ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing

Demonstrated ability to skipper a sloop-rigged keelboat of approximately 20 to 27 feet in length by day in light to moderate winds and sea conditions. Knowledge of basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards. Auxiliary power operation is not required.

RecommendationsTake our Online Sailing Course for an introduction to sailing - you’ll understand how a sailboat works, the common commands used to steer one, and some basic sailing terminology.
Passing Students Receive

KNOWLEDGEA Certified Sailor will have successfully demonstrated their knowledge on the following topics…

Basic Sailing Terminology

  • Hull
  • Rudder
  • Winch
  • Deck
  • Standing Rigging
  • Cleat
  • Transom
  • Shroud
  • Fender
  • Keel
  • Spreader
  • Docklines
  • Mast
  • Chainplate
  • Block
  • Boom
  • Headstay / Forestay
  • Fairlead
  • Gooseneck
  • Backstay
  • Cockpit
  • Bow
  • Stanchion
  • Cabin
  • Stern
  • Lifeline
  • Helm / Tiller /Wheel
  • Pulpit
  • Mainsail
  • Batten Pocket
  • Cunningham
  • Jib / Genoa
  • Bolt Rope
  • Traveler
  • Tack
  • Running Rigging
  • Hank
  • Head
  • Halyard
  • Boom Topping Lift
  • Clew
  • Mainsheet
  • Telltale
  • Luff
  • Jibsheets
  • Roller Furler
  • Foot
  • Boom Vang
  • Shackle
  • Leech
  • Outhaul
  • Batten
  • Downhaul
  • Port
  • Draft
  • Ahead
  • Starboard
  • Freeboard
  • Astern
  • Forward
  • Skipper
  • Abeam
  • Aft
  • Helmsman
  • Windward
  • Beam
  • Crew
  • Leeward
  • Heel
  • Weather helm

Maneuvers & Points of Sail

  • No-Sail Zone
  • Closed Hauled
  • Sailing-by-the-Lee
  • In Irons
  • Close Reach
  • Stand-on
  • Luffing
  • Beam Reach
  • Give-way
  • Head-to-Wind
  • Broad Reach
  • Tacking
  • Port Tack
  • Run
  • Jibing
  • Starboard Tack
  • “Heading Up”
  • “Bearing Away”
  • “Ready About” —– “Ready” —– “Helms a-Lee” (or “Coming About” or “Tacking”)
  • “Prepare to Jibe” —– “Ready” —– “Jibe-Ho” (or “Jibing”)

Navigation Rules

6. Apply Rule 5 (Look-out) from the publication Navigation Rules, International – Inland

For items 7 through 13, describe and use diagrams to apply the Navigation Rules. Identify the “stand-on” and “give-way” vessel in each situation.

7. Sailing vessels with the wind on different sides (starboard / port), Rule 12(a)(i)

8. Sailing vessels with the wind on same side (leeward / windward), Rule 12(a)(ii)

9. Sailing vessel on port tack cannot determine windward sailing vessel”s tack, Rule 12(a)(iii)

10. Overtaking (Rule 13)

11. Power-driven vessels approaching each other head-on (Rule 14)

12. Power-driven vessel with another power-driven vessel on starboard side (Rule 15)

13. Describe appropriate actions to be taken when sailing in the vicinity of commercial traffic, including responding to a danger signal.

Aids to Navigation

14. Identify and state the purpose of lateral aids to navigation by color, shape & numbering, including preferred channel markers.

15. Identify safe water, information and regulatory markers.

Safety Gear & Procedures

16. List the federally required equipment for a recreational sailboat of 25-feet in length.

17. Identify the location and color of navigation lights used by a recreational vessel of 25-feet in length.

18. Describe the purpose of a Float Plan, give examples of information contained therein and to whom it should be submitted.

19. Describe when and to whom boating accidents must be reported.

20. State the Federal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit for vessel operation.

SKILLSA Certified Sailor will have been tested on the following skills…

Safety Equipment

21. Demonstrate the proper use of a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD).


A Certified Sailor has successfully demonstrated his or her ability to:

Rig/hoist/set sails safely and correctly to obtain proper sail trim using the following lines and controls, if available on the practice vessel

22. Halyards and/or furling devices

23. Downhaul or Cunningham

24. Outhaul

25. Boom Vang

26. Mainsheet

27. Jibsheets

28. Winches

29. Traveler

30. Lower/furl/stow sails and coil/flake/stow lines properly

Without coaching or assistance from the instructor, verbalize appropriate commands and demonstrate competence, safety and good seamanship in the role of Skipper / Helmsman during the maneuvers listed in items 37 – 46.  Honor all aids to navigation and use properly the basic Navigation Rules.  Ensure sails are trimmed correctly and the vessel is in control at all times.

31. Depart dock or mooring fully ready to get underway safely

32. Select and maintain a given tack and course

33. Demonstrate how to get out of “irons”

34. Head Up

35. Bear Away

36. Sail Close Hauled

37. Sail on a Close Reach

38. Sail on a Beam Reach

39. Sail on a Broad Reach

40. Sail on a Run

41. Tack

42. Jibe

43. As crew, give appropriate verbal responses and perform correct actions during the maneuvers listed above.

Crew Overboard

44. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under sail from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.

Return & Secure

45. Return to dock or mooring

46. Secure vessel, using appropriate mooring/dock lines, fenders, etc.


  • Figure-8 Knot
  • Square (Reef) Knot
  • Clove Hitch
  • Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches
  • Cleat Hitch
  • Bowline