You can look at the US Sail program or the American Sail Association program. They both are about the same content and internationally regognized.
I know a little about the ASA
courses. The ASA
program would start with 2 keel
that cover sailing in general. Then the 3rd course would be "bare boat chartering". It covers a few sailing items but mostly cruising boat marine
systems. The idea is you have to know how to operate everything and what everything does and practices you have to understand to operate a boat other than just sailing. Then you would add a catamaran certification
on top of all that. You still need navigation
or I don't know how you'll get any place.
Most sailing schools start with keel
boat sailing then add cats as an adendum. It's eaier to learn the principles that way. Cats are different than keel boat, but at a beginner level small keel boats are easier to learn with. That's why they structure the course that way.
It is in theory possible to take the first 3 ASA courses in a two week liveaboard
situation, but it is really hard to actually learn everything that fast unless you had a lot of prior experience. You need a lot of sailing time to perfect the basic things you have to test on in terms of the exam and the practical sailing exam where you single
hand the boat with the instructor aboard. This would all be in reasonable sea conditions.
Ok so now you have say all 4 certificates from ASA and you contact a charter company. They may say that they would prefer you to have more experience, or they may say you have to take a skipper
from them and prove yourself for a day or so. or they may take your money
and cut you loose. Just beacuse you find someone to give you a boat (for a lot of money) does not mean you can handle it.
If you want to try a sailing course vacation
I think they work well and if done as a liveaboad not so expensive. My wife and I did our last ASA course as a one week liveaboard
in San Diego
and the course was cheaper than a hotel
room downtown for a week. It was nice to really live on a boat the whole time too.
The bottom line is not only do you need the book learning
(you can start that now) you need the practical learning from doing. You also need the experience of varied sea conditions and the confidence to take care of things. The hardest of all is you need to be able to handle the boat and manage the crew (aka the family). It's no fun on the water
with most of the crew scared out of their minds because they don't know anything and are darn sure you don't either. You can NOT sail with a crew that isn't confident in their own skills as well as the skills of evryone else. To do so will be a disater for everyone and it will be all your fault! No captain
sleeps when the Admiral is pissed off!
It is after all about having fun. To sail throughout the Carribean and have fun takes skill. Doing it terrified the whole time - very easy. To handle the South Pacific takes even more skill. To do all this you really should complete the entire ASA course series that would add two navigation classes
and a sea passage
practical. If it were you and your family
then your wife should also complete most if not all of it of it too. You need a skilled crew as much as they need the training.
There some damn fools out there sailing every day doing difficult things with little training. What kind of trainning do you think it takes to drag your whole family
along? Second, part of the question and have everyone have fun?
if you think the training is expensive then wait until you have to own a boat. It's not a cheap
hobby by any means. You really need a couple hundred thousand to do this.