Endorsement Courses

Starting in 2007 ASA added several "Endorsement" courses to our certification program. We refer to these courses as "Endorsements" for two reasons. Unlike most ASA courses that cover a spectrum of subjects necessary to operate a sailboat under various conditions, endorsements provide in-depth study of a single topic such as radar, weather, docking or basic celestial navigation. Second, while these classes complement the keelboat sequence courses such as Basic Keelboat, Basic Coastal Cruising, Bareboat Chartering and the other more advanced levels, they are not requirements for the 101 through 108 sequence. Check with your local school for Endorsement availability.

Basic Celestial Endorsement (ASA 117)
The Basic Celestial course provides students the basic knowledge needed to fix their position at sea when completely out of sight of land. The Basic Celestial Endorsement does not require students to learn and master the more cumbersome calculations required in ASA’s existing 107 level Celestial course. (In addition to the basic material covered in the Celestial Endorsement, ASA’s 107 course teaches students how to do sight reductions and navigate with the Moon, planets and stars other than Polaris.)

Students will get hands-on experience with the sextant and learn the fascinating concepts that make celestial navigation possible. We highly recommend this course not only as an important skill set for emergency navigation, but also as a fun learning exercise that will allow you to better understand everyday occurrences such as the changing length of the day throughout the year and why the sun never sets in the summer in most of Greenland. 

Docking Endorsement (ASA 118)
Getting that big boat into a little slip can be a daunting challenge, even for experienced sailors. But it’s an important skill, like learning to take-off and to land an airplane if you’re a pilot. To dock competently and without injury or property damage requires an understanding of the forces that act on a boat, how you can control them, and lots of practice. Though docking and mooring is taught and practiced in all ASA’s on-the-water courses, the vast majority of students feel that they can benefit from additional, focused practice in this crucial area of their sailing skills. Even students who can competently dock a particular sailboat in their local waters appreciate the chance to learn skills that will come in handy in different locations and circumstances, such as those that would be experienced when strong currents and tricky crosswinds are present, or when Mediterranean mooring or tight, close-quarters maneuvering is required.

This hands-on course allows students to learn theory and practice repetitive docking and casting-off maneuvers to reinforce understanding of theory, methods and skills. Both novice and experienced sailors will benefit from this course as the techniques apply to small outboard powered boats in the 15- to 20-foot range on up to 50-foot inboard single-screw cruising yachts.

Upon successful completion of this course, students experience a significant increase in enjoyment in all of their sailing ventures because they will no longer fear docking at the end of the day. Spouses particularly enjoy mastering these skills because it helps them to become more proficient and confident as crewmembers.

Marine Weather Endorsement (ASA 119)
ASA’s Weather Endorsement course teaches mariners how to take weather into account in the planning and navigation of voyages, both local and global. Anyone who ventures onto the water can benefit from this course. Dinghy sailors, sailing in local lakes and rivers, cruising and racing sailors on inshore or coastal waters, and ocean-going sailors, racing or cruising, will all find merit in this class. Weather is a big subject with many facets, but when it comes to marine weather it boils down to the wind. Wind drives the boat and wind makes the waves the boat must drive through. But it is not just strong winds and how to avoid them that matters. The course also teaches how to find more wind when there is little to be had - a skill that will be used to much benefit by sailors far more often than avoiding too much wind.

Besides the nature of wind and how it interacts with water and land, by the end of the course, the student will have learned the role of marine weather in their overall navigation program. This will include how to plan the time and route of a voyage - be it across an ocean or around a nearby island - and once underway how to monitor changes in the weather that might affect previous decisions. For this they will learn use of the latest wireless communications and new weather resources now available, along with time-honored traditional shipboard observations of barometer, wind, clouds, and sea state to judge the validity and progress of the forecasts they have received.

To prepare for unexpected or unavoidable circumstances, the course also covers the properties and behaviors of squalls, fronts, storms and hurricanes. And to bind these elements of practical goals, students will learn about atmospheric pressure, clouds, fog, global wind patterns that lead to what we see in specific cases, and an in-depth understanding of the relation between wind and sea state, including how to predict wave heights. An inevitable byproduct of the study will be a thorough knowledge of weather maps and how to use them.

With weather being the most pressing factor in a journey by sail, this course is a must-do for those looking to make their trip a memorable experience for all the right reasons.

Radar Endorsement (ASA 120)
The goal of this course is to teach safe, efficient use of radar for small-craft navigation in any condition of visibility. The focus is on small craft because ship radars typically offer features and operations that are quite different from those available on the radars normally used on vessels less than 80 feet. Despite this small-craft focus this course should serve as a foundation for those going on to learn ship radar.

This Radar Endorsement teaches safe, efficient use of small-craft radar for piloting, chart navigation, and collision avoidance, including radar principles and practical matters of radar operation as well as using a realistic PC based radar simulator to illustrate radar measurements. This course covers a broad range of topics related to radar. Specific topics to be learned include, how radar works, interpreting the screen, position navigation, radar and navigation rules. Top