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Old 08-02-2020, 20:30   #1
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Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

Hi!

I'm hoping to buy a boat soon, and then load up and head south. Maybe the end of this summer, maybe next year...

One thing I'm having a hard time finding is what piece of paper(s) I need, legally and at a minimum, that say I'm allowed to do this. There is a boater's safety course in my home state of NH but it seems very motor boat oriented. I'm sure it would teach me some of the rules of the road though.

Am I so nanny-state brainwashed that I'm searching for some government agency to give me permission to do something that just isn't regulated?

I've definitely found ASA courses, the one I found in the BVI sounded amazing, but it doesn't seem like you have too take it, because it's from an association not a government.

It seems like basically if you have a state issued boater's safety card (only applicable to US coastal waters) and your non-gender-specific-genetalia is big enough, have at it. Is this right?

Please note; I'm trying to sort the wheat from the chaff here. I want to know what must be done versus what is prudent. What would I need on board if the USCG were to board me?

Best,
AT
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Old 08-02-2020, 20:56   #2
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

Unless your home or residential state has a license requirement (and some do, in varying degrees of rigor), you need no further licensing.

FWIW, I've been sailing for around 45 years now, and full time offshore cruising for over 30 and I have zero paper certificates or licenses... and so far, so good.

But I started off in a dinghy and worked my way up, gaining experience and skills as I went. This is a bit different from "buy, load up and head south". That plan does not sound wise to me. The "what could possibly go wrong" list is pretty inclusive, and only diminishes with time, experience and perhaps training if that suits your personality.

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Old 08-02-2020, 21:03   #3
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

Many places require a vhf licence before you use one. That’s the only bit of paper that’s absolutely required usually, if you have your own boat.
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Old 08-02-2020, 21:09   #4
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

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Originally Posted by Atcowboy View Post
It seems like basically if you have a state issued boater's safety card (only applicable to US coastal waters) and your non-gender-specific-genetalia is big enough, have at it. Is this right?

Please note; I'm trying to sort the wheat from the chaff here. I want to know what must be done versus what is prudent. What would I need on board if the USCG were to board me?

Best,
AT
If the boat is documented, then you must have the current USCG documentation aboard and they may also ask for the state registration document. If it is only registered in your home state, then you must have your current state registration document.

If you are stopped by local authorities in your state, and a state boater's safety card is required, then you should have that. It is virtually meaningless outside your state.

If you have VHF radio and or AIS, and your are travelling internationally you will also need a to have a Ship Station License and a Restricted Radio Operator license.

If you plan on travelling internationally, i would highly recommend documenting your vessel with the USCG. Travelling internationally I've never been asked for any documentation other than a copy of my USCG documentation, and once for the Ships License for the MMSI #.

As Jim stated, I have never been asked for any license or certificates of competency to operate a vessel. I suspect in this area of the world if you sailed your boat across the big pond they figure you are quite capable.

But, essentially the answer to your fundamental question is that any googan or lubber can get on a boat and set sail if they have the means to acquire a boat. There seems to be a lot of 'em these days.
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Old 08-02-2020, 22:00   #5
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

I would get the state certification. While it may not seem like it is related to what you will be doing it most likely reduce the cost of insurance, at least a little.

A lot of marinas require specific insurance coverage to get a slip; not to mention you will be protected from yourself to some extent. Truth be told since 2012 when I bought my cat and started cruising the most common paperwork I have been asked for was proof of insurance.
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Old 09-02-2020, 03:45   #6
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

And in follow-on to Tom above in Post #5, it's more common these days that to insure a boat, she must have had a recent survey and if you (owner/skipper) have some sort of ticket, you may get a break on your insurance rate.

In the States, ASA courses are the... should I say "standard"?

Good luck,
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Old 09-02-2020, 04:19   #7
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atcowboy View Post
Hi!

I'm hoping to buy a boat soon, and then load up and head south. Maybe the end of this summer, maybe next year...

One thing I'm having a hard time finding is what piece of paper(s) I need, legally and at a minimum, that say I'm allowed to do this. There is a boater's safety course in my home state of NH but it seems very motor boat oriented. I'm sure it would teach me some of the rules of the road though.

Am I so nanny-state brainwashed that I'm searching for some government agency to give me permission to do something that just isn't regulated?

I've definitely found ASA courses, the one I found in the BVI sounded amazing, but it doesn't seem like you have too take it, because it's from an association not a government.

It seems like basically if you have a state issued boater's safety card (only applicable to US coastal waters) and your non-gender-specific-genetalia is big enough, have at it. Is this right?

Please note; I'm trying to sort the wheat from the chaff here. I want to know what must be done versus what is prudent. What would I need on board if the USCG were to board me?

Best,
AT
You really should acquire an operators license .... the RYA yacht master is good

You also need hands on safety at sea training such as



https://www.usna.edu/Sailing/_files/documents/2019_Safety_at_Sea/Sat_1030_USCG_Comms_and_SAR.pdf
Offshore sailing means communication equipment. GMDSS. License
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:10   #8
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

It depends on where you are (where you want to go..), the size of the boat and the purpose with the trip. Most places require nothing if it is a smaller private boat sailed for private purpose.

In Scandinavia, where I live, the commander of a recreational craft with a length exceeding 12 meters and a width exceeding 4 meters must have a license in order to sail it. Its not a higher nautical competence, but still a few weeks of studies. For all boats smaller than 12x4m you need nothing. I dont know if this is the case in USA.

Internationally, In order to use VHF radio - which is very handy to have onboard - you must have an international VHF-radio license.

In my opinion the question is not what you MUST have in terms of licenses and courses, but rather what knowledge and experience you SHOULD have for your own and others' sake at sea - which is perfectly obtained by licenses of different kind.
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:24   #9
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

Thank you all for the great replies! It should make it much easier to budget and plan to get the documentation "musts". I never would have thought of VHF since it's legal in the states.

And to all the people who expressed concern for my well-being at sea (or maybe just boater's in my proximity? Lol) thank you very much for your concern! I don't intend to buy a yacht and just leave. I'm formulating my curriculum (and budget) now, and not being able to find a list of what I f#&$+@! needed to make sure I missed nothing mandatory was making that difficult. Soon I'll have to discern the practical differences between ASA and RYA and choose one. If I remember from reading there is little practical difference, and being in America finding an ASA in my budget is more likely.

Thanks again,
AT
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Old 09-02-2020, 11:24   #10
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

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Originally Posted by tomfl View Post
I would get the state certification. While it may not seem like it is related to what you will be doing it most likely reduce the cost of insurance, at least a little.

A lot of marinas require specific insurance coverage to get a slip; not to mention you will be protected from yourself to some extent. Truth be told since 2012 when I bought my cat and started cruising the most common paperwork I have been asked for was proof of insurance.

I agree, the only piece of paper I consistently get asked for is insurance, but this is where you might encounter the problem. The insurance company will want to know what experience you have, per the vessel you want to insure. If they deem your sailing qualifications as ‘non-existent’ they will deny you insurance which will by default deny you access to marinas and other locations.

Insurance companies will look favorably on some ASA courses at a minimum.
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Old 09-02-2020, 11:36   #11
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

[QUOTE=What would I need on board if the USCG were to board me? [/QUOTE]

I know that you are asking mostly about documentation, but don’t forget if you are boarded by the Coast Guard they also want to see all of your safety equipment - ie: Life jackets for at least you and all of the crew, fire extinguishers, flares, etc.
Also make sure your boat has the placards for oil spill and trash.
And if you are in inland waters and have a onboard head, it must be rigged so that it cannot pump overboard.

Al, S/V Finlandia
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:27   #12
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

You missunderstand the nanny state. If you make a mess or rewiring your house or reoairing you car the stage gets the bill for health care etc for you and all the people you injure and property you damage. If you put to sea in a leaky old tub nowing nothing about sailing chances are you will make it out of territorial waters before sinking so present the state with minimal liabiliy. They never where concerned about looking after you.
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:35   #13
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

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You missunderstand the nanny state. If you make a mess or rewiring your house or reoairing you car the stage gets the bill for health care etc for you and all the people you injure and property you damage. If you put to sea in a leaky old tub nowing nothing about sailing chances are you will make it out of territorial waters before sinking so present the state with minimal liabiliy. They never where concerned about looking after you.

Haha! In your scenario I would assume the state/fed to still want their vig, BEFORE you float off and sink/die

- AT
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Old 09-02-2020, 13:12   #14
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

Two words.....
GALLOPING BUREAUCRACY
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Old 09-02-2020, 15:31   #15
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Re: Did I miss it? Certifications and training to start sailing.

You didn't say how far South you plan to go.

If you stay in the US, your NH-approved boater safety education card should be good anywhere on coastal waters. I teach those classes, and I can assure you they won't teach you to sail OR run a power boat. They will, however, cover the legal requirements of boating, and if you take the class from the Power Squadron or USCG Auxiliary (and not the NH Marine Patrol) you'll also get some helpful tips and pointers for when you do start to learn boat handling.

Obviously, rules in other countries may differ. You already know about the radio license. And there will be plenty of time to do the research for any specific countries you want to visit, once you've got some experience under your belt.

So for now, get your NH education certificate (it's NOT a license!) and register or document and insure the boat once you've bought it. As for the required equipment, again, either the USPS or USCG Aux can do a "vessel safety check" to let you know if there's anything else you might have missed. Just go to safetyseal.net and type in your zip code for a list of vessel examiners near you.
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