesn't really matter more than what you believe you are getting for your money. Still, it would be nice to see something more that amounted to a comparison between the two, comparing thoroughness, training of instructors, professionalism, etc. Or knowing if there was any further certification that would honor training from one and not the other.

I just want to learn more about what I enjoy. And I understand that sometimes I may run into difficulties between the two. But let me say, when one treats you nicely but holds the programs of the other with nearly vehement hatred, and it's the other that you've got, it really does not help sell their package or product to me.

If you can show me that you can take me farther, well, GREAT, let's talk!

But if you can only do that by telling me what I've already done ain't squat,
why should I be interested?
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Old 05-02-2010, 20:57   #39
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I did the research back when I took courses and there wasnt a huge difference between them. Some said US Sailling was a bit more race oriented and ASA a bit more cruising oriented but the skills were pretty much the same.

What it really comes down to is the instructor you get. I went to three schools, Maryland School of Sailing, Baysail and Annapolis Sailing School. All offered ASA courses and I learned an incredible amount from all of them. Interestingly, the Annapolis school offers BOTH ASA and US Sailing and asked me which cert I wanted. Apparently I would have been on the same boat with the same instructor either way. I think you can find good schools and crappy schools on both sides. I had an excellent time with my ASA instructors. I am sure I would have had a great time if I had gone with US Sailing (esp since my third course could have been for a cert from either org.) if I had instructors who were as good.

My advice? Go with whichever has the best reputation in your area. Or just go with whichever will get you on the water the fastest. The sooner you go out the sooner you will know how to sail.
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Old 14-03-2010, 13:17   #40
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Next week we begin our next set of lessons. The first four days are devoted to navagation then we begin the passage making portion. We'll post the results when we return.

Maje
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Old 23-03-2010, 17:54   #41
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:24   #42
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Tom and I just completed our Costal Navigation and Passage Making course through Off Shore (Colgate) sailing school. It was, without a doubt, a very challenging course. The first four days was spent in the class room learning the fine science of navigation. The last six days were on board. We had five students and two instructors. Each of us students rotated through the positions (ie, skipper, navigator, galley watch, engineer and safety officer.) We made two overnight sails. We sailed from Ft. Meyers Beach to the Dry Tortulas from there to Key West then back up the coast to Ft Meyers Beach. It was a lot of work but well worth it. The tests were the US Sailing Costal Navagation and Costal Passage Making.

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Old 05-04-2010, 20:10   #43
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Congrats!

Tom and Maje - so glad you finished and enjoyed your courses! It was a great learning and life experience for my wife Karen and me (we did it in Antigua about 15 months ago), and it all came with a great feeling of accomplishment.

I recently complete several online clinics at NauticEd.org and it was a great refresher for the navigation and passagemaking materials.

http://www.nauticed.org

On to our next charter in 3 weeks in the BVIs...yea!
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Old 05-04-2010, 20:11   #44
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...P.S. - also CONGRATS to Matt & Jenny!
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Old 25-10-2011, 10:57   #45
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Re: Colgate Sailing School

We kind of plan to do the Blue Water Class out of St. Thomas next March as we wanted a class where we will be on the boat all the time. Wanted to spend as much time as possible sailing, not half day on the boat and half day on an island. Have done the island thing several times. Also want to see what it is like to be on the boat for more than just an afternoon, as plan to sell everything and live aboard in a couple of years.
My question is --does this mean that the companies that rent the boat for a week will not let you sail alone if you only have ASA. Does having one or the other certification make it more difficult to rent the boats?
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