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Old 30-06-2009, 14:28   #1
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ASA Certs. for a Beginner - Opinions ?

Hello all.
I'm new to the forum and sailing in general. My wife and I have little knowledge of sailing (save for owning a sunfish when I was a kid) but grew up around the water and boats. In the last few years we've been vacationing around "cruising areas" and have become increasingly interested in the sailing life and most especially in cruising. So much so that we would like to learn to sail, get onto some charters and eventually be able to buy a boat and live on it full-time. The problem is that we currently live in the middle of Colorado! The live aboard notion is a long-term goal so we're willing to put in our time in to achieve it.
My question is if people think that getting certified in ASA 101 & 103 here on the reservoirs of CO and then getting 104 (the bareboat license) on a trip somewhere is worth it? It ain't cheap and I just don't know if it's better to simply go out on charters and learn from the captains on multiple trips or if there's another way to achieve the knowledge we'd need.
I realize this is a complete novice question, but well, that's what I am!
Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Old 30-06-2009, 14:36   #2
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That is a great question. I am trying to figure the same sort of stuff out myself.

You will like this discussion forum. Lot's of nice people with a lot of information to share.

Welcome aboard!!

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Old 30-06-2009, 14:44   #3
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Welcome to CF, teartags.

There are a number of threads in our archives on that topic which might be a good place to start. Here's a link to give you some reading material. Come back with questions whenever you feel like it. Hope you find what you're looking for.

ASA certification OR courses - Google Search
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Old 30-06-2009, 20:24   #4
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Welcome to the forum,
Sounds like you guys have been bitten by the sailing bug . I don't have an answer for you, I'm not familiar with charters and such, but the basic classes are a great idea for sure. This is the beginning of a great adventure. Have fun.
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Old 30-06-2009, 20:33   #5
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It is worth it...there are some places that require a asa or equivelant certification if you want to port there. And i cant speak for all experiances but i learned alot from mine thinking i knew everything about sailing. It is mainly another tool in your belt and when you get into the passage making will find some helpful things. But i had been cruising for a while b-for i started my asa classes. They never hurt and are good to have for whatever reason
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:51   #6
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Irwin said it best. If you intend to do a lot of chartering vs owning your own boat then the ASA or USSailing courses are very good. You'll be out bareboating quicker and you'll have the certificate to present whenever and wherever you choose to charter.
No matter how many times I go out or drop in on a lecture I learn something new or am reminded of things I knew in the past. Courses never hurt.
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Old 01-07-2009, 15:03   #7
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IMHO what you learn in the ASA classes is good. The paper is worthless. Charter companies want your sailing resume and having the school in there is helpful. In 4 charter trips (before I bought my own cruising boat) I was never asked for a certificate.

An interesting story at the Moorings base in BVI. When I chartered they felt my experience in 41' boats was slim so they wanted me to take a captain for the first day as a "check out." In the skippers meeting, the presenter asked how many people were signed up for a captain. Several hands, mine included, went up. He then asked "how many feel you need one?" No hands went up. He said "great, that is what I wanted." No one had to take a captain along for a check out.

Take the class for what you will learn and the confidence it will give you. Don't put too much stock in getting any benefit from the certificates themselves.

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Old 07-07-2009, 17:33   #8
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So glad I found this forum today! I've just registered and this is exactly where my husband & I are at. We have even less experience though, but have surely been bitten by the bug! Looking forward to reading the archives on this subject.
Jon & Phyllis
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Old 07-07-2009, 18:25   #9
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Originally Posted by Sunspot Baby View Post
IMHO what you learn in the ASA classes is good. The paper is worthless. Charter companies want your sailing resume and having the school in there is helpful. In 4 charter trips (before I bought my own cruising boat) I was never asked for a certificate.
I have had similar circumstances. I have never been asked for a resume.

The charter companies in BC have been known to put a skipper onboard with crews who have advanced levels of certification, but no tidal experience.

On another note, should you buy a boat certification will likely get you a discount with your insurance company.

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Old 07-07-2009, 19:27   #10
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I agree that you should take the ASA courses for the knowledge, not the piece of paper. I feel they are usually good courses.

I think a good way to go is to take some basic instruction in your area and then take a live aboard bareboat course somewhere fun like the Caribbean. It's a bit expensive, but you get great instruction and a vacation for not much if anything more than a similar landed vacation on it's own would cost. You'll also get a great feel for what cruising is really like.
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:51   #11
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Check out your local USPS (Power Squadron) Boater Education classes:

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Old 08-07-2009, 07:52   #12
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Do it. And you can even do it it a fun way...there's a sailing club in San Francisco that provides the training and the certs, and allows you to sleep onboard so you don't need an expensive hotel room. A good way to get your training, and a little vacation, at the same time.
It's called "Modern Sailing Academy". I use to be a member, but we've cut the docklines and are 2 years into our cruise.
It can be done.
Have fun!
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:18   #13
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The two initial ASA courses are split between on shore and on boat in most locations. The boats in use are typically in the 18 foot range and provide great practice in handling a boat. Key factor in school selection is having a good instructor. Lots of places have Certified Instructors just like many schools have qualified "teachers" but having an ability to work with a wide range of experience is critical. I had the opportunity to have a great instructor who not only loved sailing but loved teaching it to others in a hands on type way.

Note some people do not recommend Husband/ wife classes. This depends on the wife in most cases and if your wife has the tendency to defer to you then she should probably take the classes separately to get full benefit. We had 3 couples in my class and the instructor recommended that one split up as the guy always took over not allowing the wife to properly learn or "brow beat" her into giving up her more correct opinion of how to operate with the given conditions. They were "happily" married but in the same class, he tended to smother her. She was actually a superior sailor all in all.

I do agree that a "Vacation" class for the upper levels of training are a good idea and from what I've been told a lot of fun. I did the 104 in a 3 day off shore run which was great but was also hear my home base. Upper level classes do not seem to be as difficult for couples and may be superior to doing them separately. The Virgin Islands has many such opportunities you may want to look into.
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:29   #14
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Take the classes. But look around as you may be better off doing a lesson package. Lots of schools will do all three on a week cruise or various combos of them. Also look at what size boats the classes are on to be sure they match your goals. Since in the long term I was only interested in cruising I took all my lessons last year on a 36' boat. Picked my school based on the price and boat size (found a lower priced for the 36' boat but would have pay a little more if needed to get that size).
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:01   #15
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There are many ways to get the experience you need, but you won't get much experience in ASA courses, they're simply too short. As others have noted, they are, nonetheless, well worth taking for the confidence and book knowledge (some of which will come in handy). I should also note that I did get a "sailing school grad" discount the first time I chartered with a large commercial worldwide charter company that uses blue lazyjacks with a red-and-white insignia on their boats (to be unnamed here...), and as I recall it was quite substantial. I actually fnished both ASA and USS certs just because I wanted to sail and at the time I was having a hard time finding people to sail with (well, it's still kind of true), and although those were hardly "adventures," they were well worth the money. I would think it doesn't matter where you take 101 and 103, but if you plan on sailing in the ocean, I would say take 104 in an ocean location. Most freshwater sailing doesn't expose you to tides and currents (anyway, I'm partial to clear blue saltwater around at 78-80oF).

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