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flatspaddler 15-07-2010 07:56

Certifications and Requirements ?
OK, let me apologize before I start asking questions that some might find stupid. I am not a sailor (yet), and have never actually been on a sailboat as an adult. However, I have a love for the ocean and a desire to learn. I am a minimalist and just don't need fancy things. I have finally decided to do what i have always dreamed of, to buy a sailboat, live aboard and learn to sail. Then I can begin my journeys and enjoy a lifestyle that has always appealed to me.
The first question I have is this. Do I need certain certifications just to own and operate a sailboat? Are certifications required for live aboards? Or is it perfectly legal to teach yourself or be taught by someone else without recognized certification?
I have always been a fast learner, especially when it is something I get passionate about, so I will be buying every book I can and starting from there. But if formal certifications are required it might be better to complete those first. I hope some of you veteran sailors and live aboards can point me in the right direction.
Thanks for any and all help you can provide.

John A 15-07-2010 08:19

Welcome to the forum! The answer to your questions are:

Number one : No

Number two : No

Number two and a half : Yes

SaucySailoress 15-07-2010 08:29

No license necessary, since sailors on the whole are a fairly responsible and sensible lot.

On the other hand, when I'm World President, I'm gonna make it the law that licences are required by all who handle:
- Power boats
- Duck boats
- Tug boats
- Jet skis

flatspaddler 15-07-2010 08:32

Thanks John! I appreciate your quick response.
So I think my next question would be, Can you recommend any good books for someone in my position who has never sailed, but is wanting to get started? I like to prepare with as much knowledge as possible before I take on a challenge and if I am to rely on the kindness of someone else to teach me, I should make it as easy for them as possible.

Bill_R 15-07-2010 10:01

Hey Flatspaddler,

No licenses are required or anything, but to me it makes sense to take some formalized training. It is one thing to read about sailing in a book and quite another to actually experience it (I tell my friends that ask about it that it is the most fun and terrified you can be at 6mph). Plus, you might want to find out if you even like it before shelling out thousands of dollars for a boat of your own.

Check out: Learn to Sail and Earn Your Sailing Certification With the ASA
This is the website for the American Sailing Association. They offer many classes through a network of schools, most likely you can find one withing a few hours of wherever you live.

Also check out: United States Power Squadrons® Safe boating fun thru education
This is the website for the US Power Squadron. I took their basic course this spring and it covers a lot of rules of the road and safety regulations/precautions. All good stuff to know, and really more boaters should take them. It always struck me as funny that people can just go rent power boats and zip along at 30+ mph without knowing what they are doing.

When I first got bit by the sailing bug I read "Sailing for Dummies". It breaks down some of the concepts pretty well and is an entertaining read mostly. The ASA also produces a whole series of books on everything from basic sailing through blue water sailing.

You mentioned that you are a minimalist and don't need a lot. If that is the case you should check out books by Lin & Larry Pardy.

I suggest you take at least some form of on the water training though, book learning can only go so far. Remember that a boat doesn't have brakes, and a live aboard boat is most likely going to way several tons, so it is good to get some experience operating that under someone who has done it before.

Good luck, this website is definitely a great resource too!

flatspaddler 15-07-2010 10:34

Thanks Bill, I agree. I am planning to take classes, I just was not sure if they were a requirement in case an opportunity to purchase a boat comes up before I can. I also plan to get experience on other peoples boats before I even think about sailing my own. I am eager, but I like ME and won't be foolish. I know there are many things to learn and it will take a long time, determination and PATIENCE. I am fine with that.
However, I have seen some older boats for sale in my area that are already in live aboard slips and I NEED A PLACE TO LIVE anyway. So I am gaining knowledge fast and trying to be smart about it. I don't want to buy a boat that is ready to sink, or even not worth the money and I don't want to buy one if I cannot use it. It is a lot to learn, but I am trying and being cautious at the same time.
Thanks again Bill.

Captain Bill 15-07-2010 11:21

Actually in Florida you need a license if you are under 22 years old and are operating a boat with more than a 10 HP engine. The requirements are minimal and the exam can be taken on line, but it is something. So if you get a boat with a 10 HP auxillary engine and are young enough you will need a license.

RainDog 15-07-2010 11:45


Originally Posted by flatspaddler (Post 486053)
Can you recommend any good books for someone in my position who has never sailed, but is wanting to get started?

Both of these are great, comprehensive intro books that cover most of the fundamentals: The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, 3rd Edition Revised (9780684854205): John Rousmaniere, Mark Smith: Books Chapman Piloting & Seamanship 66th Edition (Chapman Piloting…

I prefer the first, but the second is often available in used book stores.

RainDog 15-07-2010 11:46


Originally Posted by Aaza Dana (Post 486050)
No license necessary, since sailors on the whole are a fairly responsible and sensible lot.

On the other hand, when I'm World President, I'm gonna make it the law that licences are required by all who handle:
- Power boats
- Duck boats
- Tug boats
- Jet skis

When you are world president you are still going to allow Jet Skis?

flatspaddler 15-07-2010 12:30

I will vote for you, but only if you outlaw jet skis all together. Something happens to the human brain when people get on jet skis and too many of them end up with a bad case of the dumbass. As a kayak fisherman I constantly have days ruined by jet skiers. They are rude and dangerous and when used in certain areas actually damage the sea grasses and the estuaries in general.

daddle 15-07-2010 14:43

To learn to sail buy, beg, borrow a dinghy. Sail it for 100 hours. You will meet people who will take you the rest of the way. Have fun.

flatspaddler 15-07-2010 15:07

LOL daddle! A dinghy? I am having a hard time holding back from jumping into something I know nothing about. There are so many boats on the market, but I am afraid I will end up buying the wrong one. I am wondering if maybe I can sign on to help crew for someone as the cook (I am a good cook) and learning a little that way. I don't work and have nothing but time on my hands. So I would be open to even a longer cruise than some folks might be. Plus, I am retired military so I could pay the average daily expenses most people seem to be asking for. Not sure if that will fly or not, but I think it is worth a try. I know I will need to learn a lot, and actually, it is probably a never ending education process, but I am good with that. I get impatient, but only briefly. LOL

daddle 15-07-2010 15:14

Oh, I thought you wanted to learn how to sail and handle a boat. Most people who cruise without first learning to sail never learn to sail. You can be crew (or captain) for 15 years or 15,000 miles and not know anything about sailing. Proven everyday.

Sounds like you want to learn to cruise? That only requires showing up.

Certificates? Worthless. LOL

David_Old_Jersey 15-07-2010 15:36

With the sea kayak thing IMO you are ahead of the curve on the sea sense side of things already :thumb: and looking to crew is a good idea - might take a little while to hook up, but perfectly doable - and once your foot is in the door with people should become easier.

If you weren't looking to live aboard I would second the cheap sailing dinghy idea, also with a cheap one will give you some lessons on the doing up side of things - particulerly that optimism can (does?!) get the better of many of us when it comes to buying boats needing a bit of TLC. 3 times as long and 5 times as expensive? :rolleyes: At least with a cheap dinghy you can walk away.........

On the boat buying front I would start off accepting you will likely make choices that you would later choose differently after your own first hand experiance - so I would buy with at least 1 eye on selling in a couple of years, even if you hope not to (and may not). That would apply to condition as well - nothing wrong with putting $10k into a $10k boat to make a nice.........$10k boat :D - if you then get the value out of her from use, a different matter though if you want to sell sooner rather than later.........

flatspaddler 15-07-2010 16:03

Not true daddle, I want to learn to sail my own boat. I have never seen a dinghy with a sail so I thought you were being facetious. I do want to cruise, but that is not my initial goal. The reason I thought I could crew to learn was because I could learn from actually being on a real sailboat. As for certifications, I plan to take as many classes as possible once I have my own boat. One concern for me is that I have no place to live except a tent right now. I have downsized so far to do my camping/fishing/traveling that I have nothing to furnish a house or apartment with. So I am not looking to shortcut the learning, just to get it from many sources. I wouldn't sign on to cruise without a deal to get some training. So you are wrong about that. I am not some 20 year old kid in college, I am a 51 yr old retired military veteran. My moral standards and work ethic are above reproach (I just choose not to work any more and live off my small retirement). I think you got the wrong idea about my goal. Before I attempt anything new, I gain as much knowledge, from as many sources as possible. But I can see where you might get people with that in mind.

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