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View Poll Results: What's the way to go here?
US Sailing Keelboat Course 1 33.33%
Community Boating 1 33.33%
You're way off, try this (post something below please) 1 33.33%
Voters: 3. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-04-2007, 14:12   #1
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Question Need your advice on how to get started...

Well, I've narrowed down some choices and they fall into 2 buckets:

1) US Sailing Keelboat Certification Course
7 3-hour courses, plus a lot of time on the water...leads up to a basic keelboat certification.
Cost: about $700, then add another 200-300 for a membership so I can take a boat out after the course ends

2) Community based boating
They have "ratings" but it is relatively unofficial. No US Sailing certification at completion. Everything is tought by community members, no professional instruction. Definitely start on small boats, they have some keelboats
Cost: $250 per year, includes as many courses and rentals as I want for a year.

I can't decide what's better really, for a total novice. Is it possible to get a certification just by taking the test or are you required to take the class? How important are the certifications?

OR am I going about this all wrong? Look forward to hearing opinions!
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Old 02-04-2007, 14:15   #2
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Also, I've posted here and elsewhere to see if someone experienced what's a newb on his crew, so I've got that angle covered!
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Old 02-04-2007, 16:07   #3
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Personally, I think that the best thing that you can do is to head to your nearest yacht club / marina and put your name down as available crew (novice) willing to sail on anything that floats! (that is waht I did, way back when) The best way to learn to sail is to sail... I am a great believer in making the "doing" process the learning process.
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Old 02-04-2007, 16:16   #4
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Do not get started at all... if you love your wife and want to keep your marriage that is..)

Seriously:
I believe there is no "right" or "wrong" way, so take the following as some general thoughts:

No matter what classes or courses you take, you will only become better through experience, any certificate is first and foremost a paper, not withstanding there are possibly good programs out there. I find the term "keelboat certification course" funny at best, leading to false overinflated belief in one's own ability and therefore hazardous at worst. Sure you must learn basics somewhere but that's all it is in my opinion.

The ASA courses are not necessarily a guarantee for a good program; I went to one school (not ASA licensed at that time: J-World) and received a thorough intro with lots of time on the water in a boat with one instructor and only 2 students; great learning-experience. I continued with the ASA keelboat classes (school shall remain nameless) and it was a total disaster. I guess word of mouth is the way to go.

I can not really speak for community based boating classes, but would argue that what I said above goes twice for them.

What I find a bit concerning is your last paragraph: "Is it possible to get a certification just by taking the test or are you required to take the class? How important are the certifications?"

These certifications do not do anything other than giving you some basics and get you (hopefully a lot) on the water, they are not even recognized internationally (although ASA will tell you differently). And they surely do not make you a prudent mariner. But to forego the only valuable part (time on the water) and "...just take the test..." ???

Therefore: learn the basics, with or without certification, once you can handle yourself on a boat, hang around sailors in Marinas, Forums, Fleets and ask for possibility to crew. Some schools offer their alumni to charter boats for reduced rates. Soon this will take it's own momentum. Good Luck.
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Old 02-04-2007, 16:35   #5
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Thanks very much! Keep it coming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morski Krastavac
What I find a bit concerning is your last paragraph: "Is it possible to get a certification just by taking the test or are you required to take the class? How important are the certifications?
I didn't mean that I would skip the training! It's just that in all my research I've found some places that are "official" US Sailing schools and they offer courses and then the Keelboat Certification at the end of the course where as others (like community boating) are not "official schools and don't offer the exam.

I just meant if I learn at a community type place, would I be eligible to take the exam (hands-on from what I understand), demonstrate my knowledge, and earn the certification without taking a whole extra course, that all!
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Old 02-04-2007, 16:43   #6
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I should also probably clarify I am talkin about the "basic keelboat" certification

US SAILING Certification Standards
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Old 02-04-2007, 16:52   #7
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ASA and US Sailing have about the same course on paper. Meet the instructor first. It matters! You might like one and not another. Small class size is a plus and large classes are maybe a waste.
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:02   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
ASA and US Sailing have about the same course on paper. Meet the instructor first. It matters! You might like one and not another. Small class size is a plus and large classes are maybe a waste.
That's definitely good advice, I'll keep that in mind!
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Old 03-04-2007, 09:34   #9
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You can take the US sailing keelboat test online here. US Sailing Course and Online Sailing School

Like everyone here says, this does not make you a good mariner but it is an awsome learning tool. US sailing's web sight is a great resource second only to cruisers forum. As far as a learning experience goes though the ocean will be your only real classroom
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:23   #10
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Well, just a simple opinion here, but I advocate investing in a small, inexpensive boat just to teach yourself the basics of sailing in a vessel that can't hurt you much, doesn't cost much to store or operate, etc. For me, a Hobie Cat 16 is working well for that. It lets me focus on learning the fundamentals of sailing separate from the issues of handling a large vessel, navigation, and all that other stuff. I'll do that later, when I can afford a cruiser and I'm ready to take the education from the wise ones. If I push the small boat a little too hard and it goes over, well, I'll probably spill my beer, but that's about all. (Did that. Once!) I could never seriously consider taking any serious risks with the $300K boat I hope I have one day. By the time I get that boat, I need to know what I'm doing, so I'll have my learning-by-mistakes now.

Good luck!
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:28   #11
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unbusted67:
Thanks very much, I browsed that page quick and didn't see the exam there, certainly won't make me a good mariner but everything helps!

Gator81:
Thanks very much for the advice! I have been thinking about buying a reallly small boat but I'm not sure I'm even ready for that, I want to get some sails off my belt...plus I really want to learn it right! But it's great advice after I get a few sails under my belt I definitely might take that route.

I can assure I'm not afraid of going in the drink

Thanks again!
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Old 03-04-2007, 12:37   #12
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sorry dude try this

Online Sailing Test
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Old 03-04-2007, 13:06   #13
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Merlin,

Compared to many (most?!!) on here I am way shorter of experiance, especially on the long distance voyaging part..........but I grew up with boats from around 40 years back, whether owned by my father, freinds, or me (or all) during that time.

I used to scoff at folks getting "qualifications" on the basis that their is NOTHING that cannot be learnt "just" by getting first hand experiance........BUT my attitude has changed in recent years as I have come to realise that whilst a formal "qualification" may not mean much / be of much use (unless you are trying to charter).......folk with a fair of experiance do I find tend to over assume the level of knowledge that a Newbie can pick up from scratch and under value the basic knowledge that first hand experiance has given experiance folk over many years.

What I am basically saying is that a formal qualification IS worth doing (although I have no idea what the pro's and con's are of those available in the US or elsewhere are) because of the basic stuff it will teach you and will allow you to build on, even if only later you come to realise why you were taught stuff as you develop your own "sea sense".

Having said all that, I have just re-read your post!!! - I would go for the second option at first (partly cos' it's cheaper!), but also will allow you to learn from different folk and types of boats (not every skipper is good, and not every good skipper is a good teacher!) and then later you will KNOW what YOU want from a formal course / qualification - including possibly things which the "Community based boating" cannot provide for whatever reasons.

In an ideal world I would also suggest getting your own boat (but no harm in waiting until you have some experiance to guide your decisions) their is a BIG difference between being crew (no matter how many sea miles you have) and being Skipper........it's the fundamental matter of YOU having final responsibility and knowing your actions and judgements could be the difference between life and death of boat, crew (family?) and / or skipper.......as well as quite often just making the difference between a nice trip out and a crappy one.

Anyway, whichever route you choose.......Have Fun!
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Old 03-04-2007, 13:08   #14
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I agree with the posts above about doing it, and doing it as much as you can... now let's talk about sailing Oh, how I digress. No seriously, before getting my first boat, I crewed everytime I got a chance and sailed everything from sunfishes to small cats at the local sailing club. The first time I went to the BVI to rent, I just sent my sailing resume along with that of the proposed "tag along" crew and was never asked about certification. Upon arrival, they did drill me on the major boat systems, but that was it. Nothing replaces experience... it's like me trying to help my 17 year old with Calculus... sure I have a college degree, but I haven't used calculus in nearly 30 years...

If you are going the route of certification AND experience, try one of the porgrams that involves a few days ashore on smaller boats to learn the basics, then they set off if a 40+ footer with all of the students and you learn while doing... it's a great experience. Then keep sailing every chance you get. A friend of mine just went to one of these courses with his wife and kids, he had been sailing for 20 some years, then became a land lubber, got remarried, hadn't sailed in 10+ years... he said he even learned from the class and the family had a lot of fun... of course now his Admiral is pressing him to buy a boat, and head toward the sunset...

Mark
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Old 03-04-2007, 13:54   #15
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Well I've already got more information that I was even hoping for, so thanks to everyone for all the responses!

David_Old_Jersey - I'm definitely leaning towards your logic of going the community boating direction and getting my start there. I am already getting myself listed on crew lists as a novice (also reccomended above) so I can get out on the water AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! I also know exactly what you mean about being a Skipper versus Crew, that's why I'm trying my best to learn the right way!

Captain_Mark:
That's excellent information about BVI, that was one of the draws for the certification route was you become a "card-carrying" member so I was told it makes renting a boat much easier, but I don't have a problem getting grilled as my intention is to know my stuff so that's great to know!

Many thanks again, any and all advice is most appreciated!
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