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Old 06-01-2014, 09:22   #1
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Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

Hi all,

I recently completed the eight day Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising course in the lovely BVI. Overall, it was fun and I will give my honest review below.

First, the Good

1. Staff was pleasant overall to deal with
2. Most of the books arrived in advance
3. Package was decent in terms of hotel and live aboard accomodations
4. Food provisions were good and since one person cancelled, we had extra steaks and fish to grill and eat on the boat.

5. I learned how much I really love sailing before making the expensive mistake of buying a boat to learn on.

The BAD

1. Little preparation time given to the very difficult written US Sailing tests.
2. Instruction was mediocre to subpar
3. Prior knowledge of sailing was implied EVEN though Colgate said none was required.

4. VERY steep learning curve with little time to learn the basics such as knot tying, damn that bowline knot is still hard for me to tie!

5. Instructor cared more about giving a sight see tour than teaching. BUT another instructor was quite good.

6. One of my course books never arrived so I had no time to study for the Cruising test which I failed.

7. No follow up from Colgate.

Would I recommend this to a person with no sailing knowledge? No.
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Old 06-01-2014, 19:05   #2
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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4. VERY steep learning curve with little time to learn the basics such as knot tying, damn that bowline knot is still hard for me to tie!
Go to a hardware store and buy 5' of cotton rope so you can practice tying all the knots whenever you want. Worked for me.
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Old 06-01-2014, 19:15   #3
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. All I can say is take the experience and remember the memories that were good. Your post will inform other potential students of the shortfalls with this program. Can you tell us some of the skills you learned? Maybe tell us what it did for your confidence level. Are you satisfied with what you learned? Forget about the exam. It's meaningless in the long term.
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:18   #4
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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Forget about the exam. It's meaningless in the long term.

Personally as a former instructor, I don't think that is quite the case. It is always useful to have a well known "certification" from a respected body. I would urge the OP not to give up and return and retry the exams. ( there or elsewhere).

Ive done these three courses. but I had reasonable sailing experience at the time and i also did them in a week, They are not difficult, but if you are a complete newbie, and you are struggling to progress through the course, then once you fail one, really you are going to fail the more advanced. Thats the problem with "fast-track" courses.

My advice to the OP would be to get in some crewing experience, and work through the learning materials again, and re-sit the exams at a convenient time in the future.

Certification is a good way to consolidate experienced based learning with theory and best practice training.

What always surprises me is the lack of a ASA/US Sailing, Yachtmaster style programme to have a "top-level" leisure certification to aim at.

Commercial courses are of little use to leisure users, because they tend to be based on the assumption that you are full time at sea. ( for sea time ) with only theory exams . Whereas leisure certification has to balance , sea miles ( hobby users) and exams

Dave
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:53   #5
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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damn that bowline knot is still hard for me to tie!
its a very hard knott for how simple it is. if I sit around and practice when getting ready to go sailing it comes easy but if I dont tie one for a week my fingers forget

In my opinion the two biggest things you get from taking the tests and getting the certs is confidence that you know it and a piece of paper you can show your insurance guys it might help a little there.
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:57   #6
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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In my opinion the two biggest things you get from taking the tests and getting the certs is confidence that you know it and a piece of paper you can show your insurance guys it might help a little there.
Whatever ones says. Credentialism and validation , are an important aspect of any training, People like to mark progress by such methods. Its the way of the world.

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Old 07-01-2014, 04:59   #7
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

True, but the way of the sea is that she doesn't care what pieces of paper you have.

Bureaucrats are a different matter...
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:56   #8
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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4. VERY steep learning curve with little time to learn the basics...
I think this is an inescapable fact with all such courses that purport to take you from complete novice to competent captain in one week.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:24   #9
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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Certification is a good way to consolidate experienced based learning with theory and best practice training.

What always surprises me is the lack of a ASA/US Sailing, Yachtmaster style programme to have a "top-level" leisure certification to aim at.

Whereas leisure certification has to balance , sea miles ( hobby users) and exams

Dave
If one were to complete the ASA 108 Passage Making certification, which has as prerequisites 104 Bareboat, 105 Navigation, 106 Advanced Coastal Cruising, and 107 Celestial Navigation, would that not be the equivalent of a top-level leisure certification or are you suggesting something more strenuous?

Just curious because at the present time I have little need for anything beyond the 104 other than as an intellectual exercise and the obsessive compulsive desire to get all the training certifications available for my log book.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:26   #10
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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True, but the way of the sea is that she doesn't care what pieces of paper you have.

Bureaucrats are a different matter...

The sea however doesn't inspect your documentation either, but humans do from time to time.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:28   #11
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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If one were to complete the ASA 108 Passage Making certification, which has as prerequisites 104 Bareboat, 105 Navigation, 106 Advanced Coastal Cruising, and 107 Celestial Navigation, would that not be the equivalent of a top-level leisure certification or are you suggesting something more strenuous?

Just curious because at the present time I have little need for anything beyond the 104 other than as an intellectual exercise and the obsessive compulsive desire to get all the training certifications available for my log book.

without a prerequisite for some sea miles , Id say no!. But its surprising that the ASA hasn't introduced a specific certs similar to yacht master else where, its an obvious step.

In the UK . YM also gives you significant commercial privileges as well. ( in non marine commercial vessels)

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Old 07-01-2014, 07:31   #12
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
If one were to complete the ASA 108 Passage Making certification, which has as prerequisites 104 Bareboat, 105 Navigation, 106 Advanced Coastal Cruising, and 107 Celestial Navigation, would that not be the equivalent of a top-level leisure certification or are you suggesting something more strenuous?

Just curious because at the present time I have little need for anything beyond the 104 other than as an intellectual exercise and the obsessive compulsive desire to get all the training certifications available for my log book.
I would at least do the 105 if you need a brush up on coastal navigation. I do know that sail clubs on the CA coast will not let you charter much beyond the port entrance if you don't have it. Also may want to look at IYT that is now in the US and it has a little more weight than the ASA. IYT is under the MCA which if course is very well known outside of the US.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:31   #13
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

Thanks guys, I did not mean to completely slam Colgate Offshore but even their instructors admitted to us that it was unrealistic for the sales brochures to portray mastery in a week of sailing. One instructor at Offshore Colgate to his credit recommended that I get on a crew as 'rail meat' to gain experience and study and retake the failed exams. I should then be good to go in a year of experience. I had the same thing with learning scuba diving and flying. It was not until I had done 40 dives that I was comfortable as a scuba diver. With aviation, having 200+ hours after the checkride now getting ok as a pilot as well. Still learning never can stop. I will buy some ropes from West Marine and practice tying the knots until they are second nature. Then get on a crew with OCSC in the bay area. Funny, even if you have experience and credentials, most of the yacht clubs in the bay area like OCSC still require a check out evaluation before they will charter one of their yachts to you. Other places like the Moorings just want to see experience and certs in a logbook.
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:18   #14
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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Thanks guys, I did not mean to completely slam Colgate Offshore but even their instructors admitted to us that it was unrealistic for the sales brochures to portray mastery in a week of sailing. One instructor at Offshore Colgate to his credit recommended that I get on a crew as 'rail meat' to gain experience and study and retake the failed exams. I should then be good to go in a year of experience. I had the same thing with learning scuba diving and flying. It was not until I had done 40 dives that I was comfortable as a scuba diver. With aviation, having 200+ hours after the checkride now getting ok as a pilot as well. Still learning never can stop. I will buy some ropes from West Marine and practice tying the knots until they are second nature. Then get on a crew with OCSC in the bay area. Funny, even if you have experience and credentials, most of the yacht clubs in the bay area like OCSC still require a check out evaluation before they will charter one of their yachts to you. Other places like the Moorings just want to see experience and certs in a logbook.
How many students did they have on the boat the week you were there?
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:43   #15
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Re: Offshore Colgate Fast Track to Cruising Review

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Thanks guys, I did not mean to completely slam Colgate Offshore but even their instructors admitted to us that it was unrealistic for the sales brochures to portray mastery in a week of sailing.
Yeah, I don't know how they can claim that with a clear conscience.

Again, my experience is with ASA, not USS, but the 104 Bareboat course is 2 or 3 days on the water and has a 120 page text to be studied for the written exam.

Take that away and that leaves 4-5 days to master the skills and secure the knowledge contained in a 200 page textbook necessary to pass the Basic Keelboat and Basic Coastal Cruising exams.

Seems an awful lot to promise to someone without any sailing experience. I know I couldn't have done it that way.
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