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Old 16-01-2024, 04:39   #1
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Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Hi everyone, this is my first post and I hope it doesn't sound ridiculous as I may be comparing apples to oranges... I recently retired (early) so that my husband and I could spend more time together and live aboard our boat for a few months at a time. We've owned our own sailboat now for 17 years and sailed quite a bit together off coastal New England, with me being a fairly good first mate. In preparation for our next adventures I want to build my navigation skills (most important) and seamanship, generally. My initial plan was to study for the OUPV Captain's License but my husband thinks that the ASA105 course would fulfill my needs. I'm leaning towards the Captains License as I think it would give me more comprehensive learning and also cover the navigational learning that I desire. I also did read the comments in another thread about Starpath and perhaps that is also an option? I'm not concerned about stickers or pieces of paper - this is all about building my skills and confidence. Any guidance most appreciated!
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Old 16-01-2024, 05:45   #2
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

The master's license includes testing on nav, so the courses could cover that extensively. At least ours did. FWIW, you may find it even better to go for a tonnage certification, not just the OUPV. Not much more on the tests... probably more dependent on your sea time (over 17 years) and your boat tonnage.

I don't know ASA105, though, so can't directly compare.

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Old 16-01-2024, 06:34   #3
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Passing the USCG Captain's exam requires a good bit of arcane knowledge that the average recreational sailor just never is exposed to. The chances of you passing the test after taking ASA105 are really near zero.

It is FAR more efficient to take a class with a school accredited by the USCG to give the test on site. They will make SURE you have the knowledge required to pass.

The "sailing" endorsement part of the exam is trivial. Anybody with a basic knowledge of how to make a sailboat move efficiently can pass that. It's the general test that is the tough part.

Just as an example, do you know how to do a basic stability calculation? What a metacentric height is? How about a GM?
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Old 16-01-2024, 08:39   #4
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Thanks both of you for your replies. So you are confiriming that the Captains license is much more comprehensive than the ASA 105, and navigation training be better.
Thanks for the guidance.
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Old 16-01-2024, 09:00   #5
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

I didn't interpret the previous posts as saying that the navigation section of the OUPV was better than ASA 105. What I took away was that for the Captain's license you'd need to know a lot of arcane stuff that may not be helpful, in addition to navigation. Of course I could be wrong

I haven't done 105 but I did do the NauticEd Coastal Navigation course which I believe is similar. I really enjoyed the course but also found it challenging. Note that it is coastal navigation so it does a lot of stuff that relies on being able to see the land. It's a small investment and I'd suggest giving it a try even if you decide to do something else as well.

Does your husband hold a captain's license? I wonder what the implications would be (if any) if you did and he didn't? I did talk to a woman years ago who chose not to take it due to liability concerns if she was the only licensed captain on a boat, even if she was just there as crew. I have no idea what is true versus speculation.
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Old 16-01-2024, 09:08   #6
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Thanks leecea! I'll check out the course you mention. My husband did get his license but let it expire. On other forums I've seen lots of discussion about liability which does give me pause. I need to research that more. It's really about the knowledge I'm trying to gain, so im just looking where the best bang for my buck is. Both courses seem to be similar in cost. Thank you for your input.
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Old 16-01-2024, 09:09   #7
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

I do want to be sure I am clear...

The Captains License Course will teach you what you need to pass the test, and they are very good at that. It's not that it is a totally useless training, but do not expect a lot of practical knowledge that will be of everyday practical use.

The idea is that to get a Captain's License you need to have enough sea time 180 days, or more depending on the license you are going for, that you are expected to have the practical background already in the bag...
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Old 16-01-2024, 09:14   #8
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

I've had the ASA105 course. In today's world, I can't imagine a private boat owner/sailor needing more than this for navigating. With a solid school/teacher, you should be able to pick up a chart, understand it, use the tide information, plot a course from A to B, avoiding underwater and above water obstacles, and sail it with a compass and depth gauge (this is all we had on the boat we did the course on). You'll definitely understand all the things that going into doing this and all the terms like SOG.

But "in today's world", you'll probably also have at least a speed indicator of some kind (we did not), and most likely at least one chart plotter. These make navigating even easier.
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Old 16-01-2024, 09:37   #9
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

If you are looking for practical sailing knowledge, the OOPV is NOT the way to go. The courses have lots of interesting, but arcane (ie, useless) information that won't make you a better sailor. While I don't have experience with ASA 105, you can get a copy of their syllabus; I think you will find it worthwhile.
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Old 16-01-2024, 09:39   #10
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

I too am not familiar with the ASA 105 course. I took the USCG course and got my 100 ton license in 2005. Back then the navigation portion of the exam was all about coastal navigation and plotting on paper charts. I don't know if that has changed.

If the ASA 105 covers electronic navigation - chart plotters and even GPS navigation it would cover more than the OUPV material. The basic plotting is important, every captain should be able to navigate manually but today's electronic navigation has become commonplace.
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Old 16-01-2024, 10:08   #11
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

I have researched the USCG cert options (which are appealing, but I don't have the sea-service days for), and am currently in the ASA105 course. Honestly, given your years of exposure to coastal navigation, it may be wasted money, but YMMV - so here's a quick synopsis of my experience:

I learned fundamental nav as a child growing up around boats on the great lakes and already knew how to plot a 2 LOP position, how to use ranges, concept of magnetic variation, and fundamental nav aids identification.

What this course does cover which may not be used in everyday coastwise nav is TVMDC course correction, compass calibration, running fixes, dead reckoning fundamentals, as well as use of the USCG light lists, and tide calculations.

My thoughts - I actually found it a pretty good value for money (~$500), and a good refresher. I also *believe* that since it's considered a USCG approved nav course, you can get an insurance discount if you pass. I would certainly recommend the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship, if you're interested - Dude who runs the school wrote the book, and it's a pretty well throught-out curriculum. I am not affiliated w/ the school, though I did take my 103, and 104 classes with them.
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Old 16-01-2024, 10:18   #12
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

The USCG does have a higher standard for passing the exam (90% now). However, the required material for USCG test is more basic than ASA.

If you can pass the ASA105, then you can pass USCG 100T NC.
The reverse is not so.

I have taught navigation for USCG approved course and ASA for years (and love it).
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Old 16-01-2024, 10:19   #13
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Having been in the small tonnage, 500 gross tons, arena since the ealry 70s I've watched as the "Captain's schools" have become a way to get the training and education. My observation from working with many graduates of the schools is as SailingHarmonie says they primrily teach you how to pass the test. The focus is not on real knowledge of how to safely and effeciently navigate. And as another poster says much of the exam covers older techniquies, very little on how to work with modern equipment. Not to say having your captain's license is a wast of your time, because it is not. But there has to be a better way to meet your goals of improving your navigation skills for what you want to do.
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Originally Posted by SailingHarmonie View Post
I do want to be sure I am clear...

The Captains License Course will teach you what you need to pass the test, and they are very good at that. It's not that it is a totally useless training, but do not expect a lot of practical knowledge that will be of everyday practical use.

The idea is that to get a Captain's License you need to have enough sea time 180 days, or more depending on the license you are going for, that you are expected to have the practical background already in the bag...
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Old 16-01-2024, 10:21   #14
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Thanks everyone for these thoughtful responses (@CheeseWizardry - love the handle ). This has me leaning towards the more specific navigation courses like the ASA 105 or the ones at Starpath which have other options for radar, and weather courses. And also seem to be well reviewed. This has been really helpful, THANK YOU! I'll post again with updates.
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Old 16-01-2024, 12:56   #15
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Re: Captain's License vs ASA 105 course

Welcome to the Forum, Jules -

In many instances the Starpath course is the ASA 105 course, unless you take the Maryland School of Sailing course by Tom Tursi. Some sailing schools offer the Starpath Celestial Navigation, Coastal Navigation, Radar, and Weather courses as the ASA courses - but not all. Conversely, you can take the Starpath course directly from the Starpath folks and for an extra fee they'll give you the ASA test. If you pass you will get the ASA certification.

When I took the ASA 105 course a few years ago (through the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship) it focused on paper charts and "hand" plotting. I believe that it still does. I see that the Starpath folks offer an electronic chart navigation on-line course in addition to their *basic* Inland and Coastal Navigation course. It seems to augment the information that you'd learn through the basic course - and focuses more on how to obtain and use ENCs and navigation software. That may be something that you'd also consider taking.

In the meantime - I'll echo what it seems like others are saying; if you simply want to improve your coastal navigation skills then take the ASA (or Starpath) course(s).
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